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Spooky, beautiful, hauntingly good: a Shadow at the Water's Edge Review

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  • Spooky, beautiful, hauntingly good: a Shadow at the Water's Edge Review

    Hello everyone and welcome to my first review, Shadow at the Water’s Edge! I hope to eventually end up reviewing all the games I have in my collection, and eventually I’d like to own and play every Nancy Drew game. I thought I’d start off by reviewing one of my favourite games, set in one of my favourite locations, Japan!

    To give you an idea of my personal taste, my favourite game so far is Curse of Blackmoor Manor. I am enjoy definitely having puzzles in the game, but the more snooping the better :) My favourite settings are usually somewhere in Europe or Asia (East or South), especially older buildings being involved like castles and mansions and the like, forests, lodges, wintry locations (and boarding schools!)… those are some of my absolute favourites, although tropical beaches are up there in second place. I am not really much of a horror fan, but a spooky Nancy Drew game is good with me, and some scary is fine too (although I’m usually on edge for most of the game if it is :p). So I think I can provide decent warning to more easily freaked-out players.

    Please Note: There are no actual spoilers in this review (such as revealing the culprit’s gender/identity, the actual solutions to puzzles, etc.) but there are things mentioned in my review that readers may not want to have spoiled for them. If you are worried about encountering something that will spoil things for you, my overall rating is 57.5/70, or 82%, with an average score of 8/10. I really enjoyed the game a lot. If you’re worried about scares, this is one of the scariest Nancy Drew games.

    So, without further ado…

    Shadow at the Water’s Edge
    a review by indigofire1230

    Nancy Drew visits a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn, as a reward for solving the case in Trail of the Twister. When she arrives, Nancy discovers that strange events are scaring away the ryokan’s guests, supposedly caused by a malevolent ghost haunting the inn. Can Nancy find out who – or what – is driving away guests? Or will she be too late?

    I found this game’s plot very intriguing. It took longer for me to solve than some of the other games, but I like long games, so that was great for me. It has enough plot variety to keep things interesting and moving forward. I felt very involved in the plot the entire game. I also love how well all the characters were well-integrated into the plot, and the way they behave really makes you want to investigate each of their pasts and motives to find out more than just who’s responsible for scaring away the guests.

    Setting and Atmosphere:
    This setting was one of my favourites. I thought the atmosphere of this game was really beautiful, AND spooky. The game is set in Japan. At the start, you spend most of your time in a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn, with several rooms and a beautiful garden to go into. You also get to spend a very decent amount of time in other, more modern city locations that you travel to by subway. You play the game entirely at night, since Nancy teaches English during the day, so that in addition to the eerie Japanese music adds to the spooky atmosphere at the ryokan, with more upbeat music in the city. For me, the music was definitely notable, I definitely remembered it quite well even when I wasn’t playing the game, especially the city music. I thought personally the city music got a little bit repetitive for me, but the tracks were still good, and other people I’ve talked to seemed to really enjoy it. But the ryokan tracks were my favourite, they had a traditional Japanese flavour and fit the setting really well. They manage to also be able to focus equally on the beautiful traditional history and setting of Japan and its ultra modern, vibrant urban settings as well. This makes the game feel more realistic, and not like Nancy is only visiting one small part of what Japan is.

    I did rather enjoy the characters for the most part. Yumi was a pretty unique character, and amusing. I never knew what she was going to say next. She has to be one of the quirkiest Nancy Drew characters I’ve ever encountered. Rentaro was pretty fun to talk to too, he was hilarious at times. Miwako and Takae I liked quite well too. They were all very unique from each other, I never found myself mixing up who thought this or who said that. I felt sympathetic to some degree for all of them and what they were going through. Like several others I’ve spoken to after playing this game, I did get a little impatient sometimes with how slow some of the characters spoke, Takae in particular, but it does at least make sense why they would, and I still enjoyed the characters. It’s not as bad the first time around, anyways, but it gets a little annoying during a replay of the game. They all some sort of reason to make you at least potentially suspicious of them, which was great. They did a better job with that for some over others, but the potential was still there.

    Scare Factor:
    (Scare Factor includes evaluating creepy atmosphere as well as actual “scares” as part of its score. Please note that rating is intended for those anticipating a scare factor in this game. Games without an anticipated scare factor will not have any points counted against them, and this would be noted in this section.)
    This is definitely one of the scarier games by comparison with others, if not the scariest. The spooky atmosphere at the ryokan kept me wondering if something scary would happen while I was exploring its halls, and several scary encounters occur throughout the game. I know I jumped a few times playing this. The combination of the scary parts, the nighttime setting, the music and the eerie atmosphere at the ryokan kept me on my toes. The spooky setting enhanced the effect the encounters left on me. If you like scares, I would give this game a shot.

