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Shadow at the Water's Edge Shook Me to My Core

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  • Shadow at the Water's Edge Shook Me to My Core

    This is overall a very well-developed Nancy Drew game with an incredible plot, excellent characters, and a lot of fun activities.

    In this game, Nancy is vacationing with Bess and George in Japan. While her friends visit some expo and stay in a hotel, she’s teaching English at a school during the day and staying at a Ryokan. A Ryokan is a traditional Japanese-style hotel. This part has always confused me, as there’s no proper explanation as to why Nancy is separated from Bess and George. Regardless, the Ryokan has been plagued with hauntings that have forced guests to leave prematurely, so Nancy decides to discreetly investigate to uncover the truth.

    The plot of this game is spot on. Nancy really gets to know the characters and they feel extremely realistic and fleshed-out. The ryokan is primarily run by a woman named Miwako and her grandmother, Takae. The ryokan is a part of the family and Miwako feels that it is her duty to run it, unlike her sister Yumi, who escaped to the city as soon as she could. Miwako also has a boyfriend name Rentaro who helps take care of the ryokan, but he also longs to move to the city. Behind this family is Miwako and Yumi’s deceased mother and the mysterious circumstances that surround her death. I enjoyed the polar nature of Miwako and Yumi’s personalities. Miwako is courteous and reserved while Yumi is blunt and spunky. Added to the mix is Rentaro, who is very humorous in how he talks. The least developed character is Takae who follows too much of the grandmother stereotype of always wanting things to remain the same. Also, any conversation with her really gives you time to contemplate the meaning of life.

    The weakest part of this game is the setting and how time passes. I love that it takes place in Japan and that Nancy sees both the traditional and modern side, but there’s a very limited view of the modern side, and I wish that that part had been better taken advantage of. Plus, every time Nancy visits modern Japan, it’s feels like everyone’s evacuated. I understand that HerInteractive only animates the bare number of people, but it would have been a nice touch to include the audio of people in these spaces to make you pretend that there’s people there. Especially in the pachinko parlor when Nancy’s playing pachinko—I would have loved to hear the noise of other people in the parlor playing pachinko alongside Nancy. This game also takes place entirely at night, since Nancy’s teaching in the daytime. Similar to previous games, you use the clock on her phone to set the time for her to return to the Ryokan every evening. This is because Nancy has access to suspects’ personal spaces at different times during the night. However, her poor students never get a day off, and this also doesn’t fit in too well with the timeline of the expo, since the expo can’t go on forever. I think that this game would have been better designed if the case was structured to take place over a week.

    There a good number of puzzles in this game, and the majority of them are a moderate level of difficulty. There are two that are unnecessarily difficult, and they don’t have an undo key, so if you make a mistake, it’s extremely difficult to retrace your steps. My favorite part of the game are the optional puzzles that you can complete. Rentaro keeps a workbook of nonograms, Sudoku, and renogram puzzles, and when Nancy visits Yumi, she arranges boxes of bento according to the customers’ specifications. As mentioned before, you can also play pachinko, which is kind of like pinball combined with a slot machine—though probably not the best description. Lastly, you also have access to the assignments from Nancy’s students and can grade them with an assortment of stamps.

    I strongly recommend Shadow at the Water’s Edge for its engaging storyline, realistic characters, and abundance of fun puzzles. It is a top-notch Nancy Drew game that’s one of my favorites.

    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.