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#1.5 ▫ᵒᴼᵒ▫ₒₒ▫ᵒᴼᵒʍy ʍeticulous ℛeview▫ᵒᴼᵒ▫ₒₒ▫ᵒᴼᵒ

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  • #1.5 ▫ᵒᴼᵒ▫ₒₒ▫ᵒᴼᵒʍy ʍeticulous ℛeview▫ᵒᴼᵒ▫ₒₒ▫ᵒᴼᵒ

    Secrets Can Kill (2010) Remastered

    The Plot/Storyline: 8
    The Ending: 6
    Scare Factor: YES
    Length: 4.4 Hours
    The Environment: 8
    Characters: 7
    The Sound and Music: 7
    Puzzles, Tasks, and Logic: 8
    The Graphics and Animation: 6
    User-Interface and Technical Design: 7
    Second-Chances: 2

    Overall Score: 6.6/10

    Score Gauge:
    Low Score [1]<-----[5]----->[10] High Score

    (1= An unremarkable and disappointing Nancy Drew Adventure. Only for the stalwart fans.)
    (5= A standard Nancy Drew Adventure that is enjoyable, but not exemplary)
    (10= The best Nancy Drew Adventure games have to offer. You will not be disappointed!)

    A trip to visit Eloise, Nancy’s aunt in Florida, quickly goes awry when the local authorities ask Nancy to investigate the murder of a student at local high school Paseo del Mar. Jake Rogers wasn’t the most popular teenager at the school; but why would anyone go as far as to commit murder? Fellow students are distant and it seems as if everyone has something to hide. What really happened at this school that students don’t want to be revealed? It’s up to you as Nancy Drew to go undercover and expose the secrets of Paseo del Mar High School before a killer ensures that they remain permanently bound. Welcome to ▫ᵒᴼᵒ▫ₒₒ▫ᵒᴼᵒʍy ʍeticulous ℛeview▫ᵒᴼᵒ▫ₒₒ▫ᵒᴼᵒ.

    It is important to note that this game is a revised version of the original Nancy Drew adventure released in 1998. The game was re-released in 2010 with refined graphics, puzzles, and user interface changes to match many of its more modern Nancy Drew counter parts. ▫ᵒᴼᵒ▫ₒₒ▫ᵒᴼᵒʍy ʍeticulous ℛeview▫ᵒᴼᵒ▫ₒₒ▫ᵒᴼᵒ is focused primarily on the remastered version. However, if you are wondering whether or not to play the original 1998 version see the Original vs. Remastered section of my conclusion.

    Immersion & Narrative:

    The Plot/Storyline: 8/10
    The tension within this mystery is tangible and believable. I remember when I first played the original many years ago. I was terrified that a killer could emerge at any time. Cryptic messages are hidden throughout Paseo del Mar High School. It seems as if Jake’s life, along with a killer’s irrevocable actions, have left indelible marks behind. As Nancy becomes familiarized with each of the students, their dialogues overlap and coalesce into a larger, more complicated mystery. Some reviews I have read for this game criticize it for not being expansive. Despite this criticism, I believe this title has one of the best Nancy Drew storylines. My reasoning for this is because the plot is feasible and relatable. A killer in a high school is eerily possible in real life which makes this game a little closer to home than some other Nancy Drew adventures.

    The Ending: 6/10
    Some changes to the remastered version marred the complexity and excitement of the original (1998 version). Due to the nature of these changes, I believe some plot holes were created and questions were left unanswered. From what I have been able to gather, HER Interactive decided to tone down some of the more “mature” themes (murder, drugs, death threats etc… ). This decision directly affected the ending and left it as both less comprehensive and less satisfying. Not bad, just not as good as it could have been. On a positive note this ending wasn't a mere copy of other Nancy Drew endings.

    Length: 4.4 hours
    All in all this game is a bit short compared to alternative Nancy Drew games. However, this is also my third time playing Secrets Can Kill. If it is your first time playing the game, it is more likely to take you approximately six hours. This length also fluctuates depending on with which in-game activities you participate and what difficulty setting you have chosen.

    The Environment: 8/10
    The game has three locations you can travel to: Aunt Eloise’s house, Maxine’s diner, and Paseo del Mar High School. Some players have commented that this game is small. However, I would like to argue that although there aren’t many locations, each location is rich with detail and offers a lot for interaction. For example, in my opinion, the school library showcases one of the best Nancy Drew environments. There are two floors, countless shelves of books to read (with more than 1 or 2 pages), spaces to explore, and puzzles to solve. I wish more modern Nancy Drew titles emulated the expansiveness of this library. In contrast most recent titles (I have in mind adventures #15-25) are pervaded with multiple small locations spread across a “bird-eye view map.” In fact the 1998 variation of this game used to utilized a blue magnifying glass so that the player could scour the entire environment from left to right and top to bottom. This allowed the player to be in complete control of navigation and enabled them to explore everything (at times I miss this "antique" but practical method of navigation).

