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The Silent Spy - • - My Review

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  • The Silent Spy - • - My Review

    Unfortunately, it's time for me to review SPY. I honestly am disappointed that I'm going to be speaking very negatively and critically of the game and company in this review. I don't like being let-down with a game, that's always a bit upsetting--you build up anticipation and hope to enjoy the long-awaited experience. With SPY, I had strong reservations and didn't build up much, if any, excitement for it. And though I was clearly not fully open-minded about this game, I did try. I genuinely wanted to enjoy it. I hoped that I would; however, I was greatly disappointed. I don't enjoy the game and I'm feeling quite let-down and bothered by HeR Interactive's path.

    I think they tried too hard to please a pocket of fans. Many people have expressed wanting to see development with the Drew family, particularly with Nancy's mom. HeR Interactive saw that. What I doubt they were aware of is the group of fans who did not want the family expanded upon. We don't get to voice our opinions, at least not as clearly as others. HeR sees what people WANT, via petitions. There's no place to share what we DON'T want. I feel like we were unintentionally ignored. We weren't considered when they made the decision to pursue this story, and I'm deeply saddened by that. I feel that they touched something that was sacred--something that ought not to have been tangled with. I very much wish that this game hadn't been made, at least as far as Nancy's personal investment is concerned. Had this plot involved some unknown person of interest, other than Kate Drew, perhaps I'd enjoy it a bit more. But as it is, she was part of the theme, and that severely tainted how it worked out for me. I guess I'll lay it out for you and explain what, for me, were the various issues.


    I found most of the characters to be annoying. I didn't enjoy interacting with any of them. They were a bore. I also greatly disliked calling Carson and Ned. I rarely call phone contacts as a rule, but given that you have to in this case, I was even more annoyed by the conversations. Though Carson's anger and fears felt genuine and he had every right to be mad (actually, I think he only had SOME right to be upset), I couldn't stand his attitude. Let's face it, he was a jerk. He was mean to his daughter and extremely rude to Ned. His behaviour would not fly around me. So I was disappointed with the characters.


    I feel that much was left to be desired. So much more could have been done in each location. Nancy's hotel room looked the most developed to me, and yet, we don't spend all that much time there. And having a personal connection to Scotland, it felt empty. It didn't feel any different than any other random location.


    Suffice to say I am ticked that the game takes place over a single day. And given that Nancy gets mail from across the globe in a single day, it's just wrong. I'm so tired of this format.


    One of two positive comments (the next to follow): I did enjoy the puzzles. They were smart, fun and different. I really did like those parts of the game.


    The music was very fitting. Honestly, it was the only thing that made the game feel like it was set in Scotland (even the tartans and accents didn't do that for me). The variations within the pieces were all very good and I enjoyed listening to them.


    I've left this for last because it IS the story and it's the main thing I have criticism for (both positive and negative). Although the concept and the threat that Nancy had to deal with made me feel unsettled and very uneasy, it was a good idea to turn that into a game. It hasn't been touched on before. I do feel that it's much more of an adult concern (if I was 10-years-old and playing this game, I'm certain I'd feel very worried about my real personal safety for months on end, anxiously awaiting such an attack). I worry how the younger players will take to this game and how they'll be left feeling once they've finished it. It's a fair thing to address--and very real, as current events will show us! But it almost felt too real. I don't usually get that with these games, and I guess that's why it made me feel such a strong level of unease.

    What bothered me with the plot, though (and as I noted at the beginning of this review) was the personal element: Kate Drew. Why did she have to be dragged into this? It felt so unnecessary, and was done, I can only guess, to please a few fans. I don't think it was the right move, not at all. I'm so unhappy with the decision to make this case so personal, especially on the level of bringing up Nancy's dead mother. Why drag that to the surface and tarnish something so sacred? She may have been a great person, but that doesn't matter. This story didn't need to be told. It should have been someone else's story.

    To add insult to injury, I may have found the plot idea good, but the execution was poor. The overall game-play was dull. I was so bored. I had to force myself to get through it. I simply don't enjoy this game.

