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The Elder Scrolls IV: Shivering Isles

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Shivering Isles is an expansion pack for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.

In a new story arc, a portal opens in Niben Bay, Cyrodiil, leading to the torn realm of Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of madness. In that realm exists an island that represents the madness of Sheogorath himself with its two sides Mania and Dementia. Each side is the exact duplicate of the other but with the difference that one side is pure depression and the other pure (but don't expect it being less deadlier) happiness - which also changes the look and behavior of the NPCs and monsters. But something is happening to the island and Sheogorath is looking for a champion to take care of it: you.

On the Shivering Isles you will find new many new dungeons, items, ingredients and spells which you can of course take back to Cyrodiil as well. Many new quests and questlines await the adventurer of which many rely on the different sides of the Shivering Isles. For instance, one quest requires you to kill an NPC but it is up to you if you kill the one on the Evil side or his exact counter-part on the Good side.

Only the physical retail copies of the game for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 versions contain the previous expansion, Knights of the Nine.

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Average score: 86% (based on 76 ratings)

Players

Average score: 4.2 out of 5 (based on 42 ratings with 1 reviews)

The Shivering Isles are just what Oblivion needed

The Good
To start things off I want to be honest: I didn't expect anything - but got more than I could hope for. After charging money for several more or less disappointing "low content" add-ons and one bigger retail package which story didn't interest me much, Bethesda finally made an expansion worth the description.

Because Shivering Isles doesn't add anything to the world of Cyrodiil itself (except the gate to Sheogorath's realm, of course), the new world could been made rather extensive. The landmass might be about one fifth to one fourth of Oblivion's, there are several new dungeons, camps, villages and other sights to explore. What really distincts these new places and their inhabitants from the known in the original game is a completely new design matching the Madgod's mind. The northern half of the Isles is overly bright and colorful, while the southern half appears dark and gloomy, each an expression of Sheogorath's mental aspects of Mania and Dementia. This separation affects both the Isles' creatures and people, so you encounter every facet of creative lunacy, paranoia, phobia and weird fetish you might think of.

The new styles are well executioned regarding graphics and plot-line, the latter being especially concentrated in the capital New Sheoth, where you will find most of the expansion's merchants and quest-giving NPCs. Of course, every single one of them is insane in his or her own way and that's what makes them really special characters who you will surely remember and maybe even start to like (I've kind of grown attached to the blacksmith Cutter, although the girl regularly gives me the creeps).

In traditional Elder Scrolls fashion you're able to ignore the main story completely, but you would miss one of the expansion's real strengths: Aiding Sheogorath in the defense of his realm against an upcoming threat reveals a plot full of little twists and turns, sometimes forcing the player to make rather difficult decisions regarding his further way of action. It's exactly these things and the slightly mysterious background I loved in Morrowind and felt a bit lacking in Oblivion until now.

Another highlight is the new equipment, including two complete armor sets, various unique items and a bunch of new weapons. After using the same old high-level gear for maybe more than 30 or 40 hours worth of gameplay I was more than glad to see that Shivering Isles offers actual alternatives to glass or daedric armor and weapons, some of them noticeably more powerful than anything you are able to find in Cyrodiil.

Still, the new monsters and enemies remain challenging, but not too frustrating - even for a stealthy character not highly skilled in combat and magic - and all of them are exclusive to the Daedra Prince's realm. Gamers who played Morrowind before will have one or two déjà vus, though. No worries, I am not talking about Cliff Racers here.

Depending on how much adventuring you're going to do you get approximately 15-20 hours of playtime for the main quest alone and another minimum of 20-30 hours if you're planning to complete all the side quests and explore the whole island. A pretty good deal for an add-on considering many complete games don't offer that much today.

The Bad
When I think about it, I cannot recall a lot of negative aspects of the expansion. One central point you could criticize already exists in the main game: Although the explorable dungeons got various whole new designs fitting the Isles, they tend to feel a bit repetitive if you visit too many of them in a row. This is unfortunately supported by the fact that Sheogorath assigns you to a couple of "go to dungeon X and get Y"-quests later in the game, leading to a lot of dungeon-crawling. It's by far not as bad as closing a dozen Oblivion gates, though.

The way of travelling between Cyrodiil and the Shivering Isles can be a bit bothersome, too, if you - like me - collect "anything that's shiny at least once" or need to get equipment from one world to the other frequently. Because you have no possibility to fast-travel between the realms, you always have to travel to the gate first, then through the gate and finally to your original destination. Which really might be more a problem of convenience than actual gameplay, but a chance to switch the maps and directly fast-travel to the other world would have been a nice solution.

