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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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
The game was stable on my computer and even
survived the "upgrade" from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 without needing a
Minimum System Requirements for PC version: