• The Shivah


  • Graphic Adventure Game


  • Wadjet Eye Games


  • Wadjet Eye Games

Release Date:

  • 9/2006 (original), 9/22/13 (Kosher Edition)


  • Windows

Systems Used:

  • Mac through optimized WINE wrapper

On Wikipedia:

  • Yes - Spoilers

Disclaimer: This is a spoiler-free review that leaves out any thing that would spoil the mystery.

I first read about The Shivah in HG101's "The Guide to Classic Graphic Adventures" in spring 2012 en route to my cousin's wedding and later actually gave it a spin about two and a half years later at their house. The Shivah (for some reason I was pronouncing it as "shee-vah", it's pronounced as "shih-vah").

The Shivah follows the adventures of Rabbi Russell Stone as he tries to clear his name for murder, when a former member of his congregation dies of unnatural causes, and in his will he leaves the rabbi he supposedly hated a sum of over $10,000. There's certainly some good elements about The Shivah that leave grounds for a good adventure, a book of clues, interrogating suspects, names to look up in a database, and set in modern-day New York City. There's decent voice acting, decent music, and a strong religious background (the God of Abraham, no less) that doesn't get mocked, is vilified, or, more rarely, clumsily beats you over the head with.

It's worth noting that the "decent voice acting" and "decent music" comes with the Kosher Edition, the 2013 update that updates the graphics from something made circa 1990 to something circa 1994. Some comparison shots can be seen here, on the official blog. It looks great, especially considering the Original Rajshree looks like she's got some sort of five o' clock shadow going on.

Rabbi Stone in a scruffy part of town. The music is great here too.
(Official Screenshot)

I'm afraid to say that The Shivah's greatest crime is that it's short (and the fight at the end, but that's a bit of a spoiler). Just when you think you're really digging into the mystery, it climaxes with you facing the big villain and that's it. It probably takes less than half an hour if you know exactly what to say and do, and an hour if you don't. There's only half a dozen locations, in a map that looks like it could hold at least six more. This limits running around, and you don't collect anymore than three items in your inventory, so there's no point at which you need to look in your inventory and think: "Well, I need to open this door. I have a bowling pin, a 1997 issue of Reader's Digest, a raccoon skeleton, an Aldi bag full of melted candy bars, a broken golf ball grabber, some tape with cat hair on it, some broken bottles of ketchup, and a rubber chicken with a pulley on it. Time to see if any of these items work."

Despite its shortness and the fact that at least three points are dialogue choices that mean life or death, I was surprised at the fact of how many people it took (mostly three, plus more) to make it, especially since it was built in Adventure Game Studio and has all the graphics of 1995-era adventure game titles (yes, even the enhanced version). It certainly makes me feel better at my failure at making my own adventure game, which I did a lot of preliminary work on (thinking of plot, locations, puzzles, characters, and script) but ultimately never came through on.

Here's some tips regarding beating the last third of the game as well as the endings. Major spoilers ahead. The final paragraph below has a personal comment that only makes sense once you've beaten the game.

July 19 2015