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__.--.__.--.My Meticulous Review.--.__.--.__

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  • __.--.__.--.My Meticulous Review.--.__.--.__

    Warnings at Waverly Academy:
    It's time to go undercover as student Becca Sawyer at a widely respected and exclusive school for girls. Waverly Academy's prestige is becoming tarnished as of late. Students are becoming victims to serious accidents. The time is near for a valedictorian to be chosen and the rumor mill is churning as viscous words and psychological attacks are launched behind the scenes. Stay on your toes in order to protect your social and academic status. Watch yourself or you might just become another victim of the girls’ desire to achieve. Snoop undercover to avoid being expelled. Discover the legend behind the school's elusive and menacing black cat. Waverly Academy is renowned as an elite school. Only those who have proven themselves to be the best in academics, athletics, or the arts can even get in. However behind this veneer of a bright, social, and picturesque academy, the girls are becoming downright cutthroat to show that they are the best. Be wary of these school girls' beaming smiles. Behind one is a schemer who is willing to claw their way to the top no matter what it takes. It's up to you as Nanc... *cough* I mean as Becca Sawyer to delve into this academy's macabre legends and history and see what you might find.

    The Plot/Storyline/History:
    After almost two years of not playing Nancy Drew games, I decided to give them another chance and ended up looking at Warnings at Waverly Academy. Its atmosphere and initial plotline grabbed my attention and made me want to delve into another mystery. Waverly Academy was established in the year 1886 shortly after the American Civil War. Rumor has it that the school is haunted by a black cat. It's said that he belonged to a Professor Rita Hallowell (one of the academy's founders) whose legacy is imbued within the school's walls. Hallowell was an avid and devoted follower of the legendary American poet Edgar Allen Poe, but how is Poe connected to the school's happenings and why at every corner does Poe's disturbing history seem to crop up? Perhaps there is more than one mystery to solve at this academy. The atmosphere of this game was refreshing to say the least. I myself am an avid fan of the macabre, dark, and psychologically disturbing themes of Poe that pervaded this game's atmosphere. If anything it could have integrated Poe even more into the game instead of hinting at his dark undertones and great lore. The schoolgirls endlessly recruit you as a fellow student to serve their purposes and are unashamed in using you for their ends. The atmosphere of a tense academic environment was wonderfully brought to life in this game, and I easily believed the plotline as it was credible and authentic. Everything within this game's atmosphere was solid, it just wasn't incredible. I very much believed the academic stress, tension, and stakes that riddled these girls’ daily lives, but the menace of the cat seemed to be more distant and secondary to the aggressive texts, psychological swipes, punches and more resulting from the social life of the school. HER did a great job of crafting a believable plotline and atmosphere imbued with a deeper history and significance from real life events such as the legends of Edgar Allen Poe and The Raven, but it never felt “euphoric” in my opinion. The content was there and provided me with many enjoyable moments that made me cherish the Nancy Drew games that I had played so much in the past, but I never had any moment that blew me away. Compared to the preceding Nancy Drew games though there was notable improvement in some twisting plot lines that took me by surprise (which doesn't happen often) but overall this was simply an authentic and solid plotline that was believable, enjoyable, but in the end somewhat straightforward. (Maybe I'm just getting old and my expectations are higher, who knows)
    Score: 7/10


    The Characters:
    The characters within this game were constantly adapting with the plot and evolved as the game progressed along. Each had distinct qualities to make them stand out and if anything I mentally noted that by the end each character had some unique trait which made an impression on my mind. We have: Izzy Romero, the top of the social chain. She is not about to let anyone bring her down from her social prestige. Keeping her reputation as an engaging and active school president is not easy and she is ruthless when it comes to using you as the new girl in town to be her emissary to those students who are beneath her in social status. How amiable is she really, and is there venom behind that “paste me on” smile? Next we have Mel Corbalis who is an interesting but distant student from the vibrant social life of Waverly. She's a social outcast and doesn't have many friends, but this is mostly by her own volition. Some accuse her as only having gotten into Waverly because of her name. She's a legacy (a child of many others preceding her who have also gotten into Waverly, her mother, her mother's mother... the list goes on). Her melancholy cello fills the hallways of the school as she practices endlessly. Her gothic vibes and emo lifestyle often seems to clash with the atmosphere of Waverly and creates an interesting dynamic behind her personal attitude and behavior. Does she really not care what others think of her, or is there some hidden grievance she has against the others for judging her so harshly? (This was perhaps my favorite character, really well thought out) Third is Leela Yadav. Leela is a well-built athlete who excels in the school's athletic programs. In fact she is credited with having largely reinstated the school's athletic prowess. However how can she be both an academic achiever and athletic jock? Something doesn't add up, and some expect her to be cheating in order to maintain her academic image. Is there something more behind her powerful and assertive personae? Fourth we have Corine Myers, who also happens to be your roommate at Waverly. From the get go she confronts you about how to fit in, and be popular at the academy. But it's obvious she struggles incessantly herself to try and fit in with the others. She ends up getting lost in between the clamoring cliques of girls. Tragic, because as she and others know she is most assuredly one of the brightest when it comes to academic achievement and ingenuity. Are her attempts to force her way into the social circles becoming too desperate? Last but not least we have Rachel Hubbard. Rachel is in a dire position, not long ago she failed an AP Chemistry test and unless she gets her act together she is out of the race for that coveted honor of valedictorian. Begging she comes to you, as a new girl, to help her get back in the running. Behind that pretty face though is a person who is stressed beyond limits and willing to go to precarious measures in order to show that she's not just about to give up yet. With little chance, Rachel has every reason to use any possible advantage left to her in order to scrape by and attain the position as valedictorian. Could she possibly be the hand of the Black Cat? Each character in this game is unique, engaging, and different. I appreciated how each character's backstory was integrated into this game and it really added to the plotline and atmospheric credibility. This game features some instances of snooping and investigation into each individual's life in order to uncover the mystery behind this malicious Black Cat. Overall the characters were really well developed, if anything my only complaint is that they could have added more dialogue options for each character. The atmosphere was there, the acting was up there, just let me talk to them even more. (And side note: oddly unless I made a mistake somehow, what was the point HER of throwing in Bess as a person you can call on the cell phone, if throughout the game you only get her answering machine... only major criticism.) Great job HER, some of the best characters I've seen in the later games. There's still some room to improve and blow me away though. These characters make this game stand out compared to many others.
    Score: 8/10


