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Throwback Review Series: CLK {a fresh new play-through and in-depth review}

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  • Throwback Review Series: CLK {a fresh new play-through and in-depth review}

    SECRET OF THE OLD CLOCK (CLK)
    Release Date: July 12, 2005
    Difficulty: Senior Detective


    FINAL SCORE: Not Bad (4/10)

    ************************************************** ******************************************
    Rating Scale:
    1. Dreadful | 2. Poor | 3. Mediocre | 4. Not Bad | 5. Acceptable
    6. Good | 7. Exceeds Expectations | 8. Strong | 9. Superior | 10. Outstanding
    ************************************************** ******************************************

    MY PERSPECTIVE:
    Hi there! I am a veteran Nancy Drew player, and have been playing these games since I was very young. Message in a Haunted Mansion was the first game I played at eight years old. I am now 29 and have played every game in the series (aside from MID) at least once. However, it's been years since I've played my last ND game and many, MANY years since I have played many of the games. I've had a bout of Nostalgia and have decided to replay the entire series, starting from the beginning. I've decided to write a review for each game as I go. I will be playing on Senior Detective and using as few hints/online help as possible.

    Please keep in mind that everything written below is only my personal OPINION. If you don’t agree with something I have to say about a game, please don’t feel upset or offended. We all enjoy different aspects of these games and it’s wonderful that we can all have differing opinions about what makes a game great. I hope you enjoy!!


    ************************************************** ******************************************


    PLOT: Not Bad (4/10)

    Apparently, Nancy found a time machine somewhere, because this plot transports Nancy to the 1930s. Why did she go back in time, you ask? How did she get there? What ridiculous questions! She’s just there, okay? Just waltzing around the thirties like she belongs there, and everyone else is there too. But nobody seems confused about the fact that they’re living in the wrong century. We’re supposed to just suspend disbelief and accept that this time, it’s the year 1930. And I feel that its worth it to add a small disclaimer here before I even go on: I absolutely hate this random and completely impossible deviation from normal life. And sadly, it spins the game immediately in a negative direction before I even have a chance to think about the plot, or the characters or anything else that’s going on.

    That being said, the truth is that the time jump isn’t COMPLETELY thoughtless. This game is based off of the Nancy Drew Book of the same name. Secret of the Old Clock is the first book in the series and it was released in 1930. (It’s also based on Mystery at Lilac Inn, the fourth book in the series). So it’s clear HER is paying tribute to that, and I’m sure it was very well intentioned and even a little beautiful. But I still hate it. If the time jump doesn’t bother you, I’m sure you’ll have a much more positive experience with this entry because the rest of it really isn’t bad.

    Okay so, like I said, it’s 1930. Interestingly enough, its implied that Nancy isn’t even an amateur detective at this point, which at first I was annoyed by as it seemed odd until I remembered yet again that this is based on the first book. So for all intents and purposes, this IS INDEED her first case. This is where it all began! This was the start of SIXTY SOME YEARS OF SLEUTHING TO COME. She really aged well over all that time. Come to think of it, thirty three games in and somehow its still implied that she’s a teenager… Honestly, maybe Nancy is just a vampire. So are her friends. They’re one big crime fighting, sleuthing vampire coven who don’t ever age. At least that would explain away all of the inconsistencies here, so I might just make that my head cannon.

    Did I even talk about the plot yet? No, sorry. I’m too busy ranting. Alright, lets focus here. IT IS 1930. We see Nancy driving to visit an acquaintance, seventeen year old Emily Crandall, who needs Nancy’s help. (Who doesn’t?) We learn that Emily’s had a bit of bad luck lately, and long story short she needs Nancy to use her family’s safety deposit box to store a bunch of jewels that she’s afraid may be stolen. Just when she’s showing them to Nancy, a convenient fire breaks out in the kitchen. After the commotion, we discover that the jewels have been stolen!! That’s bad news for Emily, who needs them to repair the kitchen and continue running the inn left in her care after her mother’s passing. Emily’s guardian, Jane, implies that its possible Emily herself left the stove on and that she’s not in her right mind as of late. We also learn that a neighbor named Josiah, an eccentric old man, implied that he would leave Emily’s family well taken care of, but when his will was found it didn’t give them a dime.

    It’s here that Nancy’s first mystery truly begins, as she drives off in her snazzy new car to find some way to help Emily, be it by discovering the lost jewels (a plot directly pulled from The Mystery at Lilac Inn) or proving that Josiah’s discovered will is a fraud (pulled from Secret of the Old Clock, the book). Knowing Nancy, she’ll probably never stop until she does both. Oh, and did I mention that her father still expects her home for dinner?

    I hate to say it because I know this is part of the golden age and many people love this game, but I just wasn’t that drawn in by this plot.