    Maxine’s diner exudes personality; Eloise’s house is beautiful and quaint; Paseo del Mar High School is rugged and filled with an adolescent vibe characterized by most stereotypical high schools. The only reason I knock off a couple of points from this categories’ score is because HER Interactive removed, altered, and simplified some environmental variables in the remastered version. For example, some more intense themes (ie. messages which said “Watch Out!” near a knife) were minimized comparatively to the 1998 game. Another example may be understood through the in-game objects. In the original 1998 title the player needed to locate a TV remote and a floppy disk (the latter of which I partly understand its removal due to contemporary reasoning) at some point in the game in order to proceed. However, in the remastered version you can turn the TV on immediately. This is only one of a few circumstances which oversimplified the remastered edition of the game and made it unnecessarily dumbed down. Despite this simplification, the addition of easter eggs and Nancy Drew memorabilia riddled throughout this game were a delight to discover! Great environments to explore with only a few limitations.

    Characters: 7/10
    This game features many relatable characters which provide the mystery with a more substantive quality. However, some points were lost in this category due to the alteration of a couple characters (I will expand on this later on). First up there is international student Hal Tanaka. Hal has been under a lot of pressure lately to meet high academic standards. Would the stress which Hal is under or the desire to achieve cause Hal to snap and commit murder? Next there is Connie Watson. Connie is a dedicated student hall monitor at Paseo del Mar who engages in judo martial arts on the side. On the surface she appears to be an exemplary individual. But why does she give a hostile and aggressive impression towards anyone inquiring about Jake Rogers? Something here is amiss and worth investigation. Third on our roster of characters is Hulk Sanchez. Hulk is a competitive all-star football player for the Paseo del Mar Manatees. Is he competitive enough to commit murder? His motivation to be the best might be deadly despite his friendly and outgoing demeanor. Fourth on our list is Daryl Gray. Daryl is the president of Paseo del Mar student body. Despite his flirtatious advances and flashy smile, is he revealing everything that he knows to the local authorities? Finally there is Detective Beech. Detective Beech is Nancy’s undercover contact point within the local police force. He seems eager to wrap up the mystery surrounding Jake Roger’s death and persistently assists Nancy in her sleuthing.

    Ultimately, this was a strong cast of characters tarnished only by some odd game design choices. Daryl Gray’s look was drastically revised from the 1998 version. His appearance did not match his "jock" character in the remastered game and I was confused as to why they chose to revise this as they did. Similarly, the insertion of Detective Beech into the game (he was not present in the 1998 edition) felt off and was not always fluid with other story elements. Character dialogues within this game were engaging and believable. I felt like HER Interactive allowed the player to choose conversation options. This allows the player more control instead of forcing players to watch conversations unfold in which they have no part (more modern Nancy Drew titles have, in my opinion, the limiting of effect of making conversations a script rather than empowering the player to choose character options as desired). Each character's background intersects with one another creating a strong group of characters for this game.

    The Sound and Music: 7/10
    Melodic and timeless, the looping track which plays in Aunt Eloise’s house and the track titled “Mystery Light” are some of my favorite in the entire Nancy Drew series. Furthermore, the tracks which play when investigating the school are intense and suspenseful. I recall playing the original game and wanting to run out of the school library because I was fearful that the killer was going to jump out from behind a stack of books. My only fault with composer Keven Manthei, or whoever executed this decision, was the use of one particular track that was added to the remastered game, but was not a part of the original. This track was the “Audition” track originally featured in Nancy’s eighteenth adventure The Phantom of Venice. It was overused and often out of place, which was odd because there were many better choices for looping throughout this mystery. However, these choices are playable by changing songs on the jukebox in Maxine's diner (an appreciable feature). Audio clipping continues to be a problem in this game. I cannot recall in which game (somewhere around The Haunting of Castle Malloy perhaps) that this issue started. But after finishing a sentence or completing a conversation option characters will for a split second repeat a brief section of the dialogue that just finished being spoken. I think this issue may have been fixed in The Captive Curse, but it has been an issue in a fair share of Nancy Drew adventures. This game is no exception.

    Game Mechanics & Design:

    Puzzles, Tasks, and Logic: 8/10
    The flow of this title’s activities seemed instinctive. A locker is locked so naturally I need to find a way to get the combination (not play a mini-game to spring the lock). Information about the school student body was spread throughout bulletin boards around the school. I never found myself saying: “I have no idea what do next.” Rather, I was always asking myself “Where can I find an object like this?” or “What possible ideas might work in this situation?” I never had to bash my head against an agonizing mini-game in order to proceed (ie. re-routing 50 wires to disarm a bomb instead of merely taking the time to locate wire clippers and clip a wire). The appearance of mini-games has become much more prominent in the Nancy Drew adventure series. From my perspective, in many cases, they only seem to distract from the mystery rather than enhance it. However, for those who do enjoy mini-games Barnacle Blast (originally introduced in Nancy’s eighth adventure The Haunted Carousel) is back- located in Maxine’s diner. This mini-game makes sense within the context of a diner and doesn’t impede your progress with the mystery should you decide to spend countless hours blasting barnacles. In conclusion, my only criticism of the in-game activities is the over-simplification of particular events that are mentioned earlier in my review. Otherwise, finding clues and solving puzzles in this game was an enjoyable adventure!

