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~Ladybug, Ladybug~ Turq's Detailed GTH Review!

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  • ~Ladybug, Ladybug~ Turq's Detailed GTH Review!

    Here's my latest review, for Ghost of Thornton Hall! I probably spent way more time that I should have writing this out, but I loved this game and I wanted to give it its dues. Fair warning, this is long. Like, REALLY long.

    Plot: Nancy Drew is contacted by Savannah Woodham (last heard in SAW) for her help to find Jessalyn Thornton, a young woman who went missing while celebrating her bachelorette party with a sleep-over in her family's abandoned mansion, Thornton Hall. When she arrives, Nancy discovers that Thornton Hall is supposedly haunted by the ghost of Charlotte Thornton, the darling of the family who died suddenly in a fire the night of her 21st birthday. Nancy must find Jessalyn while sifting through the dark secrets of a family with a long, bloody history.
    At first, the plot is pretty simple: Find the girl, figure out the truth behind the hauntings. But as it unfolds, the story becomes less about Jessalyn and more about untangling the long family history of death and secrets. HER has really stepped it up with the maturity level for this game, and for that, I give them a standing ovation! It feels like HER picked and chose elements from previous games (creepy hauntings that are very similar in style to MHM, a missing bride/groom from HAU, and a tragic death in the family from SAW) but nothing felt too much like we'd seen it before. One thing to note, however, is that with all the different pieces, some aren't as developed or clearly addressed as I would prefer them to be. As I mentioned, the plot seems to have changed part way through, and I find it difficult to put my finger on the point when the game shifted from finding Jessalyn to uncovering the family history. 9/10

    Characters:
    Clara Thornton: Clara is the family matriarch, cousin to Wade and Harper, and Jessalyn's mother. She's a powerful, no nonsense lady, though concern for her daughter shows through the cracks. Being on the island, in her abandoned childhood home seems to be taking a toll on Clara; she's got headaches and feels strange.
    Colton Birchfield: Colton is the only character in the game who isn't a member of the Thornton clan, though he is Jessalyn's fiancé. Strangely though, he doesn't appear to be too worried or upset about the fact that his bride/best friend is missing. Something seems off about him, but perhaps he just doesn't broadcast his emotions, and he doesn't have the negative ties to Thornton Hall that every other character seems to have.
    Wade Thornton: Wade is the one who contacted Savannah Woodham when Jessalyn disappeared, who in turn called Nancy. He believes in the supernatural and spends most of his time in the family graveyard, since he refuses to set foot in the house.
    Harper Thornton: Harper is crazy. I don't mean "prone to do strange but harmless things" crazy. I mean "possibly committed as a child" crazy. The rest of the family seems a little scared of her, to the point where Clara has told Jessalyn to call the police if she ever sees Harper. No one else in the family even knows that Harper is on the island; she says that she came when she heard Jessalyn had gone missing.
    I found the characters more interesting as a group than individually. This is partially due to all the secrets and paranoia that have been a part of the family for generations, but it means that most of the characters (with the exception of Harper) are made interesting through the way that other characters talk about them. Unfortunately, it also means that Colton ends up being very bland, since two of the characters don't have much of an opinion on him, plus he doesn't really have a strong connection to Thornton Hall or Charlotte. So, I feel that the characters themselves are one of the weak points of the game, but combined with the plot and each other, they allow for some very interesting analysis. 8/10

    Setting: There are three main places to explore: Thornton Hall itself, the Thornton family cemetery, and an area that is revealed later in the game. There's not too much to do in the third area or in the cemetery, but plenty of rooms and things to do in Thornton Hall. Sometimes the gameplay area felt too small, but others it was almost a pain to get from one spot to another because they seemed so far away. The atmosphere was suitably creepy, with mist on the grounds, and there was no place where I felt totally "safe", like nothing bad or creepy would happen while I was there. 9/10

