Riven - The Soundtrack :: Review by Anton
OverviewFor Riven, the sequel to Myst, Robyn Miller returned to create an atmospheric accompaniment to the game. Riven - The Soundtrack is a more authentic experience than its predecessor, since the tracks are pretty much identical to those in the game. However, it could be better for those looking to recreate the in-game experience as it is missing specific tracks, such as for Gehn's Cannon or Crater Island's air vent. Nonetheless, what is offered is high quality...
After a short ten second introduction, the soundtrack leaps straight into "Atrus' Theme". This is the piece of music heard when falling through the fissure after trapping Gehn without rescuing Catherine. It's a soft composition that builds into a soft and memorable melody. The soundscaping is quite beautiful here with synthetic elements combining with ethnic instruments to create a sense of a vastness and alienation. The resulting music has a subtle yet substantial effect enhancing the scene in the game.
Those looking for eerie music similar to Myst generally won't find it in the Riven soundtrack. It's generally quite uplifting and almost new age influenced with its soft electronic timbres. There's a lot of beautiful, scenic, and emotional music, but little truly spine-tingling. An exception is "Gateroom" with its sporadic and creepy use of percussion that often seems to appear from nothingness. However, even this track is surprisingly beautiful and it's really impressive how Miller combined horror and soothing influences.
Several of the themes are paired up in the game. For example, "Moiety Caves" and "Moiety Theme" are used in the same location and each feature similar lead figures and percussive elements. However, the latter is certainly more intense and culminates in an almost rock-influenced passage. The climax of the album includes a trio of tracks, the scene-setting "Gehn Speaks", gothic "Gehn's Theme", and cinematic victory music "Fissure". There is also a spooky bonus track tagged on to round off the Riven experience.
To summarise, the Riven soundtrack is quite a different soundtrack to Myst. It retains a very atmospheric feel, but focuses more on soothing electronic soundscapes with percussive and ethnic elements playing only a supporting role. It works flawlessly in the game and is fulfilling on a stand-alone basis too. This soundtrack is highly recommended for those who enjoyed the music in the game or like electronic ambient music in general.
Overall Score: 8/10