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A Veteran's Review of TMB

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  • A Veteran's Review of TMB

    Allow me to preface this review by saying that I have been playing the ND games for fourteen years. Over those years, I have probably played each game well over twenty times--the older ones probably over fifty--and I do at least one full marathon of all 33 games (i.e., all 32 and SCK Remastered) annually. As I have gotten older, I have found myself ranking the games, characters, music, etc., in my spare time during marathons, and this year I thought I would write--and subsequently post--reviews of each game while I go through my 2018/2019 marathon (things have been very busy and chaotic). I have lost access to/forgotten about my previous accounts on here, including my very first one, so I made a new one solely for this purpose. That being said, I hope you enjoy my review, and I apologize, again, for the wait to those who have been following me!

    Plot: Sixty years ago, a British expedition set off for a newly discovered tomb sixty-two miles outside of Cairo. The tomb had been uncovered by a violent desert sandstorm, and the archaeologist team was hoping that this site might be the true tomb of Ancient Egypt’s lost queen, Nefertari. Unfortunately, the team never returned from their expedition, and the tomb was lost once again, as no one dared to go near it for fear of a deadly curse…until now. Under the leadership of Dr. Jon Boyle, Nancy and the dig site crew set out to discover who is buried here. Unfortunately, Professor Boyle is attacked in the middle of a sandstorm and most of the crew runs away in fear of the curse. Alongside Kingston University PhD candidate, Lily Crewe, and famed Egyptologist, Dr. Abdullah Bakhoum, Nancy must decipher the cryptic hieroglyphs, learn the tomb’s secrets, and find Nefertari before it’s too late. Is the tomb truly cursed or is something far less mystic going on? Who attacked Professor Boyle and why? Who are these two newcomers to the site? How did they get here and why did they come? Is this truly Nefertari’s final resting place? To find out, it’s up to you, as Nancy Drew.

    Like most of the games of this era, the game starts us out in media res. There’s no opening letter, no case file, and no introduction to our cast. Sometimes, this new method is extremely effective, but not always. In this game, I think it mostly works. My only real problem with it is how we have no earthly clue who “Jon” is when we see him lying prone on the ground. If we could have had one small cutscene talking to him, or at least establishing his character, prior to the sandstorm, I think the opening would be a lot stronger. Opening aside, I really like the plot of this game a lot. It is a tad bit flawed—which I will certainly get into—but first let’s talk about the strengths.

    As one who has been interested in Ancient Egypt and Egyptology since childhood, it is not difficult to imagine the thrill inherent with making new, exciting discoveries in this area, whether it be an undiscovered tomb not yet pillaged by tomb robbers or hidden chamber in a tomb already studied and explored for decades. Just this week, there was an article about new mummies unearthed in Luxor. Earlier this month, a 2,200-year-old temple was found in Kom Shakau, and a 4,400-year-old tomb was discovered in Saqqara this past December. So, unless you happen to be an archaeologist or Egyptologist (and if so, I’m jealous), the closest you could possibly get to making these kind of discoveries is through some form of interactive fiction, and what could possibly be more thrilling than searching for a prominent, well-known figure from Ancient Egypt’s past. Given that most royal mummies were discovered in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, though some were not identified for more than a century (e.g., Hatshepsut in 2007 and Tiye in 2010), there were few choices as exciting and well-known as Nefertari. Ramesses’ love for her is evident in his writings and the way he honored her in life and death, most notably with her breathtaking tomb at QV66. For him, she was “for whom the sun shines.” Thus, I think it is within reason that Ramesses II would hide his most beloved somewhere she could be at peace and undisturbed by plundering thieves. After all, he is known for building many new cities and wonders for his kingdom during his reign. Unfortunately, this story is unlikely and may be completely disproven once DNA testing can (satisfyingly) confirm the identity of the two leg fragments found in QV66. However, we can dream, and the writers most certainly did in this game.

