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A Veteran's Review of CUR

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  • A Veteran's Review of CUR

    Allow me to preface this review by saying that I have been playing the ND games for fourteen years. Over those years, I have probably played each game well over twenty times--the older ones probably over fifty--and I do at least one full marathon of all 33 games (i.e., all 32 and SCK Remastered) annually. As I have gotten older, I have found myself ranking the games, characters, music, etc. in my spare time during marathons, and this year I thought I would write--and subsequently post--reviews of each game while I go through my 2018 marathon (I started a month early but life got busy, so excuse the long delay). I have lost access to/forgotten about my previous accounts on here, including my very first one, so I made a new one solely for this purpose. That being said, I hope you enjoy my review, and I apologize for the wait!

    At long last, we have arrived at one of the undisputed crown jewels of the Nancy Drew franchise: Curse of Blackmoor Manor. Long regarded as a fan favorite and one of the scariest Nancy Drew games, Curse of Blackmoor Manor is, to me and many others, the perfect Nancy Drew game. Of course, it has a few minor flaws, as do we all, but it is truly one of the games that I can recommend to anyone and write a rave review about without feeling like I'm showing bias. It's just that good. Of course, like most of the older games, I have a large dose of nostalgia that accompanies my opinion of this game as well. Despite not being the first game I ever bought or played, Curse of Blackmoor Manor is the first Nancy Drew game I can remember seeing in stores shortly after it came out. I was immediately attracted to the box art and title, and when I read the description on the back, I was certain that this game was for me. It wasn't until a year or so later that I actually got it, but it was my premier introduction to Nancy Drew and the Nancy Drew games, so it holds a very special place in my heart. Let's dive in!

    Plot: "Greetings from jolly old England," is the opening line of the game, and it couldn't be more inaccurate, which Nancy remarks on herself in the very next sentence. From the moment Nancy arrives at the gates of Blackmoor Manor and treks down the walk, you know that the word "jolly" utterly fails to describe the dark, looming shape in front of you. As soon as Nancy's name is growled by the mysterious red-eyed figure in the shadows of the manor, all hope of peace and pleasantness at this place leaves you. This isn't a jolly game; it's a scary game. Nancy reveals in her letter to Ned that she has been sent to this countryside manor at the bequest of a neighbor, Mrs. Petrov, whose daughter, Linda, has become mysteriously ill and increasingly reclusive since she moved into the house with her step-daughter, Jane, and great-aunt-in-law, Mrs. Drake, following her marriage to British diplomat, Hugh Penvellyn. Nancy must delve into the dark family history and uncover their long-buried secrets to determine whether the cause of Linda's illness is natural...or supernatural.

    Of all the Nancy Drew games, this plot is one of my all-time favorites. From fabled curses, suspected witches, wolf-like beasts, family treasures, secret societies, ancient rituals, clever parrots, secret passages, hidden ghosts, musical staircases, mysterious voices, and even a spiral slide, this game has it all. The lore of the game is so strong, it isn't hard to imagine that an old English family the Penvellyns really could exist. There are so many little (and sometimes large) things in the house which seem random, if not odd, that slowly begin to make sense, and to me, what makes those puzzles and clues more interesting is that they are not just artificially contrived for you, as Nancy to solve, but actually have a place and purpose (sometimes dual purposes given Elinor's history) in the universe of the game independently of Nancy or the player. As you may have noticed and will assuredly see as I continue to post these reviews, I love historical fiction, so any game that relies heavily on intertwining a present and past mystery tends to be rated highly in my book with few exceptions. The Penvellyn's family history is incredibly fascinating to me and occasionally interconnects with real historical figures, like Oliver Cromwell, which really submerges me into fictional world of the game. I do think there are a few minor downfalls with the game's plot, some of which I cannot get into because of endgame spoilers, but overall, the story is strong and paced well.

    Setting: An old countryside manor plopped down in the middle of English moorland, Blackmoor Manor is truly a house after my own heart, though it is nothing like Misselthwaite Manor, Manderley, Pemberley, or Thornfield Hall. Unlike the previous game, all of the gameplay takes place inside the house, which is truly a shame since the outside of the home is probably quite lovely and it assuredly has nice views of an English garden and the surrounding moors. However, every environment in Blackmoor Manor is so rich with detail and quite expansive, so it doesn't feel confining at all. Since I love Blackmoor Manor so much, I feel compelled to discuss most of the house at length, so here goes:

