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Video Game / Shivers (1995)
aka: Shivers

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Shivers is a Survival Horror Point-and-Click computer game published by Sierra On-Line, released in 1995.

The story centers around a Featureless Protagonist who is sent on a Test of Courage into Professor Windlenot's Museum of the Strange and Unusual. You soon discover, however, that the museum is haunted by the Ixupi, evil spirits that suck away the life force of those around them. Fifteen years before your arrival, the eccentric Professor Windlenot was hard at work on his museum when two teenagers snuck inside and accidentally released the evil Ixupi. Neither of the teenagers or the Professor himself have been seen since that night. In order to survive your own night trapped inside the museum, you must find the Soul Jars for each spirit and seal each one into its proper container.

The game is heavy on puzzle gameplay, and many of the puzzles are surprisingly difficult. These range from Enter Solution Here to Guide Dang It!. Mercifully, the game introduces a "flashback" feature rarely seen in other adventure games. Whenever you come across a code or a solution to a puzzle, the game will store the solution as a "memory" to help avoid backtracking and note taking.

A sequel titled Shivers Two: Harvest of Souls was released in 1997. It is set in the same world, but does not continue the story of Shivers.

Not to be confused with the classic David Cronenberg film of the same name.

This series has examples of:

  • Abandoned Area: The Museum of the Strange and Unusual. It had troubles in its early years and there were always doubts about its completion, but after the events of fifteen years ago no one has gone in or out...until you.
  • Adrenaline Makeover: Beth is written as a foolish sort of girl with a crush on Merrick. She slacks off in school and writes silly notes to friends during class. However, despite being trapped in the museum and scared out of her mind, Beth starts solving puzzles and leaving messages for Merrick. She tells you that she "almost solved the final riddle". It is shown that she is very smart at math and physics, but doesn't often apply herself in school.
  • Always Night: Justified, as the whole game takes place over one night.
  • Ancient Tomb: All over the place, especially in the "Tombs and Curses" and "Funeral Rites" exhibits.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Windlenot's tape recorder and Merrick's diary. There are also photos and videos of the two teenagers fleeing in fear.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Ixupi pots. Windlenot laments ever having brought them to the museum, and Beth and Merrick sorely regret fiddling with them.
  • Ashes to Ashes: One of the Ixupi is this.
  • Backtracking: Loads. There are ten Ixupi and each pot has two components, so the player will often find the two parts of a pot in completely different sections of the museum. Once the pot has been assembled there are multiple locations for each Ixupi, some of them very far apart, so if you don't run into the Ixupi at one location you have to visit the others. And there's no guarantee that after checking one location, the Ixupi doesn't move back to it.
  • Barred from the Afterlife: This is the final fate of Prof. Windlenot, Merrick and Beth. The Ixupi are attacking you not only to consume your life essence, but to switch you into their vessels so they can escape into the world. Conversely, the player character can release imprisoned souls.
  • Big Bad: The Ixupi are evil spirits that were accidentally released from their prison, and now haunt the museum and suck away the life force of others. The protagonist must seal each of them away.
  • Bookcase Passage: In the library, there is a secret pot compartment revealed by pulling out a book. There is also an opening in the back which reveals the hallway to the power plant, although it is not hidden when you find it.
  • Bonus Dungeon: The Fortune Teller Room and Professor Windlenot's Bedroom are these. They are dead ends with no places to hide pods or talismans, so you can finish the game without entering them at all. They contain clues and hints, however, as well as the pot containing Merrick's soul.
  • Bottomless Bladder: There is only one toilet in the entire museum, and it's all the way upstairs, past a handful of puzzles. Windlenot has a bedroom in one of the museum's towers, accessible only by elevator, and he lives there full time. If he ever had to pee, he'd spend twenty minutes just getting to the bathroom.
  • Blatant Lies: "You can back out at any time." Then they leave you with the gate locked.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: After you beat the game, you get the opportunity to walk through the museum without fear of being killed by spirits. Also, completing the hated "red door" puzzle only opens the door between the Gods and the Myths & Legends exhibits; It makes getting around the museum slightly easier, but both of these exhibits can be accessed through other rooms, so it's more than possible to finish the game without solving it.
