Review by benlyd

"The Definition of Disappointment"

The Nancy Drew series is a long-running line of PC games that has been pushing out two games per year since the first one in 1999. This game is the 25th and HER supposed they should do something special. They set it in Nancy's hometown - a place we've yet to see in the game series - and sent it to store shelves, with each copy having the words "Special Edition" slapped on it. No reason not to get it, right? Well...

Story:
Perhaps the most important part of an adventure game such as this is the story. The story in this installment is that Nancy and her friends (Bess, George, and Ned) are playing a "Clues Challenge." The winner of this challenge gets to put an item of his or her choosing into the town time capsule. Nancy's search for the clues leads her to the town hall, where she is locked in a room and a fire breaks out. She escapes, but barely. Not too much time passes and she's arrested and confined to the police station. They believe she started the fire! So you have to prove them otherwise. The story doesn't have much in the way of twists, it just kinda happens. Not the best Nancy Drew plot.
Score: 5 / 10

Characters:
Nancy Drew games always focus on the characters, or suspects. Who are they this time? Brenda, a newscaster that seems to always be right on the scene; Alexei, the owner of an antique shop with a mysterious past; Toni, a (corrupt?) politician that owns an ice cream shop; and Dierdre, the snotty rich girl that wants to steal Ned from Nancy. They aren't great, but they're not too bad, either.
Score: 6.5 / 10

Graphics:
Well I can say that the graphics are stunning. They are the best in any Nancy Drew game so far. The only eyesore is Dierdre's in-game model, but everything else is wonderful! Toni looks really lifelike, as do the different shops and things like Brenda's van. They are astounding.
Score: 9.5 / 10

Sound:
The music isn't that great. It's not heard most of the time, as it blends in, but when it is heard, a lot of the time, it's copy/pasted from previous Nancy Drew games. However, most of the voice acting was done well.
Score: 7 / 10

Gameplay:
The gameplay is similar to that of previous Nancy Drew games (reading articles, looking for clues, solving puzzles - and there aren't many puzzles in the game), except for one thing - Nancy is in jail and she can't sleuth. So what does she do? She calls either Bess, George, or Ned to take the case. They are all very similar, except for the fact that some of the dialog is different if A character talks to B character, rather than C character talking to B character, etc. For example, Bess breaks one of Alexei's vases, so she can't talk to him. You'll have to employ George or Ned to talk to him instead. I would have rather had less characters in the long run, since they are all so similar. Another facet of the gameplay is how you get around to the different areas (police station, town hall ruins, ice cream shop, antique shop, etc.). You pick a place to go from the map and then they drive there, which is similar to the travel from "Secret of the Old Clock" except the driving isn't manual. It's pretty dull. There aren't that many areas, either. I think there's six in total. The gameplay just seems to fall flat.
Score: 7 / 10

Replay Value:
Nancy Drew games usually have pretty high replay value since they are usually long and fun. Well not this one. Aside from the plot being drab and the interaction and gameplay being subpar, it's incredibly short for a Nancy Drew game. There isn't an in-game clock, but I know I couldn't have played it more than six hours before the finale. There's not many extras, either, other than the usual reward system (all of which can be obtained the first playthrough without trying).
Score: 2 / 10

Pros:
+ Voice Acting
+ Graphics
Cons:
- Story
- Characters
- One Character's Model
- Length
- Easy Difficulty
- Lack of Puzzles

Verdict:
HER has let us down with the "Special Edition" installment of the series. It's boring, easy, and short, with the saving graces being the graphics and voice-acting.
5 + 6.5 + 9.5 + 7 + 7 + 2 = 35
35 / 6 = 5.83
5.83 rounds to 6.
Final Score: 6 / 10 - Fair - Game is okay, but there are many better


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 10/24/11

Game Release: Nancy Drew: Alibi In Ashes (US, 10/18/11)


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