    The Puzzles and Logic:
    The game featured straight-forward and logical activities along with investigations that made sense within the context of the academy and mystery. Lately some of the newer Nancy Drew games have (in my opinion) devolved into mini-games rather than the investigation of clues which directly connect to the plotline of the mystery. While yes you were often running around doing chores as the new girl to fit in socially as a student, it made sense. It was plausible that in such a situation the school's students would beleaguer Nancy into their own purposes and ends. But in the end it was consistently tied back to the deeper past and history of the school and legends of Edgar Allen Poe which was refreshing, consistent, and made the game a more engrossing experience overall. (For those who enjoy mini-games there are still treats for you such as darts, air hockey, and a daily snack shop which is reminiscent of your job as a cook in the White Wolf of Icicle Creek) I believe there was only one or two puzzles where I was frustratingly stumped.
    Score: 8/10


    The Environment:
    Naturally you are at an academy, and while not all academies are necessarily large; I felt confined within this Nancy Drew game. The academy consists, for the purposes of this adventure, of one building- Ramsey Hall. You could step outside but that was only to take a few steps or so. There was a magnificent library that looked beautiful to my eyes when I first started to the game, but to my displeasure there was little if next to nothing that is actually able to be interacted with in the library. My mind reflects back on the library given to us in Secrets Can Kill (1998 version specifically) that had endless dead-end clues and messages riddled throughout various books on two different levels (along with the unique blue-outline magnifying glass which in the old days of Nancy Drew meant you had to extend your screen further up or down to scour the whole area for clues). My next point then is that in later Nancy Drew games I often feel directionally forced. A view option that I miss from older games is the ability to do a 360 degree turn and view the entirety of my surroundings. This was provided only once within the game (downstairs near the Snack Shop). On a positive note though, there is no "bird's eye" view aspect which has plagued my appreciation of some of the newer Nancy Drew games. Keep Nancy in a first-person perspective HER as in my opinion it noticeably enhances the engrossing aspect of being a part of the mystery and environment. Add more interactive objects as I commented with the library. Many rooms at the academy screamed out which objects where important as there is only one area for Nancy to go. Branch out, let us roam the beautiful levels and areas that you've designed and plant false clues. Makes us deliberate on whether or not something is important to the case, rather than stumping us with a diversionary mini-game or puzzle. Not all puzzles are about a physical dimension, but rather about making connections and deducing about where one needs to go and what oddities to look for. The environment is somewhat restricting and disappointing in this game, but not enough to severely damage the game's appeal.
    Score: 6/10


    The Graphics:
    Hello, am I coming in crystal clear? Visuals were, at moments, great but at others lacking. Sometimes objects appeared a bit fuzzy. I felt the art design of this game was above average, but in general felt like some polish was neglected. There was little animation added to the various aspects of your environment. At one point in the game as the days changed and I looked outside the windows I saw snow outside! Then it clicked. I realized what was lacking in this game- a fluid and moving environment. That effect of snow falling, or a curtain flapping in the breeze or that decrease in my cell phone's battery as the days passed, meticulous details... I notice that, and such things go a long way in supporting the engagement of a player within the Nancy Drew universe. This was one aspect I felt the preceding game The Haunting of Castle Malloy did quite well, so I was surprised to see little motion and fluidity with the environment of this game. I would have loved to engage or observe the flitting of Casper more than once (a beloved albino squirrel that pops up in this game) in his oak tree. To grant some compassion I am playing this game four years after it was initially released, but still I felt that this game was a noticeable step down when compared to a few of its predecessors.
    Score: 5/10


    The Sound and Music:
    Haunting, melancholic, dark, and memorable; composer Kevin Manthei has rarely disappointed me in the Nancy Drew games. I loved the orchestral sounds that filled the air from Mel Corbalis' room. This game is tempting me to go purchase the soundtrack. Great improvement, wonderful melodies, and all was music to my ears.
    Score: 10/10