    ************************************************** ******************************************
    SETTING: Not Bad (4/10)
    Our setting this time takes place in the town of Titusville, Illinois. I am going to do my best to review this setting without getting too distracted by the 1930s vibe. That being said, the theme is pretty pervasive. Overall, I enjoyed the spaces we were given to work with, but there’s also some major mediocrity to be found here.



    LOCATION: Acceptable (5/10)
    The primary location we’re given this time around is the Lilac Inn and its surrounding area. I’ll go into some detail, but my main take feeling about this location is that it is pleasing to look at, and does a good job of expressing the time period its set in. It’s also not drop dead gorgeous. That’s partly due to the fact that we’re brought back to a fairly “normal” location in this entry - that is, we’re not wandering the wild west or creeping around a massive manor.

    When we arrive, we get our first glimpse of the Lilac Inn. It’s plain, but pretty, with stucco walls and a variety of flowers outside (I spotted Black Eyed Susans immediately, because they’ve recently become one of my favorite flowers). The payphone hanging on the wall immediately screams that we’re not in the twentieth century anymore. The inside is basically what you’d expect - warm and cozy, with pinstriped wallpaper, wooden chair rail moulding and paneling, upholstered furniture. Jane stands before us at a podium, reminding us that this is supposed to be some sort of restaurant, despite the fact that we never get to SEE the restaurant bits. As far as the player is concerned, this is Emily’s house and nothing more. If we decide to take a walk, we come across a few other locations, but none of them are much more spectacular.

    Josiah Crowley’s house is full of odds and ends, and swathed in a dark orange and blue color scheme. Hardwood floors are covered by random, mismatched rugs and a large Carousel horse stands in the corner - a nod to previous entries (CAR). To be honest, although it’s got tons of random stuff everywhere, I personally found it underwhelming when we know Josiah to be a peculiar, interesting old man. For example, when I found the book he scribbled notes in, I was really hoping for Sonny Joon level crazy. His house didn’t quite live up to that pipe dream, and therefore fell a little short. The carriage house was shedlike, and very dark/monochromatic in a way that didn’t draw my eye to anything in particular. The bank is plain, but detailed and accurate enough with green striped wallpaper and even more wooden moulding. The general store is a huge letdown because we can’t explore it at all. The vending machine is pretty I guess?

    Overall, the locations were pretty in the way that I’d walk into somebody’s nicely decorated house and compliment them on it. But not impressive or unique in any major way.

    EXPLORATION: Mediocre (3/10)
    Let me break the bad news to you as quickly as possible - we’re back to map travel. And worse, it isn’t the fun kind. If you’re into driving a two dimensional blue cruiser around a virtual kids play mat, good for you. I’d rather be doing pretty much anything else. Furthermore, while it’s possible that my sense for the scope of these games in general is off since I took quite the hiatus from playing them, this entry just felt particularly small. Especially compared to SHA and CUR, both of which are fairly expansive.

    In this entry, we really only get about four to five actual locations to explore: Lilac inn, Josiah’s House, the Carriage House, Main Street Bank, and a secret area. If I’m being generous, I could divide Lilac Inn into the parlor and Emily’s bedroom, but there really isn’t enough to do in either alone to justify that. We also get the golf course, the general store, and the fishing area, but I’m not counting any of those as explorable areas. Each of them only exists for their intended purpose and there is no exploring to be had in any form. The general store is the worst offender, because my trip there occurred fairly far into the game, and I got so excited that I’d get to explore another location I hadn’t realized existed, only to find that Nancy can’t even turn around and look at the place.

    So we’re back to the fact that we have five locations, and I truthfully don’t feel like there was a TON of substance in any of them. More than other games, but still not enough to justify their small number. We get to do just a little snooping, and only get to find one secret area that doesn’t really lead anywhere new in the end. Emily’s house felt like it should have been bigger - I would have loved to have seen the diner portion of the building!! Also, they run a restaurant and have pies and yet offered Nancy NO FOOD during her time there. How rude.

    Furthermore, I was personally offended anytime Nancy had to leave the Lilac Inn area for ANYTHING because I hate the travel so much in this game. So exploring the map and the bank and the general store and the fishing hole felt like such negatives for me here. At least if you’re going to make me drive across the map, you could give me a super interesting location to make it worth my while. Instead, it left me feeling as though the only space in the game that mattered was Lilac in and Josiah’s house. And those alone are simply not big enough to make me feel like my exploration thirst was quenched.
    ************************************************** ******************************************


    CHARACTERS: Not Bad (4.5/10)
    What we have here is a bunch of characters who are sort of so bad they’re good. Let me explain. I have a bunch of notes jotted down for each of these characters (I don’t always) but they’re mostly useless, funny tidbits or ways in which I was amusedly annoyed by their personalities. So while I sort of enjoyed taking them in, I can’t say they’re realistic or GOOD exactly. Some of them also have a lot of dialogue, which isn’t always the case. It’s always nice to meet a character and realize I have to SCROLL DOWN to see all the dialogue choices I have. The phone contacts were also pretty solid here.

    I also feel that I should mention that, although not truly a “character”, the best character in this game is Josiah, and he’s dead. I’m almost wondering if I should start a “dead characters” rating section in my reviews lol.

    EMILY CRANDALL: Acceptable (5/10)
    Emily is the reason that Nancy travels to Lilac Inn in the first place. While I have a few gripes with her execution, and I’m not a particular fan of her voice acting, her story is sad and relatable. At the young age of seventeen, Emily lost her mother, who she helped run the Lilac Inn since she was young. With her mother gone, Emily is not only grieving but also feels a tremendous weight on her shoulders to keep the inn running and uphold her mother’s legacy. All the while, outside pressures and disaster after disaster pressure her to sell. I wish that Emily had a better voice acting performance, because this would be a very difficult situation for a seventeen year old to handle and I would have liked to hear the grief and stress that she must be feeling come through in her voice. I also think that it would have been nice to have a few more talks with Emily about Josiah’s will, in a way that made it feel more urgent that Nancy look into it. I would also have preferred she be in more than half the game, because after a certain point she disappears completely.

    JANE WILLOUGHBY: Not Bad (4/10)
    Jane Willoughby was appointed Emily’s guardian, and came to live at the Lilac Inn with Emily after her mother passed away. And yet again - the voice acting. I know that they were going for a quintessential 1930s voice here… but I hate the 1930s trope so it really didn’t sit well with me. That being said, it was spot on for what they were going for, so it isn’t the voice actor’s fault so much as my preference. Her plot is probably my least favorite of all the characters, and we really don’t get much information about her at all as the game progresses. Her personality comes off as rather selfish, and I even have in my notes that she comes off as a narcissist, as she constantly acts like things are centered around her. She blows off what’s happening to Emily and makes Nancy sort pies, but doesn’t FEED her any pie. That says enough, don’t you think?

    JIM ARCHER: Mediocre (3/10)
    Jim is the local banker, and works at Main Street Bank in Titusville. Or does he own the bank? There are several times where the game claims his personal finances are tied up in the bank, so maybe he owns it. Maybe in the thirties there was only one banker and he always owned his own bank. I didn’t live back then and I can’t time travel like Nancy, so I guess I won’t ever know. His voice acting is also not stellar (HER is really striking out here this time), and he seems nice but also kind of takes advantage of Nancy by using her to help him with his dress situation before he’ll do a VERY BASIC THING THAT IS HIS ACTUAL JOB for her. You know Jim, Nancy is nice. If you’d helped her first, she still probably would have helped you with that dress. His story and motive are mediocre, but at least he wears suspenders. I like him just a little more because of that.

    RICHARD TOPHAM: Acceptable (5/10)
    Mr. Topham is a self-proclaimed psychic who met Josiah while traveling and moved in with him soon later, promising to teach Josiah how to read peoples minds or some such nonsense. When Josiah passed away, his will left everything to Topham, and he continues to live in Josiah’s house, teaching ESP lessons to whoever is gullible enough to believe him. For some reason, I actually enjoyed Topham’s voice acting more than the others. It fit his character well. I found him amusing in general, even if he does initially think Nancy must have inferior brainwaves. Also, if he’s so good at detecting brainwaves in the first place, why couldn’t he just sense Nancy’s and evaluate them on his own instead of make her do that stupid test? I can’t tell if he comes across as dishonest or if he really believes himself, but in any case I enjoyed speaking with him. I didn’t think his story was EXTRAORDINARILY good or anything, and there are definitely better “quirky” characters in the series. But he was moderately enjoyable here.

    PHONE CONTACTS: Exceeds Expectations (7/10)
    Thank you, phone contacts, for (almost) always reminding me what I’m looking for in both voice acting and quality of conversation. We get Bess and George back, and we also get Nancy’s Dad!! Both put in decent performances, and I felt like most of the time when calling them they had something to say.

    Bess and George: Exceeds Expectations (7/10)
    I just love Bess and George, and they don’t disappoint in this entry. Since it’s the 1930s, the catch this time is that Bess is lucky she even HAS a phone. Also, they get an extra point for Mrs. Farthingham, because I chuckled out loud when she accidentally chimed in while snooping on their conversation.

    Carson Drew: Exceeds Expectations (7/10)
    I may be wrong, but I think this is the first time we get Nancy’s Dad as a phone contact!! I was really excited to see him on the call list, and I thought his interactions with Nancy were natural and well done. I’m pretty sure this isn’t his long-term voice actor (if he has one) and I recall enjoying some of the later voice actors better - but really just in tonal quality, not in quality of performance. He had a lot to say and gave Nancy a lot of fatherly advice and just overall I enjoyed my experience talking to him!
    ************************************************** ******************************************
    PUZZLES AND TASKS: Acceptable (5/10)
    For reference, I consider puzzles to be anything that requires “solving”, while tasks are things that simply require “doing.”