    The great hall is the first room of Blackmoor Manor that we see, so it only feels right to discuss it first. Though not my favorite room in the house, the great hall is certainly ranked highly for me. The floor is probably the most noticeable feature of the room and my favorite with its geometric tile (or perhaps painted marble) design in a rich emerald, scarlet, black, and creamy yellow. At its center is a black-and-white maze (I still have no explanation for that design, though it had to be intentional) with a huge yellow sun and drain in the very middle. It's just a really eye-catching design and brings a warmth and life to the room, unlike a pale, solid marble floor or even checkered design would have done. The great hall is the heart of the house and it greets all who enter, so the choice to use warm-toned colors, except the cool-toned emerald green, makes that large space feel warm and cozy despite its opulence and grand size. There are four archways supported by three massive pillars that divide the center of the room into two opposite wings. The design on the pillars harkens back to the Ancient Greeks, Medieval Age, and perhaps even the Renaissance, and the continued use of the scarlet red backdrop, gold and silver accents, and warm-toned cream (aka a yellowed white) on the pillars is striking against the ornate emerald wallpaper on the walls of the wings. The marble staircase with a crimson carpet runner only adds to the grandness of the room. The wings of the great hall are lined with the family crests and portraits of past owners of Blackmoor Manor, which is an exceptional and realistic touch to the room. The last feature of the room that's worth mentioning--besides the ceiling which is only visible in certain perspectives but offers a lovely rib-vault ceiling typical of Gothic architecture in the wings and coffered ceiling in the center--is the exquisite front door. The door is a slate grey and designed with a pattern of quatrefoils, another Gothic staple, and built in a pointed arch, again a characteristic of Gothic architecture that is mirrored in most of the house. I just think the room does an exceptional job of bringing light and warmth to the house considering the appalling lack of windows. The color choice makes the space feel comfortable and bright regardless of what's going on in the rest of the house or what it is like outside, which is wonderful.

    The next rooms I want to discuss are the conservatory and the library. Ever since I played Clue as a young child, I was fascinated by the concept of a conservatory in a house, despite only seeing two or three in real life since then. The conservatory in Blackmoor is nothing like one would expect of a conservatory--except the one in The Addams Family--because it is gloomy and gray instead of earthy and bright. The ironclad windows are grayed-out and the walls are an unattractive reddish-brown color that does not do the room any favors. However, the two-story windows, cobblestone floor, and beautiful iron staircase, despite their gloominess, make the room beautiful. The fountain is quite lovely, once it starts working , and the plants are pleasant, though I would have liked to see a few more flowering plants that are often found in conservatories, like orchids. Where the conservatory defies expectations and retains beauty, the library indisputably does not. Libraries are, without question, my favorite rooms in a house should I be lucky enough to find a house with its own library. Whether it is dark and cozy or bright and calm, it never fails to be a room that I want to be in. However, the library in Blackmoor Manor is oppressively dark and appallingly uninteresting. The dark stone walls are lit by green-shaded lights which cast a sickly pallor on the walls. The checkered floor with gold woven rugs does nothing to lighten the room either. For a library, it is also incredibly sparse, though I did notice in this most recent playthrough that there is a supposed second floor to the library. You can see a second set of bookcases behind a balcony on the back wall, though gaining access to that second floor looks impossible. The few books in the library are "protected" from being examined by Nigel, whose explanation for why Nancy (and you) wouldn't want to read them is that they are boring and old. I don't know about you, but I love old books and I would be more than interested to at least open one, even if it was about sixteenth century law (which still sounds quite fascinating). I find it incredibly disappointing that such an old house has a less than extraordinary library in terms of its aesthetic, but it is even more disappointing that the room is so useless, except to house Nigel and the statue of Mercury.

    In regards to other rooms I find somewhat disappointing, the secret passages and Moving Rooms are probably my biggest disappoint, but only in that we can only see them in that hideous green light. I am sure they are quite beautiful, but to cut down on their beauty by casting them in lime green light is almost sinful. I get that the developers were trying to save on animation and resources, but it is truly disappointing that such a massive interesting part of the house--and one that you frequent regularly--is so poorly illuminated. Thankfully, the forge/alchemy lab is nicely lit, but I would love to know that the Moving Rooms looked like under natural light. The other room I find disappointing is the East Wing, only because it is improperly described as a "wing" and yet it is a tiny room. The Orientalist theme is lovely and its secrets are exciting, but I wish there was an explanation of why that room is called a wing when the rest of the eastern wing of the house is nowhere to be found. The house in general seems to suffer from a lot of dead space, in that it looks larger on the outside than inside, so unless Blackmoor Manor is actually the House on Ash Tree Lane, I think there should be a door or something indicating where the rest of the house should be even if it isn't accessible or animated into existence (which is something that was resolved reasonably well in later games).

    For the sake of time and writing, I am not going to talk about the upstairs hallway even though it is lovely. There are plenty of staples of Gothic architecture again, including gargoyles and a beautiful stained glass window, and perhaps even some brocade tapestries on the wall--the texture is a little unclear to me, so it might be painted stone instead--but nothing else I feel like is important enough to mention for now. My favorite room(s) in the house are off of the hallway, with my absolute favorite being Jane's room, especially her furniture. The most eye-catching piece in the room is definitely her canopied bed. The woodwork on the headboard and the bedposts is beautiful, and the painted canopy bottom is so beautiful. Her vanity mirror looks like something out of a faerie's house, and the painted hope chest is just breathtaking. The color scheme in her room is red and gold, which pairs nicely with the mahogany wood of her furniture and the border on the walls. The window seat, tapestry, paintings, posters, built-in bookcase, desk, pottery, and dressing screen make the room lavish and beautiful, but Jane's own movie/show posters and personal items do not clash with the decor and make the room feel even more homey. It's just such a comfortable space to be in, which is sometimes needed with the tense and even scary moments that can happen in the game. It's a refuge in the house. I love the door--the painted side and the carved side are just beautiful--but there's that weird thing with the unexplained gargoyle's winking/blinking and the surprise of Ethel on the other side that kind of ruins it for me sometimes.

