|In this installment, Nancy Drew is in St Louis to visit a friend, Maya. Her friend is kidnapped, and Nancy has three days to help rescue her before a theater is torn down - perhaps with Maya inside it!|
I was very encouraged to find Nancy done as an intelligent young woman who was still very realistic. Other games involving female heroines, like The Longest Journey and Syberia, tend to make them 'girly' and bubble-headed. This definitely isn't the case with Nancy. Nancy loves to chat with her friends and boyfriend, and shows her youth, but she also has a level head and intelligence.
The game is on a relatively small map, so you're not trekking around from world to world. You get to know the theater quite well, and the few people that you deal with. On one hand this is good, because you don't have hours of wandering back and forth to do. On the other hand, this can get frustrating. You've already talked to the main people involved ... but suddenly after doing one trigger action they've vanished, or have thought up something new to say? And you don't ask the obvious questions like 'where were you?' until much later? So you end up wandering around the theater, going back to every single room, going to talk to every person, multiple times until they move into their 'next stage' of conversation.
I played at the senior level, but found most of the puzzles extremely easy. The two puzzles I didn't solve immediately were both incredibly annoying. In one, I read the manual several times and tried everything I could think of to get the pieces to spin. I must have clicked on the pieces hundreds of times. But apparently I wasn't clicking on the piece in the exact right spot, and my boyfriend had to fight with it for a while before chancing on that. In the second sticker, I had a PDA with a secret code required to get into it. I had a wallet full of numbers including the character's boyfriend's birthday. I tried for eons to get various codes to work. The ending solution was a totally random one. In both cases I was very frustrated to have wasted so much time for that solution.
I actually lived in St Louis for a year, and my then-boyfriend worked at Wash U near a building they mention. I was impressed that they did their research well, mentioning streets and areas that exist around there. Unfortunately my ex in real life turned out to be pretty slimy, so during the game I was rooting for him to be caught in the theater when it collapsed :) It was both fun and bizarre to have all sorts of very recognizeable St Louis references come up in the story.
The scenes are very lovely, but they're all static. Unlike most modern day games that let you walk through an area smoothly, in this one you're restricted to moving through a 'picture book' of scenes, where you can only turn to certain angles. This made it frustrating when I wanted to go to a certain door or look a certain way. Often I had to circle around a few times to get pointed in the direction I wanted, or the game prevented me from looking at the object I wanted to see. Some drawers would open, others were magically withheld from you. It took away from the sense that you were really "there".
Still, except for the few nasty puzzles, the majority of the game was very pleasant, and lasted maybe 5-6 hours. If you have a walkthrough guide within reach while you play, you can enjoy the rest of the experience sort of like an 'animated story book', and it's great practice for the more advanced puzzle games that exist out there.
Walkthrough for Nancy Drew: The Final Scene