    PUZZLES: Exceeds Expectations (7/10)
    This game is actually has more puzzles than I originally thought - we get approximately fifteen puzzles total. Still, it doesn’t feel so puzzle heavy because a lot of the puzzles are easy (the matching puzzle, the slider, the gears, dominoes). Honestly, most of the clocks were pretty straightforward and simple to solve. This isn’t necessarily bad, because there are a few more difficult ones too, or at least ones that took longer. A few were actually really rewarding to solve without being too overbearingly difficult. A few took so long they were annoying. (THE ESP PUZZLE. It would have been much nicer if the cards cycled continuously until we wanted to stop, rather than starting over ever five cards.) The puzzles made sense within the story, and especially with Josiah’s crazy personality.

    TASKS: Dreadful (1/10)
    One word. TELEGRAMS. Literally none of the tasks in this game were enjoyable or rewarding - and I’m a task person, I love a good set of chores in my ND games - but TELEGRAMS WERE THE WORST. Oh, and finding the Trivet, which is just more of the same. The only other two tasks we get are fishing and sewing, both of which are fine but boring.

    WAIT I LIED. I forgot about golf. I hate golf.
    ************************************************** ******************************************

    ENDGAME: Poor (2/10)
    All in all, I found the endgame both underwhelming and odd all at the same time. The plot culprit was obvious, and the part of the plot that wasn’t obvious was just plain strange. While this game does follow two plots as we go along, both are wrapped up by the end. It is discovering the truth about one plot that leads us to the answer to the other, but unlike in CUR, it at least feels like our efforts were worth it because we DISCOVERED the culprit rather than them just spilling their guts to us for no reason. But still, it didn’t necessarily feel earned and I felt like it all left some pretty glaring plot holes. I can’t even rant about them here because they’d give away too much of the plot, but I just have so many questions about the culprit and how exactly they pulled that off without being caught by anyone in this SUPER SMALL TOWN.

    Also, I had to look up who that one person mentioned at the endgame was after the game was over, because I honestly didn’t catch it when I was playing. So when I reached the endgame, it just seemed like a random name and I was like “am I supposed to know who this is?”

    And finally, perhaps worst of all - MORE DRIVING. I was so upset when I learned that everything in this game culminated to just… more driving around the map. This was just too easy, involved absolutely no cleverness whatsoever, and I found it horrendously unenjoyable considering how much time I just spent hating on the Telegram system. I hate driving in real life too, so maybe that’s why I’m so adverse to this aspect of the game. But the fact that we have to wrap up this game doing the one thing I hate the most really just leaves me with a bitter taste in my mouth.

    ************************************************** ******************************************
    MISCELLANEOUS:
    This category may not affect the game’s overall score in any particular way, as low scores in the categories presented here shouldn’t necessarily be interpreted as a bad thing. These are highly subjective to personal taste and are included primarily for informative purposes.



    DIFFICULTY: Acceptable (5/10)
    This game isn’t too difficult, but has a few tricky puzzles! I personally found the difficulty level enjoyable, and if you’re a first time player or a younger player you’ll probably find it satisfyingly challenging without being too hard. This entry is on the shorter side (took me about four hours to get through) but definitely not as short as some others, like CAR.

    SCARE FACTOR: Dreadful (1/10)
    Not scary in the slightest. Not even really suspenseful. Nancy’s basically just wandering around at her leisure here. As we all know by now, this makes me happy because I can’t handle scary games, and I think this is a perfect break from terrifying creaks in the night after playing CUR just before!

    EDUCATION/LOCATION HISTORY: Acceptable (5/10)
    This entry has what I would call an average amount of educational extra information and location history. We get some books about Clever Hans the horse and learn about hobo symbols that remind me of finding Thieves Guild Caches across Skyrim. There’s a bit of Shakespeare, though very little. And of course, we learn plenty about Josiah Crowley as we progress through the game! And while discovering more about Josiah is enjoyable, it’s more at a Mickey Malone level from DOG, rather than a Penvellyn level from CUR if you know what I mean. There’s just enough here that it doesn’t feel empty.

    IMMERSION: Dreadful (1/10)
    This concerns how realistic the game feels. Does it feel like Nancy is really there for the reason she is supposed to be? Is her reason for being there realistic? Are the things that happen throughout the game realistic?

    Nancy is suddenly in the 1930s, she can’t eat any food, and we’re supposed to believe she solved this entire mystery in one day and still made it home for dinner. Need I say more?

    Really though, the time jump just completely threw off the immersion factor for me in this game. Every other game we can believe happens sequentially after the one before it. Are we supposed to pretend like this one didn’t exist? To just expect the player to accept that this is the same Nancy in a different universe? I don’t like it movies, books or my Nancy Drew games.

