The Shivah starts with a joke:
Category: iOS Games
Works With: iPhone, iPad
“A goy came up to Rabbi Moishe to ask, ‘Why do rabbis always answer with a question?’
To which Rabbi Moise replied, ‘Why not?'”
First released in 2006, The Shivah is a noirish, murder-mystery adventure game centered around a money-deficient New York synagogue. Its hero, Russell Stone, is not a hardbitten private investigator or a disgraced former police officer like the genre typically demands. He’s a cynical rabbi with a heavy conscience who stumbles into the investigation completely by accident. It sounds odd, and it is, but it also totally works.
Now, developer Wadjet Eye Games has released The Shivah: Kosher Edition, an updated iOS and PC version of the original game with all-new graphics and music. If you’ve never played the original and you’re a fan of adventure games and (well-meaning) Jewish humor, it’s a great take on the well-trod genre.
As an adventure title, your first task is to discover the game’s unique logic. Most of your investigation takes place on the in-game Internet (“Ravnet New York: Where Jews Connect”), but you have to figure out what you have to search for and where to even find it. It takes some odd mental gymnastics, but once you get into The Shivah‘s head, it gets way easier.
Here’s an example: The joke that begins the game is more than a joke; it’s also a clue. By the game’s logic, rabbis always answer questions with questions, and this is something you’ll have to keep in mind all the way through. It’s actually key to surviving one encounter near the end of the game which becomes a variation of The Secret of Monkey Island‘s “insult swordfighting.”
It’s a great take on the well-trod genre.
The Shivah is a short game, so I won’t say much about the plot other than that it’s about a cranky rabbi investigating a murder. It manages the tone well, mixing the serious matter of violent and untimely death with humor. Most of the jokes aren’t broad or silly but dry, slightly dark, and self-effacing (because Jews). And it’s a good fit that keeps Stone relatable and the setting interesting.
And if that appeals to you, you have no reason not to pick this one up.
Game Name: : The Shivah: Kosher Edition|
The Good: Tricky puzzles, a great hero, and an interesting plot.
The Bad: Hard to recommend if you’ve already played the original version, but it looks and sounds great.
The Verdict: It’s a solid adventure game with a great hook.
Buy from: App Store