Nancy Drew: Alibi in Ashes



Genre:   Adventure

Developer & Publisher:    Her Interactive

Released:  October 2011

PC Requirements:  

  • Windows® XP/Vista/7
  • 1.5 GHZ or greater Pentium 4 or equivalent class CPU,
  • 512 MB of RAM,
  • 2 GB or more hard drive space,
  • 64 MB DirectX 9.0 compatible video card,
  • 16 bit DirectX compatible sound card,
  • 4x DVD drive,
  • mouse and speakers.


Additional screenshots





by Rushes


While participating with her friends Ned, Bess and George in “The Clues Challenge”, a week-long puzzle competition in Nancy's home town of River Heights, Nancy finds herself in the vicinity when the town hall mysteriously goes up in flames. Arrested by the police and detained as the main suspect, Nancy must now fight to prove her innocence, as her friends rally round to help uncover the true culprit and reveal the motive for the crime.

Alibi in Ashes is the 25th game in the mystery series by developers Her Interactive.

“So, how's the case coming?”

Well now, this is different. Right from the whistle, Nancy finds herself in a heavy plume of smoke, in trouble and in jail, which is where she will be languishing for the majority of Alibi in Ashes. Accordingly, the player is put in control of Ned, Bess and George, casting them out individually onto the streets of River Heights to interview the residents, forage for clues and do much of the puzzling. In addition to the police station base the player will find themselves at the local ice cream parlour, the antiques shop and the ruined town hall, as well as Nancy's house, where we are allowed (at long last) to have a good poke around. Spacious would be an understatement. The locations are realistically detailed, the townsfolk well characterised, and the story unfolds smoothly and gradually. I felt the pace to be relaxed for the most part -- despite Nancy's obvious predicament -- with the emphasis upon character intrigue rather than any heightened dramatic tension.

It is possible to switch back to Nancy at will, as there are some puzzles and actions which can only be completed from inside the police station. Nancy will use her mobile phone a great many times over the course of the game, as the player switches back and forth to their character of choice/necessity. I found this switching to be repetitive, feeling that it would have been preferable instead to have had quick-click character icons to one side of the screen (one click and Shazam! you're back to Ned, with any transfer dialogue as necessary), rather than the rigmarole of phoning through to Nancy, only for her then to have to phone the next character to initiate a changeover. Having said that, I enjoyed playing each of her friends, and felt the idea in itself to be an interesting one. If it is to be a recurring feature in future adventures then it could benefit from streamlining.

The in-game map is sprawling and an initial frustration, as the locations are not labelled and do not become so until the cursor is hovered over them. However, the number of locations you will be required to visit is relatively few, and eventually you do remember the important ones. There is no car driving in this game: just one click on your location of preference, and you are chauffeured there directly by your character. I was pleased to not have to wrestle with any madcap vehicles this time around.

Gameplay is in first person and, as with all previous games in Her Interactive's series, is point and click, with the by now familiar interface of inventory, cell phone, journal and (for Junior level only) the invaluable task list. As with #24, The Captive Curse, there is the new addition of the Hint Hotline, which provides helpful nudges and solutions.

The voice acting, as always, remains one of the strong points of this series. All characters are convincingly and entertainingly portrayed, particularly Alexei, the mysterious, cantankerous owner of the local antiques shop. His dialogue was cracking; I found myself returning often to his shop merely for the pleasure of having him holler at me furiously. (My wants are few and simple.)

There are no chores; no burgers to flip, no ice cream sundaes to scoop, no beds or bath towels to smooth down. Alibi in Ashes is a straight-ahead mystery with its focus upon the detective work instead of the drudge. There are unlimited save slots and the Second Chance feature for any “fatal errors”.  Gameplay is somewhat short at around six hours, playing without a walkthrough.

Dial P for Puzzles

Alibi in Ashes does not carry quite as many puzzles as in previous Nancy Drew mysteries. We encounter a fun number board which requires a fast input response. There is a line connector puzzle, a light combination set-up, a spot of lock-picking, and one logic puzzle in the form of a timed maze. (It wouldn't be a Nancy Drew without a maze of some description.) The puzzle difficulty is moderate; there are no real game-stoppers here, and all are well integrated into the gameplay.

Ice Cream Headache

Alibi in Ashes installed without any issues and played perfectly throughout, with no bugs, glitches or dead ends.

Overall, an enjoyably alternative addition to the Nancy Drew game series.

Grade: B

I played on:

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1

AMD A6-3650 APU @ 2.60GHz

4.00 GB of RAM

Radeon HD 6530D Graphics

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