    MUSIC: Mediocre (3/10)
    Look, I’m just generally not a fan of this time period, okay? So many of these sound tracks make me feel like I’m watching an old film, and it comes off a little gimicky. I hated the music we were forced to listen to every time we drove around the map. It made me feel like I should be driving faster, but of course you can’t. The only pieces that I enjoyed honestly felt a little reminiscent of Shadow Ranch somehow (“Melody” and “Lilac” - don’t ask me why, it is what it is) which made me feel like I was really just pining for that soundtrack instead.

    GRAPHICS: Not Bad (4/10)
    About the same as the previous game. I definitely feel as though HER started to do something odd with their character models around this timeframe, and I just hope that they get it together soon. I think I remember some characters in the near future being MUCH more impressive than what we see here (Pua and Big Island Mike from CRE, for instance). For now, there are quite a few kinks to work out.

    EXTRA STUFF/NOTES:
    Pretty much NOTHING, sorry to say. We can’t eat food. We can’t make food for anyone else. We don’t get any fun extras like games or anything, and while technically we can play golf as many times as we want you won’t want to.

    There is one easter egg here, but I didn’t trigger it this time. Also, that cat is horrifying.
    ************************************************** ******************************************

    FINAL SCORE: Not Bad (4/10)

    I think what it comes down to is that this game is just not my personal cup of tea. I understand why others enjoy it and I would actually encourage you to play it because my feelings for it are very much about my personal taste. I didn’t hate this game, but spent half of my time feeling annoyed by the gimicky time-jump and dialogue that went with it, and underwhelmed by the location and the plot, both of which simply didn’t thrill me - but mostly because I prefer ranches and old houses and ski resorts. And in the end, there were just too many things I found odd about the story in retrospect after playing it through to its completion. So yes, in conclusion: an enjoyable but underwhelming experience.

    ************************************************** ******************************************

    THROWBACK REVIEW SERIES - ALL REVIEWS

    SCK | STFD | MHM | TRT | FIN | SSH | DOG | CAR | DDI | SHA | CUR | CLK

    ************************************************** ******************************************

    Last edited by Jett; December 6, 2021, 06:28 AM.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Jett View Post
    Apparently, Nancy found a time machine somewhere, because this plot transports Nancy to the 1930s. Why did she go back in time, you ask? How did she get there? What ridiculous questions! She’s just there, okay? Just waltzing around the thirties like she belongs there, and everyone else is there too. But nobody seems confused about the fact that they’re living in the wrong century. We’re supposed to just suspend disbelief and accept that this time, it’s the year 1930. And I feel that its worth it to add a small disclaimer here before I even go on: I absolutely hate this random and completely impossible deviation from normal life. And sadly, it spins the game immediately in a negative direction before I even have a chance to think about the plot, or the characters or anything else that’s going on.

    I hate to say it because I know this is part of the golden age and many people love this game, but I just wasn’t that drawn in by this plot.
    I found myself laughing throughout your review of the game, but it sounds like you just don't vibe with the 1930s at all. I'm curious if you think you'd like the plot better if it took place in modernity? The first time I played the game, I viewed it as a prequel to the rest of the series, but with how out-there some of Nancy's games get later on, I can honestly accept her becoming a time traveler and creating a paradox that sends everyone she knows back to 1930. Or maybe this is a different universe. Who knows? Maybe Nancy Drew reincarnates when she's needed like Link?

    When we arrive, we get our first glimpse of the Lilac Inn. It’s plain, but pretty, with stucco walls and a variety of flowers outside (I spotted Black Eyed Susans immediately, because they’ve recently become one of my favorite flowers). The payphone hanging on the wall immediately screams that we’re not in the twentieth century anymore. The inside is basically what you’d expect - warm and cozy, with pinstriped wallpaper, wooden chair rail moulding and paneling, upholstered furniture. Jane stands before us at a podium, reminding us that this is supposed to be some sort of restaurant, despite the fact that we never get to SEE the restaurant bits. As far as the player is concerned, this is Emily’s house and nothing more. If we decide to take a walk, we come across a few other locations, but none of them are much more spectacular.
    I hate. hate. hate. HATE. the stucco walls. It doesn't make any sense architecturally for a house built during the Civil War to have stucco walls. Moreover, stucco walls that look like marble somehow and are a disgusting grey/beige color do not belong on a building that isn't even trying to be Spanish or Mediterranean style.

    Josiah Crowley’s house is full of odds and ends, and swathed in a dark orange and blue color scheme. Hardwood floors are covered by random, mismatched rugs and a large Carousel horse stands in the corner - a nod to previous entries (CAR). To be honest, although it’s got tons of random stuff everywhere, I personally found it underwhelming when we know Josiah to be a peculiar, interesting old man. For example, when I found the book he scribbled notes in, I was really hoping for Sonny Joon level crazy. His house didn’t quite live up to that pipe dream, and therefore fell a little short.
    I get that, but I think it makes sense for him and for the time-period. Would I love to see Josiah's house look like a fully-decked out set for A Midsummer's Night Dream like he deserves? Yes. Do I think his house could have been more amazing for someone as eccentric and extra as him? Absolutely. Do I lament that I cannot give him the fever-dream interior he deserves? Yes. But, I guess what the devs were going for was something that wasn't quite practical or bizarre in totality. Also, I have to wonder if Topham may have at least moved some of his stuff around. He didn't toss anything, but he could have put some of it in rooms we cannot see to declutter his main room.

