Nancy Drew 16:    The White Wolf of Icicle Creek 




Genre: Adventure

Type:  Detective Mystery

Developer & Publisher: Her Interactive

Released:  Q3 2007

Platform: PC

Minimum Requirements:  See end of review

Additional Screenshots





by Inferno



It’s time for the newest release of Her Interactive’s Nancy Drew adventure, The White Wolf of Icicle Creek. This offering marks the sixteenth game in the series. This time the developers have tried to listen to the fans of this wonderful series of female detective interactive stories and have updated their traditional format. Have they succeeded in their quest? Yes, much of the format has been improved – though in some instances I wish they had just left well enough alone.

The Story

Once again we find the inquisitive Nancy Drew (ND) on the brink of a new investigation. This time we travel to a new country for the series: Alberta, Canada and the vast, gorgeous Canadian Rockies. At the request of an innkeeper, Chantal Moique, Nancy is asked to investigate a series of inexplicable “accidents” happening at Chantal's wintry getaway known as Icicle Creek Lodge. Turns out that Nancy Drew has been highly recommended by Bet and Ed Rawley of Shadow Ranch (hmmm, I remember that ranch and the barrel chase on that horse!). Chantal, while not present (she’s off in Edmonton meeting with her fathers’ attorneys about impending lawsuits with regard to the lodge) is always reachable by phone. Now, besides these strange accidents visited upon the guests at the lodge, there's a menacing white wolf that keeps everyone up at night and terrorizes the guests with its mournful howling. Strangely enough, the wolf seems to appear when these unfortunate accidents occur, and then it mysteriously disappears. A supernatural portent of impending disaster -- or a cunning canine?

The game opens one night after the caretaker, Ollie Randall, has picked up our intrepid teen at the local airport. As they drive along the desolate, snow covered road to the lodge, a furious explosion rips through the velvet curtain of the quiet countryside. It’s one of the outbuildings on Chantel’s property! There is an eerie silence afterward as the two sit there, stunned…and then all we hear is the lonely cry of the wolf howling in the distance, disturbing the starless night.  

The Look and Feel

One of my biggest disappointments with The White Wolf of Icicle Creek occurred at the beginning. Where is the opening Nancy Drew theme music and the expected stack of books that have always reminded me of the real Nancy Drew Mystery novels? Where is The Second Chance? I understand that time marches on and innovations must take place. That's progress. But there is still such a thing as tradition. Her Interactive kept the “Award” Certificates at the end of the game, so why not keep Nancy’s theme music? Well, actually it is there – stuck at the end during the credits, badly compressed as though it was an afterthought. What is in its place? Nothing…dead silence -- not good. As a Nancy Drew gaming fan, this small opening had always been a source of anticipation for me, knowing that Nancy and I were about to embark on a new and exciting journey while sleuthing and snooping together. I hope that in future episodes, Nancy’s music will return to its rightful place.

The interface in White Wolf sports a different look. The playing screen seems larger to me and the background frame can now be changed to black or green. The lower left side of the screen contains the things that Nancy will need, such as her knapsack filled with objects – letters, notes and other items that Nancy needs to help with her sleuthing. Her checklist is there if you are playing in Junior Mode. The new item is her journal, which includes Observations – Clues – Suspects – Phone Numbers, etc. These options, once activated, will not automatically disappear once you have utilized them until you click on the “X” in the upper right corner. This attribute can be a help in some situations and a hindrance in others…it depends on the gamer and her own preferences. On the right side are the Options: Load, Save and Quit. It should be noted here that when saving, it is important to click on the “Floppy Disk” icon and then type in a new title for your save. This will protect you from accidently writing over your previous saves. When in the Load screen, be careful not to click on “new,” as it will restart the game. As in the past there are unlimited saves -- always a treat. Subtitles appear in the centre of these two sections. The subtitle text is smaller than in previous episodes and may take the die-hard ND player some time to get used to -- and no, you can’t change it.    

