Review: The Shivers by Pop Fiction Games

Review – The Shivers by Pop Fiction Games
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Price – ​​$75, two expansions available as a bundle for $40.

Disclaimer: we purchased the game with our own money, this review is not sponsored. All thoughts are our own.

The Product:

The Shivers is a mystery narrative game that takes players on an adventure through pop-up settings.  The Shivers family will venture into Fogmoor Manor again and again as they work to solve and survive the numerous issues that plague the ancient home.

Players will explore pop-up rooms that represent different areas of Formoor Manor.  Elements of the rooms will change with each adventure in order to keep exploration feeling fresh.  Taking turns, players will check out different pieces of rooms and take other actions in an attempt to advance the plot and eventually win the day.

To properly experience The Shivers, players will need to designate one person as the narrator who will run the game for all other players.  The narrator will be in charge of guiding players through the story, controlling non-playable characters (npcs), giving hints, and helping set the overall tone of the experience.  The episode guides and notes on the back of the pop-ups will help the narrator run the experience more smoothly, but a little improvisation will go a long way to enhance the experience as well.

The Shivers is designed for 2-5 players, and each adventure should take about 30-60 minutes.  The game is appropriate for ages 14+, but each story will also come with content warnings to allow families to decide for themselves.  

Our Thoughts:

We originally missed out on the Kickstarter for The Shivers, so we were ecstatic to come across it at PAX Unplugged.  We immediately purchased the base game and its two expansions.  While we haven’t had a chance to do everything yet, we have had a chance to play through the tutorial game and one of the four-episode arcs (“Possession is 9/10ths of the Problem”).  We both had a chance to play as the narrator and as the active player.

The pop-up book-like nature of the game will be what grabs most people’s attention first, and that’s for good reason.  The different rooms are each very impressive works of art and we love that the slide in backdrops allow for changing elements that should keep the game fresh during different adventures.  The boards are spectacular, but players should be careful since they can be a little fragile (game itself even warns players to handle the game with care).  While we haven’t had any major issues yet, we have definitely been worried about potential tears and bends.  For those playing with younger adventures, they may want to help with opening some of the smaller cabinets and doors.

Beyond just the pop-up features, the game is well designed and produced.  Everything from the chapter guides to the character boards to the standees are quality made.  The game has a fun and slightly cartoony design that is nice to look at and explore.  The design of the characters and monsters infuses them with a lot of life.  Players will be impressed with just how nice The Shivers looks.

While the game is a blast to look at, it is also a game.  The designers clearly had a lot of fun writing the stories that will unfold during gameplay.  They are family friendly, funny, and a tad goofy.  Players should get a kick seeing how stories advance and figuring out just what they need to do to progress forward.

The actual mystery and puzzle elements of the game are on the easier side.  Players should be able to use simple logic to figure things out.  This will make the game very accessible to younger players.  If players get stuck though, the narrator should be able to give them any help they might need. 

There are some dice for players to roll to help determine whether or not they succeed with actions (some required by the game, others left to the narrator’s discretion).  For the most part, it will be hard to actually lose The Shivers, but there is the possibility of reaching a fail state through bad decisions or terrible rolls.

The Shivers will shine most if the narrator and players are willing to fully commit to the roleplaying and tone setting elements of the game.  Improv and imagination will go a long way to spicing up the experience.  The game tries to help by giving each character some background, strengths, and fears.  The Shivers will grant players the opportunity for some silly fun that should seem like a more easily set up roleplaying campaign.  

The visuals and narratives of The Shivers are things they anyone, of any age can enjoy.  The overall enjoyment of the playing experience will probably come down to players’ willingness to immerse themselves in the game and to improvise/roleplay.  If your group is up to the task of acting a bit goofy, The Shivers should be a very fun experience.  If you’re looking for a harder or more straightforward puzzling experience, The Shivers may not be for you.

Official C&C Rating

Narrative: 4.5/5

Puzzles: 2.5/5

Overall Fun: 4/5

Total Averaged Rating: 3.7/5 Stars

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