    Graphics: I'm sure the graphics in this game were fantastic, but unfortunately they were so dark I could barely see some of them! What I could see looked nice, and all the times I saw Charlotte were very well done (somehow creepy, beautiful, and a bit sad all at the same time). If you want to see everything in this game, make sure to turn the lights out and your screen brightness up! 9/10

    Music: HER made the interesting choice to release the soundtrack before the game came out, so we were able to get the vibe of the game before playing it. Personally, I liked this, especially since we don't get demos anymore. The first song I heard was "Ghost" and it absolutely floored me. I also really liked "Charlotte's Song", but it felt a little too ethereal for me; I think it would have been creepier if Charlotte's voice had sounded a bit more human, given the tone of the rest of the game. There were also some songs that had a sad tone to them, like something had been lost. Overall, the soundtrack fit the game very well. 10/10

    Puzzles: There were lots of new puzzles this time around! Some were jigsaw-type, some were logic, some were combinations of a few different types. None were particularly difficult once you figured out how they worked, but they weren't puzzles that you just whipped through. 9/10

    Length: This game took me about 6-7 hours total to play through the first time, which is on the shorter end. There was always something to do, which was good- it means that the clock doesn't count when I was wandering around looking for something to do or waiting for something to happen (which can obviously make the game seem much longer than it really is). On replays, this game could be much shorter due to the introduction of the fast-forward feature, which lets you skip through conversations one piece of dialogue at a time. GTH is probably close to DED in terms of length. It felt like it was almost too short (because I was enjoying the game so much; then again, that's a pretty regular occurrence), but at the same time it wasn't rushed. 8/10

    Snooping: Not a lot of physical snooping in this game, which makes sense due to the fact that no one actually lives at Thornton Hall, they're just there to search for Jessalyn. However, Nancy does a fair bit of digging into the Thornton family history, both from a long time ago to pretty recent times. 8/10

    Ending: I think that an ending has to do two things: It has to be interesting and make sense with the rest of the game, and it has to tie up all the loose ends and answer any questions I might have. So how does GTH's ending hold up? On the first part, I think it definitely delivered. HER made some very interesting choices, and without giving too much away, it's the first time in a while that I've actually felt something other than frantic energy while playing the end of a game. However, it left a lot of loose ends by trying to give a blanket answer, which I didn't care for too much. 8/10

    Scariness: I am a person who gets scared pretty easily by things jumping out, but due to the fact that Charlotte's appearances had touches of beauty and sadness to them, I wasn't too freaked out by this game (or maybe it's the fact that I'm getting older :P). I've seen some people sharing similar sentiments, that they thought Charlotte was quite beautiful, and weren't scared at all when they saw her. I'm wondering if this might be due to the fact that we knew who the ghost was and the basic story of what had happened to her before we even saw her. This is unlike SAW, for example, and I think it allowed people to develop an empathy for Charlotte. The part of the game that I actually found creepier was something I didn't expect to: the Thornton family, and its dark history. Though younger players could get the gist of this element, I feel it was definitely put there for older players to pick up on and look into the underlying implications. So, ND fans of all ages can pick up this game and be scared by it (though if you're older you may have to think a bit for it)! 10/10

    Other notes:
    Fast-Forward Option: I briefly mentioned the fast-forward feature a bit earlier, but basically the way it works is when it's turned on (you can turn it on and off in the game options menu at any time) you'll see a little yellow arrow on the side of the dialogue box. Click that, and the game will skip to the beginning of the next piece of dialogue (usually when the person who's speaking changes). This will be very helpful to people who want to play the game again but don't want to listen to all the dialogue again, or for those who read faster than the lines are spoken and then have to wait for the game to catch up. People have been asking for this feature for forever, and HER listened! An excellent addition to the game, I hope it continues in future ones.