Navigation is still the same for White Wolf as in previous ND adventures and the wonderful beginning is still there… Still there…every time the game opens. Perhaps in future installments the developers will provide an option to click on the tutorial for gamers who require it, instead of opening with it each and every time a gaming session begins. Speaking with characters (whether on the phone or in person) hasn’t changed much. Interestingly though, the question box has been redesigned and moved to the right. It is now easier to scroll through dialogues -- a definite improvement.  

The visual appearance of the adventure is at times very realistic. The snowy Canadian Rockies provide a backdrop with some breathtaking vistas to view. The Full Motion Video (FMV) cut scenes were interesting to watch and beautifully executed. The interior of the lodge and other area settings were appealing and they give the gamer a good foundation for interaction. The “foley” or sound effects are a true delight to listen to -- especially the explosions, wolf howls, and footsteps crunching in the snow, adding much to the ambiance of the game. However, I found the music lacking. Well, maybe I should say that I found the lack of music pronounced. Unfortunately, this aspect left me wanting more and added to my boredom during aspects of the long and sometimes tedious puzzles, making this an adventure that was difficult to become immersed in for any long period of time. Sad, as the storyline was actually well done and the scenery pristine and beautiful.

Although an underscore should have been created for this game, I did feel that the voice talent made up for its absence. The characters were expressive and lively as usual. Lani Minella is simply the best in the role of Nancy Drew. The number of characters to interact with -- whether it is in person or by phone -- is truly large. I found that this particular episode had the most interesting full-blown "Easter Egg" in it, as well as quite a few minor ones. References to every previous ND mystery abound. (Just be sure to save your game and then exhaust every dialogue tree when telephoning certain characters). This gives a great replay value if you like that sort of thing, as I do. There are even a few characters from past adventures who are mentioned or who actually appear in the game. I did miss the fact that Bess and George are nowhere to be found. However Ned, Nancy’s long-suffering boyfriend, is reachable by phone (if you know where to look for the number). And I've heard a rumor that the girls will be back in future episodes 

Game Play

White Wolf of Icicle Creek offers much in the way of sleuthing and snooping: two things for which Nancy is justly famous. As I mentioned earlier, there are many characters to speak with, both in person and by phone, whether it is to find clues, hints or plot exposition. There are lots of things to discover and explore, as long as you remember that certain daily tasks must be accomplished at certain times of the day (such is the life of an undercover detective when she assumes the role of a “domestic goddess”). Although I did notice that the plethora of historical studies and facts are sadly missing in the current issue. This was an area that I’ve always enjoyed within the Nancy Drew mysteries – one that I hope that the developers decide to return to in future adventures.

The Maid duties were hilarious (especially Ollie's comments), but became rather tedious after awhile. I thought that I was missing some new clue in these rooms. But by the third day, I realized that the chores were just "busy work" to extend the length of the game. I thought there would have been more snooping possibilities -- perhaps Nancy would be discovered in a room she had entered without permission, for example. But no. With only a few exceptions, the characters remain in exactly the same place throughout the game. Maybe someday they will move around.

The Second Chance feature has been eliminated. Now, there is no need to panic. There are plenty of second chances throughout the adventure. They occur either automatically, by reloading, or by simply backing away. And yes, you can get fired or die in this game. But I must say that during the arcade sequences, if Nancy loses or drowns or gets buried alive or sets the lodge on fire or blows herself up (amazing what our Nancy can do, isn’t it?) the mini-game will reset itself. Still, I would recommend saving before and after all puzzles and mini games to ensure minimum frustration.    

The puzzles are very interesting: mazes, combination and sorting, strategy. Did you know that the Fox and Geese puzzle is over 300 years old? This was my favorite puzzle I think. What I liked about it was the strategy that the gamer needs to use in order to complete it. During the beginning of the adventure you can study and learn how to play this fascinating and ancient game with seventeen geese and one fox -- this will prepare the gamer for the real tournament later on when the gamer will use only fifteen geese and one fox. There is also a sequential movement pyramid that involves matching, a slot machine, a remote mechanical maze where you must give commands to another character, and cipher decoding. The only things missing are a Tower of Hanoi and a slider.

