Nancy Drew: Warnings at Waverly Academy



Genre:   Adventure

Developer & Publisher:    Her Interactive

Released:  October 2009

PC Requirements:  Windows XP/Vista, 1 GHz or greater Pentium or equivalent class CPU, 256 MB of RAM, 1 GB or more of hard drive space, 32 MB DirectX 9.0 compatible video card, 16 bit DirectX compatible sound card, 24X CD-ROM drive, mouse, and speakers  


Additional Screenshots





by Rushes


Warnings at Waverly Academy is the 21st game in the Nancy Drew adventure game series which, like a longlife battery, impressively just keeps on going.

So, this time around let’s don our uniforms, pack our plimsolls and join Nancy as she infiltrates an exclusive girls’ boarding school in an effort to discover the identity behind the mysterious “Black Cat”, who has been sending threatening messages to the students. What is the reason behind these messages? Are the accidents which follow merely coincidence, or is it only a matter of time before someone gets seriously hurt? It’s all up to you, Nancy Drew.


Well, we’re off to a crackingly good start with this game, not least because it is absolutely nothing like its predecessor, Ransom of the Seven Ships, which proved disappointing for so many Nancy fans. Waverly Academy is back up to the usual high standard we’ve become accustomed to with Nancy Drew, carrying an involving storyline, puzzles that entertain and stretch the brain in all the right places, plenty of characters with whom to interact, and excellent voice acting -- most notably from Lani Minella, who has played the part of Nancy from the very beginning and who embodies the role to perfection.

Waverly Academy plays in first person perspective. The player is able to move around the environment via the onscreen arrows. There is occasional slow panning, but this is controllable and should not cause any problems for those affected by motion sickness.

The pacing seems deliberately relaxed, with very little real tension, and is none the worse for it.  How pleasant to be able to wander and solve puzzles at your own pace without the constant ticking of a timer and a Game-Over-you-have-failed screen.

The graphics are of high quality as always, and I noticed a definite improvement in the characters’ facial animations this time around. The school itself is fairly compact for the areas you are allowed to explore. The ground floor contains a large foyer with a highly polished wooden floor and inlaid school emblem. Corridors either side, lined with glass cases containing historical school exhibits, will lead the player to the small rec room with its games corner and snack shop, or to the impressive library lined wall-to-wall with books. The upper floor consists of two connecting halls where the students’ bedrooms are situated. Those with a deliriously poor sense of navigation will be pleased to learn that it really isn’t possible to get lost at Waverly Academy. There is a small surrounding outside area allowing access to the school cellar, and that is pretty much it. But it’s the story and puzzles that we’re here for, and Waverly Academy doesn’t disappoint.


The game characters are well-rounded and interesting. Although stereotypical - the jock, the goth, the oddball, and so on - snippets of their individual backstories can be gleaned by informal chatting with their fellow students. You are able to keep up-to-date with all the latest school gossip via the Twitter-like network uploaded to your phone.

There is only one timed puzzle. It is at the end of the game, and is generous, so play without trepidation. Other puzzles are of the logic, spatial and jigsaw variety, and are great fun to solve. Nancy will also undertake several photography assignments over the course of the game.

Yes, there are mini-games, as is usual with Nancy Drew. The air hockey is enjoyable and fairly easy to beat; the “Scram” (darts) less so. As Nancy is a Waverly newbie, one of her daily duties is to serve behind the snack shop counter. A failure to do so will earn demerits, and too many demerits will result in expulsion, so make sure to keep an eye on the in-game clock. The snack shop is simple to get to grips with, and takes just a few minutes out of each day.

There are no mazes, sliders or sound puzzles.


One reason amongst many as to why I look forward to each new Nancy Drew adventure is that the games remain constant. “A fixed point in an ever-changing age”; from the opening theme music, to the introduction at Nancy’s desk (always cannily updated with memorabilia from her most recent cases), to the interface itself. You can choose to play at either Junior or Senior level. Your choice here will not affect the story itself, only the level of difficulty of some of the puzzles that you encounter. Junior level provides the added benefit of a Task List, invaluable for checking what has been done and for a push in the right direction if you’re unsure as to what to do next. Make a fatal error and there’s always the Second Chance option to fall back on. There are unlimited save slots. The game box reads “For mystery fans 10 to Adult”. Don’t think for a minute that this game series is strictly for the younger set, as even at Junior level you’ll always find a challenging puzzle or two (or three, or four).


Waverly Academy installed without any problems, and played perfectly throughout. I encountered no dead ends, no glitches or desktop crashes.

If you are a fan of Nancy Drew - or if you were up until Ransom of the Seven Ships, but are now feeling discouraged and hesitant - I’d recommend Waverly Academy as a return to form and all round Good Fun for mystery fans (age 10 to Adult).

Grade: B+

October, 2009

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