    That being said, it should be apparent that I love the historical aspect of the plot. The game incorporates hieroglyphs, the pantheon of Egyptian deities, Nefertari’s children, amulets, Senet, and the Egyptian reverence for cats beautifully. I appreciate that, while the tomb is booby-trapped to a degree, none of them are quite as outlandish as the ones Hollywood has used to capture the imagination. It has secret passages, hidden rooms, and a false burial chamber, which is completely realistic. (Check out the isometric plan for KV5 if you want to see something really impressive. Ramesses II really loved his family.) I’m unsure if some of the technology in the tomb would have been feasible around 1250 B.C., but I’m willing to let that slide. Anyway, I think the plot does a superb job of incorporating Ancient Egyptian culture in a way that feels incredibly organic and authentic.

    Furthermore, I enjoy some modern elements of the plot, from concerns about the black market and staging an archaeological site, but I do not think they are all executed well. For the sake of spoilers, I cannot talk about some of them, but I will say what I can. The whole black market aspect of the plot, while a legitimate concern, was not handled that well. I legitimately did not realize that was something I needed to be worrying about because the game only made mention of it in select conversations or sleuthing moments. There was never any clear, condemning physical evidence—that I’ve found anyway—linking anyone onsite to the black market. The same applies with the staging. Where are you going to get…those things in the middle of the desert? I don’t think they would be that easy to hide on the ride out. Actually, I think that’s the point I’ve been dancing around this whole time: the characters’ motivations are all confusing and unclear for most, if not all, of the game. The plot would be practically perfect if it the game didn’t have any characters in it. There is one character whose backstory and motivations are absolutely fascinating to me, but we are never given clear answers about anything relating to it. This playthrough I was able to trigger a conversation I had never had before, but that still didn’t provide me with everything I wanted to know. Maybe I will raise my questions separately in another post in a spoiler-filled board, so be on the lookout for that if you are curious or following my drift here at all. Anyway, the biggest pitfall of the plot is that it tries to juggle too much. Trying to deal with these characters, the phone characters, the tomb exploration, the lost expedition, the curse, and Jon Boyle’s attack is too demanding for a game of this length, and it is already quite long compared to the past games. All in all, I still think the game has a magnificent plot, but there are definitely some loose ends and things that aren’t dealt with properly.

    Setting: The setting in this game is absolutely glorious. The tomb is so rich in detail, it might actually be the single most complex and beautiful environment HeR ever created. The colors are beyond exquisite. I’m sure that not every detail is accurate to the period or that every hieroglyphic passage means something—in fact I’m 100% certain—but they still make the tomb feel so real, although a real tomb would have paintings depicting the entombed journeying to the afterlife. There is so much to see and absorb; even I noticed new details in the tomb during this last playthrough. I love how the environment opens up more and more throughout the game. That’s something that I found quite entertaining from the early games, so I was really happy to see it brought back in such a fantastic way in Tomb of the Lost Queen. While the environment does feel a little restrained, this element of opening up things more and more really helps the environment feel less cramped. I do wish we had a clearer idea of the tomb’s layout, especially at the end of the game, if you follow me. Still, I have never wanted a free camera so much in a Nancy Drew game.

    However, I do have one complaint about the setting, and it all has to do with the geography of Egypt. I know it’s probably silly to get hung up on this detail, but it’s something that could have so easily been remedied or fact checked, which is probably why it annoys me so much. The location where the tomb was found is completely unrealistic. You’re probably thinking, “How on earth is it unrealistic? It’s Egypt. There are sand dunes. It’s the desert.” If this is what you are thinking, I understand your reasoning, but prepare for a small geographical and geological lesson on Egypt. At the beginning of the game, it says that the dig site is 100 kilometers outside of Cairo. One hundred kilometers is equivalent to sixty-two miles, which is really not that great a distance. Now, Cairo is a large city, so I assume, for the sake of charity, that the distance is measured from the perimeter of Cairo and not the center. If you know anything about Egypt’s geography, you know that, since antiquity, its civilization has been largely congregated in the Nile Delta in Lower Egypt and along the Nile in what’s called the Nile Valley in Upper Egypt. The notable exceptions are cities and villages formed in oases in the Western Desert, along the Red Sea in the Eastern Desert, and on the Sinai Peninsula. Still, the vast majority of Egypt’s population has, across time, lived in the Nile Valley or Nile Delta. The heart of Cairo sits east of the Nile in the Nile Valley right at the head of the Nile Delta, so I’d say the width of the valley is around six to twelve miles plus another two or three miles to account for the width of the river. Giza sits on the western bank of the Nile across from Cairo.

