Nancy Drew #17 Legend of The Crystal Skull
It is point and click, no keyboard use. Boxes on the bottom of the screen allow access to inventory, cell phone, diary, save, load game, quit. Click on an object box and it appears in a popup box and stays up until you close it. There are unlimited saves and you can name your save whatever you wish, however, the game orders them by date time saved. It will ask before overwriting a previous save. The game is alt-tab friendly. As with all previous Nancy Drew games this one is played in the first person. My one gripe here is the inventory appears in a small popup box and mousing over the items did not reveal what they were. You have several items in there and no idea what they are.
Excellent graphics with very good detail in the scenes. Also a plus, there are no overly dark areas limiting your vision when you need to do something. The lighting and shading of the scenes in this game appeared more detailed than they have been in the past. It is all done in static painted scenes though you had full 360 turning ability.
The first thing you will notice is the familiar Nancy Drew opening theme music is not here. Sort of took me by surprise as that theme has become a staple. Background music is used sparingly and is very subtle, while special sound effects are there they are used sparingly. Also subtitles spell out the conversations in the same box that has appeared at the bottom of the screen in previous episodes. Voice acting is standard for the series for those of you not familiar that is good. This has been a strength of Nancy Drew games.
You play Nancy for most of the game, however, you do switch to play Nancy's friend Bess several times. You do this by calling Bess on the phone to request her help. Though a departure from previous Nancy Drew games it barely matters. Because of the first person game play you can't tell if your character is Nancy, Bess or Barney Fife. You can't see the character and have no real feeling of identity in this format. This is game number 17 and still no one has seen Nancy. But you do get to see a brief glimpse of Nancy's shadow in one area of the game. Of course this is my bias as character takes a back seat in first person games. A big plus is most of the silly chores have been jettisoned you have very few chores to deal with. The puzzles are typical for the series and there are a few that make you question just what was the point.
As mentioned above this is point and click without keyboard use. The puzzles are inventory based with some logic puzzles such as figuring out combinations, and the usual assortment of arcade type distractions found in N.D. So not to disappoint Her Interactive did not forget to include a really evil bowling game that will tax your patience. You have one timed puzzle where if you don't manage to spray the wasps fast enough you will die. A quick no fault reset will bail you out, however, it is not that difficult. I managed it the first time and with my reflex challenged ability it must have been rather easy. The game is non linear which in this case is not necessarily a good thing. Example, that bowling puzzle, the use of somebody's save to bail you out is most likely to lack a lot of things you accomplished. So be prepaired to wrestle with it. It rivals that dress sewing in the Old Clock and the Blackmore Manor typing test.
Not going to ruin it here with spoilers. It is rather typical Nancy Drew this time set in New Orleans. A few reviewers focused on the scarry aspects of the game. I missed the point I saw nothing remotely scarry in this game. In fact I found Blackmore Manor far more spooky. The story is rather thin you are looking for the title object, the Crystal Skull which went missing after the owner died of natural causes. Nancy is tasked with finding where the skull is and who took it. I say the story is thin because as you search about looking for clues you are frequently halted to solve another puzzle. I found a lot of these puzzles appeared more of a distraction than an agent to advance the story. Very often one is so focused on solving this puzzle one forgets where the story went or just what are we trying to do here? The brief conversations that occur in the game offer little to advance the story, provide detail or develope characters.
This is the nature of Nancy Drew games. I have played enough of them to have an idea of what to expect. Nancy Drew games are well done, they are fun as long as you let them be fun. This is one of the better games of the series. So that you can set that statement in context, I thought Blackmore Manor, Secrets of the Old Clock and Ghosts Dogs were the best of the lot. While on the other hand Kapu Cave was a dud. Deception Island and Last Train were simply C+ games . All in All this was a good game and well worth the play. So where do I rate Crystal Skull? What score do I give it? We have to remember the target audience for this series and consider Nancy Drew was not designed to satisfy adults. As a kids game it gets an A+.Think of all those Dora Explorer and Carmen games, yes Nancy is far better. When competing with mainstream games a solid B+ is in order I can't give it an A as that grade is reserved for the likes of Syberia, TLJ and so forth. What does B+ mean? It means Legend of the Crystal Skull is better than most of the games turned out these days.