    Linda's room is another of my favorites, only because it does such a fantastic job of setting atmosphere. Here is a room that Linda apparently never leaves, and it is dark inside and all the furniture is covered like no one is living there. She is never seen behind that white curtain, so we only have her voice--and the voice actress who plays her does an incredible job--in that creepy room and most of what she says is not comforting at all. It's just such a spooky place and does a great job of maintaining the mystery of what's going on with Linda. My other favorite room is, of course, Bridgette's room. The royal blue walls are paired with bronze, silver, navy, olive green, maroon, and jade on the fireplace, tapestries, constellation maps, furniture, and decor. The whole astronomy and astrology theme of the room is lovely, and a testament to its previous occupant. Most of the house focuses on a warm color palette, so to have a room with a whole cool-toned palette is thrilling!

    Characters: I would be lying if I said any of the cast of characters in this game were my favorites, but they certainly make an impression regardless. Let's start with the character who probably leaves the most lasting impression, good or bad: Mrs. Drake, otherwise known as Aunt Leticia. Mrs. Drake is the first character Nancy meets when she arrives at Blackmoor Manor, and it is apparent from the start that Mrs. Drake doesn't like Nancy, doesn't like teenagers, and doesn't like Americans. In fact, I am not sure if Mrs. Drake likes anything anymore except silence, solitude, and her plants. Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike Mrs. Drake, but she is certainly not a very helpful person and thinks Nancy is a bold-faced liar to boot. Waking Mrs. Drake up in the middle of night--something I didn't realize was possible until after many replays--is absolutely hilarious, even if it means I have to sit through an unskippable dialogue with Mrs. Petrov. Her accent kind of grates on me, too, because it doesn't sound as posh as I assume she is trying to be. It's clear she is worried about Linda and everything, but her attitude with Nancy just sinks her in my book.

    Linda Penvellyn is, strangely enough, probably my favorite character in the game, despite never seeing her and getting the silent treatment from her for half of the game. Still, I can tell that she is absolutely terrified about what is happening to her, and since no one believes her, she feels utterly alone and powerless to do anything about her plight. There are times you can tell she is comforted by the fact that Nancy is so determined to help her and unafraid of the consequences that might befall her by snooping around the passages, but I think she is also scared that Nancy may become a victim as well and that's why she becomes so uncooperative. I just can't help but feel bad for her and be massively intrigued by the symptoms she exhibits as the game progresses. That part where you see her reach for the lotion or when she orders food because she's hungry are some of the most chilling scenes in the game. The actress who voiced Linda did an exceptional job in my opinion, especially considering that she had to do that voice work knowing that her character would not be able to communicate any other information non-verbally, body language or otherwise. The way she delivers her lines is so emotive and memorable to me that I can hear every intonation and rise-and-fall in her voice just thinking about or reading the lines from the game.

    Jane Penvellyn is another fun character in the game--or three-fourths of the game anyway--especially when playing as a child. Her desire to play games with Nancy constantly gives a nice break from the scary/tense moments of the game or a breather after solving a difficult puzzle for the first time. It does get a bit annoying how she forces Nancy to play a game before volunteering any necessary information or an item, even if Nancy already played a game to receive/get said info/item, but after playing so many times, I've gotten used to it. Like Linda, you can tell that Jane is feeling very lonely with her new step-mom shutting everyone out and her having private tutoring in her own room. There's no one to spend time with except for her tutor and Nancy, so she has to be pretty miserable in that house. So, I definitely sympathize with her, but she still gets on my nerves a bit, especially when she clams up on Nancy and gives her the cold shoulder.

    Nigel Mookerjee is, unfortunately, an extremely boring person. He is very helpful to Nancy and serves as a valuable source of information about the Penvellyns, but his only role is to serve as a human equivalent to the search function on Nancy's phone. I don't dislike him, but he doesn't offer much and is a rather flat character. Needless to say, my favorite interaction with him is scaring him senseless with the statue.

    Ethel Bossiny is a name that strikes fear into the hearts of Nancy Drew fans everywhere. Truly, the woman is a living horror, a nightmare clothed in black turtleneck, pencil skirt, and (presumed) cardigan. With that turtleneck, she truly is the Lady in Black! Okay, but in all seriousness, I, to this day, jump out of my skin or scream whenever she shows up. I live in terror that she is going to pop up on the screen a second later than she should and make Nancy shriek (and thus me shriek as well), even though I know exactly when and where she will show up. Sometimes I expect her too soon, but I generally know when she is coming and prepare myself. However, the first time I played the game, I am fairly certain I screamed so loud when she appeared that my mom came into the room wondering what was wrong. It's difficult to explain that your fear came from the sudden appearance of a red-lipped British redhead who is otherwise not scary and reasonably nice. In fact, from her position, I can totally understand why Ethel was ready to kick Nancy out of the house, and she was patient and nice whenever she talked to Nancy. I'm sure she is an incredibly interesting, non-scary person if you get to know her better, and she is obviously very intelligent, but, sadly, we will never know Ethel or associate anything with her but her terrifying pop-ins.