    The important thing to remember is that Cairo, while certainly old by our standards, is not a prehistoric Egyptian city and did not serve as an ancient capital. The closest capital to modern-day Cairo was Memphis and its necropolis, Saqqara, which were on the west bank of the Nile about twelve miles south of Giza. However, Ramesses II did not use Memphis as his capital (i.e., Memphis was the capital during the Old Kingdom, whereas Thebes was the capital in the Middle Kingdom and most of the New Kingdom); he created the capital of Pi-Ramesses in the Nile Delta. Pi-Ramesses, located near modern-day Qantir, is sixty miles north-east of modern-day Cairo, so you might be thinking that this is where the game placed the tomb. It would make sense as an alternative location to Thebes (now known as Luxor), where the Valley of the Kings (i.e., where Ramesses II was buried, as well as many of his children) and the Valley of the Queens are located, including Nefertari’s tomb (QV66). Nonetheless, Pi-Ramesses was deep in the Nile Delta, meaning that the only possible location for the tomb seen in the game would be several miles out of the delta and thus over twenty miles away from the city itself. Now, the problem here is that this would place the tomb in Egypt’s Eastern Desert, and the soil composition of that specific region is gravel and gravelly sand. This means that this region is rocky desert, and what we see in the game is sandy desert, making it impossible for the tomb to be outside of Pi-Ramesses. Additionally, it is highly, highly unlikely for a tomb to be placed in such a remote location and east of the Nile. Ancient Egyptians buried their dead and built tombs (or entire necropoli) on the west bank of the Nile because they believed the west—and Western Desert—to be the realm of the dead, as Ra had to die each night in the west and be reborn the next morning in the east after traveling through Duat. Thus, Ramesses would absolutely not have dishonored his wife by actually burying her east of the Nile. Given how painstakingly her tomb at QV66 was painted with instructions of how to enter the afterlife, it is clear that Ramesses cared deeply for her and wanted to ensure her journey was successful. Therefore, this only leaves the possibility of the tomb being located west of Cairo in the Western Desert.

    Unfortunately, the Western Desert is also a rocky desert in the areas within and well over sixty-two miles from Cairo. The area in the game is evidently an erg given the presence of dunes and sand ripples, which would most likely put it in The Great Sand Sea, which is nowhere near Cairo. There are also palm trees, which is impossible unless they are at an oasis. The only oasis near the Great Sand Sea that I’m aware of is Siwa. Nonetheless, if they are near an oasis, they could be just outside of Faiyum Oasis, which is both west of the Nile, in the desert, and exactly 100 kilometers from Cairo. I don’t believe this area is an erg, but the soil composition is not entirely gravel either. (No matter what, the sand in the game is way too white though.) This is the most reasonable location for the tomb I could identify, but it still doesn’t seem all too realistic to place such a significant tomb near a small city (Shedet) that didn’t hold much meaning in the New Kingdom. Still, there would have been resources and laborers available to build and guard the tomb at least. Observe, however, that Ramesses II buried most of his children, many of whom he outlived, in the Valley of the Kings. It would make more sense to me for him to bury Nefertari near Thebes, even in a “hidden” tomb, as most royals from the Nineteenth Dynasty are buried there because of the strong connection to Upper Egypt. If he did bury her elsewhere, one of Memphis’ necropoli (e.g., Saqqara) would have been fitting, given the proximity to Pi-Ramesses, position of the Nile, and importance as a religious site during his reign (multiple temples were built for Ramesses II and there was a temple for Hathor, who Ramesses II honored in the temple dedicated to Nefertari at Abu Simbel). Nonetheless, Memphis is too close to Cairo to fit. Therefore, with the exception of placing the tomb just outside of the Faiyum Oasis, there is no possible location for her tomb 100 km outside of Cairo that is realistic or that somewhat matches the aesthetic of the location in the game. *sigh* I wish they had picked a different location description, not included any palm trees or dunes, and done slightly more research in this area.

