Nancy Drew: Alibi in Ashes - Standard Edition
- Explore River Heights! Search for clues in Nancy's hometown.
- Play as four Characters! Assume the roles of Ned, Bess, George and Nancy Drew throughout the game.
- Use Police Forensics! Identify fingerprints at the local police lab.
- Ask Tough Questions! The answers vary depending on the character asking the questions.
- Choose from two difficulty settings (Jr. or Sr. Detective) to allow players of all skill levels to solve the mystery
- Platform: Windows 7 / Vista / XP, Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard
- ESRB Rating: Everyone
- Media: DVD-ROM
- Item Quantity: 1
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A local contest turns into an arson scene and now deceit smolders among the charred ruins of the River Heights Town Hall. Police have several suspects, but well-placed incriminating evidence and poisonous local gossip compelled authorities to make only one arrest: Nancy Drew. Can you, as the teenage detective and her closest friends, catch the real arsonist and extinguish the accusations among the embers?
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My review will be spilt up into sections and have a in-depth look at that topic. Then at the end of the review I round up the stars and give an overall rating.
This game is a traditional point and click, with 360 degree panning in many scenes. You have four icons in your lower left screen including an inventory, cellphone, journal, and checklist. The three icons to the right are for the settings,save/load games, and powering off. In this game, you can play as Nancy, Bess, George and Ned. You change from character to character via telephone (only through Nancy's character, meaning if you are Bess and want to be George, you have to call Nancy first). While an appealing idea at first, switching characters became quickly annoying as only some characters could do certain actions or talk to certain people. Also the characters ask the same questions to each suspect so there is little to no replay value when it comes to replaying the game with different characters. Something that also needs to mentioned is that navigation in this game is rather clunky. You are provided a huge map of River Heights that requires dragging up and down to see all locations. There are only five locations to visit on the monstrosity of a map. Once clicked, a car automatically drives you there (no matter how far away you are you can't skip through watching the car driving itself to a location). The interface is never really a problem, but the main issues here are how clunky navigation and switching characters are. These things should really be streamlined, especially 25 games into the series.
The plot is simple and effective: Nancy has been framed as an arsonist involved with the Town Hall fire, and her friends have to help get her out of jail by providing evidence against four other suspects. Unfortunately, most of the game is spent doing exactly this, collecting evidence to get Nancy out of the slammer. While the idea of fire is a lot more mature than some of the past plots, this game did not execute it as well as it could have. You get to interrogate suspects, snoop, and gather evidence, which is pretty cool. But nothing other than that happens. There are no key plot changes, nothing exciting or shocking happens to Nancy or her friends like past games. While the focus is solely on the fire, there are very small sub-plots that go on with each of the characters. Unfortunately those sub-plots aren't developed either, so you're left wondering why you even needed to be exposed to them to begin with. Overall, a perfect plot that hasn't been used ever in a Nancy Drew game was ruined by lack of excitement or frankly development. I was asking myself "Where is the mystery in this? I feel like I'm just talking it up with the townspeople". Another thing completely lacking is the culture/learning aspect! I learned absolutely nothing new or interesting from this plot. Her Interactive could have tied in the history/practice of police and detective work or even Nancy's history, heck even the history of River Heights could have been educational! The plot was screaming for an added layer of depth, something to make it more interesting. It really shocks me that this game is missing an aspect so crucial to many other Nancy Drew games (Imagine Secret of the Scarlet Hand without Mayan history? Or the Final Scene without information about Houdini?). This game had no educational value whatsoever; I didn't learn anything about news reporting from the reporter, anything about police work from Chief McGinnis, didn't learn about antiques from the antique owner, anything about politics from the woman running for local office, or anything about high school cliques from the bratty enemy of Nancy.
