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Shiver: Vanishing Hitchhiker


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Rating: 4.4/5 (35 votes)
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Shiver: Vanishing Hitchhiker

DoraDriving home one night in the pouring rain, you decide to stop and give a lift to a young woman standing shivering on the side of the road. She's pretty, alone, and very, very quiet. It isn't until after you drop her off at the edge of a rundown little town that you realise she's left you something: an old teddy bear in the backseat of your car. The very same teddy bear you remember from your childhood, in fact. But will you be prepared for what you find when you go looking for her? Shiver: Vanishing Hitchhiker from Artogon Games is an atmospheric, creepy, and unsettling hidden-object adventure, and is also one of the best examples of horror and mystery in a casual download title to date.

Shiver: Vanishing HitchhikerShiver: Vanishing Hitchhiker is the point-and-click adventure that walks like a hidden-object hybrid. For the most part, your time will be spent exploring areas and trying to figure out what items you need to proceed as you search for clues. The cursor will change when you pass over a portion of the environment you can get in closer to or interact with, and if you're playing in casual difficulty mode, the game will even mark those spots with intermittent sparkles. The hint button can be used the traditional way to locate items in hidden-object scenes, but if you use it during regular gameplay it will also point you towards where you should go next. You've also got a flashlight and a camera at your disposal that you can use any time you wish. The flashlight, rather predictably can be used to illuminate the dark areas and help you find your way around, while the camera, well... let's just say sometimes it might help you see more than you'd expect.

Analysis: I've been complaining for a long time now that casual games frequently hold back from being really scary, so this was a real treat. The atmosphere in this game is absolutely brilliant in places, and is the sort of thing you should probably be playing alone with the lights shut off and the sound turned off. (Or, better yet, headphones.) The rain picks up as you wander down the street. A murder of crows takes flight as you round a corner. There are a lot of startling, scary, and even downright unsettling moments, but really only one instance that might qualify as a "jump scare" towards the latter half of the game, and that at least is fairly predictable. It's when you don't know what's coming that the game keeps you on edge and afraid to switch on your flashlight or peer through a keyhole. The stylistic influences from Silent Hill are pretty obvious (seriously, am I the only one nerdy enough to think that map looks familiar?), but if you're a horror fan you'll probably also recognise echoes of a lot of Asian horror movies as well.

Shiver: Vanishing HitchhikerThe bad news is... well, the fact that there's even bad news at all. It's kind of a cliché, but the game can be likened to a roller coaster, if only because of its wild ups and downs; I went from being absolutely enraptured, to annoyed, to frightened, to frustrated and back throughout the course of the gameplay. A massive chunk of the chapter that takes place on the island is just drawn out backtracking without a lot of the atmosphere and chills of the rest of the game. The island is also stuffed with a lot of extra hidden-object scenes that don't feel like they fit It's not the proverbial nail in the coffin, but it is frustrating, and makes you feel as though the whole game would have been better off as "just" a point-and-click adventure. Yeah, I know I sound like a whiner, but it feels like it interrupts the flow of the rest of the gameplay and story so much whining is justified. Meh. Meh. Meeeeeeeeh!

Still, it should tell you something that despite all my plaintive caterwauling I still kept playing, and am still happy to recommend it. It looks and sounds great, and you'll want to keep going to find out how it all ends... or at least to see what the game is going to try to use to creep you out next. The story deviates drastically from the urban legend that provides the opening hook, and while there's no denying that some aspects of it are tighter than others and you might see the big twist coming, it's definitely entertaining and a creepy good time. It's satisfying when it's over in the same way watching any good scary movie is. I'll have to ask my Great Grandmother if she laid any ancient curses in her time, because now I'm kind of concerned that I'm slacking off compared to my ancestors.

Shiver: Vanishing Hitchhiker is a game that has its faults, but is ultimately a game I was glad to play, delivering some genuinely scary moments, and an interesting story. The bonus chapter included in the Collector's Edition shouldn't even be a "bonus" to begin with, because the story as it is ends on such a massive cliffhanger and the bonus chapter picks up exactly where it left off and basically fills in the gaps in the story and provides a proper ending. Altogether I spent around four to five hours on it, though of course your mileage may vary (particularly if you don't have a review deadline looming). Horror fans should definitely check out the demo to see if it's their cup of tea. I sincerely hope we see more horror titles from developers Artogon Games in the future because if this one is any indication, they really know how to create a creepy, bumpy ride.

A Collector's Edition is also available. It contains a bonus chapter to play, wallpapers, strategy guide, and more. Remember that Big Fish Game Club Members pay only $13.99 for Collector's Editions (or 2 club credits), and collector's editions count 3 card punches of 6 total needed for a free game.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version
Also available: Collector's Edition

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Download the demo
Get the full version
Also available: Collector's Edition

18 Comments

monkeyrind Author Profile Page March 25, 2011 8:58 PM

I'm afraid I have to disagree on the review. I usually like Dora's reviews, but I don't see any type of correlation to Silent Hill in this game. I played it today and enjoyed it's moody atmosphere, it's interesting storyline and the bonus play. (a little too short though).

