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  • In-Depth Review

    As with us all, we have been on the preverbal edges of our computer chairs since October for this game and all of the Sonny Joon wonderfulness that would follow. We have seen his trail across nations as Nancy has pursued the answers to arduous mysteries ever since The Scarlet Hand, and now we get to meet with the kringle eating mastermind of Nancy's latest adventure. The promises this game has made in everyone's minds these last 8 months were enormous, and we shall see if it held up its side of the bargain.

    To begin, here is my overarching opinion of this game. It is not the greatest game that has come out of the Herinteractive gates, but it certainly isn't the worst. When compared with the most recent set of games, it has more of the "adventure" factor to it where you get to explore a little more to the lake, a mountain trail, a sheep enclosure, a semi-abandoned gold mine, etc. That makes this game a little more interesting than its most recent successors, which usually had a static "home base" of sorts where you might get the opportunity to exit the dwelling and go around the house a bit, but there wasn't much more you could do outside besides look at the graphics and go back inside. So that is where this game gets a thumbs up from me.

    To build upon the previous topic, there might have been more "walking around" space in this game, where you could stretch Nancy's legs, but there wasn't much depth to said areas, even the Home Base for the competition was somewhat lacking. Like you could go canoeing at one location, which was fun, but besides flower picking and going underwater, there wasn't much to it. This is the first game since Danger on Deception Island were canoes were re-incorporated into the gameplay, and there wasn't anything dynamic about it at all besides choosing the fastest canoe or touching buoys. Danger on Deception Island let you find spy capsules in the water, and explore seaside caverns, and make sand castles and tickle fish for goodness sakes. We couldn't have added a secret path that Nancy could have found while paddling, and it could have led to a cliff that allowed her to spy on someone, or notice a precariously perched boulder that she could have said "I probably shouldn't touch that." I would have even liked a little pool formed by some rocks that had a NEW ticklish fish in it, or Nancy could have hit a rock while canoeing and had to rush back to the pier which would have required you to navigate the maze of rocks fast enough to get back. SOMETHING! The goldmine was another place severely lacking in imagination. You go in, get gold, get out, pan it, and leave until later. Someone who has read a mystery book or two might have had someone sneaking in the cave, and before Nancy can get out to pan her gold, they bonk her on the head, snatch her gold, and skedaddle to claim the prize before she even wakes up. It would have hacked me off if that had happened, but it would have added an interesting twist I wasn't expecting. Even base camp was lacking in some aspects. I can list to you the max you can do at base camp on average: 1. check score boards, 2. Sneak into producer area sneakily, 3. Snoop tents, 4. Buy stuff, 5. Activity tent (which only has 2 minigames, and a big screen, will come back to this later). That is what you can do actively in the game at base camp usually besides frantically talk to people. An imagination overhaul is needed before this next game comes out. I won't mention where it will take place, but it better not disappoint.

    Next, in-game goof off opportunities. This is a personal favorite of mine because I love to goof-off during my games when I need a breather, and Herinteractive has (at least in the past) been known by us to create some fun little in-game games that make the overall game more enjoyable. These mini-games allow one to escape the hassle of the current mystery and to become lost in the world of wonder. They help to distract you, clear your mind, and even add length to the games duration in the real world. Talk about getting more bang for the buck. This one in particular brings back 2 classics from Germany that I like and don't mind, but there were no "new" games to play. Usually you find the throwback games on Nancy's phone, and get some new mini-games during game play, but this was not the case. I liked replaying them, but having this as the second to main way to earn points to win the contest, on top of each win only getting you 10 points, lost its luster on me after a few replays. I like the idea of the minigames counting towards your score, but if you are 300 points behind mid-game, and no matter what difficulty you put the games on, you only get 10 points, and they aren't even NEW mini-games, that was not painless for me at all. I basically boycotted the activities tent most of the time and focused on winning challenges (which wasn't easy) and scouring for point cards. We even could have had a make-shift rugby field somewhere near base camp where we could have burned time and gotten some frustration out on some of our fellow competitors. Unless I am mistaken, why have a Quake room if there is nothing to be done but go in there and jiggle Nancy around like a loon. There wasn't even an obvious reason for that room as I look back. That is a disappointment because something awesome could have been put in its place, or something interactive could have been done like "Challenge 4 is to make the sturdiest twig castle", and the materials could have been gathered up by walking across New Zealand. Nancy could have been walking around, and there could have been 4-5 spots along the trails or on a sand dune in the lake where Nancy could have had her magnifying glass light up and go "OOOO, more twigies!" SOMETHING PEOPLE! Not to get personal, but your name is HerINTERACTIVE, why not make it a little more of a challenge to get even the simplest tasks done. Require your players to become more than just streamline thinkers, and more observant, detail oriented, hunters and gatherers.

