Monday, June 23, 2014

The Shivah - Retro Indie Game Review

The Shivah Intro Screen
This beautiful and well written game, comes from the mind of Dave Gilbert. The Shivah (or the mourning) tell the story of a Rabbi Russel Stone, a New York Rabbi of a small congregation, that after years of ups and downs has turned him into a bitter person and a congregation that is in ruins.

After receiving a visit from the police department, Rabbi Stone is informed that a former parishioner named Jack Lauder was murdered and left him US$10,000 as an inheritance.
Cantor Josh with Rabbi Stone
Rabbi Stone embarks in a spiritual and personal journeys, in order to find out why Jack Lauder left him that sum of money, after he refused to married Jack with his Hindi wife Raj. The game has two versions, one remastered version that was played for this review, as well a 2006 version that had a similarity to the old LucasArts games such as Monkey Island, Loom and Indiana Jones.

The Shivah is such a charming game; the gameplay is really easy to catch but is not necessarily intuitive for the player; as, there are moments of the game where the clues on how to move forward are extremely subtle in order to continue with the story-line. As well the game is quite short, which if could be taken as a multi-episode game where the Jewish faith as well personal philosophies could be explored, not only through the eyes of Rabbi Stone but as well through other characters, because the idea itself of a game where the main character is just a mere Rabbi, a mere person who beyond facing the extraordinary, faces himself as well as his faith, there aren't many around the mainstream market as well the indie.

The Rabbi and Detective Durkin
On terms of the script the game has some flaws, as leaving the only police agent Detective Durkin outside the game, and maing the rabbi to do justice with his own hands about the murder of Jack Lauder.

The music and incidental sounds, are quite OK, they give a perfect mood to the game and let the player be immerse in the noir story about a rabbi searching for redemption.

Overall, the game is quite enjoyable and being able to be played at Steam gives the opportunity to play the game whenever they can download it; as well for price is not bad, because after many years the price was lowered at US$1.49 which you can't beat towards finding a good indie-game that will keep you entertained for a couple of hours.

What is beautiful and intriguing about The Shivah, is that it explores human nature as well personal ethos, it shows that even the so called holly men aren't that saint towards earthly issues, and yet they will make mistakes much as everyone else in this land.

The complexity of Rabbi Stone is quite unique, but yet shows his own mortality as he tried to made amends with his past by finding the killer of a man he shunned from his congregation, but yet feeling regrets because of the act of generosity after he misbehaved.

Stone and Raj
How many times, we had thought about what we do.? About how many times we could had fixed mistakes, or the second chances that we left go through.? Is difficult to say, but we always try to find the way to make things right, and to make amends with mistakes.

Life, will give you several second chances but is up to you if you can take them and create a difference; because at the end, when we mourn and we joust mourn without learning from the grief of life, we haven't learned to live and probably that could be another meaning to a Shivah beyond giving our respects to the departed.