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Lasso98's Review of FIN

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  • Lasso98's Review of FIN

    I am a longtime ND fan returning to the games while stuck at home. I thought I'd take a stab at reviewing them as I go, since the posts in this forum have always proved helpful in deciding which one to dive into next.

    I didn't expect to love this game. I was worried a.) that the kidnapping plot would be hokey and unbelievably, and b.) that the single-location would get boring. Boy, was I proved wrong...

    The following is a (loosely) broken down review leading up to my final score:

    PLOT 5/5
    Nancy's friend Maya, a college journalist, is kidnapped from a historic theater on her way to interview a movie star. Over the course of three days, Nancy must find her friend and get to the bottom of a drama involving the inheritance of the building and its impending demolition. The kidnapping and demolition narratives were perfectly interwoven. I adored FIN's tight timeframe. Every task felt imperative, and like it was moving the plot forward, but you still had freedom to poke about. There was also a nice balance of independent snooping/exploring and meaningful conversation with the cast of suspects.

    SETTING 4.5/5
    Sometimes, single-setting games can become a bit lackluster. This was not the case for FIN. The theater graphics are stunning, and new locations are gradually uncovered throughout the game. Another pro of the three-day timeframe is that new objects appear each day, changing the environment and what's at stake. This made for a very dynamic feeling. The music was also perfectly suited to the atmosphere. My one critique of the setting is that I wish the dressing room clutter were more interactive. It would have been fun to get a closer look at the knick-knacks. The same goes for the ticket booth, and the area behind the concession stand.

    CHARACTERS 4/5
    This was an interesting cast of characters. They all stood out to me in their unique motivations and stereotypes--the heartthrob, the overbearing manager, the zany activist, and the old caretaker. Joseph was the only main character that I had a problem with. It seemed like his characterization was supposed to be built on a variety of assumptions that I couldn't quite catch onto. The role he plays in the plot didn't seem to fit clearly with his attitude towards Nancy and the world around him. I wasn't sure if he was supposed to come off as endearing and well-meaning, suspicious, cold, or what. He was the character whose function as a device was the most obvious--coming, going, and providing information when necessary for the grander plot. Speaking of devices, this is a very phone-heavy game. I believe there were three or four people/institutions that Nancy must call over the course of the game. This felt tedious, at times, but it did help the game move forward.

    PUZZLES 4.5/5
    FIN includes run of the mill jigsaw-ish puzzles, mini games, riddle-ish puzzles, and tricky tasks requiring cross-reference and reading. While I may not have a good vocabulary for describing it all, I did enjoy this variety! Even on Senior, I didn't have trouble getting past anything (besides the key maker!!!). Still, they were mostly enjoyable and their solutions were not immediately obvious.

    PLAYABILITY 4/5
    Like all the older games, controls can be a bit finicky and there is no task list or journal. However, neither of these factors posed a major challenge to smooth gameplay. The timeframe makes it so that every turn feels intentional in this game. Rarely did I feel stuck or confused. I took a point off because I have read other reviews on this forum which suggest that completing things out of order can result in a blocked ending!

    OVERALL 4.4/5
    This is now one of my absolute favorite Nancy Drew games. The plot made sense, the puzzles and conversations were exciting, and everything fit together naturally. Characters were just the right mix of kooky and impassioned. The music and the setting made me want to return. The strengths of this game reflect why I have continued playing these games for so long.
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