    Characters: I have mixed feelings about the characters of Tomb of the Lost Queen. I really like some of them, but I find them to be rather inaccessible. Jon Boyle plays such a minor part in the plot; I’m not sure that including him was a good idea. In fact, even though the games usually have four characters, I think this game would have been better off with fewer. There’s just so much going on in the game that they don’t end up getting the kind of development they deserve. I don’t understand or feel connected to them; they are all quite enigmatic for much, if not all, of the game.
    This game is special, however, because it brings back the beloved Professor Hotchkiss for the first time since CRY, and we have many more opportunities to talk to her. As some of you may know, Professor Hotchkiss was my favorite Nancy Drew character until Harper Thornton entered my life. I absolutely love everything about her from the prevalence of food in her metaphors and similes to her inability to remember Nancy’s name. I dream of being like her when I grow up. Given that she is a French historian, I find it slightly bizarre that she knows so much about Ancient Egypt, but she has surprised us with her knowledge before. I will take any excuse to have her included in a game. Besides, she is a historian, so she can pursue whatever academic area she pleases, even if it isn’t in her area of specialty. What an icon. What a queen. Anyway, let’s move on to the character break down:

    Lily Crewe – PhD student at Kingston University, Abdullah’s assistant
    1) Knowledgeable about Egypt
    2) Smart
    3) Kind of funny
    1) Paranoid
    2) Takes leadership over Nancy without any authority to do so
    3) Annoying
    4) Unhelpful
    5) Liar or lazy (or both)
    Reasons for Suspicion:
    1) Shady past
    2) Believes in the curse
    3) Lies
    Other Notes:
    1) I am really not keen on Lily at all. Her neuroticism makes me tired, and I don’t feel like she has much substance beyond it. She is extremely unhelpful and kind of stick in the mud throughout the game. There’s not much else to say.
    2) Favorite dialogue from Lily:
    “Do you know how effective curses are? They are deadly 76.42% of the time. You know what else has that fatality rating? White water rafting with a hungry bear. Who also has the bird flu. And he’s holding dynamite.”

    Abdullah Bakhoum – Egyptian Egyptologist and archaeologist
    1) Knowledgeable about Egypt
    2) Generally helpful
    3) Smart
    4) Witty
    1) Narcissist
    2) Some anger issues
    Reasons for Suspicion:
    1) Incredibly arrogant
    2) Thinks the site should be his
    3) Rumors of doing some less than reputable things in the past
    Other Notes:
    1) As arrogant as Abdullah is, I actually really like talking to him. I guess it’s his narcissist’s charm. No, but he actually has some of the best and most intelligent dialogue in the game. His voice acting is top-notch as well, which is probably part of why I like talking to him so much. Nancy’s responses to him are also excellent and make those interactions even better.
    2) Here’s some of my favorite dialogue from him:
    “I’ve met many stupid people—as a group, they do not self-identify reliably. I see I must keep an eye on you. ”
    “A few tips? Yes. That’s how I learned to read hieroglyphs—at first they were inscrutable and mysterious, but then I got some tips.”
    “She is smart, and her downfall is being too ambitious. She is so much like me I’d be a hypocrite not to like her.”
    “It’s a good thing professors have such thick skulls.” Ouch.
    “If you do not have enough faith in humans to believe that we invented pushing, dragging, and lifting without the help the aliens, you are terminally wrong and incredibly stupid. We will never agree on anything.”
    “There is a saying, ‘If a lion could speak, we would not understand him.’ So, let’s say one day, magically, poof! A very smart lion learns to speak the King’s English. How he understands the world is so radically different that even though you understand the words he spoke, you could never understand what he was trying to say.”
    “I, Ramses II, I look at my kingdom. Look at it with me. Be Ramses with me. Come now, survey the kingdom. We are kings. Look at the sands; they part in the most elegant tribute to our majesty. Listen to the river. That is better. The birds of prey, and even the deadly serpents, bow before us. They look to us as if we are the sun—and remember, we are Ramses, we are the sun—most favored by Ra, sun god. The heartbeat of this world is for us alone.”
    “For thousands of years, the lion spoke, and no one understood. But understand the fear and you understand the man.”
    “Nefertari was most dear to Ramses II. He built her the most beautiful tomb of all the queens. He even built for her a temple at Abu Simbel. Wherever he stood, she stood by him. He was very afraid she would not find him again in the afterlife. He wanted her hidden away for eternity, somewhere small and unremarkable where no one would think to look for her. Until the time was right.”
    “For Ramses II, this is a one-room flat in the bad part of town.”
    “I am not her friend; I am her proving ground. If she survives me, no one will ever stop her. Not ever.”
    “I had opened a door thousands of years back in time. Ancient Egypt was down there. I have never again been the same.”
    “After 5,000 years of recorded history, that could be said about every hole in the ground.”
    “I don’t leave the house for anything less than amazing.”
    “Tell him he is stupid, but use small words so he understands you.”
    “Your kindness is as admirable as it is boring.”
    “I’m a complex person. I find that niceties often get in the way of me truly expressing myself.”

