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Shiver: Poltergeist
Game Review

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Shiver: PoltergeistRating: 4.5/5.0  

An exciting trip to claim an inherited mansion turns into the stuff of horror movies in Shiver: Poltergeist, a hidden object adventure game. Escape the clutches of a poltergeist intent on causing you harm, and get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding the spirit and your long-lost family. Find out what caused the spirit so much anger, and how you can set things right.

Shiver: Poltergeist is the second game in the series by Artogon Games, following the hauntingly beautiful Shiver: Vanishing Hitchhiker. While you are still dealing with the spirits of the dead, this time it’s more dangerous, as you now have to face off against a poltergeist that has the ability to throw furniture around and set fire to everything around you.

The story starts out like your standard hidden object adventure game: bored of your day-to-day life, you are excited to find out you are the heir of an English mansion. However, your trip to inspect the property turns into a fight for survival as you get trapped in the building by a vengeful spirit. You will need to investigate your long-lost family’s mysterious history, and find out why the ghost hates you so. And there’s also the issue of the butler who seems to be unaffected and seemingly unaware of the ghost’s presence.

Shiver: Poltergeist

" This game pushes the envelope
with its strong and smooth
storytelling, and is overall
a very exciting game to play. "

The game takes you on an adventure exploring the mansion and grounds, including the stables and the nearby lake (the Collector’s Edition also has a bonus chapter that lets you explore the spooky lighthouse that features in the story). You will be doing a fair bit of moving back and forth between the many locations as you try to find out more about the family’s background and their connection to the poltergeist.

Along the way, you will pick up plenty of objects that will help you progress through the game. They can come in the form of simple tools such as keys and screwdrivers to get past stubborn locks, or in the form of puzzle pieces that when placed in the right location will reveal more clues or launch puzzle minigames. In a bit of a unique twist, some of the items you find are puzzles themselves; you might pick up a lockbox that can only be opened once you solve its puzzle lock.

There are also plenty of hidden object scenes throughout the game. They are your standard list of items that you need to pick out from a cluttered scene; some of them will also require prior manipulation before you can grab them. However, the game does manage to make these hidden object scenes a bit more interesting by making them flow a bit more smoothly from the rest of the game. For example, some of these scenes don’t just pop up when you click on a sparkly area; you need to get to them by breaking a cabinet lock or draining a bathtub.

Shiver: PoltergeistIn the same vein, the game developers have done a remarkable job in making the game flow very smoothly overall. The various puzzles, cutscenes and intermittent animations are composed together very well to make you feel like you’re experiencing an exciting story rather than just moving from scene to scene and solving one puzzle after the other. It also doesn't hurt that the story itself is pretty engaging (other than the very typical beginning about the protagonist inheriting an estate he’s never heard of).

Other features that make the game stand out include the smart use of dark rooms and flashlights to further convey the spookiness of the environment. The art is also exceptionally beautiful, in a dark and foreboding style. It is drawn with a painterly feel, and nicely captures the cold and wet atmosphere of the estate’s grounds, as well as the dangerous indoor fires created by the poltergeist. Well-animated ambient effects also help to draw you in to this eerie world.

The feature that really stands out though is the added “realism”. For example, when you click on a locked door, you don’t just zoom into a static close-up view of the lock. The screen actually “wobbles”, as if you are trying to move and adjust yourself to get a better view of the lock. You also see shadow plays and slight movement through the keyhole. This feature is also used to great effect as your screen wobbles when you stare over a balcony onto the rocky cliffs far below…

It’s encouraging to see so many hidden object games becoming more like animated stories that you get to take part in, rather than just a series of puzzles and well-painted scenes. This game pushes the envelope with its strong and smooth storytelling, and is overall a very exciting game to play. You will love it if you liked Shiver: Vanishing Hitchhiker or other supernatural-themed games such as the Midnight Mysteries series.

You can get the basic version of the PC game, or you can get the Collector's Edition that features exclusive extras including a bonus chapter, strategy guides and more. Or get the basic version or Collector's Edition of the Mac game.

 

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