Rabbis are not often the heroes of video games; in fact, Muffti can’t think of any video games that feature rabbis at all. Which makes ‘The Shiva’ unique, as least as far as Muffti is concerned: Rabbi Russell Stone is its protagonist.
Manifesto Games new effort is an adventure game whose main character
Rabbi Stone, leads a small and declining congregation on the Lower East Side. He receives word that a somewhat disreputable former congregant has died, and left his small estate to the synagogue. Though he himself is close to losing faith in God, he views it as his duty to investigate, and perhaps to comfort whatever family members this man may have as they sit Shivah.
To go farther into the story would be to provide spoilers; let us talk, therefore, about gameplay. Yes, this is a point-and-click adventure–but your “inventory” consists not of items, but of clues, as this is a murder mystery. The puzzles involve combining clues, and using them on other characters and objects–uncovering new clues and ultimately solving the mystery.
The game looks sort of like it was made in the late 80s or early 90s – it is no audio-visual extravaganza of the sort being produced for the new Playstation. Then again, it only costs 5$ and has the charming feel of an old style adventure game. If you want a big light show, go run some religiously neutral character around killing aliens and pay 60$ for the privilege. As Manifesto puts it:
This game is not for everyone; no game is. But if you adore old-school adventure games; are willing to overlook antiquated graphics for the sake of a story with actual emotional impact; or, perhaps, if you are intrigued by the notion of a game that explores territory that no game has entered before–then downloading the demo is a mitzvah.
(Oh, by the way–the game contains a Yiddish dictionary, to explain some of the terms for the goyim among us.)
Bubbeleh! Five dollars. This you have to think about?