    Jamila El-Dine – Egyptian woman, alleged member of S.P.I.E.D., believer in Annunaki
    1) Funny
    2) Sassy
    3) Cares about Egypt and Nefertari
    4) Strong, independent woman
    1) Cryptic
    Reasons for Suspicion:
    1) Showed up out of nowhere
    2) Cryptic
    3) Believes aliens built the pyramids
    4) Tells Nancy not to trust anyone but won’t trust Nancy
    Other Notes:
    1) I really like Jamila, but she’s the most enigmatic character and we don’t really get to “know” her for most of the game. We barely have opportunities for conversation with her, and when we do, it’s usually to send her away or talk about one thing: the Annunaki. Still, I admire her greatly, and her backstory is so incredibly fascinating. I only wish we knew more about it.
    2) My favorite Jamila quotes:
    “I should not have even spoken their name. Disregard that. I didn’t mean to say Annunaki. Oh, blast. I said it again, didn’t I?”
    “They’re slender and tall, and they have the most gorgeous, glowing, luminescent fangs.”
    “Never trust the cute ones. They know what they can get away with.”

    Dylan Carter – British tour guide
    1) Cute
    2) Funny
    3) Charming
    4) Great accent
    1) Won’t tell Nancy the truth about why he is there
    2) A little harsh
    Reasons for Suspicion:
    1) Showed up on the site out of nowhere
    2) Potentially connected to dangerous people
    3) Really wants to get on-site and impress Abdullah
    Other Notes:
    1) Dylan is cute and has a great accent, but we don’t get to know that much about him either, unfortunately.
    2) Here are my favorite Dylan quotes:
    “He’s either the best, or the guy who says ‘I’m the best’ the loudest. Unfortunately either one of those two things works equally well.”
    “I call it the maniacal screed of a madman. Or is it madwoman? Why is madness gender specific to men?”
    “I like you. Let’s shake the dust of this small-time tomb off our boots and see the world together.”
    “She’s a crazy little rowboat adrift in a vast sea of insanity.”
    “Strange life being a king. You get everything but your own name.”
    “She’s definitely my type. Cute, interesting—and not interested. Just like my last girlfriend. Very driven, PhD student, probably has a cramped apartment full of dehydrated plants. She’s probably going to come off a little rough-edged.”
    “Never forget to remind them to actually look with their eyes—people don’t remember you can still do that.”
    “Maybe your phone is backwards.”

    Music: This is Thomas Regin’s first soundtrack in the series, and it is fantastic. He sure knows how to make an entrance. When I played the game for the first time and heard the music on the menu screen, I was floored. I had no idea that Kevin Manthei was no longer the composer for the games at that point, but I could tell immediately that something had changed. The music in this game is so delicious to the ear. I’ve always been a sucker for traditional Egyptian and Arabic music—the interesting melodic modes, unique instruments, and rich, intricate rhythms—and this soundtrack, while not as good as legitimate folk music, definitely does an exceedingly superb job of creating atmosphere and conjuring images of Egypt.

