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different, but not bad

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  • different, but not bad

    Background: My sister and I have played every Nancy Drew game together, many more than once, over the last 20 years. For the last few years, my (currently) 12 year old daughter has been playing the old Nancy Drew games with us. All three of us just finished Midnight in Salem, after a very looong wait.

    The Positives: Overall, we agreed that we liked the game. It was different from our old beloved Nancy Drew games, to be sure, but it was still a good game. Also, I think that Her Interactive has tried to give fans something they have been asking for: more character development, even including some angst in the Nancy - Ned relationship. The game had creepy moments, but nothing too scary, and all the loose ends were wrapped up, with little bits of backstory revealed throughout the game. I see that people have mentioned glitching, but we were fortunate, I guess, because we did not have any severe glitching problems.

    The Annoyances: It really took us time to get used to the new platform and navigation. We miss the old point-and-click style. I also had some real issues occasionally with motion sickness -- but not when we were moving as much as when we were standing still! WHY does the background behind every character have to constantly move? Whenever we had to talk to someone, I pretty much had to look away from the screen because whatever was behind the person had constant movement, such as lines that never stopped moving across windows or bookcases. This did NOT make it look more realistic; if this is what the world looked like, I would be unable to stand it! Also, the characters swayed too much, and that also did not look realistic. I kept feeling like we were all on a ship! Also, it was very hard to move around; why would anyone need to make a wide circle just to get to a particular object nearby?

    The Unintentionally Funny: All of us (ages 40, 36, and 12) were (perhaps immaturely) constantly amused at the character design of the judge. He appeared to have no spinal column, and he often sported huge, very white jazz hands when he spoke, sort of like he was wearing Mickey Mouse gloves. Seriously, what was up with his super slouchy posture and arms that hung down to his knees? I'm afraid his appearance alone led to many jokes among us, many of which involved his need to get to a chiropractor.
    Also, the particular gestures that each character repeatedly made were often mimicked by us, especially Mei's hand motion as she lay in the chair, as well as how some characters would fling their arms out to the side forcefully -- several beats after what they said -- and then they would immediately do that flinging motion again! This led to hearty peals of laughter from us all. We also laughed at how when you exit the cemetery, to the right is one man protesting on the sidewalk who appeared to be ice-skating on it. His "walk" seriously did not work.

    The Nitpicks: (1) The characters often had lip synch problems. This was especially noticeable with Olivia. Also, once while we were facing Olivia in her shop, we got a text from her asking us to hurry to the shop because she needed to talk to us! That was super weird!
    (2) The "extras" were duplicated rather ridiculously. For example, at the exact same time in the town square, you could see a woman with a blond updo in a green sweater and gray skirt who was protesting -- while she was simulataneously in two other areas of the square! It was like grown triplets all decided to dress alike and hang out in the square.
    (3) Lots of places, but not lots to explore. We could not see the museum exhibits. We could even only go upstairs in the museum once. We never got to re-enter the carriage house. There was pretty much nothing to really see of the Hathorne house or of the house we were staying in.
    (4) We all missed Nancy's previous voice, but my sister and I eventually got used to the new one. Interestingly, it was my 12 year old who never warmed up to new Nancy.
    (5) The game just didn't have any "soul" in it. No heart. I simply do not know how to describe this, but all I mean is, compare how it feels to play this to playing Treasure in the Royal Tower. A certain feeling is just . . . missing.
    (6) We were seriously bummed that we could not buy any pastries at Lauren's shop! We kept thinking we would get to choose some to buy, but nooo. We didn't even eat our pancakes!
    (7) We like mini-games, which were missing. When we had to briefly watch the shop for Lauren, I was excited, thinking we would get to fill customers' orders, but, of course, that did not happen. Crushing herbs does not count as a fun mini-game, since it was decidedly not fun.

    The Wrap-up: We will play it again someday. Overall, we liked it pretty well, but we do miss our old Nancy games. It was not a fail, and we were glad to have a new Nancy game to play!