Then there are the arcade interludes: snowball fights, a snowmobiling maze (watch out for the trees, rocks and snowmen), snow shoveling, ice fishing and of course…the exhilarating but dangerous “Timed Ice Floe Dancing.” These all had varying degrees of difficulty and may well challenge the average adventure gamer to near distraction (even in Junior Mode); but I would encourage you to stick with it. These arcade sessions reminded me of the sequences in The Polar Express or Great Journey and seemed to be geared toward the younger set. After all, the ND series is geared toward girls between the ages of eight to fourteen, and we more mature gamers should remember that. These “mini” games involve throwing (clicking and semi-aiming), raising and lowering an object while targets and obstacles pass by, a minesweeper location game, jumping forward or backward in six different directions during a timed sequence, matching and logical connection dexterity in four different directions during a timed sequence, and racing a vehicle (about the size of a small bee) through an open maze-like obstacle course (thankfully not a timed sequence but dangerous for Nancy at any rate).

Technical Stuff

For the most part, The White Wolf of Icicle Creek installed and ran without a hitch or glitch on my system in Junior Mode. However, in Senior Mode, near the end of the game there is a known glitch. During the remote mechanical maze puzzle the “command box” may not disengage even when the upper right icon is activated. When you save and then close down the game and reload the save, the problem will not go away. This can prove to be very frustrating, as you may need to still utilize your inventory, which will show as an overlay over the command box and will be inoperative. But no despair is necessary here, as the developers have produced a patch for this for both the CD and downloadable versions. The patch is available on the Her Interactive Technical Support Page. Using the patch does not compromise any of your previous saves.  It is also very important to note that the system requirement for this game may have been underestimated. Besides having a 32MB DirectX 9.0 compatible video card, you should also make sure that your video card supports 3D and pixel shading. If you do have an older graphics card, make sure that you are using the most recent drivers possible.


It seems to me that the Nancy Drew series has come a long way during the sixteen adventures that Her Interactive has produced. All of them have indeed offered a positive role model for young girls. This is something which is sorely needed in this day and age where the stresses of peer pressure run rampant. These adventures have provided those of us who are “mature ladies” (still girls at heart, of course) an opportunity to remember our fondness for the Nancy Drew books we may have reveled in during our youth.

So, we come to the question: would I recommend this game even with the negatives I found within? That depends on the gamer. If you are easily frustrated with puzzling and arcading, then I would caution you: this latest game is unusually difficult. However, if you are an adventurous and courageous soul – like Nancy Drew -- I would suggest that you may not want to pass it up. The new look does make sense. The backdrop graphics are gorgeous, the FMV’s are very interesting to watch, the storyline well thought out, the voice talent right on target and the enigmas and arcade sequences are logically devious. For those of you who enjoy different types of “puzzling” along with a mild interactive mystery, The White Wolf of Icicle Creek may be a game to put on your list.    


Grade C+

Minimum System Requirements:

OS: Windows XP/Vista

CPU: 1 GHz or greater Pentium or equivalent class

RAM: 128 MB

Disk Space: 1GB

CD/DVD-ROM: 24x CD-ROM drive

Video: 32MB DirectX 9.0 compatible video card

(Must employ 3D and pixel shading)

Sound: 16 bit DirectX compatible sound card

Input: Keyboard and mouse

DirectX Version: 9.0c

Played on:

OS: Microsoft Windows XP Home SP 2

CPU: Pentium D 950 3.4GHz 800MHz


Video: BFG nVidia Geforce 7600GT OC 256MB 128bit

Sound: SoundBlaster Audigy


Monitor: Northgate 20' Flat Panel Monitor

DirectX Version: 9.0c

June 2007


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