Nancy Drew 18: The Phantom Of Venice
-Before I Begin...
My review will be spilt up into sections and have a in-depth look at that topic. If you hate reading medium/long reviews or just don't have the patience I would not continue reading, but if you want to learn the most about the product before you buy it you'll continue.
The game uses a point-and-click interface (meaning you click in a direction to move from environment to environment), which is easy to use and has been the preferred way for all eighteen games. On the bottom of the screen are the inventory, checklist, notebook, PDA (new icon for this game), save, load, settings, and exit icons. On the top of the screen there is Nancy's purse and her fashion icons. The fashion icon shows an outline of Nancy and what she is currently wearing. The PDA icon opens Nancy's PDA which has three features which come in handy with her undercover mission. I like this interface and I find it easy to use and the "Second Chance" option is great because you don't have to restart the whole game if you don't want to.
Nancy is off to Venice, Italy, where she has been hired by the Gdif (Italian Police) to stop Il Fantasma (Phantom) dead in its tracks. This game has by far the most detailed plot in the series. The story has many twists and turns and leaves you guessing until the very end. It is so detailed and intriguing that you never want to stop playing the game. The plot flows along nicely and you don't come to an unexpected abrupt end like some past games (Usually leaving you with many questions instead of answers). Kudos to the writers at Her Interactive because the story is so great!
There are five characters, each with different personalities, in this game. There are three main characters who preside at the Ca' Nascosta: Colin Baxter, Margherita Fauberg, and Helena Berg. Colin is an art restorer (with a rather noticeable crush on Nancy) who is working for Margherita. Margherita is a snooty Venetian socialite wannabe who owns the Ca'. Other characters include Enrico Tazza, the owner of Casa Di Giochi (House Of Game), and Antonio Fango, the electronics engineer and possible criminal Nancy is sent to spy on. Phone characters include Ned, and Prudence Rutherford, from Secret Of The Scarlet Hand (her voice can get very annoying after a while though!) All in all these characters were great. However one of the characters you do not even talk to at all in the game, but still a very important character. There was more character interaction than previous games but still not as much as I would have liked.
-Setting & Graphics
The setting was absolutely beautiful! It was so incredibly lifelike, from the glittering water to the old architecture in the squares and palazzos. It really was top notch. There were people talking in the background in Italian and although you couldn't see them it made the environment come to life with the rich Italian culture. There is even an activity in which you must know basic Italian to complete a mission. The graphics were also very beautiful and detailed. Each game progresses more and more with the graphics. Overall the Setting & Graphics were one of the best features of the game and really boosted the experience.
There was a good mix of puzzles and activities in this game, and there were no filler puzzles. Also a good thing is absolutely NO chores unlike ICE, which included constant cooking & cleaning. There were a lot of new puzzles, plenty of codes and numbers and a lot of snooping & spying. The "Nancy Undercover" idea is really stressed in this game. You have to wear disguises, you have to plant bugs in people's everyday items, spy on someone and eavesdrop a couple times. Nancy was definitely on a mission in this game! On a difficulty level there is a good mix of easy, medium, and a couple of hard puzzles. None of the puzzles were overly frustrating.
Sensibly the ending is the hardest part of the game. You have to navigate your way through a very different take on a maze. I don't want to spoil the ending, but I definitely found the ending pretty tough because it also includes a timed puzzle. Anyways, the ending made sense and everything clicked without a hitch, so you won't be like "What the heck?" when you get to the end. Also all your questions are answered at the very end, so no worries.
I can honestly say this is the most exciting Nancy Drew game to date. The setting was magnificent, the puzzles weren't overly challenging but some were, and the plot was simply outstanding. You will not be disappointed with this game at all, it really is a incomparable to previous games like ICE, DAN or CRE. Her Interactive did a fantastic job on this game, I can't wait for the next one! The Haunting Of Castle Malloy
Add all these up and divide by 6...
5 *'s (Interface)
5 *'s (Plot)
4 *'s (Characters)
5 *'s (Setting & Graphics)
5 *'s (Puzzles/Activites)
5 *'s (Ending)
= 29 Stars Divide By 6 (Categories) = 4.8 = Rounded to 5 Stars
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Thanks for reading my review!