Shivers GOG PC Game Review | Sierra’s 1995 Horror Adventure Game

October 7, 2019

My girlfriend was like “Ah, there is this
cool old PC game I used to play when I was younger, we should play it together and
then you can cover it on your channel.” Alright, so here’s a Game Show first. I’m
playing with my girlfriend and here we go with Shivers! Shivers is a 1995
point-and-click adventure game from Sierra On-Line. The opening FMV shows us
that we are a teenager who’s been dared to spend the night in a spooky haunted
museum at the top of the hill. After your d***head mates drive off and leave you
there, it’s up to you to solve that first puzzle to break into the museum. In doing
so you find out that 15 years ago another two teenagers broke into this
museum AND DIED.
Oh good. Nothing’s given to you right off the bat. You’ve got no idea what you’re doing. Right from the start, the whole of Professor Windlenot’s “Museum of the Strange and Unusual” is given to you to explore and
you’ve got one endless night in which to explore it. By looking around Professor
Windlenot’s bizarre cacophony of mysteries, you eventually stumble into
the main objective of the game. As previously mentioned; 15 years prior, two teenagers broke into the museum but they accidentally opened 9 clay pots, each one
containing an IRL real-life evil spirit. Brilliant. I mean why stop at one,
right? Just just open the lot you f***ing morons! Anyway ,these spirits are called
the Ixupii and they then sucked the life out of those stupid teenagers and
unfortunately, the professor as well. Since then the museum has been condemned.
No one’s been allowed in it and it’s been left up on top of that hill to rot,
until you showed up. As you’re looking around Windlenot’s
museum, you find out that he’s a bit of a tragic bloke. Laughed out of the
scientific community for his obsession with pseudo-scientific rubbish like
ancient aliens and spooky ghosts, Atlantis, the Hollow Earth theory – all
that stuff. Turning his back on the snooty establishment, Windlenot decides
to do what every mental person in history’s ever done and spend his entire
family fortune on building a mental collection of crazy rubbish from around
the world. Turns out though, some of this rubbish is true! Sadly, the only
place that contains proof that all these things are real is this condemned old
museum that no one’s ever going to go to. Lucky for you though, by collecting it
all together, Windlenot has given you all the information you need to trap the
Ixupi and save the day. To be fair, for 1995 I cannot knock Shivers for story and setting. Sierra On-Line never shied away
from horror or grisly stuff in their PC games and Shivers fits pretty well into
their early 90s horror catalog. The spooky museum is actually fairly spooky! It’s kinda 90s, “Goosebumps” atmosphere rather than compared to something more
modern like SOMA, but nevertheless I cannot fault the
presentation. The game is an adventure game, but it plays out in first-person so
it’s a bit like Myst or 7th Guest. If you’ve not played either of those
games then essentially you’re clicking on screen to move around. You click to
move forwards, you click to turn around. When you think about it, it’s perfect for
jump scares really. It feels primitive to be honest. It’s not something I’ve ever
really liked, but objectively it doesn’t negatively impact the game. This is one
of the things that I can remember most about Shivers. It’s
certainly the thing that the missus remembers the most, so in making Shivers a memorable and different PC game, then fair play. As I was playing Shivers, I was struck by just how much work it would have been to
make this PC game. I looked it up and Shivers contains over two and a half
thousand hand-drawn paintings that have been scanned in. They’ve been digitally
photoshopped over the top of, there’s also more digital painting;
there’s blue screen actors, chromakeying, CGI, 3D modeling. You can’t knock the work that Sierra put into Shivers. Considering that this game is running in 640×480, they’re cramming a lot into those pixels! Whilst we are on the positives, the sound
and music in Shivers was well received at the time and for good reason. Taking
advantage of that CD-ROM format, the music in Shivers is probably one of the
best things about it. All sound and music was undertaken by just one bloke – Guy
Whitmore. He went on to make the music for the Blood games and No-one Lives
Forever. Some of the creepier music was genuinely spooking us out. The
corridor theme, whilst kind of goofy nowadays, is a proper ear worm. [music plays] Aside from all that good stuff, Unfortunately the area that the Shivers game starts to fall down is *the game*.
Everything up until this point has been good, but the game is kind of awful. If it
was two and a half thousand images it would probably just be wicked. The museum is like a maze and moving around it gets tedious after a while. You’ve got to
revisit and backtrack to the same old places time and again and it’s not like
you can WASD your way around. You’re just clicking five hundred
million times. Now I did say before that objectively that Myst style doesn’t
ruin the game, but you are just more aware of the backtracking when you’re
just clicking on the mouse non-stop. Also, the puzzles are bulls***. Some of them are logical, at the very least you can figure them out from playing them. But
the organ, the harp. Those two music based puzzles are absolute garbage. Admittedly
not all the puzzles are like this, in fact some of them are so good that
Resident Evil 3 copied them so there is good in here. I’m not
being completely negative, but even the smallest nugget of poo will ruin even
the biggest bowl of ice cream. The fact that you can only carry one or two inventory items does grate on you. To trap the Ixupi, you need to find the pots
the teenagers opened 15 years ago. That is, the right pot and the right lid
for the right Ixupi. If you have the right pot but the wrong lid, then you
have to choose which one that you want to carry around. The locations of the
pots, the lids and the Ixupi is random, so you’ve got no clear direction really at any
point in the game. The Ixupi move around the museum, so once you finally find the
right pot and the right lid, you’re still clicking about the place just trying to
find the right bloody ghost! Once you’ve finally caught that ghost, the process
starts again. 9 times you’ve got to do this. This is easily one of, if not
*the* most tedious gameplay loops I’ve ever played in a game. It’s not about
hating on old games, that’s not what I’m about. I like having to take notes
physically in a notepad, I like having to draw little maps. That’s part of the
old-school gaming experience, I get it! But the
randomness of this game, with the tedium of just clicking around the place
that combinationt just got too much for us. If you want to play Shivers, it’s
not available on GOG or Steam. Shivers is complete abandonware. You’ll need
to track down a physical copy like we did. You could probably find it on
abandonware websites but then again I imagine that you would need an old PC to
run it on. In closing, the missus enjoys Shivers for the nostalgia, we enjoyed
playing a PC game together and it was fun for me to play a game that I’d never
even heard of let alone played before. If you’re new to adventure games then there
is two dozen games that I can recommend before you play this. If however
you’ve played all the usual suspects and you’re looking for something spooky, then
fill your boots. Just get ready to be clicking on that mouse! Thank you very
much for watching. For more old PC gaming videos, please subscribe to The Game Show.

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