    Let me break the bad news to you as quickly as possible - we’re back to map travel. And worse, it isn’t the fun kind. If you’re into driving a two dimensional blue cruiser around a virtual kids play mat, good for you. I’d rather be doing pretty much anything else. Furthermore, while it’s possible that my sense for the scope of these games in general is off since I took quite the hiatus from playing them, this entry just felt particularly small. Especially compared to SHA and CUR, both of which are fairly expansive.

    So we’re back to the fact that we have five locations, and I truthfully don’t feel like there was a TON of substance in any of them. More than other games, but still not enough to justify their small number. We get to do just a little snooping, and only get to find one secret area that doesn’t really lead anywhere new in the end. Emily’s house felt like it should have been bigger - I would have loved to have seen the diner portion of the building!! Also, they run a restaurant and have pies and yet offered Nancy NO FOOD during her time there. How rude.
    I'm afraid I share your distaste for bird's-eye view map travel. The only time I can recall not loathing it entirely is HAU because it allows us to see the grounds of Castle Malloy, but other than that, I'm not a huge fan, though this game is infinitely better than RAN. If I ever have to drive that awful golf cart around the entire island two million times again, I'll lose my mind. (Thankfully, I hate that game entirely, so I have no reason to ever return to it.) Driving the car is okay at best. You're right about the locations all being underwhelming in size though. I think this game is the worst about that in the golden era, but it comes to be quite a thing in the games for a while because animating big, detailed environments is too costly. It is indeed a crime that we have no option for pie. Are you telling me that I don't deserve at least a slice after reorganizing that awful, hideous, nonsensical pie display out front?


    I also feel that I should mention that, although not truly a “character”, the best character in this game is Josiah, and he’s dead. I’m almost wondering if I should start a “dead characters” rating section in my reviews lol.
    Please do, as there are a quite a few delightful dead characters in these games. I wrote a whole entry on Charlotte in my GTH review, and Josiah is, without question, the best character in CLK, which is saying something about the rest of them.

    Emily is the reason that Nancy travels to Lilac Inn in the first place. While I have a few gripes with her execution, and I’m not a particular fan of her voice acting, her story is sad and relatable. At the young age of seventeen, Emily lost her mother, who she helped run the Lilac Inn since she was young. With her mother gone, Emily is not only grieving but also feels a tremendous weight on her shoulders to keep the inn running and uphold her mother’s legacy. All the while, outside pressures and disaster after disaster pressure her to sell. I wish that Emily had a better voice acting performance, because this would be a very difficult situation for a seventeen year old to handle and I would have liked to hear the grief and stress that she must be feeling come through in her voice. I also think that it would have been nice to have a few more talks with Emily about Josiah’s will, in a way that made it feel more urgent that Nancy look into it. I would also have preferred she be in more than half the game, because after a certain point she disappears completely.
    Thinking back on it, you're right that we never really get a sense of how overwhelmed Emily is at what's going on around her. She could easily be one of the most heartbreaking, relatable characters in the series, but the writing, her limited inclusion in the game, and her voice-acting make her fall flat where she could shine. If they were ever to remake any of the games,and do better than SCK2, I'd be interested to see what they could do with Emily.

    WAIT I LIED. I forgot about golf. I hate golf.
    That cracked me up so hard. I was stunned to have read nothing about the dreaded mini-golf game, and then your succinct comment came out like, "We don't talk about that here."

    Look, I’m just generally not a fan of this time period, okay? So many of these sound tracks make me feel like I’m watching an old film, and it comes off a little gimicky. I hated the music we were forced to listen to every time we drove around the map. It made me feel like I should be driving faster, but of course you can’t. The only pieces that I enjoyed honestly felt a little reminiscent of Shadow Ranch somehow (“Melody” and “Lilac” - don’t ask me why, it is what it is) which made me feel like I was really just pining for that soundtrack instead.
    I'm sad, but we can agree to disagree. Not everyone has to like vintage stuff, but I'll be curious to know your thoughts on other soundtracks now that you've expressed your distaste for one of them.

    Also, that cat is horrifying.
    Noooooo! Not slander against Yuri! He can't help it, and I love him.

