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Lasso98's Review of DDI

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  • Lasso98's Review of DDI

    I am a longtime ND fan returning to the games while stuck at home. I thought I'd take a stab at reviewing them as I go, since the posts in this forum have always proved helpful in deciding which one to dive into next. Without further ado... Danger on Deception Island!

    I have wanted to play this game for a long time, recognizing it as a classic fan favorite. For some reason, I wasn't able to get my hands on it until now, and am so glad to have finally played it.

    The following is a (loosely) broken down review leading up to my final score:

    PLOT 3.5/5
    Nancy visits a mutual friend, Katie Firestone, in one of Washington's beautiful San Juan islands. She is quickly engulfed in a tense, intersecting web of local politics involving a string of robberies, an orphaned orca, shipwrecks, a local history of kidnapping, and a mythical recluse who somehow sees everything that goes on around town. There was certainly enough tension to carry the plot along, but I won't so far as to say that it all added up brilliantly. In fact, I feel like there was too much packed in for us to get truly invested in any aspect of the plot. My interest was spread thin. The game had the feel of a running scavenger hunt, but somehow the reward didn't feel all that satisfying--plenty momentum, few "a ha!" moments. Going from an interesting riddle to the mundane task of catching fifteen crabs (no thought involved in this one) meant that I felt kind of lulled into following the trail, rather than motivated to move between tasks and pursue my own course.

    SETTING 3.5/5
    I like games with various unique locations you can travel between, and this fit the bill. Nancy gets around by bike and kayak (don't forget your helmet!), and I was especially impressed by the harbor graphics. I also enjoyed the beaches, and the ability to explore their nooks and crannies. The underground tunnels also felt special. Otherwise, the game featured rather run of the mill interiors.

    CHARACTERS 2.5/5
    Because the plot was driven by local politics, characters' backstories were obscured behind their stances towards the orca. Even these opinions were mainly sussed out from heresay arising from a town hall meeting that occurred before Nancy even arrived (imagine how awesome this would've been as a scene in the game!). The game did a good job of conjuring up the feeling of a gossipy small town, but I felt like big questions about the town's past and the orca were used to mask basically dull characters. And though I enjoyed the ending, I was disappointed by the culprit. This person hadn't received nearly enough attention within the game to arouse real interest. The most interesting characters are only contacted by phone.

    PUZZLES 3/5
    Most of the puzzles took the form of riddles, or asked you to draw together references from the environment. To be honest, none of them made me think that hard. Again, it was a bit of a scavenger hunt. I would have liked to be more immersed in at least a few of them, or have to struggle a bit more. This game also felt a bit single-tracked. In others, I feel like I can get frustrated by one task and relieve myself by attending to another. That wasn't quite the case here--a single essential task always seemed laid out for me somehow.

    PLAYABILITY 5/5
    Gameplay was smooth, with no major obstacles related to the controls or connection of events. One event triggered the next, and so on. I did die a few too many times by failing to put on my helmet and accidentally rowing out past buoys. C'est la vie.

    OVERALL 2.8/5
    I understand why this game is enjoyed by so many. There is something altogether pleasant and enjoyable about it. The setting makes you want to return, and the plot moves along like a well-oiled machine. However, I was missing a sense of deeper motivation from the characters, which felt like it got lost by the complicated series of back stories at play. I also found the chain of events to be a bit too smooth. I'm glad I finally solved the case at Snake Horse Harbor, but can't imagine I'll ever be coming back for another go.
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