    So with that, I give The Silent Spy what is probably my lowest rating to-date: 5/10.

    I think some very poor choices were made. I could pick out a few specific instances, but this is already so lengthy that I'll stick to just one--the one that has bothered me the most and is the reason I'm feeling disturbed by this switch in style by HeR Interactive. There are repeated uses of the saying, "Shut up." It's said by two different characters. The first time I heard it, it wasn't said in an angry tone and, admittedly, fit the character a bit. I was caught by surprise when I heard it, but not enough to be truly bothered by it. However, when it was said again later, by an adult to a teenager, I was shocked, disturbed and very upset. It was completely inappropriate. It may be commonly said in today's society, but the scenario did not warrant it. I think it's appalling that the company chose to have a grown person tell someone off that like. It was so unnecessary. I am extremely disappointed in HeR Interactive's choice.

    There has been a shift in the games of late. I felt it was most noticeable with GTH and it stood out immediately in SPY. The games are darker, more serious, the content is better fitting for teens than juveniles, and they feel more gruff. They don't feel like the family games they used to be.

    And to make my feelings about this game (and other recent ones) even worse, I feel that the creators are getting lazier and lazier. The focus seems to have shifted to character appearances, and everything else falls short. To provide an example of something that's falling short, they don't take the time to meld movements smoothly. For instance, when characters move, it feels jolty when they return to their "regular pose." And when characters leave, they resort to a blackout. I didn't see this stuff in the old games. I felt everything was much more integrated back then. The last couple years, I haven't seen progress, I'm seeing worse than when they first started out. And to top that off, I'm finding less intriguing and captivating games.

    I shake my head at all this because I spend my time representing this company on the forum, but I feel bitter toward their products. It feels wrong. But I can't sit back and not voice my concerns, and have only the "I wants" be heard. The company needs to know what we don't want anymore. I don't want any more lazy choices. I don't want them to try to fit in and become dark and rough like all the other computer games out there. And I don't want them trying so hard to do what people ask! I honestly think that by focusing on pleasing specific requests, they're doing more harm than good! I miss the wholesome, fun and comforting products this company used to make. And I wonder, will I ever see those again? Or are they only a memory?
    .¸.•°¨¯¨°•.¸…..¸.•°¨¯¨°•.¸ .If you can hear me now
    (......°.¸_¸.'¸.•°......°.¸_¸.' ……I'm .r e a c h i n g out
    .°•.,¸_¸,.•°…..²¸.•°¨¯¨°•.¸……¸.•°¨¯¨°•.¸ To let you know that
    ……………………'.¸_¸°……°•.¸ '.¸_¸°……) …… You're .not a l o n e
    ©Rianna..…………………²….°•.,¸_¸,.•° Lullaby - Nickelback

  • #2
    Thank you for taking the time to write down what I've been thinking and feeling but didn't want to write. I agree completely. I own and have played all the games. Have played all of them more than once, several many times, and a few countless times, Never, ever, have I had to almost force myself to finish a game. It felt very disjointed...all over the place, and I don't mean physically. I enjoyed the different locations; (I just wanted to go into the pub!) Of course the graphics were superb, as always. I enjoyed the variety of puzzles. But there was never a clear mission. What exactly was I looking for? Even after finishing the game, I still didn't know anything more than I did halfway through the game! I was so very disappointed in this game. No point in explaining why, since you have done that already. I, too, wish for the the spirit of games a few years ago.


    • #3

      I must say I agree with many of your concerns. This story could have been told without dragging Nancy's mother into it, rather ruining the strong, loving family image of the Drews. And, like you, I found the mean-ness of the conversations and diary entries VERY disturbing: "I hate you." "Die." "[you] fool." "You smell." "[your] stink lines." (These were from adult spies!) And Carson Drew's extreme rudeness. None of these were necessary.