Similar to the plot, the characters were also carelessly under-developed. While the voice-acting was uniquely excellent, the content of what they were saying was rather dry. Even when one or two of the suspects made a "threat", it didn't phase me much because you are not really aware of their backgrounds. There is a bratty former high school student, a vicious politician, an angry antiques owner, and a prying news reporter. Throughout the game, it took a while to push motives out of the suspects, and by the time you knew everybody's supposed motive, the culprit was revealed with not much warning. Even when the culprit was revealed, Nancy still had the option of relentlessly interrogating the other suspects. It was very confusing and annoying. I would have liked to know a lot more about the suspects before the culprit just totally reveals itself literally 2 hours into the game. There could have been a lot more dimension to the characters; instead we are left with stereotypical one-dimensional characters that are annoying to talk to. Even though the characters all are different, they are not as engaging or unique as past characters. You think the saving grace would be that Ned, George, and Bess would have some amazing interesting dialogue ... nope! Nancy's friends were supportive and defensive of her naturally, but other than that their personalities were non-existent. Bess had one funny scene about ice cream that was actually a relief in this game. There is also a completely unused character named Chief McGinnis, who only shows up once or twice in the game at all. He doesn't offer ANY help to the case even though he is the chief police officer, he stays locked up in his office almost the entire game. Finally, the only phone friend you can call is Carson Drew, and he is busy for about 90% of the game. And where are Hannah Gruen and Togo? They are gone from the game too, only briefly mentioned for why they are gone. Finally the box of the game advertises "What's Next for Ned and Nancy? Will their relationship blossom?" Ned is NOT even shown in the game, unlike Bess & George! As for his relationship with Nancy, that is thrown under the rug and completely ignored in the game! False advertising anyone?
Usually I don't split the setting and the graphics into different topics to grade, but I thought it was necessary for this review. The setting is the classic River Heights, a homey Podunk town that is now plagued with an arsonist. There are only five locations in this game and they are very limited. They definitely had the right feel in mind when creating River Heights. There is a cute little ice cream shop, the damaged spooky Town Hall, the eclectic antique store with a news van parked outside, Nancy's beautiful home, and the police department. All of the locations are designed very nicely, but the problem is there are only 5 locations on a map that has over 50 buildings on it! I don't get why they had to tease us with places like a mall, a cemetery, a zoo, an airport, restaurants, and many different houses, when we don't even get to see them. It gives the wrong impression that there are so many places to explore when in reality the locations are sparse. It really frustrated me that I could only zoom in on TWO things in Nancy's living room which is completely gorgeous. Nancy's room has only five things you can inspect, and the rest of the house is completely off limits for exploration. I wanted to see other parts of the beautiful house, and what I could see was really beautiful! It's really a shame. The other locations are also very limited in snooping and exploring. Most Nancy Drew games have extra environments that you can explore as the game progresses; this game doesn't follow that rule. Everything you see within the first thirty minutes of playing is everything you are going to see throughout the game, besides one other uninteresting environment at the end of the game.
This is one part of the game I can fully praise and it makes me happy that I can do so. The graphics in this game are nothing short of amazing. The characters move with lifelike nuances and the environments were visually stunning. The few cut scenes that were in the game were also elegant and sharp. Every environment was finely detailed, but, as previously mentioned, there is not much to zoom in on and admire. The fact that the game is on a DVD-ROM (you can also download a hefty game file from HerInteractive.com) allows Her Interactive to really stretch their legs graphically and creatively and produce some really pretty environments.
