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"Water's Edge" is Weirdly Excellent - A Review by ConnectTheDots

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  • "Water's Edge" is Weirdly Excellent - A Review by ConnectTheDots

    ConnectTheDots' Review
    --Shadow at the Water’s Edge--

    **Bottom line:** This is the best Nancy Drew game in recent years. SAW brings back the scares and intriguing backstories that fans have dearly missed.


    Nancy is heading to Japan for a vacation with Bess and George. She is staying at a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn, on the outskirts of Kyoto. Once she arrives, Nancy discovers that the inn is plagued by supposed hauntings that are frightening guests away. Is there really a phantom walking the hallways at night, or is someone else causing the “accidents” in an attempt to close the inn down? It’s up to you as Nancy Drew to solve the case.

    True, we’ve seen a similar plot several times before, but the background story of the Shimizu family is what makes the plot really interesting and unique.


    I loved the characters in this game! Wow, I haven’t said that in a while. =P Takae, Rentaro, and Yumi were very memorable characters with strong traits. I loved the vague responses that Takae gave and her little tidbits of wisdom. Rentaro was adorably awkward, and Yumi was pretty fierce and had a fun personality. Miwako was much more subtle and committed to her work, but I imagine that if the job of running a haunted inn was placed on my shoulders at such a young age, I wouldn’t be all sunshine and daisies either. They were very well-developed characters on the whole, and I found that my opinion of each character fluctuated as the game went on. There was rarely a time when there was nothing to say to anyone.

    Their accents weren’t completely believable, but I didn’t really mind. The voice actors did a great job with the emotional subject matter in this game.

    Graphics and Setting

    No nitpicking from me this time! The graphics were outstanding in this game the entire way through. I was especially impressed with Takae. I think she is the most realistic looking elderly character that HeR has created.

    The setting was pretty good, too, although there wasn’t much variety in the room décor. However, that’s to be expected with a traditional inn. I have to admit that I was a bit underwhelmed by the garden. The cover art made the garden look much bigger than it was in reality. It was still very pretty.

    There are a few other places you can visit, including the expo center and Yumi’s apartment. I felt like I was satisfied with the number of places I could visit, although going into the expo (maybe as Bess and George) would’ve been cool.


    I have mixed thoughts about the music. There is a variety of music, from upbeat electronic to creepy. I did find the music a bit repetitive at times, especially when I was solving the super long puzzles. Also, some of the songs ended a little abruptly, but that may have been a glitch with my game.

    Puzzles, Tasks and Mini-Games

    If you have read some of my other reviews, you probably know that I’m generally not a big fan of having lots of puzzles in the games. There were quite a few puzzles in SAW, but I felt like they were balanced out by the abundance of dialogue and multiple plot twists.

    If you are not a fan of number puzzles (Sudoku or similar puzzles) you might need a few spoilers in this one. I didn’t think I liked number puzzles before I played this game, but I found that I enjoyed the challenge. I think that the Sudoku puzzles in this game were easier than the Sudoku we have seen in previous games. However, there is one large puzzle that is basically five sudoku puzzles joined together and I thought that was overkill. This puzzle in particular took me around an hour to complete. I loved the nonograms and renograms, though. Oddly enough, the few puzzles that I ended up needing spoilers for were not number puzzles.

    Bento boxes were fun to put together once I figured out the rules. I felt that this could have been explained a little better.

    The only mini-game that I can remember was pachinko, which is sort of like skee-ball. I did not enjoy pachinko at all. I found myself tapping my mouse as much as possible to get through the game. I have heard that there were other games available on Nancy’s phone for those who preordered.

    "The Scare Factor"

    Finally! The scare factor has returned in full force. This is easily the scariest game of the series for me. I was surprised by how many “hauntings” there were throughout the game. I found myself jumping at several points and screaming out loud once. I would certainly not recommend this game for anyone ten years old or younger.

    Other Odds and Ends

    - The ending was a little bit of a letdown. You discover who the culprit is before you actually confront them. The ending puzzle/sequence is very easy to solve. I felt like it would have been a little more difficult to figure out if Nancy hadn’t hinted at what I had to do. I’m very glad that it wasn’t a third-person ending chase, though, and I appreciate the alternate conclusion.

    - I felt that the culprit was somewhat obvious, in a way. I guessed the culprit correctly for the first time in forever. I do have to admit that the game made me second guess myself a couple of times, though.

    - This is one of the few games since CUR that I truly did not want to end.

    - Spunky Nancy is back! I was pretty shocked by some of the very personal questions she asked, but I loved the suspects' reactions.

    - Japanese culture is everywhere in this game.

    - At times, this game was just plain bizarre... and I loved it.

    - The next game looks pretty fun. =]

    THANK YOU so much for reading my review! Feel free to comment with your own thoughts. Feedback is appreciated.
    Last edited by ConnectTheDots; May 8, 2012, 08:35 PM.
    My reviews - STFD, MHM, TRT, FIN, SSH, DOG, CAR, DDI, SHA, CUR, CLK,

  • #2
    I agree with a lot of what you've said, though there are some other things I want to say.

    I thought the accents were very believable. It's understandable that everyone there speaks english. (I've heard a few people say there's no way they all know english.) If you're running an inn, you'll have guests from all over, so you have to know another language or two.

    Plus, the puzzles were a little tedious, but I'm good at them so it didn't bother me much. (Though I admit the Super-Sudoku was overkill.)

    And since I have the pre-ordered special edition. I know that the games on the phone were Land Rush (TOT) and the Mathcing Game (WAC).

    Great Review! Reps given!


    • #3
      Thanks for reading, It's locked. I agree that it is completely believable that people in Japan running an inn would be able to speak English that well. What made me think the accents were a little off were the l/r sounds that some of the characters made, particularly Yumi when she said words such as "real" and "eventually." It just seemed a little forced to me.

      Once again, thanks for reading my review! :)

      - Em
      My reviews - STFD, MHM, TRT, FIN, SSH, DOG, CAR, DDI, SHA, CUR, CLK,


      • #4
        Kudos for a very well written review!^^ I like reading your reviews as they were honest and you write it in a very nice, well structured way.

        SAW is also one my favorite ND games because it is set in Japan and it is very near my country so it is safe to say I know more about it than any other country that ND games are set in. I stayed in a 100-year old ryokan last year on my vacation in Kyoto and after playing this game, I was really intimidated by this game. Funny, because I love watching Japanese horror movies.

        The downside in this game for me, is Yumi spells 'chan' like 'chen' instead of the correct Japanese pronunciation, 'chan', like it is written. I know she doesn't like traditional culture, but still, I don't think she should spell Japanese incorrectly. Miwako is the most believable because she is voiced by a Japanese. And yes, Nancy over curiosity on the personal matter of the Shimizu family turns me off. In Japan, it is very rude to ask about how someone died.

        I hope you keep on writing reviews! I love them and I really regard them as references for the games I haven't played yet.

        - Mrs. Kim


        • #5
          Hello, Mrs. Kim! Thank you for your very nice comment. It's great to get a comment from someone who has actually visited a ryokan. Also, thank you for providing some insight about Japanese etiquette. Looking back, I do think that the game took Nancy's personal questions a little too far. She should have stopped asking them after they told her to the first time.

          - Em/CTD
          My reviews - STFD, MHM, TRT, FIN, SSH, DOG, CAR, DDI, SHA, CUR, CLK,