Sea of Darkness
"Nancy Drew: Sea of Darkness" takes place in
Skipbrot, a small town in southern Iceland. The name "Sea of Darkness"
seems to refer to the darkness of the sea and sky during and after the
eruptions of volcanoes in the Laki fissure in southern Iceland in 1783.
These volcanic eruptions had deleterious effects all over the world, but
nowhere more than in small Icelandic towns like Skipbrot. The Laki
eruptions, and the hardships they created, are an integral part of the
Nancy Drew receives a letter from Dagny Silva, a
self-proclaimed "treasure hunter" whose current business partner, Magnus
Kiljansson, has gone missing. Dagny and Magnus have recently renovated a
historic tall ship from the 1780's, the Heerlijkheid, and they believe a
treasure, or at least clues to its whereabouts, are hidden somewhere
inside the ship. Dagny suspects Magnus has found the treasure and
skipped out on her, taking his ill-gotten gains all for himself. Nancy
is hired to find him and, more importantly, any treasure he may have
absconded with. However as Nancy explores, it seems increasingly likely
that Magnus was abducted rather than leaving on his own.
Besides Dagny and Magnus, other characters include
Elisabet Grimursdottir, Magnus' ex-girlfriend who runs the Missti Split
(the pub/inn where Nancy is staying), Soren Bergursson, who runs the
Cultural Center and has tried to modernize the Ancestors' Festival to
attract more tourists and more income for the town, Gunnar Tonnisson, an
ill-tempered man who seems to hate everything (except hard liquor) and
everybody (except maybe Elisabet), and has been known for disrupting the
Ancestors' Festival in the past. Initially Gunnar may seem to be the
most likely culprit, but appearances can be deceiving. Gunnar has little
nicknames for people (animal names in Icelandic). Apparently Dagny is a
"minke" (type of whale) and Nancy is a "fiskur" (fish). I can kind of
understand Nancy being a fish (she fishes for clues), but I don't get
how Dagny is a whale. A shark ("hakarl") maybe.
Nancy's phone contacts include her old boyfriend
Ned Nickerson and Alex Trang, a chatty grad student who is manning
Control Tower #32 and is Nancy's means of calling the police, should the
occasion arise. Apparently Bess and George still have not forgiven Nancy
for the events of "Shattered Medallion," because they don't make an
appearance either by phone or in person (and I can't say I blame them).
"Sea of Darkness" takes place in Iceland during the
winter months, when it's dark most of the day. Sometimes you see gray
slushballs pelting down from the sky, though the ground looks more snowy
than icy. I thought the daytime darkness gave the game more atmosphere
than having bright sunny skies all the time, and the slushballs provided
Among the places Nancy visits is the town itself,
with the pub, Cultural Center, and the crow's nest that originally
belonged to the Heerlijkheid. She also takes a snowmobile out to visit a
mountain cabin and ice caves, and uses a dinghy to reach a lighthouse.
Perhaps most interesting of all is exploring the ship, which has been
beautifully restored, and has secret panels and secret rooms and such to
I can't find any indication that there is an actual
town in Iceland called "Skipbrot," though I did find out that "skipbrot"
is Icelandic for "shipwreck."
"Sea of Darkness" uses the same simple
point-and-click interface as other Nancy Drew games. Most locations have
stationary screens, but some locations, such as the interior of the
Cultural Center, allow a sort of step-wise panning. You navigate between
locations by clicking on arrows that appear as you move your cursor over
them. Your inventory scrolls across the bottom of the screen, and you
can drag it left or right by grabbing a little notch thingy at the top
of the inventory box. Some puzzles allow you to type in answers or use
keyboard arrows, but you always have the option of using the mouse
I played as an "Amateur Detective" because I like
having the task list and checking things off. Some puzzles have more
difficult versions if you play as a "Master Detective," but puzzles were
certainly not easy even as an "Amateur Detective." Sea of Darkness is a
good choice if you enjoy "brainteaser" puzzles because there are quite a
few of them.
Many of the puzzles are number-themed in some way.
There is a number pyramid you solve by addition and subtraction. There
is a triangular form of Sudoku. You must use an Icelandic/English
glossary to "decode" Icelandic numbers in order to fix one of your
methods of transportation. Where puzzles aren't number-themed, they are
often logic-based. One puzzle involves a toy cabinet with cubicles
arranged 6 across and 6 down, with clues for how toys are arranged in
the rows and columns. There is a puzzle where you must create shapes so
that none are touching. Another puzzle has you arrange gems so that
there are no more than two in a row. One puzzle has you arranging the
various stages in tying knots. Another has you identifying the names of
the 15 different sails on a "tall ship." And there are other puzzles I
haven't mentioned, all different.