    Although this is one of my favorite soundtracks, I won’t talk about every piece, or we could be here all night. Instead, I will talk about my top three compositions and why I think they are truly exceptional in a soundtrack full of exemplary music. My absolute favorite composition from the soundtrack is, without question, “Hymn.” I love that the melody is carried by solo clarinet—probably not a clarinet, but it’s certainly a reed instrument and sounds like a double reed (though it doesn’t sound like a shawm either)—and accompanied by sustained strings. Whenever it plays in the game, it makes me feel like I have opened a door into Ancient Egypt or have found myself deep inside a long-lost tomb, hence why it is perfect for this game. There’s such strong visual imagery for the entire soundtrack, but there’s something about this track that really gets to me. (“Ancient” is the same way, but I like “Hymn” a bit more.)

    By far, my second favorite composition is “Desert,” which I like for much of the same reason I like “Hymn.” For one, I really appreciate how parred back everything is for most of the track. We have that delicious solo instrument—some kind of Egyptian flute, perhaps a low-register ney—accompanied by the occasional strums of a lute. Gradually, strings, percussion, and another flute join in, but there’s never this explosive crescendo, only a slow build that continues to fade in and out, like breathing. It’s genuinely hypnotic.

    My third favorite is “Tomb,” which I’m sure has some of you scratching your heads. In terms of accessibility or “easy-listening,” this track is near the bottom. It isn’t even particularly Egyptian in instrumentation or key. However, the tension it creates is absolutely incredible. I don’t have as much to say about it as the other two, but it is truly splendid in how beautifully unsettling it is.

    Puzzles: I love the puzzles in this game! They are integrated into the plot nicely, and many of them are deeply connected Ancient Egypt. There is a nice variety of puzzle types and difficulty levels.
    Great: Nefertari’s children’s names, pantheon riddles
    Nefertari’s sarcophagus puzzle is my favorite in the game. I love that it involves actual hieroglyphs, unlike most translations/puzzles in the rest of the game. The pantheon riddles are also quite fun because they are so integrated into Egyptian mythology.

    Good: Senet, cat amulet, decoding the hieroglyphs, slider hieroglyphs, Jamila’s bag lock, amulet sorting, procession of the gods, rock pressure puzzle, Ma’at feather puzzle, colored cobras, Destiny puzzle, bird tiles, Lily’s trunk, opening gold coffin
    All of the puzzles in this category are well-integrated and creative, though not quite as creative as the puzzles I listed in the “great” category. All of them do a good job of integrating Egyptian culture, even though the decoding/translating puzzles are not literal translations of actual hieroglyphs. Regardless, I love how the solutions for most puzzles are found in clues around the tomb.

    Mediocre: Mirror lamp, cryptic coded note, scarab puzzle, papyrus scraps, mirror lamp again
    I don’t dislike the puzzles in this category, but I don’t think they fit into the plot as well and are not nearly as creative. The coded note is fun, but not all of the solutions have an obvious connection to Egypt or are mentioned in the game, such as things used in the mummification process. The papyrus scraps isn’t too bad, but the edges are not clear and it makes it quite difficult to solve.

    Bad: Four sons of Horus
    This puzzle wouldn’t be as bad if the game didn’t make it so hard to find the initial solution.

    Horrible: Digging for evidence, ending path puzzle
    These two puzzles are too simple and do not fit into the game well, especially the ending puzzle. I still have no idea what was going on there or how that space could exist.

    Graphics: The environmental graphics in this game are among the best in the series. The new engine and updated graphics are fantastic. While there are certainly some visible animation shortcuts, this is nothing new to the games, and the payoff (e.g., sharp HD graphics, beautiful details, etc.) is more than worth it. The character models are also exceptionally good for the series. They have increased emotional expression and body movement, but some of the movements are a bit repetitive. Still, the gestures really add to the personality of the characters. I love the racial diversity and unique facial features as well. I really like the new cursor and interface as well.

    Ending: *sigh* This is, unfortunately, yet another ending of which I am not fond. By and large, the biggest flaw with the ending is the culprit choice. I have danced around this point already in several other sections, but first let’s discuss how the ending unfolds. It should be noted that some ending events (e.g., a character confrontation that results in the culprit reveal) are not identifiable as such until quite a bit after they have passed, but I don’t want to say anything more explicitly than that for the sake of spoilers. Needless to say, I did not register said conversation as a culprit reveal the first time I played, so I was extremely confused. Following this conversation, there is another unclear culprit reveal, after which a sandstorm kicks up and forces Nancy to go into the tomb. Using the clues she has gathered, Nancy discovers how to open the golden sarcophagus—which isn’t period appropriate, by the way—and finally discovers the identity of the entombed.