    I think what it comes down to is that this game is just not my personal cup of tea. I understand why others enjoy it and I would actually encourage you to play it because my feelings for it are very much about my personal taste. I didn’t hate this game, but spent half of my time feeling annoyed by the gimicky time-jump and dialogue that went with it, and underwhelmed by the location and the plot, both of which simply didn’t thrill me - but mostly because I prefer ranches and old houses and ski resorts. And in the end, there were just too many things I found odd about the story in retrospect after playing it through to its completion. So yes, in conclusion: an enjoyable but underwhelming experience.
    I think that's more than fair, and I think you wrote an excellent and solidly objective review regardless. You admitted throughout which elements weren't your taste and came clean from the start that you weren't really into the whole vintage vibe of the game. And, despite our disagreements on various points, I still think our overall opinion of the game is much the same, in that it's a fun game but not the best. Even if it is a golden era game, it's the weakest entry in it. Wonderful review once again! I look forward to reading your thoughts on Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon!

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    • #3
      I found myself laughing throughout your review of the game, but it sounds like you just don't vibe with the 1930s at all. I'm curious if you think you'd like the plot better if it took place in modernity? The first time I played the game, I viewed it as a prequel to the rest of the series, but with how out-there some of Nancy's games get later on, I can honestly accept her becoming a time traveler and creating a paradox that sends everyone she knows back to 1930. Or maybe this is a different universe. Who knows? Maybe Nancy Drew reincarnates when she's needed like Link?
      Yeah that's basically the gist of it. The 20s and 30s are pretty much my least favorite time period to fictionally travel to - I'm more of a medieval, renaissance, castle or futuristic apocalyptic wasteland kind of girl - so you can only imagine how cringey pretty much every accent and reference and moment of this game felt for me lol. Because the entire thing is pretty much meant to be an overdone tribute to that era. And to be honest, I do think I would have enjoyed this one so much more if it was in a modern setting. Or WHAT IF Titusville could have been a modern day RECREATION of a town from the 30s?!?! And all of the "cast" were just actors and their over the top way of speaking wouldn't feel quite so bad then because the game wouldn't be trying to play it off as completely authentic and in the norm. But the crime is real and they have real in life motives but are difficult to talk to because they're always acting! Then HER could have paid tribute to the first couple of books but still done it in a way that didn't take Nancy completely out of reality and also that sounds like it would be a fun and wacky game, just saying. Perhaps a remake? 😂😂😂

      But you're right, there are certainly some other games that pull me out of reality just as badly. BUT at least they do it in a proper sequential order lol.

      I hate. hate. hate. HATE. the stucco walls. It doesn't make any sense architecturally for a house built during the Civil War to have stucco walls. Moreover, stucco walls that look like marble somehow and are a disgusting grey/beige color do not belong on a building that isn't even trying to be Spanish or Mediterranean style.
      So I've definitely noticed that some of the things that bother you more than me, or vice versa, are due to how much knowledge we have in the given area. For example, I enjoyed the stucco but only because in real life I enjoy that look. I have absolutely no knowledge of the realistic architecture of the time period. But now that you've told me, it bothers me too lol. Because truthfully the developers should be basing their design off of the time period when their game is literally centered around said era. But more I just find it interesting how much knowledge you have in some of these historical periods!! Because I know nothing lol.

      I hate. hate. hate. HATE. the stucco walls. It doesn't make any sense architecturally for a house built during the Civil War to have stucco walls. Moreover, stucco walls that look like marble somehow and are a disgusting grey/beige color do not belong on a building that isn't even trying to be Spanish or Mediterranean style.
      Please do, as there are a quite a few delightful dead characters in these games. I wrote a whole entry on Charlotte in my GTH review, and Josiah is, without question, the best character in CLK, which is saying something about the rest of them.
      I really might, only I'm not sure how to incorporate that into the games overall rating. Because if the characters themselves are bad, I shall not allow one good dead character that I don't even get to talk to to redeem them. But also, I feel they sometimes aren't given enough weight either in my current rating system because sometimes they're REALLY good, and when they are it makes the game so much more enjoyable!

      I'm sad, but we can agree to disagree. Not everyone has to like vintage stuff, but I'll be curious to know your thoughts on other soundtracks now that you've expressed your distaste for one of them.
      The trouble with me and these soundtracks is that I really only notice when something stands out immensely as really bad or really good. And honestly, I'm more likely to notice the bad ones because they irritate me 🤣 Like I just finished playing TRN and I honestly cannot even remember what the soundtrack was like. I definitely think that it helps that I'm now listening to it over again as I write my reviews so that I can take in the pieces without being completely distracted by the game.

      Noooooo! Not slander against Yuri! He can't help it, and I love him.
      I hate cats and this particularly hideous one is no exception lolol. I'm more of a dog person myself.

