Nancy Drew: The Silent Spy

Genre:   Adventure

Developer & Publisher:    HerInteractive

Released:  October 2013

PC Requirements:   see review below

Walkthrough

 

 

by Jenny100

  

Introduction

Nancy Drew has made a career out of solving mysteries. Occasionally she faces danger -- especially when she's discovered the identity of a perpetrator or when she's uncovered information that's worth money -- and the perpetrator feels it's in their best interest to shut her up. But I can't remember any previous Nancy Drew game where a major city full of people, and ultimately even the world, depended on Nancy's uncovering an evil plot and living to tell the tale. The Silent Spy has a more serious plot than previous Nancy Drew games. Even the title "Silent Spy" is serious -- it's explained in the game as meaning "dead spy," referring to Nancy's mother Kate. Kate was killed in an automobile accident -- or so Nancy had always believed.

Nancy's mother was killed 8 years before the start of the game. So while Nancy was still a child at the time, barely having started school, she does have some memories of her mother. From time to time during the game, often while Nancy is traveling by train between locations, Nancy has flashbacks of her mother -- playing the piano, arguing with Nancy's father, trying to reason with a pre-adolescent Nancy.

Story

The game begins with Nancy receiving a mysterious phone call, asking her if she wants to find out what "really" happened to her mother. Nancy knows her mother died in an auto accident, but until now never suspected it wasn't an accident. Of course this is one mystery Nancy has a personal stake in, so she's off to Scotland to investigate. There she learns about the terrorist organization called Revenant, and how her mother thwarted their attempt to unleash a biological attack on Glasgow as prelude to using it elsewhere in the world. Designed to be non-lethal to the bulk of the population, it was intended to be severe enough to incapacitate the city long enough for Revenant to replace the government. The attack was stopped by Kate Drew, but Revenant had their revenge on her. After remaining dormant for years, Revenant is once again rearing its ugly head. The plot is more far-reaching than your average Nancy Drew game, where only a few people are affected by her success at mystery-solving.

Characters

Some of the characters in the game include Alec Fell, who hangs out in the train station, Bridget Shaw, who claims to be enamored of things American, Moira Chisholm, an old friend of Nancy's mother, and Ewan MacLeod, who is Nancy's "contact" at the spy group called "Cathedral" (the same spy group Nancy's mother belonged to). Of course in a game full of spies, with such high stakes involved, people may turn out not to be as they first seem.

Nancy's telephone contacts include her father, Carson Drew, and her boyfriend Ned. Ned proves useful early in the game. Later in the game, Ned gets to be kind of a pain because he emails Nancy at the worst possible times and her phone clamors for attention.  

Game Environment

Most Nancy Drew games include information about the part of the world where she's investigating. This was very well done in the previous game, Ghost of Thornton Hall, where Nancy found out many details about the history of the family and the Civil War by reading books and old letters she found around the old mansion. In Silent Spy, this aspect seemed a bit forced. Nancy learns about "traditional" Scottish food at an outdoor deli next to her hotel. She learns about the "culture of the Highland Games" in the training area. But these locations aren't terribly well integrated with the rest of the game. Overall the locations in the game did not seem particularly Scottish at all. Even Loch Lomond could have been any old lake with a rocky shore, and you only see one view of it.

I was a little surprised Nancy never attempted to visit the site of her mother's "accident." Not to look for blood or tire tracks, but to get an idea of the lay of the land and how likely it was that there would be an accident there. It would have been an opportunity to see the Scottish countryside.

The locations Nancy does visit are rather limited. They are mostly indoors, except for the deli area outside the hotel and the outside view of a house or cabin before you enter. Nancy doesn't see any Scottish castles. She doesn't even get to go inside the Scottish pub. Poor Nancy.

Interface

The Silent Spy uses point-and-click controls, just as previous Nancy Drew games do. Inventory is located along the bottom of the screen. You can scroll the inventory to the left or right by clicking and dragging a little slide button at the top of the inventory box. Nancy's checklist appears when playing as Amateur Detective. Her cell phone includes a camera, phone numbers for Ned and her Dad (Carson Drew), and email.

Puzzles

Many of the puzzles have to do with deciphering clues. Of course, first Nancy has to find the clues, and this occasionally involves breaking into someone's room, which in turn involves figuring out the best way to do this. Often equipment is needed, though equipment isn't necessarily something that Nancy can just find laying around. But sometimes another character just hands it over to her, though only after she's done something entirely unrelated.