    In true ND style, a character suddenly appears to confront Nancy about opening the sarcophagus, despite the fact that she made 100% of the discoveries in the tomb thus far and appeared to be the only one actually working (or at least doing more than staring at a wall for hours). To my own surprise, Nancy confronts the character about being the culprit, which the character then denies and contradicts themselves immediately afterwards, leading to more confusion. Are they a culprit? Are they not? Why did they do what we definitely know they did? And, for that matter, how did they achieve that? So many unanswered questions for us to ponder over for all eternity. Unfortunately, another series of cave-ins occur, trapping said character in a portion of the tomb and blocking the tomb’s exit. It is at this point that Nancy goes to another yet another conversation with another character, who confirms (again) the culprit’s identity. Once again, we are left wondering why all of this is happening. What could the culprit stand to gain by actually destroying the tomb and trapping everyone inside? I still do not know the answer to that question. Regardless, Nancy discovers that there is a secondary way out of the tomb and is told to call for help. Thus, Nancy finally discovers why there is another doorway on the second level of the tomb that appeared completely inaccessible before. (This does beg the question of how no one else seemed to know about a second exit and why we cannot see said exit from outside. Moreover, why is there a locked gate in front of said exit and who put it there? It looks incredibly modern and has to be given that it requires a key to unlock.)

    After solving a series of riddles, Nancy is able to cross the treacherous walk, and finds herself in a yet-to-be-explained area of the tomb that is…awful. It’s just awful. Considering what a hot mess the ending has been up to the point, at least it isn’t story-breaking or immersion-breaking like this puzzle. Why does this room exist? Where did the culprit come from? Why are they suddenly talking so differently? Why can’t they just cross the room and do whatever it is they want to do to Nancy? Why does Nancy need to create these mystical paths that look worse than something out of the Broken Sword games? After solving the puzzle, which is insanely easy, Nancy emerges outside at what looks like the same place at the main exit, and *somehow* the culprit appears before us and prepares to attack. Another character appears and bludgeons the culprit before they can hurt Nancy and…that’s that.

    Well, not exactly, we still have the ending letter, which doesn’t do much better at clearing things up. The culprit gets what they deserve, though their crimes are left unexplained, and the other character does not get what they deserve. The remaining characters seem to be fine, but we’re not really given any absolutes and Nancy talks about their futures in varying amounts of time. All in all, it’s a thoroughly unsatisfying ending. (By the way, academia does not work the way the game tries to make us believe. I find it highly improbably that a PhD student could switch programs like that. Sure, there is some overlap in the field aspect of paleontology and archaeology, but the field of knowledge and expertise has no overlap at all. A person who got a bachelor’s or master’s degree in archaeology would not be suited as a PhD candidate in paleontology.)

    Also, I need to say that the whole thing about “the curse; it was YOU!!!” every single time Nancy sees a character at the end is kind of ridiculous. I legitimately hadn’t thought about the curse for most of the game, especially since it started out telling us that someone was up to no good. The slashed water tank, locusts, cobra, cave-in, etc., weren’t really on my radar beyond the moments these events occurred. The pressure to find Nefertari before the curse “got me” was never there, so maybe that’s why I didn’t really think about it. There’s the rub. The game does not handle the whole sabotage aspect of the plot well at all. It feels like an afterthought compared to how much attention the search for Nefertari received, which is why the ending feels so out-of-place.

    Other points of interest: I believe I have said this already, but the voice acting in this game is top-notch! Dylan is voiced by a real Brit, which makes all the difference. Abdullah’s voice acting is my favorite—the wit in his voice and that gruff timbre are so pleasing—but Jamila and Lily are fantastic too. Naturally, Keri Healey is my queen and the best of the bunch. Truly, these are such spectacular and memorable performances across the board. Incredibly dynamic voices.

