In Shivers Two: Harvest of Souls, Sierra has struck just the right cord between rewarding puzzle gaming, detective adventuring and plot. The vehicle for this is an eerie, tight little mystery surrounding your character that has come to Cyclone, Arizona to meet up with his friends, members of a band known as Trip Cyclone. Right away, when you first meet the hotel clerk, you realize this isn't just your ordinary vacation hideaway.
From that point on, you're on your own as you explore Cyclone, trying to locate your friends. You stumble across clues that make it clear the band has at last found a benefactor willing to fund the band's desire to make music videos. Cyclone is surrounded by sheer rock cliffs and as you wander the town, you not only get deeper and deeper into the canyon, but uncover a teeming cesspool of corruption that touches on all the major no-no's, from blackmail to bribery to murder and a few things in between.
As the plot thickens, you become aware of a sinister character named Darkcloud who shadows you and wears a Kachina mask. Shivers Two relies on old Native-American cultural effects to keep this mystery fresh and alluring. You periodically receive bahos (prayer) sticks. As soon as you touch them, the interface changes and your life, depicted as a strip (wooden stick) across the bottom of the screen, begins to bleed away. At this point you must head for an ancient ceremonial altar, called the Kiva, which lies deep in the canyon beyond a cave that is filled with mystical drawings known as petroglyphs.
Each time you solve a particularly difficult puzzle, your reward is a bahos stick and you must race to the cave that contains the petroglyphs and make your way through them as they drain your life force to reach the Kiva. Successfully reaching the Kiva presents you with just enough information and plot advancement to ensure you want to keep going. Sierra's use of this technique is masterful.
Be warned: this game is not an easy romp through a theme park. Puzzles are tantalizingly difficult but not impossible and often solving one simply leads to another, tougher one. Clues pop up that lead you to doors with locks that have to be opened by solving a puzzle that may lead to rooms filled with clues with more puzzles...well, you get the picture.
The soundtrack is exceptionally well done by Trip Cyclone and the music and videos that are playing throughout the town are not just for background effect; these aspects provide substance for clues and adds mood to the game as a whole. The interface is useful, not prohibitive, and the enjoyment of the environment is guaranteed with its panoramic mode. One of the few distractions is the slow start to the game but, in this case, patience will be rewarded as the player gets familiar with his or her quest. Shivers Two lives up to its name and, to this reviewer, exceeds the success level of the original Shivers.
Graphics: Very atmospheric and well done. Lots of visual eye-candy to enjoy during the adventure with above average treatment.
Sound: The music integrates with the plot and creates a viable force throughout the game. The excellent soundtrack by the band is right on the money and is interspersed with other sounds and non-band related music that adds to the mysterious plot.
Enjoyment: Vague beginning might put some gamers off but persistence will win out. The entire package of graphics, music and adventuring is molded beautifully by Sierra. A little bit different from your ordinary graphic adventure. Good fun.
Replay Value: Even though it has three different outcomes, most players won't feel the need to revisit Cyclone. Once through is probably enough but the option remains for multiple endings.
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Shivers, Lighthouse: The Dark Being, Ripper, X-Files Game, The, Titanic: Adventure Out of Time, Still Life, 7th Guest, The, Synnergist
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