    I'm not going to talk about the phone characters or deceased family members, but I love Tommy and I would love to know more about Elinor's life than just the stories that were passed down about her. Oh, and Lou Lou is absolutely the best animal in any of the games and my favorite "character" along with Linda. She is quirky and hilarious, and Lani Minella did a great job voicing her!

    Music: The music in this game is so incredibly atmospheric, meaning that at times it is lovely and at times it is downright horrifying. Of the games' soundtracks, this one is not among my favorites, mostly because of the unpleasant compositions, but there are some compositions from it that I truly love. First, I'll go ahead and get the scarier themes out of the way, starting with the one that makes me uncomfortable to listen to even out of the context of the game: "Wolf." Anytime it comes on while I am playing the game, I try to go somewhere else to get the music to change or play a game with Jane to pass the time. Generally, her room has nicer music looping anyway. Truly, I am not sure if I have ever heard music that I find so unsettling as that theme, making it a totally freaky song. Even as I type this while listening to it, my arms are covered in goosebumps. The low strings (and maybe some low brass) sound so ominous at the beginning. It's so slow and predatory, like something is stalking you in the shadows, and then the higher strings come in with that fast-paced, uneven tempo and it makes me think of a victim running while the monster slowly follows behind, waiting until the person cannot run anymore. It's horrible, but incredibly effective. The other themes that follow this trend, though they are nowhere near as terrifying, are the "Prep Theme" and "Danger." I actually like the "Prep Theme" because it sounds like pipes banging around under a house or in the walls, which is perfect for when Nancy is in the secret passages or wandering around the house at nice. The "Danger" theme plays at the end of the game, so it is appropriate, but it doesn't really make me feel anything but slightly anxious (which is, of course, the point). "Dulcimer" is, I guess, among the scarier themes in the game, but it is one that I actually love immensely. It might even be my favorite from that game. For one, I love dulcimers and they are so rarely used in modern music, so it is always a treat to hear one, but there is something about the theme that is so atmospheric to me. It, like the "Prep Theme," makes me think about being in a passageway or exploring old ruins, and the choice of a dulcimer to play that music only enhances the mystique.

    Of the (more) pleasant themes, there are some that find okay but don't love (i.e., "Empire," "Amusant," "Bridgette's Ballad") and some that I flat-out adore (i.e., "Renaissance Theme," "Memoirs," "Fairy," "Recorder"). The "Renaissance Theme" suits the house perfectly to me. It, like the themes from TRT, makes me feel like I am in an old manor on a cold winter's night with a fire blazing in the fireplace. It is somber and beautiful, and it's use of the cello, a somber-sounding instrument if there ever was one, is perfect. "Memoirs" has a similar affect, except that it makes me think of sitting next to a window on a bright, snowy afternoon. It also features the cello prominently--though it has a piano too--but it is a warmer song. "Fairy" is my favorite of the pleasant songs. The tinkling piano, piccolo, chimes, strings, and synthesized vocals really give a lightness and magical quality to the song, though the theme has a darkness to it that makes it sound mischievous or mysterious. "Recorder" is another of the more somber themes, but it stands out to me for the use of the recorder. Since the game focuses so heavily on the Penvellyn's past, it seems fitting to have a theme that sounds a bit medieval. As for "Empire" and "Amusant," I don't dislike them--in fact I think "Empire" is peaceful and relaxing--but I don't feel like they fit as naturally with the rest of the music. "Empire" reminds me a bit of music from the late Classical/early Romantic period, which might be why it doesn't feel right. "Amusant" fits the other music perfectly because it sounds like medieval music, but I find it to be a bit grating for some unknown reason. I admittedly am not fond of "Bridgette's Ballad" at all, though when Jane hums it, it is slightly more tolerable to me.

    Puzzles: I love the puzzles in this game! Not only are they complex, but, as I said earlier, they have a place and purpose in the world of the game. A lot of people hate Curse of Blackmoor because they get stumped on the puzzles, and I will admit that it took me a while to beat it when I was a kid. Multiple pages of printer paper were dedicated to my scribbles and notes as I tried to make sense of everything. I don't feel like this game has the most difficult puzzles in the series though. My favorite puzzles--and there are a lot so I won't mention too many for sake of time--definitely have to be the gargoyles (both the rotating and lighting the forge), the Moving Rooms (which are super easy if you know the trick, but awful if you don't), the thirteen ghosts, and the alchemy door. Honestly, though, I love ALL of the puzzles, especially the ones that relate to the Mutus Liber.

    Graphics: Like The Secret of Shadow Ranch, the graphics of Curse of Blackmoor Manor are a vast improvement to their predecessors. The characters' movement is less clunky and awkward, and they each look extremely unique. The scary neck/shoulder/arm syndrome continues to improve as well. Nigel's skin tone is a bit patchy, which is unfortunate, given how well they did with Mary Yazzie in the previous game. The environment graphics are equally beautiful to the predecessor, and the user interface continues to be comfortable and simple to use, with the same flaws I mentioned previously.

    Ending: The ending is the one and only true pitfall of this game, which is a shame. There is so much potential, but the culprit is bewilderingly obvious from early in the game. It doesn't really affect gameplay much because there are still other mysteries to unravel, but anyone would agree that the culprit should not be so apparent. Even when I played the game for the first time as a child, I was not even remotely surprised at who the culprit was, and I am positive that anyone older would see through circumstances and come to the same conclusion even faster than I did as a child without that understanding of certain dynamics, if you get my drift. Besides the culprit choice, the reveal is done nicely--it's all very dramatic and exciting--and the explanation in Nancy's letter is extremely satisfying, if not horrifying, and doesn't leave any unanswered questions.