  • Chekhov's Exhibit: In the main hall one of the first displays you see is that of a prized jade skull, which is said to be one of the largest jade items in the world. However, the glass is shattered and the skull is nowhere to be seen. You do indeed find it later, next to the body of Merrick. He took it to use as a weapon. It turns out that there was a jade Ixupi, and Merrick died because he had the object in his possession. Jade is the Ixupi that ultimately claims the last of his life essense and his spirit is found inside jade's pot.
  • Cobweb Jungle: Subverted. No one has set foot in the museum for fifteen years, and yet almost everything works perfectly, like the lights, the electricity, the puzzles, and the security cameras. The dead bodies and some songs on the jukebox are the only things that show their age. Floors are still shiny, the water lines are still active, and there's not a cobweb or speck of dust on anything. Even the bodies are a little suspect: Windlenot and Merrick look pretty good for being dead so long.
  • Convenient Cranny: Subverted, in that the crannies turn out not to be so convenient. Merrick hides inside a hollow lion, but because he is clutching the jade skull he is killed anyway. Beth hides in the basement wall but she is eventually caught by fire. Windlenot is seen in the underground cavern, but the walls are made of stone and it is stone that kills him; With the last of his strength, he draws the symbol of the Ixupinote 
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Windlenot, judging from the exhibits he managed to set up before the Ixupi escaped and took his life. It's a shame that he died before Ancient Astronauts began airing because he'd fit right in on that show.
  • Closed Circle: You're locked in the grounds to begin with. Once you enter the museum proper, you can never go back outside.
  • Clock Tower: The, uh, clock tower. Complete with darkness, melancholy violin music, creepy moving shadows, and clockwork mechanisms.
  • Creepy Basement: The basement power plant. The hallway to reach it is decorated with skulls and skeleton hands. The power plant itself is fairly innocuous, if it wasn't for Beth's long-dead body in the wall and the final boss Ixupi, Electricity.
  • The Darkness Gazes Back: Sometimes, when returning from the Subterranean World to the Main Entry Hall via a secret passage, you can see sparkly red eyes and hear a growl. While common theory assumes it's an Ixupi that can't properly manifest, it remains unknown what exactly this is supposed to be.
  • Deadly Prank: The protagonist's friends lock them up inside the museum as a prank, and the spirits within then try to kill them. The trope obviously becomes literal if the player loses.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: To some extent. The characters have been dead for fifteen years, but the museum is littered with their personal belongings: a planner, report card, letters, photographs, diaries, voice recordings, video recordings, and, of course, their interactions with you when you release them from the pots they've been trapped in. We find out a lot about Windlenot's tragic personal life, Beth's poor performance in school and her crush on Merrick, and Merrick's fascination with getting into the museum.
  • Did Not Think This Through: Widdlenot's tape recording in his office shows that he may have had regrets about having the puzzles everywhere in the museum, acting as a hindrance for his escape as well as leading to the deaths of himself and the two students.
  • Drum Roll, Please: A snare drum beat is the only part of the soundtrack in the "Man's Inhumanity to Man" exhibit.
  • Dysfunctional Family: The Windlenots. They are thoroughly embarrassed by Hubert and eager to disown him. His wife forces him to stop contacting their son.
    • Merrick's family may qualify. He and his father moved into town together and there is no mention of his mother. They seem to get along well, however.
    • Possibly Beth's family as well. From her progress report, we find Rachel Nelson (her mother) is the custodial parent. From Beth's notes to Marianne we learn that to raise Beth's grade, her mother has no issue with flirting with Beth's student advisor (whom Rachel used to date); Beth expects this will be enough for her to pass. From her address book, we also find out that her mother has held a series of menial labour type jobs (three crossed out and one current at a tavern). Also from her address book, we find out that her parents are divorced and her father is remarried; Beth refers to her father's wife, Sylvie, as "the wicked stepmother".
  • Easter Egg: And how. Some of them are random events that are triggered by you walking around. Some involve clicking things repeatedly or in a specific order. They seem to fall into two categories: terrifying, and hilarious.
    • The jukebox in the clock tower contains a few songs from the deluxe version of Mixed-Up Mother Goose, which Shivers composer Guy Whitmore did the music for.
  • Enter Solution Here: Quite a few puzzles involve hints from around the museum.
  • Evil Elevator: Subverted. The elevator music is jaunty and hilariously incongruous to the rest of the game. It even turned up in Phantasmagoria: A Puzzle of Flesh.
  • Fake Trap: Some of the museum exhibits are set up to give guests a scare, but luckily the Ixupi are the only things that can actually harm you.
  • Featureless Protagonist: Not exactly genderless, as the few times the player character speaks, it's with a distinctly male voice.
  • Final Girl: Subverted: Beth almost figured out all the puzzles, but was killed before she could solve them.
