I own and have played all the games in the Nancy Drew series. I am a fan of the adventure game genre and this series has been, for the most part, both interesting and entertaining with the exception of #12 - #15. I consider these four to have been a serious deviation from the standard that had been set for these games up to that point. With four "duds" in a row, I had almost given up on the series. I was relieved to find the bar raised once again with #16 (White Wolf of Icicle Creek). The Crystal Skull has also kept within this standard though I would rate it a little lower in comparison to the previous game (#16).
The story line was interesting and believable and the characters were both colorful and creepy. The puzzles were challenging enough though I found some to be frustrating, giving little or no indication of what you were supposed to do or accomplish. One example of this was the "sneezing" contraption. I played the game as a Senior Detective so maybe the Junior level gives a few more hints. I also thought the clue hunting expedition through the cemetery plots to be too monotonous. There really were no "life threatening" timed puzzles or anything to get really excited over.
Being able to play as Bess was nice though it did seem a little strange that Bess seemed to have been given some pretty serious sleuthing assignments when she is portrayed as not possessing either the will or abilities to handle them.
The game seemed a little too short and I was disappointed in the limited locals to travel to and search. The house had only five rooms in it, a small count yard and then the cemetery. As Bess, there is the Shop with a small back room, the side walk cafe table and later a very short trip down an alley with two doors; one leads to the same small room in the shop and the other can only be knocked on, leading basically to a cut scene with no real interaction.
All in all, it was better than the "un-fantastic four" but there have definitely been better games in the series. If you're a Nancy Drew fan then go for it. If your not a fan or you are new to the games start at the beginning. You can get boxed sets that are a real bargain and worth playing.
Don't mess with me, I raised a Marine and SHE carries an M16 and knows how to use it!