So if you were hoping the puzzles and activities in this game would be really awesome and abundant, you are also going to be disappointed. Most of your time is spent interrogating suspects rigorously. There are probably only 5-7 puzzles total in the game, and they were all recycled from past games and very easy (at least on Junior Detective Level). What is unique about this game is that there is some actual police/detective work that you can do such as analyzing forensic data, and dusting for fingerprints. But even these activities are rather easy, making light of what real detective work is. One tiny highlight is that you ARE given opportunities to snoop through suspects belongings, which is always a plus in my opinion. While I can appreciate that this game is plot based instead of puzzle based, they should have made the plot more layered, mysterious, and interesting. Other activities include playing three recycled mini-games on your phone, or playing another boring recycled mini-game at the ice cream shop. Another thing this game complete lacks is fun "Nancy-isms". Most Nancy Drew games have fun mini-games to distract from the mystery (Take the Captive Curse for example, you can play a board game with Karl, and another fun monster game with little Lucas. Go back even farther to the Haunted Carousel and you can do arcade games, ride a carousel, order room service, and earn prizes). The only "fun" distracting thing you could really do was eat ice cream, chocolate bars or various random snacks. Nancy doesn't say any cute quotes when she's in the bathroom (if you think I'm joking, check out Phantom Of Venice, Warnings At Waverly Academy, and White Wolf Of Icicle Creek for some Nancy quotes galore), nor does she do any other funny/silly things that made other games so memorable. Overall, this area of the game was disappointing too, but the few cool activities we got to do were enjoyable.
I can't even begin to explain how annoying the ending is in this game. First of all you stumble upon a fluke piece of evidence that "reveals" who the culprit is. Then instead of just being able to confront the culprit or heck, go to the police, Nancy and her friends think it's a better idea to make an unnecessary "trap" (for lack of better word). Suddenly there is a new boring location that you can go to and voila there is the culprit, and so begins a chase. But instead of logical, interesting, dramatic, chase ... you have to navigate your way through one of the most annoying mazes on the planet (Think Secret of Shadow Ranch, but with even vaguer/confusing instructions than that!). The ending just made no sense, it probably doesn't even make sense as I'm telling it to you either. I feel like Her Interactive really could have come up with a more creative way to end the game. The most awkward part of the ending is that Nancy goes running around town asking other suspects to help her, as if that in any way would be a logical or successful thing to do! Finally, the cut scene arrives and our mystery is over, managing to tie up most but not all loose ends. Oh and were you expecting outtakes at the end of the game too? Sorry but there are NONE! No outtakes! Can you believe that?
It really pains me to give a Nancy Drew game such a critical review, but I have never had such a disappointing experience with a Nancy Drew game ever before. Her Interactive got my hopes up much too high with this game being both the 25th "Special Edition" as it says on the box, and the fact that the mystery finally takes place in Nancy's hometown. When I ended the game, I had no desire to replay it a second time, it has no replay value, even with the all the different playable characters. I will probably play it again after I cool off, and maybe I'll notice something different about it that I didn't in the total of 4-6 hours it took to complete this short game. Maybe my expectations were up to high, but even the shiny colorful box itself is a false advertisement to how fun the game SHOULD be. Her Interactive had me in a good place with two great releases in a row (Shadow At The Water's Edge and The Captive Curse). Everything about this game was executed so poorly, and I know it probably wasn't on purpose either though. I'm sure if they had marketed the game as what it ACTUALLY was, then I wouldn't have gotten so disappointed. It had the potential to be my favorite game! Even so, this game is missing almost everything that makes the series unique. It's as if Her Interactive made the perfect game then a different company took it from them and stripped it down to the bare bones of a game so it would appeal to a different audience. Her Interactive can do SO much better than this, I know it! I can't honestly recommend this game to anyone because I spent $33 on a preordered "Bonus Edition" (which for the record does not include anything worth paying extra dollars for) with shipping and handling from their website, and it honestly was a waste. It has been added to my collection, but it most likely gather dust until I get the desire to play it again. This game will appeal to younger audiences I'm sure, and maybe even other Nancy fans, but I'm guessing a lot of longtime fans will be disappointed with me. If you want a Nancy Drew game that is short, focused on interrogation, very easy, and lacks substance in plot & characters then this is the game for you. If you do end up buying the game, do NOT get your hopes up on it being as amazing as some of the other releases!
Add all these up and divide by 7...
