In Shadow at the Water’s Edge
we find Nancy Drew in residence at the Ryokan Hiei, Kyoto. Teaching
English to Japanese students by day, at night Nancy is free to explore the
city and the mystery which surrounds the Ryokan itself. The eerie
goings-on, the spectral visitations and noises are driving away all of the
paying guests. Is there really a spook at play here, or does a more
sinister earthly motive lie behind the Ryokan’s unrest?
Welcome to the Ryokan Hiei, we hope you will enjoy your stay! Although
perhaps you won’t, because there are dastardly occurrences set to unnerve
you, all manner of things which delight in going bump in the night, and
it’s all a bit [insert alarming ghost noise here]. The Ryokan Hiei is
nicely laid out, not too large or meandering, and there is a quite
charming water garden to potter around in during quieter interludes,
should the fancy grab you.
Now here’s one thing that Shadow at the Water’s Edge has going for
it in its favour: it has an actual, involving story! Whereas its
predecessor Trail of the Twister trailed, flailed and twisted
itself into a psychosis of chores, stores and car drivin’, Water’s Edge
remarkably does deliver the plot-related goods. But here’s the rub: the
puzzles don’t quite make the grade, either in variety or their fun factor.
Unaccustomed as I am to guttural primal screaming, I did venture a
tentative honk or two when faced with Monster-Sudoku and its evil brother,
Gargantuan-Nonogram. I will elaborate further in due course. For now --
hey, what’s with Water’s Edge taking place solely at night? I’m not
a Pipistrelle, I do rather enjoy daylight occasionally. Perhaps it’s to
lend atmosphere, some more of that [insert another ghost noise here]
ambience. There are actually a couple of genuinely creepy, scary moments
in this game. I certainly wasn’t expecting one of them, jumping fairly out
of my skin and into the back of my chair -- which is always a sure sign
that I’m enjoying myself. No, really.
The characters are interesting to chat with. The Shimizu family who run
the Ryokan currently comprise Miwako and her grandmother, Takae. Rentaro
is Miwako’s boyfriend and “sort of” works there. Yumi is Miwako’s big
sister and really wants no part of anything at all. The voice acting is
marvellous! Eccentric, clumsy Rentaro and controlling, sparky Yumi were my
particular favourites, both having amusing and engaging dialogue.
Hello! Not In. Bye Bye!
Good thing: there aren’t very many chores in Shadow at the Water’s Edge.
Bad thing: there’s that aforementioned Monster-Sudoku and Gargantuan-Nonogram.
If you adore these types of puzzles then you’ll be in your element. To be
fair, after the initial glassy-eyed shock I did quite enjoy solving them,
although their replayability -- for me at least -- is dubious. There is
also Pachinko pinball, surely a leading contender for most tedious game in
the history of arcade entertainment. And you have to play it for (what
seems like) a phen-om-en-ally long time in order to win what you need to
buy what you have to. Aside from that, the player also has the opportunity
to solve a smaller variety of the Sudoku and the Nonogram, a few Renograms,
draw some Katakana, fold some origami, and sort some Bento into boxes.
There might be a theme here! We’re in Japan, after all.
There are two timed puzzles, but no mazes, sliders or sound puzzles. The
interface, the first person point and click, and generally high quality
graphics are comparable with the previous games in the series.
I‘ll Stop Bugging You Now
You can always rely on the Nancy Drew games to install without a palaver,
and to play with nary a hitch. If only every other developer could be as
reliable as Her Interactive invariably is on this front. I found no bugs
or dead ends while playing Shadow at the Water’s Edge.
The Nancy Drew games are still always worth investigating. They carry with
them enough charm and chutzpah to override the wobbles of the odd alarming
puzzle or timed panic. If you’ve enjoyed previous and recent Nancy Drew
adventures then it’s a safe bet that you’ll have a good time with
Shadow at the Water’s Edge as well.
Shadow at the Water’s Edge can be purchased at
Her Interactive's website here.
I played on:
Windows XP Media Center Edition SP3
Intel[R] CPU T2050 @ 1.60GHz
2.00 GB of RAM
NVIDIA GeForce 7500 LE, 512MB
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