I write this review having just completed The Phantom of Venice less than an hour ago. I promise not to develge any key facts that would ruin the utmost fun of playing!
Having played every game in the Nancy Drew series, I was unaware of what to expect when I first opened up the gaming window, as all of the games have different qualities about them. For one, I was quite pleased that the theme song from the older games was back, although it was tweaked slightly. The interface is pretty much the same, it opens up right to Nancy's room. where she proceeds to tell you about the different options leading up to the actual game.
Once the game starts it has a very different feel. It opens up toward the end of the game, and takes you through the beginning as a flashback. Using this method allows for the user to have some sort of objective to finish the game. The graphics are pretty good, definantly the best this series has seen, but they do not match up to some recent adventure games. During some cutscenes, character movement is choppy. As for character interaction, I won't say it is immense, but there is definantly enough to give you juicy details about each character, each having their own stories to tell you. The voice acting is pretty good, with foreign accents and emotion in the dialogue. The facial animations were pretty good as well.
As the game moves on, the plot begins to get more rich with various twists thrown in. There is alot of snooping like the older games in the series, and players really get to unearth some big skeletons some characters are hiding in their closets. The puzzles really add a nice touch, with a few difficult ones mixed with some fairly easy and moderate ones. The plot seems pretty upbeat with many stealthy activities, as if one was acting as a spy, in some film. The only real downside to this is that the game moves a lot quicker, and is much more linear. However, new players will find this to be a big help to get them along the way. I found that I finished the game in about eight to ten hours, using very little help.
The ending of the game is challenging, and really works the players mind. There are a few steps that must be completed to finish and this makes it alot more intriguing. Players will be left guessing who the culprit is all the way through, as there are many different things that point the finger at each suspect. Although this game is not "scary", there are definantly a few moments that will keep the player on edge, with suspense. Those that are questioning buying it, should give it a go. It is a great way to pass the time.
4 out of 5 stars