      And HER had the makings of a pretty good game: beautiful graphics, interesting and entertaining puzzles, and an interesting plot (that was, unfortunately, undercut by tying it to Nancy's mother's death.)
      Last edited by october; October 27, 2013, 08:31 PM. Reason: editing examples


      • #4
        I am sad to say that I definitely agree. I'm not even finished with the game yet because I have no desire to finish it anytime soon. I am SO upset with the direction of the games. The last game I enjoyed playing was The Captive Curse. DED, GTH, and SPY are dark and just not what the games are supposed to be about. They all deal with one single thing: Murder. I hope HER changes the direction of games because otherwise I don't know how much more I can take.
        GRAVITATION ; [©]

        is not responsible for people falling
        ..../............¸·´¯`·¸·´¯`·¸ love

        Currently attempting all games with no help, walkthroughs, or spoilers! :O

        So far: SCK (both), MHM, TRT, FIN, DOG, CAR, DDI, SHA, CLK, TRN, DAN, CRE, ICE, CRY, VEN, HAU, WAC, TOT, CAP, ASH, & TMB.

        Working on: SSH&CUR


        • #5
          First of all, thanks for such an interesting review, Rianna. I read everything you wrote and it got me thinking quite a bit.

          In all honesty, I can't say that Kate Drew's inclusion in this game bothered me. I've never been a passionate fan of the Nancy Drew books, so I don't quite have the perspective of someone who feels that book canon is paramount. However, I think that for quite a few games now, Her has been making an effort to portray Nancy as her own person, someone who may be flawed but also has lovely redeeming qualities. While I grew up with the older games, in which Nancy was basically just a player avatar, I respect Her's choice to "characterize" Nancy more fully, and I feel that they have been doing it well. In SPY, I think they tried to flesh out Nancy's parents, show what she inherited from both of them, and also show how she ultimately dealt with the death of her mother. Kate was definitely a strong and somewhat divisive personality, and of course I understand why some players wouldn't like how she was represented, but in my opinion, Her handled the entire topic with respect and creativity.

          I also can't say that I agree with some of the "rudeness" you mentioned, although again I respect your opinion there. Most of the things in this game - the diary entries that october mentioned, and the use of the phrase "shut up" - felt intended for comedy to me, and while I'm not at all the type of person who would laugh at cruelty, I don't think any of those things were meant to appear as such. I guess it ultimately depends on your opinion and how you decide to view those things.

          Lastly, I have to agree with your points about the plotline and animation, but I think I have a slightly different take on those things:

          I don't know how much I can talk about the previous games, since this is the board for SPY, but some of the older games had serious ideas presented in them - threats and kidnapping, for example. Those are very real, very probable things that happen in life, just as the plot of SPY was. In this way, I think that SPY was almost a "callback" to those older games, in that it addressed something that could possibly happen, as saddening as that chance may be. It reminded me very much of an adventure movie or TV episode.

          As for the animation, I personally always try to keep in mind that Her is a small company, has finite resources, and sets themselves a very tight schedule for game production. It can be frustrating to see animation errors - for example, one character's hands looked very strange in this game - but I'm confident that Her is doing their best to provide as much detail as they can in the time allotted. It could almost be viewed as a trade-off between jerky animation and facial expressions, and I as a player am happy with the expressions that I get to see now. Don't get me wrong, though, I'm not trying to say that you have no right to mention the animation, just trying to explain my point of view about it.

          Again, thanks for such an in-depth review, and I do apologize if I said anything that sounded disagreeable - it definitely wasn't my intention. I hope that you'll be able to enjoy the future games more!
          neverending song

          So far from me walks your dear self
          So far from me too is your home
          to which I can never find my way
          your fairy tale...


          • #6
            Your review is so well written and thoughtful, thank you for sharing it! I don't think you should feel bad about having a negative opinion on the game. it's important for other opinions to be heard.

            Your point towards the end, about the shift in style to more "serious" content, is something that's been bothering me for a while. I dislike it too, but because it just feels so forced and unnatural. When i think back to the older games, they had a seriousness and maturity to them that was natural. the writing in recent games just comes across as so forced. The older games dealt with serious story elements in a subtle way, and each character had their own unique personality; now it just seems as if each character blends into the other and the stories just drag so much.

