Who would have thought that starting your career as the bloodthirsty champion of the Madgod could be this...colourful?
After a series of somewhat disappointing downloadable content aimed at Oblivion fans, gamers were craving for a full-blown expansion pack. The newly released package, titled Shivering Isles, aims to fill this void. It's certainly not an easy task, considering how open and vast the game world of Oblivion is but the people at Bethesda seem to have done a great job at further expanding the Elder Scrolls universe with this new release.
Entering the madness
Since Oblivion gives you the choice to play the game whichever way you want to, it is difficult to create real continuity in such a new addition, without breaking the open-ended nature of the game. For example, some players may start the expansion pack without ever touching the main quest in the full game. Bethesda chose a rather easy way out and created a world that is separate from Cyrodiil, only linked by a gateway leading to the realm of the pack.
Within the game, 24 hours after the expansion is installed, you find out about the above mentioned gate through a message which leads us to a small island with nothing but the aforementioned portal on it. A guard stationed next to it informs you about people disappearing through the gate and the madness beyond that consumes them. Upon hearing this, one of course cannot resist the temptation of becoming a lunatic and after stepping through, a small room appears with an odd figure, called Haskill. He states that you are in-between two realms, as well as a bit about what awaits if you venture any further. The Shivering Isles, as it turns out, is the realm of the insane god Sheogorath, the Daedric lord of madness, and everything beyond the gate is built around the duality of his psychoses - mania and dementia. Once you tell Haskill that you're ready to proceed, one moves on to the colourful and twisted world of the mad god.
The Madgod Sheogorath (center) and his loyal, but not too cheerful aid Haskill (right). Notice how the throne room, just like the entire realm, is divided between Mania and Dementia.
The inhabitants of the world all show various signs of madness in one way or another. In the case of some characters, this could be manic paranoia, a rather disturbing bone fetish or the fear of walls. The inhabitants of the Isles all have interesting stories worth listening to, and those who enjoy being immersed into such games will have a great time finding out about the issues of these people. The capital of the Shivering Isles resembles the aforementioned duality of madness, with one side of the city called Bliss, representing mania, and the Crucible representing dementia. Bliss, guarded by Golden saints (or Aureals, daedric creatures in shining golden armour), is a more colourful and friendly environment, with the occasional lunatic attending to his or her daily chores, whilst the Crucible, protected by Dark Seducers (or Mazken), is a darker, depressing place with the local citizens living in paranoia and fear.
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