  • Game Within a Game: Some of the puzzles; one involves you playing Chinese Checkers, another is a game widely known as Master Mind.
  • Ghostly Goals: Although they have been imprisoned against their will, each of the dead characters has something to tell you when you release them. Windlenot warns you to leave the museum. Beth advises you about puzzles. Merrick...well, Merrick freaks out about being in the pot and losing Beth. But you can hardly blame him.
  • Giant Eye of Doom: On the cover art.
  • Guide Dang It!: The "red door" puzzle is one of the hardest in the game.
    • The "Chinese Checkers" puzzle is exceptionally tedious - you have to do more than thirty very exact moves, and you can't undo one if you realize you've messed up, only start over.
    • Master Mind is extremely difficult, especially if you don't have a head for numbers.
  • Haunted Technology: One of the Ixupi hangs around electric machinery.
  • Hazardous Water: The Ixupi of water is the first to attack you.
  • Hearing Voices: All over the place. In the Theater, you can hear indistinct oratory (lines from the play Hamlet) and applause. In the "Man's Inhumanity to Man" exhibit, there are angry mob yells and distorted screams. The puzzle room has a tortured-sounding man saying things like "get away from meeeeee!". The service corridors and the Underground exhibit have screams for help woven into the soundtrack.
  • Horrifying the Horror: Reuniting each pot with its lid and capturing the Ixupi is very unpleasant for them, and they will scream horribly when you manage to seal them away.
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...: Merrick's ghost laments that it's "so dark and cold" in the pot.
  • I'm Having Soul Pains: The Ixupi steal your "life essence" when they attack you.
  • Instant Runes: Subverted. Windlenot was in the middle of drawing a rune on the ground when he was killed.
  • Inventory Management Puzzle: You can only carry one item at a time, either an Ixupi jar or a lid. If you find a jar or lid that goes with a corresponding inventory item, you get to combine them, but they are then treated as one item.
  • Jerkass: Your "friends." They lock you in the place, then nonchalantly talk about the kids that disappeared in the museum and how "they never found the bodies." Real funny, guys. Thanks a lot.
    • And, at the very end, the newspaper announces that "four teenagers" were the first on the scene. They bullied you into staying the night...and then took all the credit!
  • It's Probably Nothing: At the beginning you hear a bone-chilling howl and a very faint warning ("get out, get out! They are evillll!"). Your loser friends try to play it off. "That was just a dog howling." "There was something more than that!" "Well, I think this place is just getting us all spooked!"
  • Karma Houdini: While you succeed in sealing away most of the Ixupi, the three that killed the professor and the two teens (the Stone, Jade, and Fire Ixupi) are long gone, having escaped into the world years ago after using the victims' life forces to fully free themselves from their tethers to their canopic jars.
  • Leitmotif: A certain theme plays when an Ixupi is near. The theme varies from exhibit to exhibit.
  • Living Shadow: There are some points where a shadow moves along the wall. It has no apparent purpose but to scare the daylights out of you.
  • Live-Action Cutscene: The game begins and ends with live-action cutscenes of your "friends" locking you on the museum grounds and arriving to find you, respectively. There are also three ghost scenes that use live actors, as well as Windlenot's film used to open the door to the Subterranean World.
  • Losing Your Head: The Man's Inhumanity to Man exhibit features a guillotine with a dummy whose head you have to cut off to reveal a clue. There is an unpleasant noise when you do this.
  • Man-Eating Plant: It won't hurt you, but it is implied that there is one in the "Amazing Plants" exhibit. An Easter egg makes one of the plants moves on its own if you stand in the right place for a few moments.
  • Mayincatec: The origin of the Ixupi.
  • The Meddling Kids Are Useless: Beth and Merrick start all the trouble in the museum, and even though they come close to resolving it, they ultimately fail, without recapturing even single Ixupi.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Subverted. Beth is also killed.
  • Mr. Exposition: If you push the button on the wall in an exhibit, a voiceover will give you an introduction to the exhibit and even give you some related trivia.
  • Museum of the Strange and Unusual: The setting, and the Trope Namer.
  • Musical Trigger: The Ominous Pipe Organ in "The Mysteries of the Deep" exhibit. If you play the right sequence of notes, the way to the Subterranean World opens.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Beth and Merrick should have just kept their hands to themselves.
  • Non-Fatal Explosions: You're standing a few feet away from an enormous power generator which then blows up so spectacularly that it destroys a whole section of the wall, revealing the museum grounds. You haven't got a scratch, of course.