  • #2
    I agree with what you have to say, and I think/hope that a lot of the issues and glitches experienced in this game will be fixed in future games. After recently playing the first few Nancy Drew games and observing the drastic differences between game #1 and game #32, this is no different. Yes, this is considered the 33rd game in the series, but it came with some serious changes that make it feel like it's the first game in a new series. I hope that HerInteractive will learn from the glitches and unrealistic animations and improve upon them in the next installment.

    In general, I feel that this game was a huge improvement from some of the more recent Nancy Drew games such as the Tomb of the Lost Queen and the Shattered Medallion. I agree that Midnight in Salem lacked some of the heart that the older games like Treasure in a Royal Tower have, but it had more heart than some of the other newer games.

    I also couldn't agree with you more about the mini-games--I hope that they return too. :)
    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.


    • #3
      I completely agree with you that some of the later games lack heart, and Tomb of the Lost Queen and Shattered Medallion are great examples of that! In fact, my sister and I were discussing what to play next, and we realized that we can barely remember any of Shattered Medallion -- except that we both thought it was rather boring. I think your point about Midnight in Salem needing to be thought of as the first game in a new series rather than as the 33rd installment in an old series is very clever and makes a lot of sense! Like you, I hope that HerInteractive will continue to find its footing in this new game design so that each game improves.


      • #4
        I've been playing these ND games since childhood! I think I started around age 10, and I'm 26 now. So I share a lot of the sentiments with those who also grew up with the games.
        It's a huge change. And let's be honest, we can't ignore the fact that there are some (possibly?) bitter feelings about a new Nancy. I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt, and I thought she did really well in the end, but I feel like the game would have captured a bit of its old magic had we been listening to Lani's voice.
        However, sometimes change is good, even if it's bittersweet. It just threw me off a bit, here and there.

        So here's what I thought of the actual gameplay. Wow. Okay, first I'll say, this is actually one of my favorite games, and is perhaps now my most favorite Nancy Drew game. But not because it was put together well. It's all circumstantial that I happen to be Pagan, practice witchcraft, absolutely ADORE Salem MA, and am obsessed with the things Nancy was allowed to do to help people in town. (Won't give details for spoilers).

        In fact, as soon as I finished the game for the first time, I was so inspired, I filed paperwork and submitted filing payment with my state to become a registered LLC for ecomerce and am going to pursue my passion. So you bet I loved the game.

        Big fat 'however', to truly bring this one to the standard all of the fans were expecting, it needs to be hardcore remastered. The background graphics were really well done, I think! Perhaps a few inconsistencies here and there, especially with falling leaves that disappeared instead of landing on the ground, but overall it was beautiful and aesthetically pleasing. But my god, the people! I get that the company was in a rough spot: They had to get a game out quickly because it had already taken so much time and their PR department didn't do well with keeping fans in the loop-- or with honesty. They also needed more time to finish the game and make it better. So... kind of a lose-lose there.

        I feel like I'm rambling here, lol. Overall, I loved the game, and it's my favorite. Again, though, not because of the gameplay. I loved that it wasn't ALL puzzles like some games, but it was also more of a book than anything. It could use a few more things (not just puzzles, but challenges, jobs, errands, etc.) to round it out. The graphics for the people need a ton of improvement, BUT they have a starting point with the characters now.

        Lastly, I would say they just ditch the 3D view. It was pretty cool to be able to look up at the trees (I took so many pictures on both Nancy's phone and mine lol) but overall it made some parts of the game frustrating and didn't seem to add that much value. I'm also using a laptop though, so that may make a difference in how difficult it is to use.

        TLDR; Favorite game. Fix people graphics. Possibly ditch 3D style? Or don't. Make it longer-- flesh it out more. Add more errands, chores, and most importantly: puzzles. OH and also fix the sound. When I tried to turn down music volume in advanced settings, it didn't change the volume. I could barely hear Nancy's voice the whole time, so she needs to be a little louder. (Unless no one else had similar issues and it's just my laptop).

        If my business ends up taking off at any point, I want to donate a huge chunk of change to HeR to help them remaster this game and continue producing quality games.