            Everything else in your review fits my opinions of this game as well. SPY to me seemed like it was extremely rushed to be finished on time and really makes me think that HeR should consider releasing just one game a year.


            • #7
              I really respect your review, Rianna.

              One of the things that really bothered me was Carson's behavior. Yelling at your daughter is not good, or even necessary.

              Nancy's behavior was pretty alarming, too. She left without telling her dad, and she told him over the phone that she wasn't going to listen to him. And to be honest, Carson's right. She's dealing with horrendous forces that could kill her.

              I wouldn't give this game to a little kid, due to the lack of respect between most of the characters. It's very sad, because the thing that really stood out about the ND series was their good-heartedness.
              There are 10 types of people in this world. Those who understand binary, and those who don't.

              *ba dum da tsh*


              • #8
                Hi, Rianna~

                Thank you for this review. I have not played SPY yet but I have 'known' Nancy for decades and through all the eras of ND books and ND games. This qualifies me to respond to your expressed concerns about the handling of the ND history, including Nancy's mother. Until recently, it had been enough that Nancy's mother died when Nancy was three or ten years old (depending upon which ND book you happen to be reading).

                *sound of CUR character intoning 'There are some doors that should never be opened.'*

                Has HeR opened a door that should never be opened?
                The world is divided into two nations:
                those with teddy bears, those without.
                Each thinks the other is odd.
                Jenny De Vries.

                (so... umm... how do we feel about ND and Mr. Woogle Wogle?)


                • #9
                  I can't say that I agree with you on every point here, but I definitely did share your trepidation when I heard that SPY was going to be revealing the story behind Kate Drew's death. As someone who's been reading Nancy Drew books since childhood and playing the games since they started making them, I do agree that there are some things that should be kept sacred, and Kate Drew's death is at the very top of that list for me.

                  It just should've been one of those things that's better left unsaid, because in attempting to please those fans who wanted a back story for Kate, HER disappointed those of us who didn't. With this kind of thing it would've been impossible to please everyone, but I really feel like Nancy's parents should just be left in the background. We spend a lot of time with Nancy, and while she's not perfect, as the protagonist it's already very difficult for HER to keep her from appearing that way, and I think maybe they were trying to show us that she's not, and that her parents aren't either. And that's admirable, for sure, but Kate Drew was just one of those sacred things to me that they tried to make their own and ultimately didn't succeed.

                  While I enjoy the grittier feel of the latest games, I definitely think you're right about them also feeling a bit unfinished. The locations in SPY to me seemed dull and the characters unpolished (with the exception of Ned and Carson, both of whom I liked more than all the rest combined, but then, I enjoy the "phone a friend" part of ND games).

                  I do like the, as you put it, gruff feel of the recent games, but I can't help but think that that's not a good thing, considering these games are targeted at an audience a decade younger than me. I said before that it seems like the games have grown up with me, and I thought it was a good thing, but after reading this review I'm starting to think it's not. These are children's games and I think it's okay for them to be a bit idealistic. It's inevitable that they're going to touch on some serious issues now and then but that's no need for the rudeness you mentioned earlier, which can't be good for young audiences.

                  Thank you so much for the honest review; it's given me a lot to think about.

                  . . . . . . .-.
                  . . . . . .(0.0) . . . . . “the monster is in the castle.
                  . . . . .'=.|m|.=' . . . . everybody be cool.”
                  jgs . . ..='`"``=.


                  • #10
                    I completely understand where you are coming from, and it was interesting hearing the specifics. I haven't heard this perspective before, and appreciated reading it.

                    Hopefully with the next game we'll get a lighter mood and comfortable atmosphere

                    my next ae, coming soon


                    • #11
                      Great review! It's interesting to see other perspectives on the increasing darkness of the games. Personally I'm enjoying that aspect. I like when the stakes are high and when the darkness of real life starts to be shown. I do think HER has managed to stay pretty family friendly, though. The darkest moment that this company has surprised me with were two of the three choices that they let the player make at the end of Thorton Hall. Although, again, I personally enjoyed the fact that they made an edgy choice by letting players make those decisions.

