Message in a Haunted Mansion
A FancyNancy16 review

Message in a Haunted Mansion remains in my top five Nancy Drew games. It is, as I’m sure any ND aficionado would agree, definitely a classic in the series. Historical elements, snooping, and legitimately tricky puzzles all are factors. The setting is well laid out, and this game is one that I have played and re-played.

Plot:
Nancy goes to visit Rose Green, a friend of Hannah’s, who just bought an old Victorian mansion and is renovating it trying to open a bed and breakfast in San Francisco. When Nancy arrives, she finds out that strange accidents have been happening, delaying the opening of the bed and breakfast. Rose has invested a great deal of money, along with her business partner Abby, into this house and she is now worried that she has to sell it. It’s up to you as Nancy Drew to help renovate and find out the real story behind the accidents.
Plot rating: 9/10

Characters:
The characters in this game are Rose Green, the owner of the mansion, Abby, her friend who is helping her buy and renovate the mansion, Charlie who is a handyman helping with renovations, and Louis Chandler, an antique dealer and expert who is guiding on historical furnishings and arrangements. Phone friends are Hannah Gruen, Bess and George, and Emily Foxworth, a journalist who is an expert on San Francisco Chinese history. All characters are memorable, and done well. They contribute to the plot, and don’t passively sit in one place for you to question them. I liked that you had to find them at specific times of the day. They are all interesting people, and each has a possible motive for delaying the renovations.
Characters rating: 10/10

Setting:
The classic ND games, including this one, have impeccable settings. The graphics are obviously not up to par with today’s, but I like the old graphics better because it feels like more time went into the plot and making more places to explore. The Victorian contains multiple rooms to explore, including Nancy’s room, Abby’s room, the hallways, the foyer, the dining room, the saloon, the parlor, and the library. Extensive settings such as this create a real feel to the game, rather than staying between a few rooms. This felt like I was in an actual mansion. You do not get to go outside, but that is not a point that is needed. The décor of the mansion is gorgeous also. Little details are attended to, especially in Nancy’s Chinese room, and it’s a room I would love to stay in.
Setting rating: 10/10


Length:
This game is fairly long, which I like. The conversations with characters take a long time to get through but I like that. It feels real and I like that you can’t skip any of the conversations. I’d say an estimate of how long it takes to play this game (at least for me) is about 8-9 hours.
Length rating: 8/10


Puzzles:
This game has some ingenious puzzles. There are no mindless games, and all puzzles make sense in the context of why you are solving them. For instance, you have to solve a puzzle to unlatch a box, which makes sense. And you feel like you are doing something by solving the puzzle rather than just mindlessly doing a puzzle. I got stuck for an embarrassing amount of time on one puzzle until I finally realized it was only 4 steps. Four very simple steps.
Puzzle rating: 8/10

Music:
The music was somewhat repetitive in this game, but it fit the feel of San Francisco and was catchy. I wished there was more variety, but I rarely have any complaints about ND game music, because it’s all so good!
Music rating: 7/10

Ending:
This game has one of the best ND game endings ever made. If you’ve missed a small detail in the gameplay you may be hard pressed to figure out the ending. It’s a rather quick ending but definitely requires thought to be put into it, which I love.
Ending Rating: 10/10


One last note: I love that in this game you have to watch your conversations with characters. If you say the wrong thing, you have to get a second chance, which is sad when you have just gotten through a long conversation and need to listen to the entire thing again. However, this is one of the best features of some of the older games. Think before you say something!

Snooping factor is awesome in this game. You get to snoop to your heart’s content and you get a flashback to the old brick maze games and screensavers from the Windows 98 computers, when you use a computer in the game.

This is a classic ND game that will last long in your memories! I highly recommend this game to every newcomer to the series!