It might seem a little callous to take your stepfather Rene's job as village doctor right after he mysteriously vanishes, but the people need a physician, and after all, that's what he trained you to be... ever since he found you shivering on the side of the road twenty years ago. But when an attack by a wolf leaves you stranded in the road outside one very unusual town, you may learn there's more going on to Rene's disappearance, and yourself, than you ever imagined. Artogon Games delivers a fabulously creepy, atmospheric, and engrossing hidden-object adventure with Shiver: Moonlit Grove.
Though played simply by clicking around like most other traditional games in the genre, Shiver: Moonlit Grove offers a few welcome twists that keep it feeling fresh. Early on, you'll craft a lantern that you can turn on and off with a click to light your way through dark places. Many hidden-object scenes also contain multi-step item puzzles you'll need to solve before you find what you need. One of the main annoyances is the game's tendency to load you down with piles and piles of items, which wouldn't be an issue if sifting back and forth through your inventory wasn't such a tedious pain when you have more than a handful of objects. It's the sort of game you can devote a lazy evening to, and the piles of puzzles make it a respectable length, especially since the game doesn't so much hold your hand as it does throw a bunch of items at you and give you a vaguely challenging stare while you try to figure it out.
Shiver: Moonlit Grove crafts a stunning atmosphere and an intriguing story through its design, but telegraphing its clues too loudly means you'll probably have figured everything out long before the big reveal. As creepy and moody as it can be, it's also just not very scary, nowhere near as frightening as Shiver: Vanishing Hitchhiker, or its tamer sequel, Poltergeist. It's a bit more story-heavy, with most revelations handled in flashbacks, and with better pacing between the puzzle-heavy parts would be a surefire winner. As it is, Shiver: Moonlit Grove is a gorgeous, melancholy adventure sure to give a chill or two, and fans of werewolves and drama will want to give the demo a try if they're looking for a meaty experience.
Note: Currently, only the Collector's Edition is available. It contains a bonus chapter, art gallery, 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.