                      I don't consider these computer games to be part of the Nancy Drew canon, so it didn't bother me too much that they explored Kate Drew's story. Someone on these boards mentioned in another topic that they see this the same way they view fan fiction, and that's exactly how I see the games too. They're just HER's fanfics in my eyes.

                      I was also bored during a couple of times in the game, and I really think this had to do with the emptiness of the settings. It seems that the later games have less and less for us to click on and examine. It gives you the feeling that there's nothing to do or see anywhere.


                      • #12
                        The Silent Spy - • - My Review

                        First of all, it would be good to remember that this is only a computer game. From your first paragraph, I almost got the feeling that you were ready to cry. This reaction seems a bit much.

                        I can see how somebody might not want to explore Nancy's backstory, but calling it "sacred" also seems a bit much. Again, this is a game, not a religion. I didn't particularly like the idea of Kate being a spy and sort of "The Nancy Before Nancy". It makes Nancy herself seem less groundbreaking. But let's keep things in perspective. Nancy started off as an average teenager solving mysteries, but this series has stretched that beyond recognition almost from Day 1. Now she's an "ordinary" teenager who spends her whole life touring the world.

                        Characters: They didn't seem particularly boring to me. Are you sure they didn't come off that way because you didn't like the game itself? Alec was kind of dull, Moira was okay. *Spoiling Details Removed* Ewan was fine.

                        I don't see any problem with the phone contacts being part of the game, and it's certainly not the first time. Deidre was needed to resolve Deadly Device, for example, and there are plenty of other games that can't be solved without using the phone.

                        Carson did come off as Mr. Shouty in the beginning. I don't blame him being rude to Ned (in a comical way, it must be remembered) under the circumstances.

                        Setting: It's hard to say. Again, I think your reaction to each individual element is colored by the fact that you don't like the basic story. The authenticity of the setting didn't seem particularly different from most other games. Maybe if you'd give an example of games that you particularly liked and disliked, we could try to isolate it. This game is as much about Nancy as about the location she's in, of course.

                        Time: I don't see any reason to assume that the game takes place in one day, just because we don't actually SEE the Day to Night progression. In games where we did see that progression, we often didn't see Nancy eat, but we can assume that she did. I assumed that the game took place over several days. It would be impossible to make so many train trips I just one. I agree about the mail, but that's a quibble. They could just as easily have stuck a portable printer in Nancy's room and had the poem arrive via internet.

                        Puzzles: Good puzzles, but none of these games are really for the age group they're targeted to. All have been too difficult for a 10 year old to play without a lot of help.

                        Music: Good, fits the atmosphere.

                        Plot: After 29 games, it's not outrageous that they should try to do a personal story. Obviously not everyone will be happy with that, but it's not "sacred", as you say. Why would an amateur detective like Nancy have been involved in a terrorism case if there WEREN'T a personal angle?

                        If this game gets your lowest rating to date, does that mean that you liked it less than "Secrets Can Kill" or "Creature of Kapu Cave" (or have you not rated those yet?). Worse than "Trail of the Twister"?

                        In a world of Friday the 13th and shock jocks, it's hard to get too worked up over a "shut up".

                        There hasn't been much shift in the games. GTH and this one were dark, but so were some old ones. The inaugural game, Secrets Can Kill involves a the murder of a *Spoiler Removed* high school student. In Crystal Skull, and Scarlet Hand, the villain tries to *Spoilers Removed*. But there have also been light-hearted games (and the next one looks to be another one of those). There's been no clear progression towards darker games, it's always been a kind of rotation.

                        My problem with this review is that it seems that the one and only big problem is dislike of the backstory (for very vague reasons), and you're letting that cloud everything else. I didn't like the backstory of Phantom of Venice (Nancy working as a professional detective, and being called in by an Interpol-like agency), but I didn't let that admitted problem spoil my enjoyment of what was otherwise one of the better games. Believe it or not, this stuff really isn't sacred, religious, or worth being "bitter" about. There are several good things about this game, too. Ned is back to being Ned, rather than the *Removed* he was in Deadly Device. The chores are back, but in a low-key way. The idea of starting the game at Nancy's desk is back too, sort of.