    Phone Friends:
    Savannah Woodham: Savannah is the one who contacts Nancy for help in finding Jessalyn. She was supposed to go to Blackrock Island herself, but for personal reasons she sends Nancy. She also sends a package with her book on Charlotte (does she just go around to families and write about the tragic deaths of beloved family members??) and a detector that helps Nancy find haunting hotspots, but other than that she's not super helpful.
    Bess and Ned: If Savannah isn't super helpful, these two don't even rank on the helpfulness scale. They seem to be there for comic relief, but it seemed forced to me and clashed with the tone of the rest of the game. The first time I played, I think I only talked to them once. One of the unfortunate effects of integrating hints into the task list means that I can no longer call friends for help, which means that I basically don't need to talk to them at all.
    Addison Hammond: Addison is Jessalyn's timid best friend, and the person who was with Jessalyn at Thornton Hall the night she disappeared. She's still too freaked out about it to give help that extends past answering Nancy's questions about specific things (i.e, after Nancy finds out they were doing a scavenger hunt, Addison will tell you more about it).

    For people wary of supernatural themes: HER usually gives ample information about how something ghostly in a game is faked (see MHM, SHA, or SAW for examples). This is not the case for GTH. There is an explanation that you can take or leave, but if you're looking for something where every supernatural event is explained, you won't find it here. That's not to say you shouldn't play the game, because it is very well done, but fair warning if you're uncomfortable with those elements. One interesting thing that I noticed was that often when the conversation started to dip into discussion of the supernatural, you could choose if you wanted to talk about it or not, which I think was an extremely good idea from HER.

    Favorite thing about the game: There's a weird weight that seems to be on the characters (including Nancy) during this game. Emotionally, Charlotte's death affected each one of them differently, and upon delving into the dark family history, it seems to just be the most recent in the case of a family divided by wealth, power, and tragedy. HER brought a maturity to this game that we haven't seen before in the series, and I loved every second of it.

    Least favorite thing about the game: Bess and Ned, unfortunately. I feel like their personalities have been completely reduced to one-dimensional comic-relief, and that makes me so sad. Also the fact that the non-Charlotte scares repeated randomly, so sometimes I'd (for example) see the statue in the graveyard move every time I went past it, and you can't move when they're happening (it's basically a mini cut-scene). After a while, they lost their effect.

    Overall: I think GTH might be the beginning of a new era at HerInteractive. It had a level of maturity to it that hasn't been touched upon before, for those who looked closely enough to see it. Of course, since it's only the most recent game, it's hard to tell if this was a one-time thing or if we will see it continue in future games. Independent of this, GTH is a fantastic game. It is reminiscent of MHM, so I feel that fans of the classic games will be pleased with this one.
    Final score: 88/100
    | TRT | SSH | CAR | DDI | SHA | TRN | DAN | CRE | ICE | CRY | VEN | HAU | RAN | WAC | TOT | SAW | CAP | ASH |TMB | DED | GTH | SPY | MED | LIE | SEA |

    25/32
    Currently playing: Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake!

  • #2
    Very, very good review! It helped me learn more about the game without having to know spoilers. It made me want to play the game even more when you were talking about the plot because I love family histories, but it made me realize that it is scary, and I get scared easily, but now I really want this game badly, thanks to your review! BRAVO!!!!!
    My love still lies there buried under silent ice and sleep
    A grave left unattended
    ¸·°¨¯¨°·¸.......²
    ..by the word I couldn't keep. .`·-·`.....)¸.·°¨¯¨°·¸
    ...............¸·°¨¯¨°·.¸....².....¸.·°¨¯¨°·.,¸_¸,.·`..³..`·-·`
    ...........³ `·-·`......`·.,¸_¸,.·` ©dg12

    HAU AE!

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    • #3
      Ha ha, thanks for reading the whole thing! One of my goals in writing a review is to give maximum information without spoilers, so I'm really glad that it helped you do that.
      You'll have to write a review of your own when you finish playing so I can find out how you liked it!
      | TRT | SSH | CAR | DDI | SHA | TRN | DAN | CRE | ICE | CRY | VEN | HAU | RAN | WAC | TOT | SAW | CAP | ASH |TMB | DED | GTH | SPY | MED | LIE | SEA |

      25/32
      Currently playing: Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake!

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