By Marty Mulrooney
The Shivah: Kosher Edition is a newly remastered version of the critically acclaimed 2006 adventure game The Shivah created by Dave Gilbert and Wadjet Eye Games. Players take control of world-weary Jewish New Yorker Russell Stone, a financially struggling rabbi who becomes tangled up in the murder investigation of a former member of his congregation. The Shivah: Kosher Edition is now available for download on PC and iOS (iPad/iPhone/iPod touch).
The Shivah: Kosher Edition begins – after a worship service delivered to an almost empty room – with Rabbi Stone being informed by a police detective that a former congregation member has been shot dead, leaving behind a substantial sum of money… to one Mr Russell Stone. Of course, this suspicious set of circumstances immediately makes the rabbi murder suspect number one. Unable to simply accept the money despite his dire financial situation, Rabbi Stone sets out to uncover the truth and bring the true killer to justice.
A concise little murder mystery, The Shivah’s gameplay mostly consists of investigative tasks, such as talking to people of interest and hunting for clues. The puzzles feel very natural, with many of them involving the use of computers to scrutinise emails and perform web searches on various keywords. There is also an inventory but none of the puzzles rely on using items – instead, Rabbi Stone can store certain topics as ‘clues’ and use these to quiz potential suspects.
The sense of progression is satisfying and the game is certainly fun to play – in the relaxed style that only a traditional point-and-click adventure game can truly offer – but the real draw here is no doubt the gripping and well-told story. Not only will players want to know who killed Jack Lauder, but they’ll also want to understand why Jack was a former member of Stone’s congregation, which nowadays seems practically non-existent. The voice acting is excellent (although there are some moments where the recording quality sadly suffers slightly), with Wadjet Eye Games staple performer Abe Goldfarb lending his dulcet tones and delivering a fantastic central performance as Rabbi Stone.
The game has been remastered for both PC (its original home) and iOS. Although both versions feature the exact same content – including updated artwork and music – the iOS version has a slight advantage presentation-wise. The PC version adds black borders around the edges of the screen when played via Steam, whereas when played on iPhone 4S the smaller screen is completely filled and the graphics seem a touch sharper. Either way you’ll be playing a great game for a low asking price. The mouse controls (PC) and touch controls (iOS) are very intuitive and easy to pick up too, so you can’t really go wrong whichever platform you choose.
Adventure gamers and fans of a good story won’t want to miss The Shivah: Kosher Edition, especially if they let the original game pass them by first time round. Dave Gilbert is a rising star in the world of adventure games and it’s great to see where Wadjet Eye Games began. The Blackwell games offer a much more lengthy and satisfying meal overall (watch out for the Rosa and Joey cameo!) but as a quality snack, The Shivah: Kosher Edition is more than satisfying. What’s more, it’s genuinely thought-provoking and engaging too. The game’s short length – 2 hours tops – and an over reliance on trial and error to reach the best possible ending knock the score down a peg or two, but this is a beautifully crafted adventure game nonetheless. Oy vey, why haven’t you played this little gem already?!
8 OUT OF 10