    The Graphics and Animation: 6/10
    Overall, the updated visuals and refresh of this game’s environments was much appreciated. The overhaul was inviting and visually appealing. Despite the beautiful graphical work that has been done though, the game does suffer from inconsistent animation. Some characters seemed static rather than fluid. Even more concerning was the occasional “visual tear” around certain in-game objects which did not remain persistently defined on-screen (in limited circumstances). This provided for some awkward encounters and was immersion breaking. Some great work with design, but limited by some flaws.

    User-Interface and Technical Design: 7/10
    While playing this game I do not recall encountering any major technical issues. I mentioned the audio clipping in dialogues earlier and the occasional graphical “tears.” But, these factors are nothing substantial. Naturally, designing Secrets Can Kill 1998 to fit onto one disc versus two is a much appreciated technical accomplishment.

    No major User Interface (UI) changes were made within this game. It’s been a bit since I’ve played either the game’s predecessor or its successor (Trail of the Twister and Shadow at the Water’s Edge respectively). However, any adjustments seem minimal or refined at best. I couldn’t decide whether or not I was happy that HER Interactive decided to not restore the original pay phone. This game’s setting takes place roughly during the 90s and I was confused as to whether or not Nancy should have a cell phone. It’s not really used that much in the game anyways so I can live with it. As I mention in my next section I was also disappointed to not see the book menu restored (at least for this game).

    Second-Chances: 2/10
    As years go by, I miss the original Nancy Drew book menu more and more (featured in games #1-14). The second-chances within this game were annoying and frustrating. Their messages, while giving the appearance of comic relief, were really not comical and only made me less inclined to continue. Some didn’t make sense and were oddly scripted. In the original 1998 game if a mistake was made, you were ominously returned to the main menu with suspenseful music playing. It gave a sense of mystery and permanence to your actions that is not felt in games after the retirement of the book menu. The book menu always went so far as to encourage me towards asking for a second-chance. I wish, even if just for this remaster, HER Interactive would consider returning to something similar in design to the book menu. Alternatively, re-think how second-chances are incorporated into the game so that it encourages gamers to continue the mystery despite having made an error.

    Future Nancy Drew games should mimic the continuity found in this game’s environments. You never feel as if you are running back and forth to complete errands. The scale of the school library alone is an example for other Nancy Drew games to follow. Avoid small-scale locations traveled to via “bird’s-eye locomotion” as this one does and the game’s immersion will be greatly enriched. If HER Interactive decides to remaster Stay Tuned for Danger (and I hope that they do!) they should leave the story-line untouched and focus strictly on refreshing the graphics and UI elements. Their graphical and UI re-design in this title is commendable and would benefit Stay Tuned for Danger immensely.


    Original vs. Remastered:
    For those wondering if they should buy the original 1998 game versus this 2010 remake, I personally enjoyed the “antique” feel of the original classic made in 1998 and did not like all of the story/design changes made in the 2010 revision. In my original notes I have marked with exclamation points: "Wait fourteen seconds after inserting the second disc! Then select the continue option." I find the age of this classic to be quirky and amusing (with items like CRT monitors, floppy disks, and old pay-phones). However, if you don’t feel like constantly swapping out 2 discs (the joys of older games!) or adjusting the game to work with modern operating systems, the 2010 version is still an enjoyable and an above average Nancy Drew title. I have been able to get the 1998 game running in Windows 8.1, however there are reports of many who are unable. If you don't mind dealing with a few oddities and quirks, I personally recommend the original. Otherwise, you will not be disappointed by this remastered edition.

    Overall Score: 6.6/10
    This is an enjoyable refresh of a classic and timeless Nancy Drew adventure game. It has one of the most memorable storylines and is impeded only by a few odd inconsistencies and design choices. As always, I encourage everyone to play the game and formulate their own opinion. Thank you for taking the time to read ▫ᵒᴼᵒ▫ₒₒ▫ᵒᴼᵒʍy ʍeticulous ℛeview▫ᵒᴼᵒ▫ₒₒ▫ᵒᴼᵒ of Nancy's first (remastered) adventure, Secrets Can Kill (2010). I greatly appreciate any constructive feedback or comments that enable me to tailor my reviews to you as my readers. Additional ▫ᵒᴼᵒ▫ₒₒ▫ᵒᴼᵒʍeticulous ℛeviews▫ᵒᴼᵒ▫ₒₒ▫ᵒᴼᵒ of other Nancy Drew games (at least those that I have completed) can be found by clicking on the appropriate links within my signature. Happy Sleuthing!

    "Paseo del Mar's mascot is a manatee. Don't tell me you're afraid of a little sea cow." -Hulk Sanchez

    Last edited by whitewolf93; December 30, 2015, 05:45 PM. Reason: 1.2 Polish; Tweaks; Link Addition
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    ▫ᵒᴼᵒ▫ₒₒ▫ᵒᴼᵒʍy ʍeticulous ℛeviews▫ᵒᴼᵒ▫ₒₒ▫ᵒᴼᵒ
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