However, the expansion seems to have introduced one or more bugs which apparently led to occasional game crashes I hadn't experienced in Oblivion before. Also, there is a more serious bug in the expansion that may corrupt savegames after about 50-100 hours of playing. Up to the time I'm writing this (04/27/2007) there is only an official emergency beta patch or an user-made plug-in available to prevent this from happening. Except those two the game didn't show me any obviously glitches.

The Bottom Line
Shivering Isles is a more than solid and beautiful-looking addition to Oblivion, especially for anyone who felt Cyrodiil was a tad too plain in terms of style and story. It looks like Bethesda allowed their designers and writers to play with a lot of crazy ideas to create an original and well made expansion. So if you liked the flair of Morrowind or the "A brush with death" quest in Oblivion, for example: grab it, it's worth the money. However, Mania and Dementia are places of pure insanity and have their own definition of morale, which can be kind of twisted every now and then. So if you or your character are more of the saint-type of person, you might better want to stay away from the realm of the Daedra Prince of Madness.

Windows · by Zonker (879) · 2007

Discussion

Subject By Date
Does digital version come with KotN? Starbuck the Third (22606) Mar 5, 2012

Trivia

Bones

In Shivering Isles you can find little bones. There is one of them on top of a house of Crucible. You can collect the bones and put them together somewhere, so you can have a little skeleton body

Graveyard

In New Sheoth Graveyard, barely southwest of New Sheoth, each tombstone is for an individual NPC and contains entirely different epitaphs for each. When entering the Isles for the first time there will already be some tombstones with quite comical words of endearment chiseled in them, but as the player spends more time in the Isles and more New Sheoth NPCs are killed from varying circumstances, they will get their own custom tombstone raised in the Graveyard.

References: Elder Scrolls

  • In the construction set, there is a ring with an id of Fargoth's Ring. In game, this ring shows up as heirloom ring. I have not figured out where in game this ring is, however those who play Morrowind will remember Fargoth, and his ring, well. This must be a tribute to the Fargoth we all love.
  • The smith's store in Mania is called "The Missing Pauldron" which is referring to the fact that the armor type called the pauldron that was combined with the cuirass in Oblivion instead of being its own armor like in previous games. This may also refer to the elusive second pauldron of the Daedric Set, which was left out of Morrowind and only found in the Bloodmoon expansion.
  • The leader of the Golden Saints at Brellach is Staada. You might remember her from the Azura Shrine quest in Morrowind. She was one of the daedra Sheogorath sent to disturb Azura's priestess in the Sheogorad region.
  • After finishing the Sheogorath's questline, if you talk to Bhisha he will make a reference to the K'Sharra prophecy from the Sheogorath's Shrine quest in Oblivion.
  • The Shivering Isles may not have a Carrot of Madness, but one CAN find a Soul Tomato! (value 250 gold, like a soul gem, but squishier, and redeemable at the Museum of Oddities).

References

  • Near the top of the mountain above Knifepoint Hollow, there is a small altar with several dead bodies in various states of decay. The most recent, still dressed in a white outfit, is carrying a decree explaining that he was executed for growing a beard, an offense against Sheogorath. Note: This is a dig at one of the Oblivion dev team members, Robert Wisnewski. If you look at the credits from the main menu, Wisnewski is credited as one of the Dungeon art team; apparently he tried a new look that didn't work out so well.
  • The ingredient Gnarl Bark, found on the corpses of Gnarls, bears a striking nomencular resemblance to the pop group Gnarls Barkley, who had a hit with the track Crazy. This ties in rather nicely to the theme of the Shivering Isles expansion.

Sheogarath

For those who remember Sheogorath's quest in Morrowind, this guy will be very familiar to you. Once again, he's misplaced the Fork of Horripilation. At least this time, you don't have to kill a netch to get the reward. If you choose to learn a secret of blade, though, he tells you that they poke out, not in and mentions killing grandfather netch. If you attack Sheogorath he will cast a spell on you that will immediately transport you thousands of feet above the Shivering Isles. You will fall to your death and at this time there appears to be no way to live through the ordeal so save before trying.

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Sicarius.

PlayStation 3 added by DreinIX.

Additional contributors: Jeanne, Niccolò Mineo, Patrick Bregger.

Game added April 4, 2007. Last modified March 15, 2024.