Some things require money. Nancy finds money laying around throughout the game. When her eyes are too tired to spot these little heaps of coins, she can earn money by making elaborate layered cookies with jam, icing, and cutout sections. Cookie making isn't that difficult, though the amount of money you make depends on how fast you make them. It could be considered a "chore," though it's not as tedious as some other chores she's had to do in past games.

There were many timed puzzles in the game. Some of them would have been difficult even without a timer. For example, a picture of a plaid design, where you have to overlay stripes in the right order to create the correct pattern. It was hard enough to see which lines were "over" and which were "under" in the tiny picture you were supposed to match (and decide which lines to lay down first) without being under time pressure. After running out of time 3 times, I used a walkthrough. There were other puzzles where you are under time pressure too, like the bomb diffusing puzzle at the end. Even with the walkthrough, in some cases I could barely click fast enough. It took all the fun out of the puzzles to be rushed like that. Yes you have the "second chance" when Nancy messes up, but it's no fun to be stuck repeating the same thing over and over when you're not fast enough. I'm surprised HerInteractive doesn't put a "no timer" option in the game options. Many casual games that use timers provide the option to turn them off. Since HerInteractive has begun imitating casual games in other ways, like the inclusion of a "bonus" edition with "achievements," why not add the much more useful "untimed version" option?

Voice acting

I wouldn't know a proper Scottish accent if it up and bit me in the #$@! So I can't say whether the accents were accurate or not. I can say that the accents were not so thick that I couldn't understand what was being said. I especially liked the performances for Carson Drew, Moira, and Kate Drew in the flashbacks. I thought they should have gotten a real child to voice the child Nancy, who sounded more like a teenager than an 8- or 10-year-old.

Extras

This is the first Nancy Drew game I've played that was a "bonus" edition. The "bonus" includes "awards" or "achievements" for things like finding all the phone charms, or having Nancy use the zip line a ridiculous number of times, or having her sample every type of food in the deli, etc. I suppose this type of thing must be of interest to some Nancy Drew fans or HerInteractive would not include it. But it was of no interest to me and I thought it was "gimmicky." I enjoyed occasionally finding an Easter Egg (accompanied by a chicken squawk) in earlier Nancy Drew games. But I think all this "achievement" stuff is overdone. IMO there's no reason why an adventure game series should try to copy a gimmick that's overused to the point of being annoying in casual games.

Miscellaneous Comments

If you've ever wondered what Nancy Drew looks like, at one point she says she sees her mother every time she looks in the mirror. You see flashbacks and pictures of Nancy's mother, Kate Drew, in the game so we can assume Nancy looks something like that.

Nancy remained her usual cheerful, plucky self throughout the game. If she felt any sadness about the situation, missed her mother at all, or felt angry about her mother being betrayed or deliberately killed, she kept it to herself. All that seemed to matter to her was the mystery -- and when there is a mystery to solve, Nancy is happy. Only at the end of the game did she show any sentiment about her mother.

The game was stable on my computer and even survived the "upgrade" from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 without needing a reinstallation.

Grade: B

Minimum System Requirements for PC version:

  • Windows XP/Vista/7/8

  • 1.5 GHZ or greater Pentium 4 CPU or equivalent class 

  • 512 MB of RAM

  • 3 GB or more hard drive space

  • 128 MB DirectX 9.0 compatible video card

  • 16 bit DirectX compatible sound card

  • 4x DVD drive

  • Mouse and speakers

I played the game on a computer with:

    Windows 8.1 Professional, 64-bit

    AMD Phenom II X4 905e processor 2.51 GHz

    8 GB RAM

    AMD Radeon HD 7770 with 2 GB VRAM

    ATI High Definition Audio Device (onboard sound)

Minimum System Requirements for Mac version (as currently listed on the HerInteractive website)

  • Mac OS X 10.5.8 and later

  • Intel processor

  • 512 MB RAM

  • 3 GB or more hard drive space

  • Intel GMA X3100, ATI X1600, NVIDIA 7300 graphics card or better

  • 4x DVD drive

  • Keyboard and mouse

  • Internet connection the first time the game is launched

  • This game will NOT run on PowerPC (G3/G4/G5) based Mac systems (PowerMac)

 

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