    Other points of interest: I believe I already talked about the voice acting at length in the character section, so I won't say anymore about that here.

    As I said, this game can really turn people off because it is A) scary and B) difficult, but I think that those two aspects are what has made it such a hit among long-time and new fans for fourteen years now. I intentionally didn't talk about everything that goes down at 3:15--that's just a really bad time for Nancy, isn't it--because it can vary from game to game. There are scares that I didn't see until years after I first played--the scariest one being one of them and I was...legitimately terrified when it did happen--and scares that I can't seem to trigger that I have seen before hundreds of times. Since they are different for every person, which I like more than the scripted ones that you can rely on happening once you reach a certain point, and because they enhance the game so much for me, I won't specifically describe their content here, but just know that there are a good many events that you can completely miss out on from replay to replay (e.g., Linda's order, the charm, the Lady in Black, the nightmare, the frog dream, the rune letter, the door scratches, the doorknob jiggle, the chanting, and one other I'm forgetting that happened for the first time recently).

    The Takeaway: Curse of Blackmoor Manor is the continuation of the second golden era of Nancy Drew games. After several games rife with different problems, it emerged with a rich story, great puzzles, and quirky characters. It is a definite classic and incredibly nostalgic for me because, as I've said, it was among the first four games I played after receiving the original five for Christmas in 2005 (not sure if I played The Secret of Shadow Ranch first or this one). The plot is fantastic, the lore is fascinating, and the puzzles are great, but some of the characters fall a bit flat for me and the culprit choice was poor. If I were to rate this game on a ten star basis, I would give it nine out of ten stars.

    So the final question is obviously whether I think you should play this game. No question; you definitely should play it! If you are a dedicated fan who wants to play all of the games, this should be high on your priority list; even with its faults, it's not the worst game by far. If you've got a good many games under your belt and you're looking for another game to play or if you're new to the ND games, this one is a great length and challenging without being insanely difficult, at least I don't think it is, and it has such a good story and it's scary to boot (if you like that sort of thing). If, however, you are looking for something else, I would recommend Treasure in the Royal Tower, The Final Scene, The Secret of Shadow Ranch, Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon, Shadow at the Water's Edge, The Deadly Device, Ghost of Thornton Hall, and The Silent Spy (all in my top ten).


    Thank you for reading my review! I hope that my perspectives and ramblings inspire someone to play this game, replay this game, look at it through fresh eyes, or try it for the first time. I should be posting a review of Secret of the Old Clock hopefully sometime over the next few days, and I will continue to post them as I scurry to complete my 2018 Nancy Drew Marathon...the clock is ticking for me to finish these reviews before the new year.

    Previous review: The Secret of Shadow Ranch
    Next review: Secret of the Old Clock

    Other reviews: SCK STFD MHM TRT FIN SSH DOG CAR DDI TRN DAN CRE ICE CRY VEN HAU RAN WAC TOT SCK2 SAW CAP ASH TMB DED
    GTH
    Last edited by yukixiaomeimei; November 23, 2021, 02:34 PM.

  • #2
    I'M BACK!!!! I mean, I told you I was back, but now that I'm replying to a brand new review of yours (well not brand new, but one that I have yet to read) it's official!!! I literally JUST finished up CUR about three minutes ago, and I don't have the time tonight to get my own review done so I figured I would instead read yours! And as always, your reviews are stellar.

    At long last, we have arrived at one of the undisputed crown jewels of the Nancy Drew franchise: Curse of Blackmoor Manor. Long regarded as a fan favorite and one of the scariest Nancy Drew games, Curse of Blackmoor Manor is, to me and many others, the perfect Nancy Drew game.
    Can I just say first of all that this actually made this game incredibly difficult to play and review objectively? Not because it is my favorite game necessarily (it surprisingly isn't in my top five personally - I'm not sure exactly what IS, but this is not one of them lol), but simply because its reputation precedes it, and it almost made me expect to feel a certain way before I even started. Which is not useful when you're trying to take it in organically. I also found myself spending a lot of time trying to remember how I felt about it the first time I played it, because I feel like this game (more than others) changes drastically once you know what to look for.

    There are so many little (and sometimes large) things in the house which seem random, if not odd, that slowly begin to make sense
    YES! The manor feels so disjointed at first, with utter randomness everywhere. It almost feels at first as though HER was just trying to make the house quirky (almost like Wickford Castle) for the sake of it. And then, slowly but surely and then all at once everything comes together. They did SUCH a good job with this in this game! It has so many moving parts (both figuratively and LITERALLY), and you aren't even forced into experiencing them in any particular order. Eventually, no matter how you go about it, it all comes full circle.