    Moving on, graphics. I honestly have not much to say on the graphics. Herinteractive hit the nail on the head with graphics. The sounds were great, the pictures and scenery were wonderful. Remember, the main thing I am gripping on right now is depth of the adventure, storyline, etc. But I have to give it to you, the graphics were wonderful and a non-issue.

    Plot. The key to any great story. Whether it be the mythological tales of ancient Rome and Greece, or to the highly complex adventures of 2 fellow sleuthers on Baker Street, the plot is the linchpin of any story. I feel like this game did a decent job on plot depth, but the actual contest might have taken over after the intro and caused the story to go into overdrive. I personally was excited to have Nancy and George working together in the game, and everything was fine and dandy in the first 5% of the game, but after a certain "incident" early on, it seemed like the competition and the need to get medallion pieces took precedence over story continuity. I'm not sure how the progression of the competition and who got each medallion first was factored into the game, whether it was timed internally or by number of actions taken or not timed at all, I took 3rd-4th place in the first 3 challenges no matter how hard I tried to stay on top of both the competition AND the storyline, so I channeled my inner need to win and pushed through the other challenges, got 1st in both, and it seemed like I had won a hollow victory. Then I had allies saying I "betrayed" them, I had people missing, and I just felt lost. And the ever confusing Sonny Joon, bless his soul, did not make sense as the game progressed. If Herinteractive's goal was to make him a living enigma to talk to and figure out, you overachieved. It got to the point I didn't like talking to him after a while and I put him on my boycott list for the rest of the game. He is right up there next to the activities tent and Patrick (don't even get me started on Patrick). You can have one of the greatest story lines of all time, but if you rush the reader/player through it, you literally have lost the plot my dear.

    In summation, the game was better than what has come out in the past 2 years, yes, but for some reason, I am feeling a rather steady decline in the quality of the games in the last 3-4 years. I continue to buy the games out of 8 years of nostalgia, but I don't know how long that can last. I end up replaying the 1-19 games, and I instantly regain the love for these Herinteractive games that I loved. My first game being Secret of the Old Clock, a time honored classic, I and always has been my favorite. Some other of my all-time favorites are Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake, Scarlet Hand, Castle Malloy, and Blackmoor Manor. But honestly, besides maybe Warnings at Waverly Academy, I can honestly say that I can't name any of the last 10 games that Herineractive has recently produced, in my top 10 favorites list. And yes, I have a written list. I loved many of the locations, Egypt and Germany have been life-long dreams for me to go to, but it seems like either the following plots or restraining of adventure stifle the fun so much that I feel the fun with these games semi-dying inside of me. I will forever love and cherish the 1-19 games, don't get me wrong, but unless there is something done within the next generation of games, there might be a loss of one customer in the future. I always seem to buy the games with such high hopes, and switching from Amateur to Master has made the difficulty difference for me, but it won't change the plot or the absence of adventure. Overall, I give the game this point breakdown:

    Explore-ability: 16/20
    Adventure: 13/20
    Mini-Games/Creativity: 11/20
    Graphics: 19/20
    Plot: 12/20

    Overall: 71/100. College standards applying, that is a C-. More can definitely be done with future games. This is not meant to be a royal tongue lashing. This is just a big dose of hard love. There needs to be a reform back to the good old times of games 1-19 where plot and adventure ability came first, being able to have that "It's locked" or "Ah ha!" moment in any square foot of the game, in the trails, in the canoe, in the gold mine, with the sheep, under the waterfall, ANYWHERE. Channel your inner Nancy, and think of the unthinkable, find the unfindable, dream to be more, and above all else, dare to play.
    Last edited by Nancy rocks; May 19, 2014, 03:26 PM.
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