Nancy Drew: The Legend of the Crystal Skull PC Review - www.impulsegamer.com -

Gameplay 8.0
Graphics 5.0
Sound 7.0
Value 8.5
Developer: Mindscape
Review Date:
March 2009
Reviewer:
Mark Arnold

7.5


Nancy Drew: The Legend of the Crystal Skull
 

Nancy Drew has been a perky young go-getter detective since the 1930s and for 70+ years she has been a role model for young women, several notable ones among them, such as Hillary Clinton, for example. Well the books have been generally critically acclaimed, but how would she fair in the newer medium of computer games? Judging from adventure #17: surprisingly well, actually.

The old point-and-click adventure games have pretty much gone the way of the dodo, and the only ones that crop up tend to be simplistic and make little sense – I can think of one particular example that was also trying to cash in on a serial. Nancy Drew could easily fall into the same trap, but it seems she has stuck to the age-old traditions and gives a nice pulp-detective tale with some wickedly nefarious puzzles.

Nancy and Bess are visiting New Orleans when Nancy stumbles across the mystery of one of the legendary crystal skulls and resolves to locate it – hidden somewhere in the mansion of the late Bruno Bolet. Meanwhile, Bess is in New Orleans proper, but they are cut off from each other due to a nasty storm. This leaves you playing as either Nancy in the mansion, or Bess in town and you switch between the two by making a phone call. As with most of the production values here, it is minimal, but quite well done.

For a budget, serial, title you could be forgiven for thinking that it would be very poorly presented. Certainly, it doesn’t compare to the latest GPU-hungry or multi-million dollar games available today, but it is still surprisingly effective. The still graphics are passable, but most importantly they’re clear, so it is obvious what is what. Particularly important when navigating 3D space with clicks otherwise you can be easily confused when you look at the same image from a different angle.

The characters and their animations are a little rough – seeming more like claymation than real people – but again they’re quite well done, even to the point of solid lip syncing. The only real gripe I have about the look and feel of the game is the voice actors for Nancy and Bess... and unfortunately they’re probably in all of the Nancy Drew games. They sounded like older women trying to play the part of 18 year-olds, who have forgotten what that was like, clipping off each word to make it sound sweet an innocent. It came across as grating.

The story, as has been mentioned, was typical pulp-detective fair. It was interesting enough, but nothing terribly ground breaking. The puzzles, however, were surprisingly difficult. The game seems to be pitched at very smart teens – perhaps wannabe detectives, or a group of them putting their heads together. There is a “junior detective” mode which makes the puzzles a little easier, but certainly on the senior detective setting you can expect to spend many, many hours puzzling out some serious tricks.

They’re not all in the form of mini games, either, which is nice. Many of them require you to skip between several locations, or read found books, or solve riddles – or a combination of all of them. They’re quite the challenge and it makes for a good reward when you resolve it. Many situations seem unrealistically set – such as all the hidden locks and keys scattered throughout the mansion – but that’s what happens in detective novels.

I can really see these Nancy Drew games being quite the hit in the classroom – I would have liked to have sunk a few hours into one with school friends – preferably instead of English class. It’s a point and click adventure / puzzle game, which is going to immediately turn off the hard-core gamer, but for puzzle game aficionados this one is sure to give you your money's worth.






 
 



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