    In regards to other rooms I find somewhat disappointing, the secret passages and Moving Rooms are probably my biggest disappoint, but only in that we can only see them in that hideous green light. I am sure they are quite beautiful, but to cut down on their beauty by casting them in lime green light is almost sinful. I get that the developers were trying to save on animation and resources, but it is truly disappointing that such a massive interesting part of the house--and one that you frequent regularly--is so poorly illuminated.
    That green light is really a tragedy, I agree. Sadly, HER seems to love this particular filter. I wonder if they know that glowsticks don't actually cast that kind of light. I think it would have been so nice if, after reaching the final location, there was a way to turn the lights on in the tunnels in general. It would feel like such a victory for the player, almost like unlocking a new area, with such little extra effort from the developers.

    The house in general seems to suffer from a lot of dead space, in that it looks larger on the outside than inside, so unless Blackmoor Manor is actually the House on Ash Tree Lane, I think there should be a door or something indicating where the rest of the house should be even if it isn't accessible or animated into existence
    YES. Like you are not telling me that this massive house is only a three bedroom . I hate when HER does this with their locations. And maybe I'm a bit of a hypocrite for saying that, because I think I also rant angrily when there are a bunch of doors I can't open. But I'm happier with the option to try a door and have Nancy explain why we can't go through than to just have illogical layouts like a giant manor with a conservatory, a library, a whole tunnel of passageways, but no bathrooms lol. I also find it a little odd that Nancy's room is considered "Brigitte's Room" like she's the last Penvellyn to use it. If she is, there MUST be dozens of other rooms that belonged to the other Penvellyns somewhere in the Manor.

    I am not sure if Mrs. Drake likes anything anymore except silence, solitude, and her plants.
    Does it make me incredibly old that I kind of agree with her?

    Waking Mrs. Drake up in the middle of night--something I didn't realize was possible until after many replays--is absolutely hilarious, even if it means I have to sit through an unskippable dialogue with Mrs. Petrov.
    This game is so lovely but also so frustrating because I DID NOT KNOW THIS. Like I have played this entry more times than a lot of the others, just because of the time frame in which it was released, and there is so much you can miss. Which, in reality I'm not complaining. I love that there are things that you have to go searching for that aren't required to complete the game. That's lovely effort on the part of the developers. But to think that I'll have to play this game ONE MORE TIME YET to achieve something that somehow I still missed... . Honestly though. This time through, I missed SO MANY THINGS. I hardly got any of the nighttime events, and I completely forgot that you have to open the door before doing the water puzzle if you want access to the note about the Guinea Pig. If you choose not to sleep overnight often in a playthrough, there is just so much to be missed.

    Ethel Bossiny is a name that strikes fear into the hearts of Nancy Drew fans everywhere.
    DUDE YOU AREN'T KIDDING. None of the spooky happenings get to me anymore because I know where to look for them and the passageways aren't scary because I know where I'm going. BUT THIS WOMAN. I swear, I literally jumped in my chair like three times this playthrough. And EVERY TIME I tell myself that it's okay because I know where she'll show up next. And then somehow I let my guard down and her terrifying face pops up on my screen when I least expect it. She truly is the scariest part of this game.

    Like The Secret of Shadow Ranch, the graphics of Curse of Blackmoor Manor are a vast improvement to their predecessors.
    Listen, I'm sure you're right, but I struggled with this playthrough lol. I haven't played any ND games since my last playthrough of Shadow Ranch which was ages ago, and I've since acquired a gaming computer with fantastic resolution and just finished a playthrough of The Witcher 3. I'm not sure if the models are actually that bad here, or if they're slightly distorted because the resolution is so low on what is now such a big monitor, or if I just have gotten too used to pretty graphics in general. Hopefully I get used to it lol. On the bright side, If I remember correctly, the next game tries and fails at a new character model, and then from TRN on we get steady improvements.

    The ending is the one and only true pitfall of this game, which is a shame.
    IT'S SO TRUE. I honestly felt so let down at the ending of this game. Not because of what happened in the ending specifically - in fact, I think the Penvellyn's story wrapped up nicely as a whole - but just the way it took place and the culprit and how underwhelming the whole thing felt. After such a scary game with such a deep plot, I don't feel like the culprit choice was a surprise, and worse also don't feel like the culprit had nearly enough to say.

    I honestly agreed with so much that you had to say about this game, but I still have to write my own review too so I can't spend ALL night replying to yours I loved hearing all of your thoughts on the individual locations, and I just think this game is SO UNIQUE in the way it utilizes the family history. It's almost as though the Penvellyns are all characters themselves, and we can really come to understand them as people through the Manor itself.

    FANTASTIC REVIEW AS ALWAYS!! I'm looking forward to reading the next one, once I get that far myself!! (Though the next game is admittedly among my least favorite).

    TILL NEXT TIME

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    • #3
      I am so thrilled that you're back! I know I've said that already, but even my family knows you're back because they had to listen to me excitedly chatter about your reviews. 😂 I just finished SPY myself only minutes ago in preparation for my next review. I found my half-written MID one from after my first replay, but I'm saving it for last. I can't bring myself to relive that game right now.

