Nancy Drew: Sea of Darkness


Genre:   Adventure

Developer & Publisher:   Her Interactive

Released:  May 2015

PC Requirements:   see review below




by Jenny100


Nancy Drew: 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 game's backstory.


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 movement.

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 discover.

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 alone.


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 snooping.

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).

Making Money

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 food?  

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 swashbuckling potential.

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.

Miscellaneous Comments

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.

Grade: B+

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)

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 video card

· 16 bit DirectX compatible sound card

· 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)



GameBoomers Review Guidelines

June 2015

design copyright© 2015 GameBoomers Group

 GB Reviews Index