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                        Last edited by Rianna; October 28, 2013, 06:29 PM.
                        Nancy Drew: Dare to Post!


                        • #13
                          It's nice to hear that others understand at least some of the perspectives I shared.

                          Most of you seem to have correctly assumed that my ties to Nancy's history are because of my reading the books from an early age, and to me that is Nancy Drew. So toying with something that was not discussed back then, something that was personal and kept private to the Drews, disturbed me.

                          Laurel Hardy - I will address a few specific points you brought up, as you seem to be questioning and judging my perspective. Please remember, this is merely my review. I have the issues with the game that I listed. You don't have to agree, but please do not judge my opinions. That is not what this forum is for. I can only say how I responded to the game and share why that is (which is what I've done).

                          I do have to clarify that by calling Nancy's mom's story "sacred," that is not a religious thing... (I'm the last person to make such a suggestion). It's simply that I find it was a private and very personal story that the rest of the world didn't need to know, or have someone choose to create a story for. It's something that I'd like having a mystery. And honestly, to me her mother's death was never a mystery. She died of causes that the original creators chose not to divulge, and I liked that. I wish it hadn't been fiddled with.

                          As to your questioning my rating being biased due to my dislike of the premise, yes, that's a big part of why I've rated it so low. It's a key part of the game, one that I disliked very much. So, to no surprise, the rating was going to be low on that basis alone. But it didn't transfer over to the other elements. Those were all judged on their own. For instance, I genuinely did find the characters boring and annoying (and in Ewan's case, creepy!).

                          I don't think there's anything else I feel I need to expand on further. I've stated why I don't like the game. All I can do is speak honestly and let the company know I'm extremely disappointed with this game and the direction I feel they've turned in with the last few. Whether others agree or not is not of consequence to what I say. I'm not trying to say what everyone thinks. I'm only letting the readers know what I think.
                          .¸.•°¨¯¨°•.¸…..¸.•°¨¯¨°•.¸ .If you can hear me now
                          (......°.¸_¸.'¸.•°......°.¸_¸.' ……I'm .r e a c h i n g out
                          .°•.,¸_¸,.•°…..²¸.•°¨¯¨°•.¸……¸.•°¨¯¨°•.¸ To let you know that
                          ……………………'.¸_¸°……°•.¸ '.¸_¸°……) …… You're .not a l o n e
                          ©Rianna..…………………²….°•.,¸_¸,.•° Lullaby - Nickelback


                          • #14
                            I'm glad I'm not the only person who is upset over the increasing darkness of the games. I haven't played SPY yet, but I played GTH and the whole game was dark and depressing, the setting, the plot, and even the characters. When I finished the game I just felt depressed, which is not what I want from a ND game. I understand that some fans enjoy murder mysteries, but really, three in a row is just too much. HER needs to be careful that in trying to please the fans calling for mature games they don't ruin the enjoyment other fans have for the games. Thank you for your honest review! I've been worried about this since I played GTH, but I haven't bothered posting anything.
                            Last edited by veja; June 28, 2014, 05:07 AM.


                            • #15
                              Very, very glad to see that I'm not the only one upset by the dark turn this series is taking. I am a grown-up, but I do view this series as something that is geared toward kids/juveniles, and that is something I like about it! I want to play a game that I would feel comfortable giving to a ten year old. SPY is not that kind of game, not for me.

                              I feel like there is a trend in modern media, especially in video/computer games, to move toward the "darker and grittier" characters/plotlines, and it's becoming very tiresome for me. I feel like HER is just hopping on the bandwagon with this one, while ignoring their core fanbase and the things that have traditionally made ND stories great. It feels cliched and just plain wrong for good ol' Nancy!

                              That's my opinion, anyway. I respect that some people may enjoy the new style. But I certainly hope HER is listening to the number of people who don't.