      Can I just say first of all that this actually made this game incredibly difficult to play and review objectively? Not because it is my favorite game necessarily (it surprisingly isn't in my top five personally - I'm not sure exactly what IS, but this is not one of them lol), but simply because its reputation precedes it, and it almost made me expect to feel a certain way before I even started. Which is not useful when you're trying to take it in organically. I also found myself spending a lot of time trying to remember how I felt about it the first time I played it, because I feel like this game (more than others) changes drastically once you know what to look for.
      I think that's totally fair. Now that I'm so far removed from the series--I've never gone so many years without playing at least some if not all of the games again--I think I'm in a better place to judge them objectively than I was when I wrote these reviews over a two-year period, and I must say that my opinion of some of the games has changed quite drastically. It almost feels unfair to write the last couple reviews after such a long hiatus, but I want to complete this series before I start a second review series. Anyway, you coming back to the games with one so highly regarded and often considered the best, alongside TRT, in fan polls, has to be challenging because, as you said, its reputation precedes it and sets certain expectations going in. I know for myself that it's been hard to get in the same mindset critiquing the games in line with how they hold up to the rest of the series after playing literally everything but Nancy Drew games, or even point-and-click games, recently. Immediately going from Sable, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, and Outer Wilds back to Nancy Drew is quite an adjustment. Same for you going from a AAA game like The Witcher 3. That's some major whiplash.

      I guess what I'm trying to say is that we both have to cut ourselves some slack for approaching the games and our reviews after so much time has passed, both in terms of our lives as well as technological advancements and how far games, indie or otherwise, have come. ND is niche and always was, so I'm going to try to get back into the mindset of ranking and reviewing the games based on their merits within the series and try not to let my vast gaming experiences outside of ND influence my opinions. As you said, trying to remember what it was like to first play it--which I do, thankfully, for the older games more so than the newer ones--will be instrumental in writing charitably about the experience of the games, and CUR is decidedly one of those that is best the first go around and changes upon replays (though not for the worse, I'd say).

      That green light is really a tragedy, I agree. Sadly, HER seems to love this particular filter. I wonder if they know that glowsticks don't actually cast that kind of light. I think it would have been so nice if, after reaching the final location, there was a way to turn the lights on in the tunnels in general. It would feel like such a victory for the player, almost like unlocking a new area, with such little extra effort from the developers.
      Isn't it? That green filter almost ranks highest in my list of complaints about the games, you know, once we get through the MID ones. Hahaha, can you imagine trying to actually walk through those passageways with only a glowstick? For one, I doubt you'd ever make it out, and if you did, it'd be on a stretcher carried by some EMTs after you broke both of your legs falling down the stairs and fractured your nose bumping into walls. Yes! The glowing rock was only a good reward because it meant I didn't have to keep playing games with Jane, but I really did think upon my initial playthrough that there would be a way to light the tunnels. Furthermore, I will never understand just what kind of experiment Jane was doing in the kitchen that resulted in the house's entire stash of flashlights to be...irreparably damaged or lost. Why couldn't Tommy bring us one when we ordered take-out? Why didn't Nancy try to find an actual torch and light it on fire? Or anything on fire? Should HeRInteractive ever live up to the "active" part of their name again, I would pay to see a quality CUR remake with the green filter removed in the passageways.

      YES. Like you are not telling me that this massive house is only a three bedroom . I hate when HER does this with their locations. And maybe I'm a bit of a hypocrite for saying that, because I think I also rant angrily when there are a bunch of doors I can't open. But I'm happier with the option to try a door and have Nancy explain why we can't go through than to just have illogical layouts like a giant manor with a conservatory, a library, a whole tunnel of passageways, but no bathrooms lol. I also find it a little odd that Nancy's room is considered "Brigitte's Room" like she's the last Penvellyn to use it. If she is, there MUST be dozens of other rooms that belonged to the other Penvellyns somewhere in the Manor.
      Agreed! It allows me to suspend my disbelief to see a million doors I can't do anything with, a la WWB Studio in STFD, rather than have a gigantic space be reduced to a few rooms and a hallway. Sure, they can't animate the rest of the house, but make it believe it's there. I believe Ethel lives on the property, and its possible that Nigel has a room or is letting out an apartment onsite while he researches the family. A house that old and that grand would have so many extra bedrooms, as well as places like a drawing room, a morning room, a dining room, servants' quarters, etc. That whole hallway on the first floor behind the staircase could have been an ideal "useless door hallway," but the only one I recall is the kitchen. Same thing for the useless staircase to a third floor and the eastern passageway/wing. It should have had a west and east wing that we couldn't access but alluded to the size and grandeur of the house without any extra animation. You know, that's an excellent point. I guess it makes sense that they didn't want to change the style of the room--reminds me of the Biltmore House or some plantation houses I've been to that people still lived in within the last fifty-odd years where the decor wasn't updated to match "modern" tastes--but there's no way that there aren't other bedrooms decorated to the tastes of a particular family member or pieces of furniture from more recent family members that wouldn't have been put into those rooms.

