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I warn you: Do not play Warnings at Waverly Academy

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  • I warn you: Do not play Warnings at Waverly Academy

    I’ve played 25 Nancy Drew games and this one is ranked near the bottom for me. The beginning started out very promising. I really like the scenario and the idea that you’re pretending to be a student. However once I met the characters and began moving about the building, I wanted to grind my teeth with frustration.

    First of all, the animation seemed off about the characters. Leela’s eyes are super wide, Rachel has a weird-looking nose, and Izzy’s eyes are really narrow. Their animations match that of characters in the early Nancy Drew games and are not up to par with how Her Interactive has progressed in their character animations. I know this seems like a minor detail, but after playing so many Nancy Drew games, these details can be grating.

    What was worse about the characters was their personalities. I understand that they are high schoolers, but I feel that the people who created these characters are out of touch with how high schoolers truly behave. They are all stereotyped and fit the tropes of high schoolers you would find in a movie, especially Mel. In the game, Mel is portrayed as a “goth.” As a result, she decorates her room in black and purple, does not participate in group activities and has an overall “tough girl” act that is apparently how all goths act. Nancy even excitedly tells Ned that there’s a goth at the school as though goths are some sort of rare half-breed person. It’s ridiculous.

    While the advertised goal of the game is to find out who the Black Cat is, what ends up happening in the game is you solve a mega-puzzle left behind by one of the academy’s former teachers. Once you solve the puzzle, you end up solving the mystery as well. I’ve noticed that a lot of Nancy Drew games follow this format of solving a decades-old puzzle (Message in a Haunted Mansion, Danger by Design, and Ransom of the Seven Ships are examples to name a few), and I feel like these types of game rely too heavily on solving the puzzle rather than solving the actual mystery. You only end up coincidentally solving the mystery by being at the right place at the right time when you solve the puzzle. Warnings at Waverly Academy followed this format to a T and cheapened the feeling of actually solving it. This puzzle is also shorter than others so there isn’t much depth to understanding the teacher behind it and it also causes the game to end earlier than in the usual Nancy Drew game.

    I also became frustrated with the limited mobility in this game. I lost track of how many shelves and cabinets I walked past and are unable to investigate further. Even though they don’t help progress the mystery, it’s fun to click on those things and examine their contents rather than ignoring them. By ignoring them it’s like Nancy magically knows what’s important in this new environment and what isn’t.

    The characters, mystery format, and limited mobility are my major drawbacks, but there are a few positives. There are several fun puzzles in this game that did not make me want to rip my hair out in frustration. They are challenging but did not feel impossible to solve. The mini-games are also enjoyable and well put-together—the air hockey felt especially realistic. There is also a demerit system in place that keeps track of how many times you go against the rules so that every time you screw up the game doesn’t end. Lastly, character quality and story format aside, I enjoyed the plot that unfolded between the characters. It progresses throughout the entire story and keeps the mystery more interesting.

    Is it a little extreme to say don’t play this game? Yes. However, does the review title cleverly fit into the title of the game that I’m reviewing? Also yes. If you play Nancy Drew for the puzzles and not the overall experience, then you will probably enjoy this game. Although, there are more well-rounded Nancy Drew Games out there that may be more worth your time such as the Phantom of Venice and Shadows at the Water’s Edge.
    I discovered that Secrets can Kill. I Stayed Tuned for Danger. I read the Message in a Haunted Mansion. I uncovered the Treasure in a Royal Tower. I watched the Final Scene. I washed away the Secret of the Scarlet Hand. I pet the Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake. I rode the Haunted Carousel. I dodged the Danger on Deception Island. I lassoed the Secret of Shadow Ranch. I overcame the Curse of Blackmoor Manor. I unwound the Secret of the Old Clock. I traveled on the Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon. I unveiled the Danger by Design. I captured the Creature of Kapu Cave. I discussed politics with the White Wolf of Icicle Creek. I unearthed the Legend of the Crystal Skull. I unmasked the Phantom of Venice. I exposed the Haunting of Castle Malloy. I paid the Ransom of the Seven Ships. I heeded the Warnings of Waverly Academy. I chased the Trail of the Twister. I stood in the Shadow at the Water’s Edge. I shattered the Captive Curse. I upheld the Alibi in Ashes. I opened the Tomb of the Lost Queen. I condemned the Deadly Device. I sang to the Ghost of Thornton Hall. I did justice for the Silent Spy. I repaired the Shattered Medallion. I navigated the Labyrinth of Lies. I illuminated the Sea of Darkness. I was awake at Midnight in Salem.