3 *'s (Interface)
2 *'s (Plot)
2 *'s (Characters)
2 *'s (Setting)
5 *'s (Graphics)
3 *'s (Puzzles/Activites)
1 *'s (Ending)
= 18 Stars Divide By 7 (Categories) = 2.5 Stars = Rounded down to 2 Stars
ANY OTHER RELEASE FROM HER INTERACTIVE!
Shadow At The Water's Edge (See my review of this game)
Secrets Can Kill REMASTERED (See my review of this game)
Warnings At Waverly Academy (See my review of this game)
The Phantom Of Venice (See my review of this game)
The Captive Curse (See my review of this game)
Thanks for reading my review!
I was only slightly interested in this game before its release because the trailer was frankly kinda boring. Now I know why. It's because the game itself is boring. I have to say that if THIS had been the first Nancy Drew game I had ever played, I would never have purchased another one.
If you are new to Nancy Drew games, skip this one. Buy Treasure in the Royal Tower or The Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake instead. Those are both really fun but not too hard.
If you are a Nancy addict like me, you are going to be disappointed in this one. Like other reviewers, I finished this game in about 6 hours, whereas most ND games take me at least twice that long. This was also the first time I did NOT have to consult any hint sites online because it was so easy. And I kept thinking the whole time, "Okay, when are the new, secret rooms going to open up?" or "When are the puzzles going to start coming at me?" (because sometimes you have to wade through a lot of talk in the beginning of the games so that the plot is set up; I understand this.) But the talking NEVER ended in this game and the puzzles never showed up. The incessant running back and forth to question suspects was tedious. And even the few times when you got to do anything besides TALK to suspects in this game, I wouldn't consider them true puzzles. They just weren't challenging enough. The "Drewvision" thing, while kind of fun the first few times you played it, had absolutely nothing to do with the game. The box thing in Alexi's shop was so easy it was ridiculous. The fingerprinting program in the police computer was really neat--but you only got to use it one time! I would have liked to have had to use it several times throughout the game as new evidence turned up.
This game lacked all the pizzazz and surprises that the others had. I remember thinking, "Oh, wow...that is SO COOL!!" when I unlocked the secret basement barroom in Ghost Dogs. I remember actually getting freaked out for a second in Water's Edge and Castle Malloy. I remember getting the heebie-jeebies in Crystal Skull. But I think the best thing THIS game did for me was to offer me some really great ideas for repainting my walls--because the Drew house was absolutely GORGEOUS on the inside!
- Too short
- No educational/cultural value at all
- Unbelievable story line (Why on earth would a police chief let a suspect, no matter how much he liked her, have free reign of the abandoned police station???!)
- Meager levels
If you can get it really cheap, it's still better than watching TV for 6 hours--just don't have any high expectations.
C'mon, HER Interactive....I still have faith in you---but you can do MUCH, MUCH better than this! I hope your next game is back up to par.
In "Alibi in Ashes", Nancy finds herself framed for the arson that destroyed the River Heights Town Hall. The game is very fast-paced with the plot, and the opening shows Nancy in some of the greatest danger she's ever faced while she's trapped in the burning building (it's super easy to die, even from the beginning). In most of the game, Nancy's held captive at the police station, but she is still a playable character and is able to sneak around and use some of the police equipment to help solve the case. Her friends Bess, George, and Ned handle questioning the suspects and obtaining materials used for solving the case. Can these four friends work together to clear Nancy's name before her undeserved bad reputation causes all of River Heights to loathe her for good?
