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Midnight in Salem--A Well-awaited Return of Nancy Drew

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  • Midnight in Salem--A Well-awaited Return of Nancy Drew

    I was nervous about this game after hearing that it would be different than the previous Nancy Drew installments. Instinctively, I didn’t want to like a new installment since that would feel like disowning all of the older Nancy Drew games that I love so dear. After playing Midnight in Salem, I still love the charm of the old games, but I am also happy with the improvements of this newer game, and it was well worth the time and effort that HerInteractive put into creating it. From experiencing this game and comparing it to the older ones, I know that realistically they couldn’t continue to make games in the older style if they wanted to draw in new fans and stay up to date with the new technology. The part that I’m most saddened about is that Lani Minella couldn’t accompany Nancy as the series modernized. She truly was a wonderful voice actress for Nancy, but I don’t want to discount Brittany Cox, as she did a tremendous job as well.

    In this 33rd installment, Nancy has been called to Salem, Massachusetts by frenemy Deirdre Shannon to help claim the innocence of Deirdre’s cousin, Mei, who’s been accused of burning the historic Hathorne House. Nancy is eager to investigate as she feels that the case is linked to her experience in Austria when the Book of Apologies, a book that she was seeking out for a Salem judge, was stolen right as it was discovered. The book was written Salem witch trial Judge Sewall as repentance for his actions. It is a polar opposite to what the Hathorne House represents, as it was built by Judge Hathorne on land seized from the witches that he accused. Nancy is also joined by the Hardy Boys, who are interested in helping her out.

    I love the in-depth history behind this story, and the storyline itself is very well put-together. Nancy and the Hardy Boys solve this case from beginning to end like how a true mystery is solved. As a result, the gameplay was very structured. For the majority of the game, Nancy only has one or two tasks to complete at a time. After she completes them, the story line progresses. It’s different from the old style where Nancy seems to wander around aimlessly and fidgets with things that she finds until she finds the correct thing that matches with the thing. Yes, Nancy is able to wander around in this game as well, but there was little point to because it was rather straight forward as to what to do next. As a senior detective I had a task list that acted as an unambiguous compass for the entire game. I didn’t mind this too much as for once I didn’t feel hopelessly stuck like I have in past Nancy Drew games, but sometimes I was annoyed at how much free will was zapped out of me. At one point in the game, Nancy is navigating tunnels, and if you mess up her navigation, she starts at the beginning where in the old games, the game creators would have had you flounder in the dark and try to figure out the error in your ways. I kind of liked the floundering a little better.

    There were about double the amount of characters in this game than in the average Nancy Drew game, which was super rewarding. This added a lot more dimension to the game, and the majority were well-written with multiple facets to their personalities. The downside of having all these characters is the large amount of dialogue. The dialogue seriously takes up half of the game, if you listen through all of it. I’m glad that I did listen to all of it, because it developed my interest in the story, but I feel that some of it could have been shortened. On the plus side, the majority of it is skippable—great for replays!

    The characteristic that sets this game apart most from the other Nancy Drew games is the VR-effect of the game. You still more-or-less click through different screen shots of the setting, but then you can look around these views like you’re moving Nancy’s head. This feature comes into play sometimes when Nancy’s looking for something specific. All-together, it gives the game a more fluid feel. I also love that in these settings there are actual animated people in the background. They just sit or stand around while cycling through their programmed body-stances, but it’s a huge step forward from the old Nancy Drew games when once Nancy navigated Tokyo without encountering a single soul.

    Despite all these changes, this game still demonstrates some qualities of the older Nancy Drew games such as incorporating random activities unrelated to the mystery—and I really love the activities in this game. First, Nancy can carve pumpkins and place them around town and in the Parrys’ house. Second, she can flip up “Johnny cakes” and give them out to the characters. Nancy’s unparalleled enthusiasm and the randomness of this activity makes it hilariously fun. Lastly, she can mix up herbal remedies for Lauren.