  • #2
    Great review! Although I like this game, you bring up a lot of good points. I agree in many ways that this game could have been stronger.

    Originally posted by K<3M View Post
    First of all, the animation seemed off about the characters. Leela’s eyes are super wide, Rachel has a weird-looking nose, and Izzy’s eyes are really narrow. Their animations match that of characters in the early Nancy Drew games and are not up to par with how Her Interactive has progressed in their character animations. I know this seems like a minor detail, but after playing so many Nancy Drew games, these details can be grating.
    Yeah, this bugs me too. It feels like they have seperate art styles for some characters for games that came out around this time. (It always bugs me how odd Leela's eyes looks. ) The characters move pretty fluidly, but their designs aren't consistent with each other.

    Originally posted by K<3M View Post
    What was worse about the characters was their personalities. I understand that they are high schoolers, but I feel that the people who created these characters are out of touch with how high schoolers truly behave. They are all stereotyped and fit the tropes of high schoolers you would find in a movie, especially Mel. In the game, Mel is portrayed as a “goth.” As a result, she decorates her room in black and purple, does not participate in group activities and has an overall “tough girl” act that is apparently how all goths act. Nancy even excitedly tells Ned that there’s a goth at the school as though goths are some sort of rare half-breed person. It’s ridiculous.
    I like their personalities, but I understand them being stereotyped. They've got pretty much all the cliches in there, but I somehow really enjoy talking to them nevertheless. However, that quote from Nancy you mentioned stands out to me a little when I replay it; it seems a little off.

    Originally posted by K<3M View Post
    While the advertised goal of the game is to find out who the Black Cat is, what ends up happening in the game is you solve a mega-puzzle left behind by one of the academy’s former teachers. Once you solve the puzzle, you end up solving the mystery as well. I’ve noticed that a lot of Nancy Drew games follow this format of solving a decades-old puzzle (Message in a Haunted Mansion, Danger by Design, and Ransom of the Seven Ships are examples to name a few), and I feel like these types of game rely too heavily on solving the puzzle rather than solving the actual mystery. You only end up coincidentally solving the mystery by being at the right place at the right time when you solve the puzzle. Warnings at Waverly Academy followed this format to a T and cheapened the feeling of actually solving it. This puzzle is also shorter than others so there isn’t much depth to understanding the teacher behind it and it also causes the game to end earlier than in the usual Nancy Drew game.
    I didn't realize this until a little more recently, but I agree. While the subplot is interesting, maybe it shouldn't be the focus. At least it does tie into the main mystery, though.

    Originally posted by K<3M View Post
    I also became frustrated with the limited mobility in this game. I lost track of how many shelves and cabinets I walked past and are unable to investigate further. Even though they don’t help progress the mystery, it’s fun to click on those things and examine their contents rather than ignoring them. By ignoring them it’s like Nancy magically knows what’s important in this new environment and what isn’t.
    It certainly would have been nice to look around some areas more, like the library. I wish there was even more to the school that we could see, too, like more hallways and classrooms. I like the atmosphere of the school, but it feels so small.

    Great review! I loved reading your thoughts on this game, and the games you recommend in its place are solid choices.
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    Hope everyone's having a great summer!

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    • #3
      Thank you for your input! :)
      I discovered that Secrets can Kill. I Stayed Tuned for Danger. I read the Message in a Haunted Mansion. I uncovered the Treasure in a Royal Tower. I watched the Final Scene. I washed away the Secret of the Scarlet Hand. I pet the Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake. I rode the Haunted Carousel. I dodged the Danger on Deception Island. I lassoed the Secret of Shadow Ranch. I overcame the Curse of Blackmoor Manor. I unwound the Secret of the Old Clock. I traveled on the Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon. I unveiled the Danger by Design. I captured the Creature of Kapu Cave. I discussed politics with the White Wolf of Icicle Creek. I unearthed the Legend of the Crystal Skull. I unmasked the Phantom of Venice. I exposed the Haunting of Castle Malloy. I paid the Ransom of the Seven Ships. I heeded the Warnings of Waverly Academy. I chased the Trail of the Twister. I stood in the Shadow at the Water’s Edge. I shattered the Captive Curse. I upheld the Alibi in Ashes. I opened the Tomb of the Lost Queen. I condemned the Deadly Device. I sang to the Ghost of Thornton Hall. I did justice for the Silent Spy. I repaired the Shattered Medallion. I navigated the Labyrinth of Lies. I illuminated the Sea of Darkness. I was awake at Midnight in Salem.

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