Professor Windlenot’s Museum of the Strange and Unusual sits in Mt. Pleasant, Ohio. Opened by Sir Hubert Windlenot, the museum was intended to highlight the arcane knowledge Windlenot gathered over the course of his career with the The President, Council and Fellows of the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge (typically referred to by the much more succinct “Royal Society”).
Sadly, the museum was never completed. To make matters worse, a pair of high school students unleashed evil spirits (known as the ixupi), which consumed them and the professor. It is your job to capture the ixupi and liberate the spirits of Windlenot and the teens. You do this by finding the urns meant to hold the malevolent spirits. There are ten in total.
This, in a nutshell, was the game Shivers, released by Sierra On-Line in 1995 for Windows and Mac. The game has drawn numerous comparisons to 1993’s Myst. It was an adventure game that operated from a first person view. However, unlike Myst, you had a life meter. The ixupi could chip away at your health as the game went on.
Gameplay involved exploring the museum while solving a variety of puzzles. The game maintains a creepy ambiance throughout, amplified by the game’s soundtrack. As you play, you can read the descriptions of the museum’s bizarre collection (though you had to avoid the ixupi as you did so). Once you complete the game’s main mission, you could continue exploring the museum.
The game was designed by Marcia Bales, who had a passion for both travel and archaeology. Her initial game concept involved travelling the world to collect the spirits. The idea of placing the game in a set location came from Roberta Williams (designer of the game Phantasmagoria). The concept for the ixupi came from Bales knowledge of South American cultures, while incorporating aspects of Egyptian mythology and a variety of other folklore and legends.
Willie Eide, who worked as the game’s lead developer, was responsible for the game’s inclusion of closed captions. According to Eide, “I come from a deaf family. My parents are deaf and a couple of my brothers are deaf so having deaf individuals or hard-of-hearing individuals play our game is very important to me. So we really tried to make sure that the hard-of-hearing person, although he will miss the cool stereo ambient sounds that we have in each of the rooms, will at least be able to play the game and all the puzzles.”
There were a few bugs in the gameplay that could make it frustrating. Your character could only carry one item at a time. You also had to repeat some of the puzzles as you traveled through the museum. That said, the graphics and ambiance were enough to keep it engaging.