    The Midnight in Salem is a huge step forward in the Nancy Drew series. Yes, I will miss the older games and their simpler game play, but this game lacked a lot of issues that I’d seen in past games by providing a genuine mystery-solving plot, introducing an abundance of characters, and upping the quality of their settings. There’s still some further tweaking that I hope to see in future games, but regardless I’m eager to await what comes next!
    I discovered that Secrets can Kill. I Stayed Tuned for Danger. I read the Message in a Haunted Mansion. I uncovered the Treasure in a Royal Tower. I watched the Final Scene. I washed away the Secret of the Scarlet Hand. I pet the Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake. I rode the Haunted Carousel. I dodged the Danger on Deception Island. I lassoed the Secret of Shadow Ranch. I overcame the Curse of Blackmoor Manor. I unwound the Secret of the Old Clock. I traveled on the Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon. I unveiled the Danger by Design. I captured the Creature of Kapu Cave. I discussed politics with the White Wolf of Icicle Creek. I unearthed the Legend of the Crystal Skull. I unmasked the Phantom of Venice. I exposed the Haunting of Castle Malloy. I paid the Ransom of the Seven Ships. I heeded the Warnings of Waverly Academy. I chased the Trail of the Twister. I stood in the Shadow at the Water’s Edge. I shattered the Captive Curse. I upheld the Alibi in Ashes. I opened the Tomb of the Lost Queen. I condemned the Deadly Device. I sang to the Ghost of Thornton Hall. I did justice for the Silent Spy. I repaired the Shattered Medallion. I navigated the Labyrinth of Lies. I illuminated the Sea of Darkness. I was awake at Midnight in Salem.

  • #2
    This is a thoughtful review with excellent points! I also prefer the "floundering" you mentioned, and I also agree that while I don't particularly mind the linear aspect of the game, I would like a bit more choice/ free will sometimes. I also miss how we used to need to take notes on random things we would find because we would know that eventually those notes would be needed in a crucial puzzle. We didn't need notes in this game, except for the pressure plate puzzle near the end, and even then, we had the book of information needed for that puzzle right there on us.

    I also agree with your point that while the animated background characters are rather stiff and unrealistic, it is true that it is equally unrealistic to see Nancy moving around Tokyo (or Venice) "without encountering a single soul." I hadn't thought about it like that, and that is a valid point!

    Like you, I'm glad that the games are continuing to be made, I do think they will continue to improve, and I will continue to play Nancy Drew games as they are released.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thank you for your reply. I didn't mind not needing to take notes for this game--mostly because I usually don't have a scratch piece of paper handy. 😂However, the lack of notes needed in this game does reflect some of its lack of intricacy. Perhaps there will be a need for more notes in future games.

      After I wrote this review, I saw your comment and other people's comments about how the extras were duplicates and it made me realize how unobservant I am. I didn't even notice! After knowing this, I can see why people were more perturbed with the extras than I was. When I think back to Shadows at the Waters Edge and Phantom of Venice, I think that the setting of Venice felt more realistic because the soundtrack had people's voices in the background so that you could pretend that there were people just out of Nancy's eyesight. In Tokyo, the electric pop music and echo of the subway drew attention to its emptiness. Regardless, I'm glad that HerInteractive took a step forward in adding actual people to their settings--even if they do look like they're at a twin convention!
      I discovered that Secrets can Kill. I Stayed Tuned for Danger. I read the Message in a Haunted Mansion. I uncovered the Treasure in a Royal Tower. I watched the Final Scene. I washed away the Secret of the Scarlet Hand. I pet the Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake. I rode the Haunted Carousel. I dodged the Danger on Deception Island. I lassoed the Secret of Shadow Ranch. I overcame the Curse of Blackmoor Manor. I unwound the Secret of the Old Clock. I traveled on the Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon. I unveiled the Danger by Design. I captured the Creature of Kapu Cave. I discussed politics with the White Wolf of Icicle Creek. I unearthed the Legend of the Crystal Skull. I unmasked the Phantom of Venice. I exposed the Haunting of Castle Malloy. I paid the Ransom of the Seven Ships. I heeded the Warnings of Waverly Academy. I chased the Trail of the Twister. I stood in the Shadow at the Water’s Edge. I shattered the Captive Curse. I upheld the Alibi in Ashes. I opened the Tomb of the Lost Queen. I condemned the Deadly Device. I sang to the Ghost of Thornton Hall. I did justice for the Silent Spy. I repaired the Shattered Medallion. I navigated the Labyrinth of Lies. I illuminated the Sea of Darkness. I was awake at Midnight in Salem.

      Comment

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