While the plot isn't the strongest one presented, it's definitely very unique, and it's nice to see Nancy solving a high-profile crime again. One thing I missed about the classic games was the fact that the criminals seemed much more dangerous. Games 1 - 13 especially held onto this, as they used plot devices such as murder, death threats, theft, and kidnapping. While game 11 lacked nearly all of these in the plot, the culprit did still have a lot of motivation to do what he/she did and used some pretty ruthless tactics to attempt to achieve his/her goal (and having one game lacking high-profile crime among 13 is actually a refreshing change of pace). After game 13, the culprits generally focused more on vandalism and sabotage only. While types of vandalism and sabotage were in the classic games, the culprit usually had some kind of stronger motive to do what he/she did and would use more extreme tactics to accomplish their plans. The lone exceptions in the modern games were "Legend of the Crystal Skull", which brought back a murder mystery, and "The Phantom of Venice", which focused on a European theft ring. Several of the plots in both classic and modern games also focused on finding a lost treasure or document of some kind, and while those kinds of plots make good games, they do get repetitive after awhile. Thankfully, the previous three games (and now this one too) have lacked this, so it's getting to the point where another "treasure hunt" wouldn't be all that bad for a new addition.
The graphics in this game were a mixed bag. They weren't as strong as the graphics in some of the previous games, but they were still incredible. All of the scenery and backgrounds were beautifully done - Nancy's house was especially breathtaking. Overall, I really can't complain about the graphics in the scenery. Some of them are so realistic that they look like actual photographs.
The characters were typically very nicely rounded and well-animated too. Most of the cast members (especially the suspects) were much more smoothly animated in this game than most previous games, and several of them used very realistic body language. I felt the lone exception to this was George when she's seen by another character in Nancy's home, as I thought she looked a little too "cartoony" compared to everybody else, and much less realistic than she did in the previous games she appeared in. Bess and is also given a slightly different look - while she still looks pretty realistic, she definitely looks like she's lost weight and grown her hair out a little since she last appeared in "Shadow at the Water's Edge". However, Bess's changes *are* possible in real life, as people can gain/lose weight and change the length of their hair. Whether or not one prefers their old looks or their new looks will depend on the viewer's taste (personally, I prefer old, just because those are the looks I've come to know them by).
Game play in this game is also a somewhat mixed bag. Surprisingly, there weren't very many puzzles in the game. The few that were there were very nicely integrated, though. None of them were super hard, save maybe the last one. If you're tired of the crazy puzzle madness that most of the modern games have been guilty of, this one's definitely for you. However, if you're one who enjoys puzzles, or is looking for a good balance between the plot development and puzzles, you might be disappointed here. I personally thought having less puzzles was a bit a good thing, as solving puzzle after puzzle after puzzle in most of the previous installments did get old after awhile. Also - as there are fewer puzzles, the game is pretty short overall. Don't get me wrong - there are games that are far shorter, but this one is shorter than most. I finished the game in about 6-ish hours, and most of the games took me somewhere around 1 - 3 days on the first play. I didn't mind the short length, as the two games before it were pretty long for me, but some people might not care for the short length very much.
The overall lack of puzzles was made up for with the fact that the player uses *actual* police forensics. This game features true police forensics more so than any other Nancy Drew game before it. While assuming the roles of Nancy, Ned, Bess, and George, the player will dust for fingerprints, listen in on conversations, watch and listen to recordings of the suspects, analyze data about what could've caused the fire, and so much more.
The exploration is very nicely done, and while there aren't very many secret passageways and the like, there are still some cool places to explore, break into, and listen in on. I would definitely have liked to be able to explore just a little more, especially in Nancy's house (the foyer, the living room, an upstairs hallway, and her (completely re-decorated) bedroom are the only rooms in her house available for exploration). Other areas open for exploration are the police station, the local ice cream parlor, a news van, and an antique shop. All of them are very well-decorated and fit into the story, but I definitely wanted to see a little more of River Heights, especially since there are over 50 locations on the map. This is kind of like a "Secret of the Old Clock" move - lots of places on the map, but only a few can be explored.