      Does it make me incredibly old that I kind of agree with her?
      Not at all, for I am much the same way. 😅

      This game is so lovely but also so frustrating because I DID NOT KNOW THIS. Like I have played this entry more times than a lot of the others, just because of the time frame in which it was released, and there is so much you can miss. Which, in reality I'm not complaining. I love that there are things that you have to go searching for that aren't required to complete the game. That's lovely effort on the part of the developers. But to think that I'll have to play this game ONE MORE TIME YET to achieve something that somehow I still missed... . Honestly though. This time through, I missed SO MANY THINGS. I hardly got any of the nighttime events, and I completely forgot that you have to open the door before doing the water puzzle if you want access to the note about the Guinea Pig. If you choose not to sleep overnight often in a playthrough, there is just so much to be missed.
      Something I've learned through watching playthroughs on YouTube in addition to my own replays is that the older games especially had a lot of little things you can miss that are entirely irrelevant to the story but funny (or scary) quirks that add to the immersion. I can't think of any title that has as many as CUR, and part of me wonders if it was an intentional feature, seeing as how many players go without seeing haunts like The Lady in Black or have Jane start accusing them and acting coldly towards them because she got a note with a bad rune on it. Experiencing all of the haunts or quirks in this game feels more essential to me than, say, GTH or even SAW, because they end up being vital clues in solving the mystery yourself, but maybe they thought it would be too scary for young players and put all the events on an RNG-type system.

      DUDE YOU AREN'T KIDDING. None of the spooky happenings get to me anymore because I know where to look for them and the passageways aren't scary because I know where I'm going. BUT THIS WOMAN. I swear, I literally jumped in my chair like three times this playthrough. And EVERY TIME I tell myself that it's okay because I know where she'll show up next. And then somehow I let my guard down and her terrifying face pops up on my screen when I least expect it. She truly is the scariest part of this game.
      I have to admit, I still can get startled by the door rattling or stumbling upon The Lady in Black, but Ethel is, by far, the scariest thing to grace any Nancy Drew game ever. Hahaha same! I know when she shows up and will try to make it happen so I won't be scared, but she'll somehow not show up when I expect her or the pop-in will be just delayed enough for me to think she's not coming and then WHAM! I jump out of my skin every. single. time.

      Listen, I'm sure you're right, but I struggled with this playthrough lol. I haven't played any ND games since my last playthrough of Shadow Ranch which was ages ago, and I've since acquired a gaming computer with fantastic resolution and just finished a playthrough of The Witcher 3. I'm not sure if the models are actually that bad here, or if they're slightly distorted because the resolution is so low on what is now such a big monitor, or if I just have gotten too used to pretty graphics in general. Hopefully I get used to it lol. On the bright side, If I remember correctly, the next game tries and fails at a new character model, and then from TRN on we get steady improvements.
      Trust me, I feel you. I just got through playing SPY and I was like...has Moira's hair always been so ugly? It looked weirdly disjointed from her forehead and the uncanny valley was hitting me a little bit this time around. I don't know if it's my new gaming computer, the amount of time I've spent playing other games recently, the amount of time I've had away from these games, or what exactly. To be fair, the games have held up pretty well given the pre-rendered environments, but the older models can be...off-putting to say the least (but is there anything worse than Rose's neck or Louis' eyes from MHM?). With you coming straight from The Witcher 3 too, which has some stunning character models and is a beautiful game, I'm not surprised your eyes were so deeply offended.

      IT'S SO TRUE. I honestly felt so let down at the ending of this game. Not because of what happened in the ending specifically - in fact, I think the Penvellyn's story wrapped up nicely as a whole - but just the way it took place and the culprit and how underwhelming the whole thing felt. After such a scary game with such a deep plot, I don't feel like the culprit choice was a surprise, and worse also don't feel like the culprit had nearly enough to say.

      I honestly agreed with so much that you had to say about this game, but I still have to write my own review too so I can't spend ALL night replying to yours I loved hearing all of your thoughts on the individual locations, and I just think this game is SO UNIQUE in the way it utilizes the family history. It's almost as though the Penvellyns are all characters themselves, and we can really come to understand them as people through the Manor itself.

      FANTASTIC REVIEW AS ALWAYS!! I'm looking forward to reading the next one, once I get that far myself!! (Though the next game is admittedly among my least favorite).

      TILL NEXT TIME
      I agree that the way the ending unfolds (aka that culprit reveal) is abysmal, though the story itself is concluded nicely. The culprit reveal was definitely not surprising at all. I'm pretty sure I had it figured out long before I even got to that point the first time I played it. I don't think it was a bad choice for a culprit, in fact that I think it was the best choice and really quite dark if you think about it; however, I agree that the culprit should have been afforded the chance to monologue some, like many culprits before and after them do, or have a conversation with Nancy. The motivations are far too interesting and there's a lot of complicated feelings that could have been explored there. If anything, I know Nic Blahunka would have had a field day writing that scene if he'd written the narrative, and I wish I could get his take on it.

      I cannot WAIT to read your review!!! I have to get started on my SPY review as well. Hopefully, it won't take me terribly long to get it out, though I'm decidedly not looking forward to most of the games ahead of me now. It really is unique in that way. The other games in the series that I feel come close to it, in terms of incorporating family history and bringing dead characters to life, are SAW and definitely GTH (...which is odd considering that those are also my favorites). Still, each of the prominent Penvellyns feels so distinct in their personalities and peculiarities, and you can literally trace their influences around the house and read their own words. It's a stunning effort by Cathy Roiter--I think she was the head writer in this game--and I think that attention to detail is what really makes this game continue to shine.

      I actually really like CLK, but you'll notice that there is a wide gap between when I published this review and that one. Let's just say, I got burned out from angrily talking about architecture. See you around the forums! 💗

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