Silent Hill has gray tones but that is where the similarities end. Many games have maps...but this map is nothing like Silent Hill. So there is a cemetary, a house, an orphanage..it's a town.

Good game...from a map designer.

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I love horror games that focus more on creating atmosphere and tension rather than relying on cheap tactics like jump scares.

It's great to see a new game that takes a step above other "dark" HOG's by recognizing real horror comes from the imagination and fearful anticipation - and that is an environment that cannot be created by randomly throwing images at the screen for simple shock value (Amnesia vs Exmortis, anyone?)

I'd also have to agree with Dora that there is at the very least a noticable comparison to be made between S:VH and Silent Hill. I wouldn't call Shiver an appropriation, but there's certainly inspiration drawn from its predecessor.

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sunnylauren Author Profile Page March 26, 2011 3:24 PM

Sorry, but [Platform: Download (Windows)] is lame. I know I could use BootCamp but it looks dangerous and I have a lot of irreplaceable stuff on my computer.

[Lame or not, Windows still commands about 90% of our audience. A Mac version will probably be available very soon, so please be patient. In the meantime, BootCamp is definitely not dangerous, I use it all the time and I have lots of irreplaceable stuff on my computer (it's what I create and maintain JIG with, so it's pretty important stuff!). -Jay]

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im stuck on the island after using the fire hose to get down there, i thought it was me so i started all over again turns out i played it just right.

so im stuck and i looked at the strategy notes and says there is a hidden object (which im usually good at finding) but i cant seem to and i have clicked everywhere.

i see the map on the table which is what i need to get on the boat but i cant seem to grab it. help!! i love these games. im not a computer gaming person, but i love strategic games somebody please help me :D

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plot is really interesting, the graphics are nice... just wish it were just a little more challenging, even on the advanced mode. i only got stuck once, and that was because i missed one object that was hidden in a weird place. even though i sort of cruised through the puzzles there was still lots to see and do and the atmosphere was perfect.

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sunnylauren Author Profile Page March 27, 2011 1:27 AM

Thanks, Jay. I might try it if you're entrusting JayIsGames to it.

[While BootCamp is free and part of Mac OS X, you will, of course, need a valid copy of Windows to install onto BootCamp. I recommend Windows 7 Home Premium edition. Once you have that installed, you won't ever feel left out with Windows-only game releases. :) -Jay]

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MmeTurbulence Author Profile Page March 27, 2011 12:20 PM

I really liked the gameplay and atmosphere, but I've got to say, I really don't like the

"evil Indian shaman" trope. The fact that the big bad was Native American, when in reality Native shamans are not evil and do not have creepy blood rites etc., spoiled an otherwise enjoyable game for me.

[Edited to hide plot spoilers. Thanks! -Dora :) ]

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mr1black Author Profile Page March 31, 2011 3:05 PM

The game is superb in many aspects! Graphic, authentically creepy atmosphere, sounds, story, animations...
Other Adv-HOGs often turn out silly or "waterd", PG 13 (or less) rated... No, give me Aliens, The Ring, F.E.A.R... Real horror. I enjoyed the "adult" take on horror from the first to last minute. Best HOG game I played in long time!

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Whats the classical sound that plays on the record?

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monkeymynd Author Profile Page April 4, 2011 9:51 AM

@wonka: I'm stuck in the same spot. I did finish the HO scene there, but I cannot click on the map.

Has anyone else encountered this? Suggestions?

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monkeymynd Author Profile Page April 4, 2011 9:57 AM

@wonka: NVM. I just did some searching, and I read about the "bug" in the system. Bummer :(

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Anonymous April 26, 2011 9:35 AM

I so looked forward to this game and I too am stuck at the begining of the game. I am stuck in the bedroom looking for an illusive THIMBLE. I have looked at the guide, used the flash light to get under the bed but alas no thimble. I wonder if there is a glitch that I did not know about, anyone else encounter that problem?

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Anonymous May 8, 2011 8:44 PM

The thimble is under the bed on the end of the corn cobb

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Hello.
First of all I want to say thanks to Dora for the magnificent review.

So, thank you very much!

Couple of words about SH and VH likeness...

YES, during the creation of this game we wanted to make some sort of "casual" Silent Hill. So at some points these two "horrors" may intersect.

NO… Personally, I didn't watch the "SH" movies or play any of "SH" games… So the most of coincidences are really accidental… I can say this for sure as I was taking a part in this project as the game designer.

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horror searcher21122012 June 14, 2011 11:15 AM

@wonka I have the same problem it really made me tension!!!! i hope the developer done something about this bug..

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This is one of the best designed games i've gone through. I even enjoyed it more the second time i played. for the designers - beautiful photoshop and color work! the narration is also great (hmm.. sounds like a real actor). as a serious casual player, the way it was all put together puts this game in my first line of favorites, and i'm certainly gonna watch out for more games from Artogon Games.
thanx guys (and thank you dora!)

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