How many of our readers grew up reading the Nancy Drew mysteries? I did, both my younger sisters still read them, and yes, we're also a fan of the Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys TV show that aired in the 1970's. As such, when Her Interactive released the first Nancy Drew computer game in 1998, we were so excited! Needless to say, as years went by and HI released more and more games, we played almost all of them-I think we skipped two due to not wanting to sit through a "seance" in the game. A couple months ago the newest game (#32!) was released, entitled Sea of Darkness, and HI graciously allowed us to download the game for review.
In Sea of Darkness, you, as Nancy Drew, head to Iceland for your latest case. A celebrated ship "Heerlijkheid" is normally the centerpiece of this small Icelandic town's annual festival. This year, though, the captain of the ship has disappeared, and no one knows if he drowned, or ran off with a treasure!
As is the norm when a new Nancy Drew game comes out, the four of us (all sisters) sat down to play the game together. It was a little broken up this time with a couple out-of-town trips and vacations thrown in, so it did take us a bit longer to complete the game. The one rule when it comes to ND games is we can't play them unless all four of us are there! The game starts out fairly interesting, as you wander the town and meet the local characters. It's dark and spooky, and as you interact with the townspeople you begin to get an idea of what motive each one would have for making the captain "disappear", and their likes and dislikes of the town and fellow citizens. Throughout the course of the game you can explore the town (including a local restaurant and the museum), the ship, a lighthouse, and caves. You can also drive a snowmobile or take a boat as your preferred mode of transportation.
The only downside to Sea Of Darkness is the overabundance of puzzles. Yes, I enjoy solving the many and varied puzzles scattered through all the Nancy Drew games, but like one or two in the past, this seemed to take them to the extreme. For example, there were at least 3 sudoku-style puzzles in here (2 numbers, 1 with letters, but still a sudoku-style puzzle). I enjoy sudoku, but the sheer amount of puzzles in here became a little frustrating! I assume they were added to lengthen the gameplay time, but in our favorite games (Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake, for example) the puzzles aren't the majority of your game playing time! Yes, I am sure we will play Sea of Darkness again, but as charter Nancy Drew PC game players, we would appreciate having less puzzles, more investigating and interacting with people, and maybe a smattering more danger thrown in! Gone are the days of Nancy being tied up in a burning shed, or getting locked in a huge monolith with a limited amount of air.
Overall though, we found the game to be fun, like the other 31 games that have gone before. It actually had a mystery, unlike a couple previous games that start out with just a vacation or some such incident, and then it turns into an actual investigation. This is a mystery right fro the start, as you're trying to determine where Captan Magnus has gone to, and if foul play was involved. We also liked that the game wasn't over in a matter of 1-2 hours. Yes, there are actually a couple that we have completed in less than 2 hours on our first time playing it! This game made for several fun afternoons and even a couple late-night get-togethers as we solved the mystery on the Sea of Darkness!
One neighbor will win the newest Nancy Drew Mystery, Sea of Darkness.
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