I wrote my first review ever here and started with Oblivion because of my true love romance with Elder Scrolls. So I leaped at to chance to take on Shivering Isles as well. While I was not a big fan of Oblivion (I am a much bigger Morrowind fan, in case you care), I was a bit concerned about this new enormous, and I mean enormous, expansion. I purposely did not read anything about it so I could go into it with my own perspective. And I am glad I did.
Let’s begin at the beginning, shall we?
After you download Shivering Isles, you have to wait, sleep or wander around for 24 hours and your journal will update about a strange door opening up on a little island off the coast of Bravil in Nibean Bay. You can’t fast travel there yet, so I just fast traveled to Bravil and set off on foot. There on the island you’ll find a glowing blue gateway and a guard and some other guy standing out there. The guard will tell you something and then kills a guy who came out of the door, then you talk to him again and head on into the gateway. You come in to find Haskill sitting at a desk in a small room. Now that you know how to get there, here’s where it gets fun.
Of course, you have a conversation with Haskill, Sheogorath’s right hand man, and then you make your way into the Shivering Isles. My first impression was how beautiful it was. It is so vibrant and cheerful – yet ominous and deserted.
I, from here find it hard to decide what to tell you next because there is so much to say, but have decided not to tell you anymore about the story. I have given nothing away so you can get the organic experience that you should have when playing any Elder Scrolls game.
The world is split into two sides: Mania and Dementia, each are mirror opposites of the other. Mania is beautiful and filled with light while Dementia, is dark and ominous. On the Mania side, it is guarded by Golden Saints; Dementia is guarded by Dark Seducers and they hate the Golden Saints.
Whomever created the script for the characters in this game did a brilliant job. The inhabitants of Mania and Dementia are laugh-out-loud funny at times. They seem like personalities of real people that you have known before at some point in your life. Haskill, who you meet first, and Sheogorath are the two of the greatest RPG characters ever. They are witty and have great personality.
The dungeons are vast and the world is pristine, but one thing I got excited about was the clothing. My first thought was, “Yes, they finally have a woman on the design staff!” Now whether they did before or not I don’t know, but someone finally figured out how to dress women – and men. As a matter of fact, I loved the garb so much, one of the first things I did was buy clothing.
Clothing – a great way to lead into armor. There are two new types of armor – Amber is a light armor you can acquire in Bliss and Madness, the heavy armor, is in Crucible. You can also get the weapons for each type of armor.
There are new books for those of you who like to read the Elder Scrolls books. There are new spells. There are new cities, towns and villages. (Oh, my!)
And all new things to fight. The are some of the most interesting new creatures to stalk you. I don’t even know all the names of things yet, but there are: giant praying mantis things, something called Gnarls which look like trees, this other thing that likes water and regenerates his health from it, and those pesky little Grummites to name a few.
There are tons of new side quests and a world almost as vast as Cyrodill. There is more than you could want in new plant life – that should make you alchemists happy. The landscape in Mania reminds me of elements in Morrowind, which I personally love.
I found the story line to be original and unique in many ways. Bethesda always does a great job of creating original stories, but the thing I loved more about Shivering Isles than Oblivion, is that it feels a bit more like a personal experience to me. Oblivion was dull for me. Maybe because I knew what was going to happen before it happened.
I was so excited when Oblivion was coming out that I bought the book before I could get my hands on the game. A dire mistake, and I beg Bethesda to never release a walk-through book again. If they do, I will only be buying the game because I knew what was going to happen with every part of the game instead of taking my time to get to know it.
Shivering Isles, fortunately, is not included in that book, nor does it have a book of its own. I got to jump in feet first and feel my way around, look at it though my own eyes, and figure out the puzzles on my own.
I have no regrets about getting Shivering Isles. It loads more quickly than I thought it would, its creative genius as usual and the suspense at times is mountainous. I am hoping that it renews something in me for Oblivion. Who knows, maybe I will eventually go back and finish that part of the game.
So what can you learn from this semi-rant? If you had any question about getting this enormous expansion, my suggestion is do it. You shouldn’t need any other reason, in fact, you should not even bother with reading reviews on it. It is Elder Scrolls after all and the only thing than can go wrong with them is: buying any book that takes away the experience. It is blasphemy. Now, stop reading and start downloading. And – don’t let anyone tell you what happens!