This game features more playable characters than ever before. The player can assume the identities of Nancy, Bess, George, and Ned in order to solve the mystery. The four must work together to accomplish certain tasks, and all of them have their own special skills that come in handy. I really liked being able to play as so many characters for a change, especially as Ned, since I've wanted him to be playable for a long time now. Now, we can finally say that all of Nancy's regular friends (Ned, Bess, George, and Frank and Joe Hardy (of Hardy Boys fame are all playable characters in the Nancy Drew series.
Every friend has his or her own strengths and weaknesses, and each one must be used in order to solve the mystery. While there are tasks that any of them can complete, a few of them require a certain character. Likewise, the responses that some of the suspects have to certain questions very well depend on which playable character they are conversing with. For example, Alexei will refuse to talk to Bess, because she accidentally breaks a priceless artifact of his while visiting his shop. Deirdre has a huge dislike of Nancy, Bess, and George, so she'll be more catty and less open with them, but she's always willing to flirt up Ned and tell him what she knows. This was a very tasteful touch, as it made the game more realistic. People generally respond differently to different people in real life too.
My sole complaint about the character switching would be that in order to switch from character to character, the character being played as must call Nancy back, and then have Nancy pass the case to a different character. For example, if the player wants to switch over to George while playing as Ned, Ned must call Nancy and tell her that he's passing the case on to her. Then, the player will be Nancy, and Nancy must call George and pass the case to her. It would've been a lot easier and more practical if Ned were able to call George directly from his phone and pass the case to her himself (the other characters can call each other on their own phones, but they cannot pass the case like Nancy can).
Lastly, regards to game controls - if you're worried about any third person in this game, worry no more! Thankfully, this game is just about entirely in first person. While we do see characters driving their cars, we do not control their driving at all. We just click on the desired destination on the map, and the character will automatically drive there. Think along the lines of "Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake" or "Danger on Deception Island". While Nancy did have to operate the boat and bicycle (respectively) in these games, the player didn't have to actually *control* her from the air while doing it.
The characters in the game are very well-developed, and none of them felt out of place what so ever. Everybody had a very vital part in the storyline, including the supporting characters that were not suspects or playable.
There are four suspects in this game: Brenda Carlton, Deirdre Shannon, Alexei Markovic, and Antonia "Toni" Scallari. Brenda is a crime reporter for the Heights Nine News Team, who is known for using extreme tactics to "spice up" her stories in the past. Deirdre is a spoiled rich girl around Nancy's age whose father is commonly trying to motivate her to be a good helper like Nancy; as such, she's typically at Nancy's throat for all Nancy has (especially Ned). Alexei is a slightly eccentric old man who owns an antique shop in River Heights, and has a very dark and disturbing past regarding his reputation with the town. Toni Scallari is a woman running for the city council while maintaining her own ice cream parlor; she is delightful to converse with, but is oddly defensive about the idea that Nancy might really be guilty of the crime.
The suspects in this game are *all* very well-developed. None of them had motives or actions that I thought were left unanswered, and all of them had a very solid reason to do this to Nancy. However, unlike the vast majority of the modern games, the culprit in this game is not obvious from the beginning. Instead, the case is slowly unraveled, and the most suspicious suspect always changes until the big revelation in the end. There were times when I even wondered if Chief McGinnis could've been involved, or possibly a culprit from a previous game back for to get revenge. I loved finally having a case in which I didn't have a strong feeling that one specific suspect was guilty from almost the beginning, only to find out that my suspicion was correct. This is truly a remarkable feature that the classic games have held almost exclusively.
In addition to these suspects, a large number of supporting characters and allies of Nancy play a role in the game. Chief McGinnis is a prominent character, as he is the police chief of River Heights who keeps Nancy in custody until her innocence is proven. Carson Drew (Nancy's dad) finally makes a second appearance as a phone friend, and he does all he can to help Nancy get out of prison. I *LOVED* having him along again, as he hadn't made an appearance since "Secret of the Old Clock". Hannah does not make an appearance, but she is mentioned a number of times and sends Nancy a package. As stated before, Bess, George, and Ned are major characters in the game, and I thought working with them as well as being able to talk to Carson and Chief McGinnis were truly the high points of this game. There wasn't a useless character in the bunch.
