Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - Shivering Isles

He’s equally excited, you see, about the little people - the NPC characters lower down the food chain who may not hold the future of an entire daedric realm in their hands, but are at least entertaining in their own little mentalist ways. There’s the chap you come across who’s afraid to sleep in his own house in case the walls fall in and crush him, for example, who asks you to find him a truly safe place to sleep.

There’s the mad woman in the wilderness who is obsessed by having one of everything in the world - from creatures to objects - and whose whims you can only satisfy if you’ve got a couple of aeons to spare. A more professional obsessive, meanwhile, runs and gives tours around the Museum of Oddities, to which you are asked to become a donor as the amount of bizarre and useless objects in your inventory starts to build up.

Speaking of which, more obsessive fans will be delighted to hear that Shivering Isles is due to be the first Elder Scrolls game to find a use for calipers - the heretofore useless household implements that have been found (and left) inside the barrels and chests of Tamriel for countless ages.

There’s no particular good/bad divide in gameplay this time round, but more of a mottled hue of morals and loyalties. You’ll come across a bloke in New Sheoth, for example, who’s absolutely desperate to kill himself but can’t, since killing yourself is seen as such a crime that there’s even a dank, depressing place called the Hill of Suicides for their ghosts to hang out for all eternity as punishment. So it is then, if you choose to help out, that you must figure out an inventive accident to ensure that this poor chap snuffs it without it looking like he’s asked you directly.

Seeing as you’re climbing up the chain of nobility, meanwhile, you’re also expected to grow a healthy disdain for the tiresome adventurers who keep bundling into the realm with the intention of slaying beasts, looting treasure and generally making a nuisance of themselves. As such, one of the main quests is a direct homage to the venerable Bullfrog box of fun that was Dungeon Keeper. Sheogorath, you see, has a spare dungeon in Xedilian that he uses partly for testing people and partly for keeping unwanted mortal visitors busy. Once you’ve worked your way through its intricacies yourself, it’s up to you and a vast array of booby-traps, pits and heavy swinging objects to deal with one such party of have-a-go adventurers who are dead-set on stealing its fictional treasures.

What’s more, what happens in the torn realm of Sheogorath stays in the torn realm of Sheogorath, so you could be chief goody-two-shoes back in Cyrodiil and a filthy murdering bastard here and none will be the wiser.


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