    This game definitely has its fair share of puzzles. How you will like the puzzles, that’s a matter of taste. Myself, I’m mainly in the “more snooping, less puzzles” camp, but having some puzzles in the game is a good thing for me. If you really like number puzzles like Sudoku, then you’re in luck, there are many number puzzles in the game. If you’re like me, and aren’t as into them and don’t have much practice doing them, then you might be a little less than enthusiastic. The puzzles can get very difficult, so those who prefer less difficult puzzles might not enjoy it as much. Some of the puzzles repeat themselves later on, but much more difficult than when you did them the first time. I personally loved doing the bento box puzzles, which are a clue based puzzle, but I found some of the number puzzles to get a little tedious, as I’m not a big fan of number puzzles and they ended up getting very difficult. Sometimes I did get a little frustrated, and some other users might get a bit frustrated with its difficulty. The other kinds of puzzles in the game were fine with me. It is one of the harder games in my opinion. I still enjoyed the game, although the amount of repeating, and difficult, puzzles made me lower the Puzzles rating a bit than I might have given it for quality of puzzles. The rest of the game made the number puzzles worth it for me, however, and I really enjoyed most of the other puzzles and tasks in the game. Most of them were fun for me, satisfying difficult rather than overly frustrating, and several of them were also very Japanese culture based which was nice.

    Sleuthing and Snooping:
    This game does have a decent amount of snooping, which was great. I got to look through a lot of things when others weren’t around, and uncovered a lot of things that were both relevant and interesting to uncover.

    (No Spoilers of course, but feel free to skip to the next section if you do not want to see any spoiler-free opinions on the ending)
    The ending was good. I felt like there were a few things that weren’t explained, but the elements that weren’t explained didn’t really bother me much, and in fact made sense with the type of mystery that this is supposed to be. I felt the ending went on a tad long, but it was still good.

    Overall Score: 57.5/70, 82%

    Average Score: 8/10

    Miscellaneous Comments:
    Chores: There aren’t really any mandatory chores. Nancy teaches English during the day, but as far as my game experience has told me, technically grading their papers (which you receive in your room) is optional. (If I’m wrong about this, I will edit it.)

    Phone Calls: You get to call Bess and George, as they are in Japan for a convention, as well as an additional phone character, but there is not a lot of phone characters in this game.

    I really enjoyed this game, a lot. I would recommend it most to those who like being scared, don’t mind difficult puzzles (especially number puzzles), enjoy a long game experience, and want to experience a Japanese atmosphere while learning some Japanese culture. Those who don’t like being scared and hate difficult puzzles (and number puzzles like sudoku) might not enjoy it as much as others. I really enjoyed this game, it’s one of my favourites, even though I don’t particularly enjoy number puzzles myself. It definitely deserves to be a part of anyone’s collection.

    I hope you enjoyed my review :)
    Last edited by indigofire1230; April 15, 2012, 06:09 PM. Reason: Fixed a typo.
    I found out more than once that Secrets Can Kill.
    I read the Message in a Haunted Mansion.
    I searched for the Treasure in the Royal Tower.
    I watched The Final Scene.
    I heard the howls of the Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake.
    I rode the Haunted Carousel.
    I fell into Danger on Deception Island.
    I uncovered the Secret of Shadow Ranch.
    I broke the Curse of Blackmoor Manor.
    I discovered the Secret of the Old Clock.
    I boarded the Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon.
    I befriended The White Wolf of Icicle Creek.
    I paid the Ransom of the Seven Ships.
    I received the Warnings at Waverly Academy.
    I followed the Trail of the Twister.
    I saw the Shadow at the Water’s Edge.
    I was freed from the Captive Curse.
    I left my Alibi in Ashes.
    I excavated the Tomb of the Lost Queen.
    I used The Deadly Device.
    I was haunted by the Ghost of Thornton Hall.
    I tracked The Silent Spy.
    I pieced together The Shattered Medallion.

    I am currently navigating through the Labyrinth of Lies.

    My Reviews:

  • #2
    What a wonderful review! I can tell you put time into it! I agreed with most points, too. Reps!


    • #3
      Great review! I agree with you on most everything, especcially the puzzles. Reps!!
      " I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. And maybe we'll never know most of them.
      But even if we don't have the power to choose where we come from,
      we can still choose where we go from there. "
      GTH Review
      Sig Shop