Unfortunately, the soundtrack doesn't have anything remarkable. However, it doesn't have anything that's annoying. All of the music fits well into the game, and none of it's ever a bore or annoyance to listen to. It's just that none of the songs are necessarily very memorable, like the soundtracks of some of the previous games. There are also songs that remind me of other songs. For example, I thought the music heard in Nancy's house sounded kind of like a mix between the music heard in Aunt Eloise's house in "Secrets Can Kill" and the music exploring the farmhouse in "Trial of the Twister". But hey, since it kind of seems like the producers were going for a "greatest hits" feel by making references to every single Nancy Drew game before "Alibi in Ashes" being present in the game, maybe this is what they were going for. Regardless, the songs were still nicely organized and fit the game. Overall, it's a decent soundtrack.
So, is "Alibi in Ashes" a perfect game? No, it's not. But, is it a remarkable game? Some would say otherwise, but I'd say so. The fact that this installment makes *so* many references to all of the past games makes it truly feel like the milestone it is. Nancy's finally gotten to game 25, and she's also gotten her games back to the quality the classics held. I can definitely tell that the producers put a lot of work into this game, and despite a few setbacks, I had lots of fun. "Alibi in Ashes" is probably one of those games that the player will either love or hate. If you want my advice, I'd recommend taking both the positive and negative aspects I've stated into account, and then decide whether it's worth your time and money based on your own personal preferences. I doubt this is a game *everybody* is going to enjoy, but I personally love it. Happy sleuthing!
I feel for Her Interactive. In each game they produce, people complain about some aspects. It's difficult to achieve the perfect balance of character interaction, snooping/exploring, amount of puzzles, complexity of puzzles, tasks that meet all difficulty levels, character back stories, incorporating real-life technology into the game. The vibe of each game is somewhat different, at least in my opinion. I do like them all (except for Ransom, which was way too tedious and lonely) and each for different reasons.
This game did a number of things well. We got to SEE Bess, George and Ned. We got to see inside Nancy's house. We got to learn a sufficient amount about each character and their access to accelerants (i.e., character back stories and character interaction). We got to snoop quite a bit. Puzzles were a bit weak, but given the other strengths in the game it was acceptable to me. I realize that you can't get everything in one game.
I didn't find that going through Nancy to change from Bess/George/Ned was a big deal. It added 10 seconds each time you switch. Not a big deal, plus it reminds the player to put evidence on the board.
The game did hold my interest because I couldn't figure out who was the culprit. Any of them could have been since they all had motives, means, and opportunity. I also liked finding more about the characters.
Sure, a few more puzzles would have been fun, but I think it would have taken away from the real mission of the game - to find out who framed Nancy. Within the context of the atmosphere of the game, it made sense.
More puzzles would have been great
More places to explore... it just didn't seem like quite enough. This seems like a common theme with the newer ones... the designers REALLY need to go back to the "Curse of Blackmoor Manor" era and REALLY work on the detailing of their games, the newer ones are just a bit less complicated and less interesting and puzzling because of that.
Less controversial characters - not sure what the deal is, but there seems to be more and more girlfriend/boyfriend and clicky school stuff; more snotty and nasty suspects overall. In fact, in this one, all the characters had serious flaws. Most people probably don't care about this, but we play this as a family, from the two adults in the household, to the 9 year old, down to the 3 year old! (they LOVE them!), so it would be great if we could get back to the more basic characters and not get to know in detail such complicated (in a bad way) ones.
But in spite of these minor flaws, the game was excellent and would definitely go on my 5 star list of Nancy Drew games. I disagree with the other reviewers that these very minor issues knock down the game to such low ratings... I really don't know WHY they are complaining so much! Another excellent addition to the series!