No announcement yet.

A Veteran's Review of WAC

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • A Veteran's Review of WAC

    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: Going undercover as transfer student Becca Sawyer, Nancy is asked to investigate a series of incidents which have terrorized students at the prestigious women's boarding school, Waverly Academy. These incidents are said to be the work of someone calling herself "The Black Cat," who sends two warning notes before striking her next target. Thus far, all of the victims have been valedictorian candidates, all of whom live together in Ramsey Hall. Is is possible that the Black Cat is in the running for valedictorian herself? Does the name "Black Cat" have anything to do with Edgar Allan Poe? Does any of this have to do with the myth of Rita Hallowell's death and her black cat? Will Nancy survive the school's brutal pecking order? Can Nancy solve the mystery before the Black Cat strikes again? It's up to you as Nancy Drew.

    I must admit that my original perception of this game was not very favorable. I thought it was fun, but I was immensely disappointed in how the plot was carried out and despised the ending. Over time, I have actually grown much fonder of the game, despite my unchanging stance on the flaws that caused me grief initially. My biggest complaint about the game and its story is the imbalance between the subplot and main plot, which is a plague to all of the games from this era. The plot involving the Black Cat is handled quite well. We have the chilling scene with Danielle being locked in a closet at the start of the game. We call Megan about her allergic reaction. Nancy receives notes from the Black Cat herself, and she sees a direct attack on one of the students before the game ends. There are also several other incidents that appear to have been caused by other students out for vengeance, but, regardless of the perpetrator, the well-being of the Waverly girls is in constant jeopardy.

    Nonetheless, the more mysterious aspects of the game, all of which relate to the subplot, are underwhelming and not fleshed out nearly enough. When I saw the teaser trailer, I was thrilled by the game's premise, and especially intrigued by the mysterious cloaked figures. I started thinking about sages, druids, witches, and secret societies, trying to come up with a backstory that fit in with the school and the Black Cat. (I was genuinely expecting something as epic and fascinating as Curse of Blackmoor Manor, if you get my drift.) Needless to say, my imagination ran wild. Thus, I was quite disappointed by the result. Not to say that it wasn't interesting, but it played such a tiny role in the game--only appearing one time and only being relevant to one puzzle--that I question the choice to feature it so prominently in the teaser trailer. This failure was not quite as significant as some of the others relating to the subplot, but it was the one that disappointed me the most.

    Since the subplot plays such a prominent role in the ending, I cannot help but be bothered by how little attention it got in the game. An outrageous amount of attention was placed on the pecking order at Waverly, which was fine and appropriate for a high school setting, but I think some of that time should have been used better. For one, there should have been way more information about Rita Hallowell in the game. I attended and graduated from a small women's college, and I can tell you right now that we have legitimate books, portraits, and artifacts from the founder and prominent people of my alma mater. There are legends and ghost stories that have been in circulation for decades (or over one hundred years), too, but the fact remains that our school has a lot of credible information about the people in its past. Considering that Rita Hallowell founded the school and worked there, I cannot imagine that local historians, faculty, or alumnae would not have gathered a lot of information about her life and displayed it around the school or in the library. Given her potential connection to Edgar Allan Poe and the mysterious circumstances surrounding her death, there should have been a lot of interest in her life. Anyway, I am just flummoxed by the lack of information we receive about her. Nancy should have been allowed to find way more things about or from her than she did. If more attention had been spent on that part of the game, beyond solving puzzles, the ending and the whole game would have been much better and made more sense.

    Setting: If there is one thing I can say about this game, it is that it truly struggles with scope and scale across the board. The setting is, unfortunately, no different. Like the plot, there is a lot worth praising about the game's setting, but, in executing those parts well, the game seriously neglected other things.
    That being said, let's get into what I think was done well and what needed more attention.

    Perhaps my nostalgia for my own alma mater has influenced my appreciation of Waverly Academy as a whole, especially since they have so much in common generally and aesthetically, but I am completely in love with Ramsey Hall. The exterior brickwork is beautiful, the floor inlaid with the coat of arms and motto is charming, the lack of men's restrooms is hilarious (and true), and the mixture of contemporary and vintage aesthetics is both fun and accurate. I love the little piano lamps in the foyer and the grand piano sitting in the entryway. Truly, so much of Waverly Academy reminds me of my alma mater, which I didn't even realize until recently. (The game came out when I was in high school.) I love how the dorm rooms all capture the personalities of their occupants, but they aren't grandiose like those dorm rooms you see in magazines or in movies. I love the grounds outside as well, especially the massive oak tree surrounded by tall hedges. However, nothing compares to the absolute beauty of the library. I could write an essay on how spectacular that library is with its two-story, built-in bookshelves, rolling ladders, winding metal staircases with Art Deco ornamentation, arched windows, and stained glass desk lamps. I dream of being able to enter libraries that beautiful more than once in my life. It such an extraordinarily designed space, and I appreciate how much detail was put into it.