    The Ending:
    As I mentioned before there are a few plots and twists that caught me by surprise in this game. The ending was fairly simple, but very satisfying. Overall many plotlines were closed, and I had relatively few but minor things that were left unanswered. An ending that was somewhat more memorable than others. The ending puzzle seemed out of place, and didn’t seem to have any meaning behind it. In the end it took me ten hours to complete this game and I was kept guessing as to who the aggressor was in this stress filled school, but ultimately the clues never lie.
    Score: 8/10


    Second-Chances:
    As I have mentioned in some of my previous reviews I developed this category more recently due to HER's addition, revision, and somewhat comedic interjection of how Second Chances work within the adventure games. Compared with other games, these Second Chances failed to really make me laugh. Rather they felt forced, scripted, and unimaginative. Nothing horrible, just nothing truly amusing either that made me laugh or seriously consider the gravity of the mystery or perhaps how I just killed or severely injured myself. A marked step down in this category for HER.
    Score: 4/10


    Suggestions:
    The game is above average for me. It is inhibited from excelling in a few areas though. Increase the ability of the player to fully explore their environment. This doesn't necessarily mean expanding the environment (although that would vastly improve the game’s dynamic character). At the least, integrate more 360 degree navigation options within the games. Let us admire the work you've already spent so long developing from all angles. Add more false clues. Whenever I see a red magnifying glass I know instantly I've found something. In older Nancy Drew games I remember having to scour the entire screen for a possible red area that may or may not hold anything worth my attention. I want to be deceived, fool me, and get me to look at something. Bring back the classic phrase "It's Locked" (more of a nostalgic desire, but it has great roots from the original games). Add more character dialogue. Overall it's hard to severely criticize this game, because it is good, but it just wasn't impressive. So in general, for an overall suggestion: find something to wow me with, take more time in elaborately developing the plot. It was good and had moments of grandeur but it failed to dazzle me with brilliance, intensity, or scare factor.

    Overall:
    This is a solid game from HER that somewhat restored my faith in the newer generation of Nancy Drew games. I hadn't played for a while and wondered if I would be sucked into the games as much as I used to and I was pleasantly surprised to be sitting behind the magnifying glass once more. This game brings an engrossing tale, with beautiful history, and background. The characters are believable and relatable. Overall an above average game from HER that if anything could simply use some more maturation in plot development. Not one of the "best" games, but far from being one that is average or sub-par.

    Overall Score: 7/10

    So there you have it, my meticulous review. Hopefully, I didn’t take too long, but as always comments and suggestions for how I can improve my reviews for you guys are always appreciated! Feel free to browse my other reviews which can be found from the links in my signature.

    "Just remember guys don't mature until they're like 30" -Chatty school girl in Snack Shop.


    Last edited by whitewolf93; May 26, 2015, 10:54 PM. Reason: Adjusting format for new website.
    All 32 Cases Closed:
    SCK('98) SCK ('10) STFD MHM TRT FIN SSH DOG CAR DDI SHA CUR CLK TRN DAN CRE ICE CRY VEN HAU RAN WAC TOT SAW CAP ASH TMB DED GTH SPY MED LIE SEA
    ▫ᵒᴼᵒ▫ₒₒ▫ᵒᴼᵒʍy ʍeticulous ℛeviews▫ᵒᴼᵒ▫ₒₒ▫ᵒᴼᵒ
    LCC RED ₒₒ▫ᵒ TCC


    Case In Progress:
    CAP

    Check out a book from:
    -▫ᵒᴼᵒ▫ₒₒ▫ᵒᴼᵒ▫ₒₒ▫´¯`·×-»[иaиcy ∂яεω's lيbяaяy (ℛeʍastered)]--->

    "It's Locked" ~ the most frustrating phrase Nancy Drew could ever say!

  • #2
    Awesome review! Loved the attention to detail!

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by CandyDrizzle821 View Post
      Awesome review! Loved the attention to detail!

      Thank you for taking the time to read my review! I may have to update this one, as I completed it a few years back. Nancy has matured quite a bit over the last couple of years. Cheers, and happy sleuthing!
      All 32 Cases Closed:
      SCK('98) SCK ('10) STFD MHM TRT FIN SSH DOG CAR DDI SHA CUR CLK TRN DAN CRE ICE CRY VEN HAU RAN WAC TOT SAW CAP ASH TMB DED GTH SPY MED LIE SEA
      ▫ᵒᴼᵒ▫ₒₒ▫ᵒᴼᵒʍy ʍeticulous ℛeviews▫ᵒᴼᵒ▫ₒₒ▫ᵒᴼᵒ
      LCC RED ₒₒ▫ᵒ TCC


      Case In Progress:
      CAP

      Check out a book from:
      -▫ᵒᴼᵒ▫ₒₒ▫ᵒᴼᵒ▫ₒₒ▫´¯`·×-»[иaиcy ∂яεω's lيbяaяy (ℛeʍastered)]--->

      "It's Locked" ~ the most frustrating phrase Nancy Drew could ever say!

      Comment

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