Shivers 2: Harvest of Souls

1997 Sierra On-Line
Designed by Marcia Bales
Reviewed 1997 October 25

Rating +0 Linearity open
Reasonability deductive Connectivity minimal
Difficulty challenging Relevance weak
Interface 1st 360 simple Real-time occasional

Your friends, a rock group, went to Cyclone, a small, remote town in the US southwest. They went there to work for a relative of one of the band members and to make some music videos. After losing contact with them, you go to Cyclone. Not only is the band missing, but most of the town's inhabitants are gone, too. As you investigate, you learn the recent history of the town's people. You also learn about an aboriginal daemon spirit. You must learn the identity of the person possessed by the spirit to defeat it and save your friends.

Shivers 2 has an intricate, involving backstory. It is filled with many characters, although they are not well developed. There's almost no interaction with anybody in the present. Indeed, there is very little developing plot at all: you piece together the backstory and go on a scavenger hunt for aboriginal prayer sticks (bahos).

It seems like there are two games here: a small, relevant adventure, trapped in a collection of logic puzzles. The puzzles are not generally creative or clever, although a few are good. Several weak puzzle ideas are made difficult by adding real-time constraints or by simply making them large and tedious. There is also some repetition of puzzle ideas, the worst being a tanagram to solve for each of the 12 bahos. The adventure game underneath these puzzles is very easy. One fun idea the game has is to bury clues to many puzzles inside the band's music videos.

While Shivers 2 may lack good gameplay design, it lacks nothing in presentation. It uses a 360 degree view engine with lovely graphics. It also features good music effects. There is a well done map feature so there is little tedious trekking about over old ground. The music is not as exotic as in the first Shivers, but it is still very good and it is effectively used. The music videos are better than most I see on television these days.

There's a lot to do in this game. Piecing together the backstory and sifting through the videos for clues are entertaining. However, too many irrelevant puzzles, an uninhabited world, and little developing plot together make for a sterile game. The cheesy abuse of real-time constraints makes it occasionally annoying.

Shivers 2 is an all around improvement over the first Shivers, and is a good choice for people who liked that game, or games like The 7th Guest and Jewels of the Oracle.

Beware! Here are some spoiler-ridden notes on the game. They're only recommended for people who have played the game and want to see some of my rationale for my evaluations.

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    Here's a description of all the gobbledygook in these reviews. It's also a bit of an essay on the nature of adventure games.