  • No Romantic Resolution: Merrick doesn't think too much of Beth (he does mention she's kind of cute), but he still takes her with him to the museum. Beth has a major crush on him, but there is zero implication that he ever felt anything strongly for her (aside from his anguished inquiries about her fate when you release his spirit, though that seems to be more about regret for bringing her into this mess). They split up after the Ixupi are released, and though they help each other by leaving notes, they ultimately die far away from one another. It doesn't look like Beth ever even told him how she felt.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: This game really makes you feel like you're all alone in the museum... until a spirit pops out of nowhere and steals your soul.
  • One-Word Title: It's just Shivers.
  • Ominous Music Box Tune: The Fortune Teller room.
    • The songs on the jukebox in the clock tower. Although they were recorded innocently, some of the songs have deteriorated and sound creepy. You're also listening to them all alone in the dark, shadowy tower, after quite possibly seeing a frightening Easter egg.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: See Musical Trigger.
  • Police Are Useless: Two teenagers and the eccentric, well-known creator of the town's running joke go missing in the same day. Merrick has spent his last weeks trying to find out anything he can about the Professor. Clearly the disappearances are linked, but it seems that the museum was never searched. Its security is nonexistent. For fifteen years no one heard a word from Windlenot, or about the fate of the museum, and no one thought it was worth poking around EVEN A LITTLE BIT? There's no telling if the police would have solved the puzzles and found the bodies, but there's nothing to suggest they even TRIED.
  • Posthumous Character
  • Room Full of Crazy: All of the rooms to some extent, but most notably the Puzzle exhibit, with its Creepy Circus Music and simultaneous crazy laughing and pleading in the background.
  • Recurring Riff: Whenever you're close to an Ixupi, a certain tune will play.
  • The Ruins I Caused: At the end, when you have blown out the power generator, the wall of the basement collapses completely, and your four terrible friends come bumbling through the wreckage to find you, surveying the damage from a high slope of ground.
  • Rule of Scary: Many of the Easter eggs. The only things in the museum that can harm you (and are alive and moving around) are the Ixupi, and yet you can see glowing eyes accompanied by a hiss, and multiple instances of human-like shadows moving across the wall. They are still very shocking, of course, but their presence doesn't make a lot of sense in context.
  • Safe Zone Hope Spot: There could be an Ixupi in almost every room, even if it seems safe enough.
  • Scare Chord: Oh yes.
  • Schmuck Bait: A point-and-click adventure player's natural instinct is to click on everything on screen to see if anything activates. In Shivers, clicking willy-nilly on random objects is a good way to get a face-full of Ixupi.
  • Scoring Points: You get points for reading exhibits, examining objects, solving puzzles, and sealing away spirits. You lose points every time you get hurt. The points don't do anything.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can
  • Soul Jar
  • Spinning Paper: At the end.
  • Spinventory
  • Stalking Is Funny if It Is Female After Male: In Windlenot's diary we read that Beth, who has a crush on Merrick, has been following him after school. Windlenot thinks it's very funny, though mainly because Merrick is obsessed with Windlenot, creating an "obsession triangle."
  • Starter Villain: Downplayed with the Ash Ixupi. The pot and lid intended to capture it are always in the same places in every game and are both in the general area where the player starts out once they get into the museum, so it's nearly always the player's first target. It's also always in Windlenot's fireplace in the office where the player enters the museum, so it's likely the second ixupi that the player runs into (the water one being the first).
  • Stupidity Is the Only Option
  • Suddenly-Harmful Harmless Object: Almost anything could be a hiding place for an Ixupi. Even if it wasn't last time you were in the room.
  • That Was the Last Entry: Merrick's diary in particular, but also Windlenot's, as he discusses Beth and Merrick. Merrick's last entries are written from inside the museum, in a panic, and he says something to the effect of, "I'm going to hide in here! They'll never find me!"
  • The Corpse Stops Here: Subverted, in that although you are the first person to find the bodies, they are fifteen years old and it's fairly clear that you didn't kill them. One must wonder how their cause of death will be rationalized by the police.
  • Turn Out Like His Father: Something that Windlenot's wife, Mary Elizabeth, fears. You find a scathing letter from her "advising" (read: threatening) Hubert to cease all contact with their son Geoffrey. Hubert is an embarrassment to his family because of his eccentricity and his single-minded drive in the seemingly hopeless task of building his museum. Hubert does stop contacting Geoffrey... but not because of his wife's letter.
  • What Does She See in Him?: Spoken nearly word-for-word in a note from Beth's friend. Merrick's into "dead mummies and stuff"! What do you see in him?!
  • Written Sound Effect: Once the electricity ixupi is captured, pretty much all of the sound effects featured in the ending end up in the subtitles if they're turned on.
  • Youth Is Wasted on the Dumb: You get dared into spending the night at the museum.

Alternative Title(s): Shivers