    The Takeaway: Tomb of the Lost Queen is a great game filled to the brim with a sense of adventure. Its plot is flawed but strong, its music incredible, the puzzles engaging, and its graphics the best we’ve have seen thus far. The characters are unique and entertaining, but their motivations prove elusive and indistinct. This game is an incredibly strong entry in the series, but not quite as magnificent as some of its successors. Still, it marks the beginning of a distinctive era wherein several of my favorite games lie. I give this game a rating of seven and a half out of ten stars.

    So the final question is obviously whether I think you should play this game. Absolutely! If you are a dedicated fan who wants to play all of the games, I think you will really enjoy this one, even with its flaws. If you've got a good many games under your belt and you're looking for another game to play, this is a great one, especially if you prefer adventure titles over the scary games. If you're a new fan trying to decide what game to play first, I think this game a good contender, but I might recommend something with an even stronger plot. As usual, I recommend Treasure in the Royal Tower, The Final Scene, The Secret of Shadow Ranch, Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon, Shadow at the Water's Edge, Curse of Blackmoor Manor, The Deadly Device, Ghost of Thornton Hall, and The Silent Spy (all in my top ten).

    Thank you for reading my review! I hope that my perspectives and ramblings inspire you to play this game, replay this game, look at it through fresh eyes, or try it for the first time. I should be posting a review of The Deadly Device within the next week or two, depending on whether the boards are back by then. Since the forum maintenance has caused serious delays (over three weeks at the time I was editing this review), it is unlikely I will finish up my 2018/2019 Nancy Drew Marathon before MID comes out. However, since I won’t be playing it until Christmas, I still have time to finish posting my reviews before I play it. Anyway, whenever the boards go live again, I will be posting all of the reviews I wrote back-to-back…hope you don’t find my opinions deadly in this next review.

    Previous review: Alibi in Ashes
    Next review: The Deadly Device

    Last edited by yukixiaomeimei; December 12, 2019, 01:02 AM.

  • #2
    I love reading your reviews. I'm curious about something- your list of favorite games. You have nine listed 'in your top ten'. Which is your tenth?
    Stay Tuned for Danger- Lights, Camera,CURSES! - MIDNIGHT IN SALEM

    find out what I think of these games, and 30 others,


    • #3
      Originally posted by Juliana+Walter View Post
      I love reading your reviews. I'm curious about something- your list of favorite games. You have nine listed 'in your top ten'. Which is your tenth?
      It's a secret! ;) Hahaha, not really, but including nine titles was intentional. I'm actually quite chuffed that you noticed. The primary reason for that decision was that my favorites tend to change a bit over time, and the "tenth" favorite has repeatedly changed over the last four years, despite no new games coming out. During this most recent playthrough, games that were previously in my top ten have moved down to the 11-20 range and vice versa. I've been paying far more attention to all of the little elements while replaying the games in preparation for my reviews, which is why the changes have been so drastic. Even now, I can tell you that the ranking based on my ratings is not entirely correspondent to my actual ranking (though certainly close). For instance, TRT has less stars than CUR and SHA, but I would probably rank it higher than both if I couldn't have a three-way tie.

      If you're curious as to what my "tenth" game was over the last few years, here you go:
      2015 - #7 SEA, #8 TMB, and TRN was #13
      2016 - #10 HAU, TRN was #9, and I forgot to rank SEA entirely
      2017 - I ranked characters and soundtracks instead of the games.

      As of right now, with six more reviews to go before MID, I predict the tenth game to be SEA based on my preliminary analysis of the remaining games. I already know GTH and DED will take two spots (if not the rightful top two, certainly in the top ten), and I expect SPY will maintain a high enough rating to stick in the top ten as well. I am 100% certain MED will land in the bottom five, and LIE will probably end up in the 11-15 range again on sheer artistry alone. Anyway, don't hold me to it, but I expect the tenth game will be SEA unless neither SEA nor SPY gets a higher rating than CLK.

      Thanks for reading my reviews! I'm glad someone still is. Be on the lookout for my DED review later this week; I know you've been looking forward to that one!
      Last edited by yukixiaomeimei; November 17, 2019, 07:33 AM.