The start of the game sees you being looked onto the grounds by your friends as part of a dare. You only need to stay until the morning, and they will unlock the gate again. While you are there, you start exploring and will soon discover that the Ixupi are on the loose. What Ixupi are and how you can deal with them is what you need to solve.
The game is a non-linear adventure game. The game doesn't care what order you solve the puzzles in, though certain puzzles are much easier if you find the clues. Recognising the clues when you see them is part of the puzzle though.
The graphics are interesting. They are very pretty, but there is something subtly odd looking about some of the items. Be careful as you go through. Ixupi are everywhere, and they will try to kill you.
The game has some lovely music, interesting sound effects and a *great* narrator voice. The narrator sounds a bit like Rod Serling (Of Twilight Zone) and rates 9.5 out of 10 on the evil laugh scale. I do love a good voice.
The basic interface is fairly standard. The game allows you to turn, go forward, get closer to things, pick up some items. The only items that you can have in your inventory are the talismans and pots that hold Ixupi. Each pot has a matching talisman (lid) that is hiding somewhere in the museum. You can only have one item at any one time in your inventory. So much of the game is spent finding the pots and talismen and noting where they are. You can then return to the them later, when you know where the matching items are.
Because of the size of the museum, and the fact that clues are scattered everywhere, this game can move fairly slowly at first. You may want to think of the game as having a few distinct phases.
Phase one: learn the layout of the museum, look for clues, solve some of the puzzles and keep a list of where to find each pot and talisman.
Phase two: solve the remaining puzzles (those you had to find a clue for) and start assembling the pots and talisman to one unit. Write down where you leave them.
Phase three: start hunting the Ixupi with the completed pots. Since the Ixupi can move around the museum at will, it may take some time to track each of the monsters down. They are limited in number of locations that you'll find them, but it will still take time.
You can combine these phases if you want to. The problem is that one of carrying around one item at a time. It's just is the way I found easiest to deal with this game.
Unlike the average Sierra game, in this one there is a distinct disadvantage to touching everything. Namely, this may easily kill you. Ixupi are hiding in the museum and if you get too close to them without the correct pot, they will take some of your life essence. If you lose enough life essence, you die. You apparently can be brought back from the dead, but the Ixupi have moved everything around in the meantime. I have decided not to try this. One thing to pay attention to is the typical sounds in each room. When there is an Ixupi near you, you may notice a change in the normal sound of the room. Walking under a chandelier, you may realise that this time, the crystals are tinkling. If you don't have the pot for the nearby Ixupi, move quickly.
Many mechanical type puzzles in this game. Some of them are solvable by just playing with them, others you will need to find the clue on what is needed before you try to solve the puzzle. Clues are scattered about the museum in the forms of notes left, scrawled messages on the walls, books and even a movie. A handy hint, the map of the museum is in the Atlantis exhibit (close to the strange animals that the walkthrough in the book told you about.)
With the exception of the elevators, puzzles that are solved stay that way. It may look as though the doors need to have their puzzles solved again, but if you try the door, it will open.
The key gripe is the need to keep traversing the museum. I feel as though I could walk through a full scale model of it blindfolded. No short cuts mentioned in the game book, so you just keep walking all the way. There are some secret passages, or different ways from place to place and you should know them all before you have finished this game.
The secondary gripe is just a small one. Some of the time, the buttons needed to listen to the narrator talk about the exhibit are placed so you have to turn around after you enter a room to press the button. It is minor, yes, but very annoying to realise that you're about to leave the room without pressing the button. Each time you press a different button, it does affect the score.
I find this is a good game overall, but I've had a hard time really getting into it. I've put on my computer and played completely two other adventure games Gabriel Knight: The Beast Within and Mummy: Tomb of the Pharaoh without feeling strongly about finishing Shivers. I suspect that the problem here is that the game has a story-line, but no real plot. And the start of the game is so slow, with you needing to go through most of the museum several times before everything starts coming together. So you need to have patience with this game.
Once you get the tricks down, it really is pretty simple. In one day of play, I could get to almost the same score I had before after several long sessions of play. I have yet to determine if this leaves this game as a definite once only game.