Shivers II: Harvest of Souls


Developer:   ARC Development

Publisher:   Sierra

Released:   1997

PC Requirements:   486 DX/2 66 or better, Windows 3.1/WIN 95, 12 MB RAM, Double Speed CD-ROM drive, SVGA, Hard Drive, Mouse, Keyboard.




by Rick36

Let’s get the $64,000 question out of the way first. Is Shivers 2 as good as it’s predecessor ?

In my opinion, absolutely yes and then some. I actually played this game before Shivers 1, which might lend itself to a certain bias on my part, though in evaluating both games fairly I sincerely think that 2 is better and for a number of reasons I shall expand on further into the review.

Minimum and recommended system requirements.

1) 486 DX66 (Pentium 133 or better)
2) Windows 3.1 – 9x
3) 12 Mb RAM (16 recommended)
4) Double speed CD ROM (quad recommended)
5) SVGA, 640 x 280 at 256 colours
6) WIN compatible sound card (DAC required)

You are in the town of cyclone, Arizona in the middle of an arid, unyielding and desolate dessert. You are looking for your friends, a young struggling band who were on tour, but who have now mysteriously disappeared. A landslide across the only route in and out of the one-horse town means you are not going anywhere in a hurry. So what is your mission brief ? basically to find your friends and get the hell out of town. Arrhh, but if it was only that simple!

Your main problem is that throughout the game you are being stalked. By what though ? is it an evil, ancient Indian spirit, or a modern day psychotic. The whole town is one big mystery, a puzzle for you to solve.

To save your friends your main objective is to locate a number of bahos, re-imbue them with their ancient mystical powers and place them in the Kiva, what could be more simple ? What the hell is he talking about I hear you mutter.

Let us start at the beginning…

You arrive in town and check in to the local motel. You are greeted by the surly, friendless, monosyllabic and shot gun toting owner of the hotel and given a room. From then on you have no contact with any one else until the very end of the game. Cyclone is deserted, a ghost town. Literally!

You soon discover that your friends have been taken captive by someone (something?) and in order to save them you have to find a number of ancient native American prayer sticks (or bahos), restore their magical spirit and then place them in the altar in the Kiva, which is an ancient Indian ‘holy’ site. The bahos are scattered liberally throughout Cyclone and it’s immediate environs (namely the caves, canyon etc.), all you have to do is find them. Unfortunately your tormentor is rarely far from your side, he seems to be shadowing your every move, manipulating your environment, and generally giving you a rough time.

You are free to roam around the town, puzzling away, though not every location is open to you immediately, many locations become available to you only as you progress and/or solve certain puzzles or find particular clues as to what is going on, or perhaps an inventory item you need to gain access.

The story is terrific, it plants you in the heart of small town America, Cyclone, a town with a secret to hide and riven with parochial prejudices, mistrust of strangers, petty rivalries, jealousies and power plays, the story then throws in ancient native American mythology and folklore, adds a dash of horror and mysticism and finally overlays upon this an intriguing mystery.

There are a number of threads, side issues and sub-plots to the story and these all come together seamlessly as the mystery unfolds. Who is your nemesis ? is it one of the townsfolk playing God, have your friends stumbled on to a secret the town would rather keep buried, is it someone with a grudge, looking for revenge, is it a homicidal maniac or have recent archaeological excavations on ancient Indian sacred grounds unearthed a sinister curse or a malevolent spirit? Is it local native Americans taking revenge for the desecration of their holy ground ?

These are the questions you will need to resolve if you are to find your friends and escape from Cyclone unscathed.

This is as much as I shall say on the story, as it is one of the strengths of the game and the basis for the adventure.

The graphics are wonderful and create an eerie, moody, haunting and atmospheric environment for your adventure. Movement is via ‘Point and Click’ between locations and panning has now been added to the game from the forerunner, Shivers 1, you also have the option to adjust the size of your panorama and your panning speed. The sound too enhances the moody, chilling atmosphere, from the haunting songs and background music to the spine tingling special effects. There is a soundtrack with the game (obviously, as a musical band is at the core of the story) and depending on your taste you might enjoy the tunes, very hippy-cum-Grateful Dead though. More importantly the songs form an integral part of the mystery and…… (pseudo-spoiler coming up if you wish to skip to the next paragraph)…………actually give the player vital clues to assist in many of the puzzles.

And what of the puzzles ? Well, all I can say is that in Shivers 2 your puzzle cup fairly runneth over! There are all manner of puzzles taking all conceivable forms and styles. There is inventory management, logical, spatial, mechanical, pure detecting, sliders…the list goes on. If you like your puzzles, you will certainly not be disappointed. Many of the puzzles are laid for you by your nemesis in order for you to gain the bahos, but there are other puzzles in order for you to gain access to some locations, discover some information about the town or a clue as to what is going on, so they will keep you going for quite a while.

There are a number of features of the game which also enhance the gameplay. You have an on/off ‘hot’ cursor, ie. if you don’t want any hints and want to find everything yourself then turn it off, or if you want to be alerted to a ‘hotspot’ turn it on.

There is also, oh joy of joys, a map with a ‘move to quickly’ facility i.e. if you are in one part of town and need to get all the way across to the other side quickly (and you will, for reasons I shall explain in just a moment) all you have to do is go the map and click on your desired destination and, if you have been there already, you will be zipped there in a heartbeat. This is one facility I think all adventure games should have, I spend so much time in so many games wandering frustratingly between locations, cursing that there isn’t a quicker way of doing it.

On many an occasion you will find it necessary to move quickly between locations. The principal reason for this is that you have a health meter which will drain when you are carrying the bahos, so you need to offload them as soon as possible once you have found them. And yes this does mean that you can die in the game, so frequent saving is the order of the day (the bahos are not the only thing that can diminish you health meter either, so be warned!)

There is also a facility to connect to the internet and chat to other Shivers fans and play the game in a group, although I strongly suspect this facility is probably now defunct given the age of the game. I never tried it so cannot give you a definitive answer on this.

Another novel feature of the game is that you can take some of the puzzles as a base design and construct your own puzzles for others to try and solve, this feature went hand in hand with the internet connection and Shivers forum.

I think Shivers 2 surpasses its forerunner in a number of respects and these are namely :–

1) Through the far more involved, well thought-out, intriguing and thought provoking story-line.
2) The enhanced game features, as described above.
3) The improved graphics and the way in which the sound ties into the whole atmosphere of the game.
4) The quality and diversity of the puzzles is greater and the fact that they are so integral to the story as opposed to just being a bunch of puzzles to solve in order to finish.

In conclusion, and if you have not already guessed, this game is one of my all time favorites. I would advise any adventurer that has not played this game to seek it out without delay and throw it in the CD drive as soon as you can, I don’t think you will be disappointed.

copyright © 2003 GameBoomers

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