The Shivahis the first commercial game by Wadjet Eye Studios, the company most famous for creating the Blackwell series. Over the past couple of years they have released a bunch of different games, all of high quality. The Shivah: Kosher Edition is a reworked game of the original release. The graphics are redone and it is now available on iOS.
You step into the feet of Russell Stone, a Jewish Rabbi who preaches at a synagogue in New York City. Over the years, his congregation has shrunk and he has lost members. The bills are beginning to pile up and he doesn’t know what to do. Then a past parishioner dies, leaving him a windfall of $10,000. This is enough to get out of debt and try to get his congregation back on track.
But why was the money left to him? And from a former, estranged, member of his congregation, no less? Rabbi Stone decides to investigate further. He starts by going to the Shivah, a week long mourning vigil performed by Jewish people. The wife of the congregation member grudgingly allows Rabbi Stone to investigate the death. Along the journey, he’ll meet with another preacher, explore a seedy bar, and fight to the death in a train station.
I never played the original version of The Shivah; however, I did do am image-compare based on some YouTube walkthroughs. The updated graphics are a huge improvement while still staying true to their nostalgic roots of the genre. It is consistent with what you’d expect from other Wadjet Eye Games.
This title offers a great historical look at many of the ideas which would be honed in later Blackwell games. You can search for information on a computer. This means you have to pay attention to dialog and take lots of notes so you don’t miss important keywords. Rabbi Stone will also keep a list of current topics that can be used when conversing with other characters. The topics can be combined to create more topics, which will lead to more dialog options and information. This reminded me of Rosa Blackwell’s notebook.
The sound is suited to the game, and the voices well done. I did notice that there was no narrator voice. So when characters speak they have voices; but a lot of dialogs, such as examining items, are left soundless. Nevertheless, that doesn't detract from the gameplay.
I really enjoyed playing this game, but felt it was a bit short, even for an Indie game. The fact that it deals with a Rabbi and tries to present ethical dilemmas is definitely something you don’t see often. The whole religious aspect seemed a bit out of place. My favorite parts of the game were the subtle allusions to aspects of Blackwell. But I won’t spoil them for you.