Review by Orb (and
her son Brando)
Shivers is absolutely the kind of game to be played in
the fall, when the days are getting shorter and the nights longer,
the air cools off, and the trees start giving the idea they're
going to give it a break for a while, as no one's going to be
looking for any shade for a few months.
Shivers is scary. OkayShivers was scary for
me. This is the Tim Burton/John Carpenter/Vincent Price of adventure
games. Right up my alley. It is designed with an accent on eerie,
starting with Sierra's opening screenshot of its logo as a moon,
the castle-like museum looming in front of a purple sky, a wolf
howling in the background.
A fun game, I found, to play with my 14-year-old kid. He's a
veteran PSX man himselfhis usual idea of a gaming good time
is being chased around by zombies in Resident Evil. This
makes us a good team. A ghost jumps out at me and I'm startled.
He laughs. Maybe a bit evilly. I land upon a Chinese checkers
sliding ball puzzle. He yawns. I laugh evilly. And solve it. Like
I said, a good team.
Shivers is what I consider a perfect example of all the
right things about adventure gaming. It was produced by Sierra,
at the pinnacle of their glory days of adventure gaming publication,
and it shows. Released in November 1995, the years do date the
design tech but actually not by much, because the game has such
style to it and is, well, so darned playable. Roberta Williams,
the grand dame of adventure gaming, served as a creative consultant.
It is extremely well put together, each part done excellently
to make up a greater whole.
The game plot is wellthought out and contributes to gameplay,
rather than hindering it; we've all seen some games treat the
plot as a red-headed stepchildnot the case here. It is set
at the Windlenot Museum, a museum of the unusual and unnatural.
Professor Windlenot, an archeologist, has collected artifacts
from all over the world and brought them to his museum. The Professor
has disappeared, and evil beings called "Ixupi" have
been let loose within the confines of the museum. You must find
them and capture them in the containers to which they belong,
which have been strewn throughout the museum. In the process,
you uncover the Professor's story as well. One of the jewels of
the game is the museum has really been created to be a museum
as it purports; there are strange and interesting things all around
to look at and read about, and per the notes included with the
package, 90 percent is factual, certainly enough to keep
my history-buff kid interested. The museum voice-overs, like ethereal
docents, have been done to sound like Rod Serling (an interesting
choice over Leonard Nimoymaybe the voice was easier to do).
The story reveals itself as you play the game, and it is fun
and manages to stay interesting despite a number of things to
read or collect. One of the best things about how Shivers was
made was that it is really hard to get stuck and not find something
else to do. There is a wide range of spaces that can be initially
explored or gotten into without too much work, making the game
completely nonlinear and always moving it forward.
As far as graphics gohello Dali! There are no melting clocks
here, but there might as well be. This is one of the most superb
qualities of this game. The design of each room is completely
original and intriguing (take it from a graphic artist). The rooms
vary wildly in what they contain and their motifs, with the common
thread binding them together being the fact that you are in a
museum of the unusual. The cursor is done as they all should be.
No pixel-hunting, it changes appropriately for the situation,
with not too many changes to remember, and this also includes
a pause cursor to let you know that, well, things are just out
of your control at the moment.
The ambient music is simply ominous, foreboding. Sometimes it's
unpleasant, which is apparently on purpose. Even the areas where
it is played lightly for effect, it still sounds like The Exorcist
just before all that stuff started happening. The composer
runs the gamut between orchestral and Nine Inch Nails.
The sound effects are incredible and uncomfortable. Screaming
and begging is mixed in with the music. Doors open in a properly
creaky fashion. Clay pots slide off ledges and sound like ...
clay pots. The only boat missed by the game makers sound effectswise
is the fact that you are apparently floating just above the floor
because your feet have no sound, the only thing in the game that
does not. I mention this as, because of the quality of design,
there is the sensation of walking through this museum, crossing
a room, etc., so no footfall becomes more noticeable.
The puzzles are wildly different from one to the next, with the
only ones having any similarity being the elevator entrance puzzles.
The puzzles themselves in some instances borrow from other puzzles
you've seen, such as Chinese checkers or duplicating a musical
sequence (albeit on a Sumerian lyre), but for the most part they
are entirely fresh and, in some instances, fiendish. Some I found
difficult enough to slow gameplay down for me, and I am partial
to keeping it moving at a nice clip, so I was not happy about
that. Ghosts do jump out at you, from random spots throughout
the game, and suck a little life essence from you if you're not
careful, like an IRS agent (as which I am always surprised more
parents do not dress their children for trick or treat, by the
way, as this is the far scariest thing I can think of becoming).
I love Shivers, but I still hate mazes. And I certainly
like them even less with a woman screaming for help and howling
randomly throughout it. All right, I'll admit I was looking for
a fright, and this certainly did the trick.
The kid gives this an 8 out of 10 on the scare-o-meter, with
Resident Evil a 9, and a 10 being the first time he saw
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in the dark. (Yes, I'm that
kind of mother.)
Release Date: 1995
Four Fat Chicks Links
8 MB free memory
System 6.07 or higher
486 SX 33 MHz or faster
Win 3.1 or better
8 MB RAM
2x CD-ROM drive
640x480 at 256 colors or better
Where to Find It