      Anyway, I'm off to begin my TRN review as we speak! Till next time! 😊

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Jett View Post

        Yeah that's basically the gist of it. The 20s and 30s are pretty much my least favorite time period to fictionally travel to - I'm more of a medieval, renaissance, castle or futuristic apocalyptic wasteland kind of girl - so you can only imagine how cringey pretty much every accent and reference and moment of this game felt for me lol. Because the entire thing is pretty much meant to be an overdone tribute to that era. And to be honest, I do think I would have enjoyed this one so much more if it was in a modern setting. Or WHAT IF Titusville could have been a modern day RECREATION of a town from the 30s?!?! And all of the "cast" were just actors and their over the top way of speaking wouldn't feel quite so bad then because the game wouldn't be trying to play it off as completely authentic and in the norm. But the crime is real and they have real in life motives but are difficult to talk to because they're always acting! Then HER could have paid tribute to the first couple of books but still done it in a way that didn't take Nancy completely out of reality and also that sounds like it would be a fun and wacky game, just saying. Perhaps a remake? 😂😂😂

        But you're right, there are certainly some other games that pull me out of reality just as badly. BUT at least they do it in a proper sequential order lol.
        Well, I would love to have a ND game take on any of those time periods/aesthetics, assuming we ever get another one! You know, I honestly love that idea, and I think that could have been more fun, even, than Nancy's random time travel. It'd be like LIE, STFD, and that Nancy Drew movie with Emma Roberts all rolled into one, and I'm honestly here for it. Can you imagine having Josiah Crowley and someone like Professor Hotchkiss, except she's a method actress who won't break from her role,in the same game? Someone needs to create this immediately.

        So I've definitely noticed that some of the things that bother you more than me, or vice versa, are due to how much knowledge we have in the given area. For example, I enjoyed the stucco but only because in real life I enjoy that look. I have absolutely no knowledge of the realistic architecture of the time period. But now that you've told me, it bothers me too lol. Because truthfully the developers should be basing their design off of the time period when their game is literally centered around said era. But more I just find it interesting how much knowledge you have in some of these historical periods!! Because I know nothing lol.
        I agree, and that's why it's so neat to me to read your reviews and see what you like or what bothers you based on your own interests and knowledge. I'm no expert in architecture, but it's something that interests me a lot and I think game devs (or any artists representing a specific time period) have a duty to make the clothes, architecture, language, etc., try to match the times as much as possible, within reason. I write historical fiction and do hours upon hours of research sometimes just to find out some tiny little detail that no one except me would care about, so it irks me to no end when others don't even try to have any basic historical accuracy. Places like Blackmoor Manor or Thornton Hall can have some modern quirks because they're historical homes that have gone through generations of families and remodels, but Lilac Inn's stucco walls don't fit the time period it was built in, the architectural style of the house, or the time period in which it resides in the game, so they got three strikes on that one.

        I really might, only I'm not sure how to incorporate that into the games overall rating. Because if the characters themselves are bad, I shall not allow one good dead character that I don't even get to talk to to redeem them. But also, I feel they sometimes aren't given enough weight either in my current rating system because sometimes they're REALLY good, and when they are it makes the game so much more enjoyable!
        I understand. Maybe you could talk about them and not factor them into a rating, or admit the skew it'll have on the data because, like you said, sometimes those dead characters really make the game. My first thought was about Dirk Valentine, Meryl Humber, and Frances Humber lol, but SHA has great characters across the board tbh.

        The trouble with me and these soundtracks is that I really only notice when something stands out immensely as really bad or really good. And honestly, I'm more likely to notice the bad ones because they irritate me 🤣 Like I just finished playing TRN and I honestly cannot even remember what the soundtrack was like. I definitely think that it helps that I'm now listening to it over again as I write my reviews so that I can take in the pieces without being completely distracted by the game.
        I suppose that's fair. After all, good VGM is supposed to enhance the experience with the game. Learning about VGM composing and movie score composing is super interesting stuff. If they're doing their job right, it's supposed to provoke or set up certain feelings in the audience about a scene, character, or environment, and while they're supposed to hear it, it shouldn't distract them from whatever is happening on the screen. If it's so bad or ill-fitting to the environment/tone of the scene that it's distracting, that's a problem. I'm not sure I've ever heard anyone complain about music being too good though. I'll be the first to admit that good music can be distracting for me though lol. I have literally chosen not to progress in a game for a while because I liked the song in a certain area too much, or I've literally paused the game or movie to look up what composition/song is playing so I can listen to it later. I think TRN has a good soundtrack, but, as you said, it's good because it seamlessly blends into the background. You're hearing it, for hours even, but it doesn't necessarily grab your attention, it isn't grating on your ears, and it doesn't feel out of place. I listen to the soundtracks outside of the games all the time, and I definitely listen to them while writing these reviews, but that's one that I don't tend to spend much time with, even though there's nothing really wrong with it. It's just better appreciated within the context of the game.

        I hate cats and this particularly hideous one is no exception lolol. I'm more of a dog person myself.
        Nooooooo. 💔 A tragedy lol. I love cats, and though Yuri looks like he was hit in the face with a frying pan 20,000,000 times, I still love him lol. The woman who posted that eHarmony video about loving every kind of cat probably would have been me if I hadn't been sixteen at the time lololol. I like dogs too--no one needs to be in my presence when I have the chance to see dalmatians, especially--but I would risk anaphylaxis to pet a cat over a dog, and I'm sadly allergic to both.

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