App Reviewed on: iPad Air
Graphics / Sound Rating:
User Interface Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
"Why do bad things happen to good people?" This is the burning question that runs throughout The Shivah: Kosher Edition, an adventure game set in and around a destitute New York City synagogue. Originally developed in 2006, this remastered version of The Shivah has been overhauled and redesigned for both iOS and PC formats.
The story of The Shivah follows the bitter and cynical Rabbi Russell Stone, who after a dwindling lack of funds and membership, is on the verge of throwing in the towel on his synagogue. After the mysterious death of a previous congregation member leaves him a large sum of money, Rabbi Stone’s conscience causes him to set foot around the city in search of the truth behind this sudden tragedy.
Anyone who has played or set eyes on the original version of The Shivah will immediately notice the beautiful hand-painted artwork that has been revamped and improved considerably for this remastered edition. The eye-catching backdrops and elegant character portraits provide more charisma and personality than ever before. Add to the mix the outstanding fully-voiced dialogue and the game is both a visual and auditory marvel. Compared to the original version this is a vast improvement, and much easier on the eyes.
Enhanced considerably with three alternative endings, The Shivah: Kosher Edition gives the additional enjoyment of replaying the story to discover what would happen if different choices had been made. This distinguishing feature likely portrays just why this bite-sized adventure game is so fascinating, as all three responses are distinct in order to instill in the mind just what makes the Jewish culture such a contrast from what we are used to. Although The Shivah follows the exploration of Jewish culture and issues, the game is graced with several moments of light relief, its outcome resulting in an admirable little story that not once becomes uninteresting or too obscure.
A smart retro-style adventure that is both story and character driven, The Shivah also features traditional puzzle-solving mechanics akin to that of a point-and-click adventure. Thankfully, for those less accustomed to this genre of game there’s a Yiddish dictionary tucked away in the inventory, which is handy for unveiling puzzle clues - and none of the puzzles rely on using much brain power outside of the knowledge acquired in-game. The game mechanics are also fairly straightforward and accessible to pick up and play right off the bat.
The Shivah: Kosher Edition stands tall against its higher-priced competitors, and though arguably very short, the outstanding narrative and attractive artwork make this little iOS game guaranteed to be worth one's weight in dollars.