The Shivah opens with a question, simultaneously straightforward and cosmic: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Lead writer and designer Dave Gilbert attempts to answer it with fuzzy pixel art, a jazz soundtrack, and the restrained and cynical story of Rabbi Russell Stone, who takes it upon himself to investigate the murder of a Jewish businessman. Gilbert is well versed in noir-tinged mysteries, but The Shivah is understated and realistically grounded when compared to Wadjet Eye’s science fiction games (like the great Gemini Rue). The Shivah dispenses with many of the adventure genre’s more cumbersome traditions, too, leaving room for investigation to drive the plot forward instead of awkward, arbitrary puzzles.
Gemini Rue is a relic. At least, that’s how it appears. It’s a game that’s unapologetically old-school, designed with players that cut their teeth on Sierra and LucasArts’ point-and-click adventures of the ‘90s in mind, right down to the janky way a character’s walking animation may stutter as you click across the screen. For a 2011 indie PC title that's just made the leap to iPad and iPhone, this kind of attention to retro-detail is worth taking notice of.