The main character soon finds the way in and discovers more than was bargained for: the museum's owner, archaeologist Professor Windlenot, disappeared some 15 years before the story begins - as it turns out, he was killed by energy-sapping elemental spirits called Ixupi. In 1980 two teenagers also went missing; as the player explores, it becomes clear that they broke into the museum themselves and were also victims of the Ixupi.
The object of the game is to survive the night by re-capturing the mischievous spirits of the Ixupi before they drain the player's life force. In order to do this, the player must collect and match up the vessels and lids which once contained the spirits, and then use each complete vessel on its corresponding Ixupi (e.g. the water element vessel, with the water element lid and the water element spirit) to re-capture them one by one.
Of course, this is not as easy as it sounds, as the vessels have been separated from their lids and all of the components have been scattered around the museum, which is itself full of fiendish puzzles set up by the Professor.
The puzzles range from simple (such as realizing that to find each elemental spirit, you have to go to an object or location connected with of the appropriate element), to entertaining (e.g. piecing together information from different areas to solve a puzzle), to relatively difficult (e.g. one of the puzzles is the classic peg solitaire which is rather difficult to complete).
The manual for the game has answers to some early puzzles secretly scattered throughout the pages along with some cryptic quotes that may point to answers for other puzzles.
The game was created using scans of watercolors - some 2500 of them - touched up in Photoshop, along with 3D Studio Max and Ultimatte. The game is notable for its impressive 74 minutes of special effects, background music and other audio. The game's Twilight Zone-style voicework creates a familiar voice commenting on the player's success or failure as he or she navigates the game.
Unlike other Sierra games which were (with the exception of Phantasmagoria) considered safe for almost all ages, Shivers contains locations and situations designed to shock the player - for example, if one stands in the wrong place for too long or touches a deadly object, the game may come to an abrupt and premature end. However, it is very simple to start off from the moment in which one made a fatal mistake, so some may consider it entertaining to lead to the untimely death of the protagonist.
Playing in first-person perspective, the game is remarkably similar in style to the Virgin Interactive/Trilobyte production, the popular The 7th Guest, which introduced this style of gaming. Specifically, the numerous complex puzzles tied into the 7th Guest audience, which contributed in part to its popularity.
- Main article: Shivers 2
- The solution to the Funeral Rites door puzzle (rolling ball puzzle) in the Tombs and Curses room is actually one of the images that comes with Sierra Print Artist 4.0, it is titled EGYPTBKGD.JPG.
Easter Eggs found in the game:
- When going in the underground entrance to the museum you have to flip the circuit breaker on to continue going in the tunnel. If you flip the circuit breaker to "ON", turn to your right and click the bulb 4 times you should hear the message, "Ouch, that's hot."
- When in Man's Inhumanity to Man Room you should see an area with a pitcher and a glass on a table with a skeleton in a cage next to it. If you click the pitcher, glass and the skeleton's hand (in that order) you should hear the message, "I feel yo' pain."
- When in Man's Inhumanity to Man Room you will see an executioner standing next to the block with a man in it. If you click the executioner's lips 4 times you should hear the message, "Sometimes I just feel like losing my head."
- When in Man's Inhumanity to Man Room, after solving the gallows puzzle, click the hung man's nipple and you should hear the message, "I'm not dead yet."
- When in the Strange Inventions room, open the box closest to the Planetarium. Look at the contents, then back up, let the box close, and then immediately open it again. You'll be rewarded with a "S'alright? S'alright", an apparent reference to Señor Wences.
- When in the Voo-Doo room, if you click the Shaman's head on the skull, you will hear the message, "I like Chinese food."
In some frames of the game, a shadow will sometimes move off screen.
- In the spiral staircase (going up to the clock tower), about three frames up, a shadow on the right wall will move. The source of this shadow is still unknown. Some have speculated that this is the stone Ixupi, but since the Stone Ixupi is free, it is most likely somewhere in the world, and not in the museum any longer.
- Template:Note Near the end of the game, the player falls through a trap door, and a male scream is audible.
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- Shivers fan site (includes game info, screenshots, downloads, cheats, etc.)
- Shivers Reviews & Info Adventure Classic Gaming
- AdventureCollective review for Shivers
- GameBoomers review for Shivers
- Game Boomers review for Shivers II
- Shivers puzzle solutions, complete with screenshots and other images