Besides the brainteaser-type puzzles, there are
puzzles based on inventory collection, exploration, talking to people,
and occasionally tricking or distracting people so you can do your
There was one timed puzzle (where Nancy is in
danger of dying) and one maze in an ice cave. Of course I went straight
to the walkthrough for these since I don't like either timed puzzles or
mazes. The timer spoiled a perfectly good puzzle, and in my opinion no
good can ever come of a maze (though I've heard some people like them).
You can make money for supplies and gifts by taking
Icelandic/English vocabulary tests, and later by doing a bizarre food
preparation puzzle that I never quite got the hang of and only ever was
able to solve by accident (apparently I'm not able to visualize a series
with randomly placed blank spaces in it). If you complete the food
puzzle in a short enough time, you get more of a tip. Do I need to tell
you that I used the vocabulary puzzle to make my money, and eschewed the
One thing you can do is buy a gift for Ned. During
one of my phone conversations with Ned, I had to tell him what type of
gift I'd buy and I said "romantic." So I had to find something in the
gift shop that looked somewhat romantic, which posed a problem.
Ultimately I decided a sword was the most "romantic" thing in the gift
shop. However that sword was rather expensive so I spent a lot of time
taking vocabulary tests. Unfortunately I never got to see Ned's reaction
when he received his "romantic" gift, so I have no idea of his
Nancy's Desk "Lite"
The game starts at Nancy's desk, but it lacks the
interactivity it had in older games. You can't examine any "extra"
objects relevant to present or past cases, or do any of the other things
you used to be able to do at the desk. And instead of having a booklet
about the case with colorful pictures, the text of which is read to you
by Nancy, there is only a letter you have to read yourself. Nancy's
voice doesn't introduce you to the case, and if you click the letter to
try to get her to read it aloud, the letter will disappear forever. If
you haven't read it yet, you have to restart the game if you want to
know what it said. You don't have the option of clicking on the plane
ticket when you're ready. The letter is the only interactive thing on
the desk, and once you pick it up, all you can do is click again to
automatically start the case.
I've read comments from Nancy Drew fans who missed
"Nancy's Desk" at the beginning of the more recent games. Somehow I
don't think this "abridged" version is what they were thinking of.
Although I wasn't the biggest fan of "Nancy's Desk," and I was just fine
with Nancy being awakened by a phone call in the middle of the night,
the "reduced functionality" "Lite" version of the desk, with no
narration, called attention to itself and looked like a lazy insult to
those who used to enjoy clicking around the desk before setting out to
solve the case. If you're going to reintroduce a feature, don't strip
out the previous functionality and pretend it's the same thing.
At the end of the game you are given the choice of
taking pity on the poor mistreated villain or throwing the person to the
wolves (i.e. police). I chose to take pity, mostly because of the
comments of another character, but considering there were at least two
occasions when the villain's actions could have done Nancy in, I can
certainly understand taking the less forgiving choice.
Though Nancy's voice doesn't introduce the game,
you do hear her at the end, wrapping things up and telling you what
happened to everyone. Apparently Nancy may be seeing more of Dagny the
treasure hunter at some point.
Sea of Darkness is the last Nancy Drew game
featuring Lani Minella as the voice of Nancy Drew.
Overall Sea of Darkness was an enjoyable game,
especially if you enjoy "brain teaser" puzzles that are more challenging
than what's found in today's casual games.
played the game on a computer with:
Windows 8.1 Professional, 64-bit
Phenom II X4 905e processor 2.51 GHz
Radeon HD 7770 with 2 GB VRAM
High Definition Audio Device (onboard sound)
Windows Minimum System Requirements:
· Windows® Vista/7/8
· 1.5 GHZ or greater Pentium 4 CPU
or equivalent class
· 512 MB of RAM
· 3GB or more hard drive space
· 128 MB DirectX 9.0 compatible
· 16 bit DirectX compatible sound
· 4x DVD drive
· Keyboard, mouse and speakers
Mac Minimum System Requirements:
· OS X: OS X: 10.6.8 Snow Leopard/10.7
Lion/10.8 Mountain Lion/10.9 Mavericks/10.10 Yosemite or higher
· 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, mouse and speakers
· 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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