    Nonetheless, I wish there was more to interact with and zoom in on in the library, as well as the rest of Ramsey Hall. There is so little to look at closely compared to the previous games--excluding the direct ancestors, all of which have similar problems--which is really unfortunate. In the earlier games, Nancy can look at all kinds of things which do nothing purposeful, but those little details add so much flavor to the game. Even if I can't do anything with that item or in that area, just allowing me to look at it more closely is nice, and I hate that you cannot truly admire your surroundings in the game. You can barely walk outside without Nancy saying she can't leave, and the only decent exterior perspective you get of Ramsey Hall is when the time changes. That kind of move made more sense back when they made Treasure in the Royal Tower, but after eight years, I would expect some improvement in this area, especially given how small Ramsey Hall is in comparison.

    Moreover, the exterior and the interior design are completely at odds with each other. It is physically impossible for both spaces to represent the same structure, and I cannot explain the differences with inaccessible areas. The library occupies two floors, but it is on the first floor and the arched windows are identical to ones on the ground floor exterior shot of Ramsey Hall. There are stairs down into the library, but they would not account for enough space to have a "basement" level first floor of the library. (Two academic buildings at my alma mater have main entrances on the "second" floor with exterior stairs much like those at the library entrance, but the staircases to the "first" floor are the correct length. The first floor has windows, too, in the classrooms and offices that aren't flush with the earth on the front side.) Thus, it makes no sense for the second floor of the dorm to have actual dorm rooms. There is also a third floor, but absolutely no stairs showing a way to access it, so we cannot be on the third floor either (and, besides, the windows do not match).

    Furthermore, there is a rounded tower on the exterior of Ramsey Hall, but the rounded walls with matching windows on the inside of the building do not match. It would be so much easier to explain with picture, but my artistic capabilities are not sufficient and I couldn't upload it here. Anyway, when Nancy approaches the staircase to the rec room, there is a rounded wall with small, square windows on the right side that matches the tower exterior. From the shot we get of the exterior, there shouldn't be anything jutting out beyond the "tower" (i.e., it looks like an actual tower instead part of the facade), but there is on the interior. Moreover, on the first floor, the rounded wall (with windows matching the exterior shot) behind Leela is perpendicular to the one on the floor above. It does match the appropriate exterior location for the orientation of the first floor though. The problem is the staircase. It initially moves parallel to the tower wall on the second floor, which makes for easier spatial orienting, but it is L shaped (technically an upside-down L if you are visualizing this with me from the second floor and moving downward), so it becomes perpendicular to the tower wall. If it were more U-shaped (i.e., if the upside-down U was blocky and one side was shorter than the other), it would work, but it is definitely L-shaped. For this reason, Nancy should be facing the tower/front wall when she exits the staircase. However, the tower wall is parallel to the bottom of the staircase now instead, which is physically impossible. It cannot be the side wall of the tower, either, given how the rest of the first floor is oriented. Thus, those stairs are designed to be moving from the back of the building to the front and then parallel to the front from the bottom floor, but are designed to be coming from the center towards the side (parallel to the front and then parallel to the left side) on the top floor. I have no idea what happened there, but it drives me absolutely insane.

    Characters: None of the characters in Warnings at Waverly Academy are among my top favorites or most memorable characters, but I find them to be decent, although a bit...stereotyped, unfortunately. I'll get into the specifics later.

    Corine Myers - English major, valedictorian candidate, unpopular student, African-American


    1) Smart

    2) Loves English

    3) Hardworking


    1) Extremely passive aggressive

    2) RUDE

    3) Conceited

    4) Stalker-ish

    5) Cares too much about what other people think

    Reasons for Suspicion:

    1) Hates her classmates

    2) Really wants to be valedictorian

    3) Wrote an essay about Edgar Allan Poe and Rita Hallowell

    Other Notes:

    1) Okay, I'm sorry, but Corine is literally one of the worst characters I have ever encountered. If she was a real person, I wouldn't want anything to do with her. When I was younger, I didn't really understand why no one liked her--clearly I wasn't paying enough attention to her words--but this girl has issues. First of all, one of the first things that pops out of her mouth after meeting Nancy is that she is "stuck" rooming with her. Then, she says that her roommate, Danielle, who was literally locked in a dark closet overnight and is claustrophobic, is neurotic, and this is after she said they got along. That is unbelievably rude. It makes me furious. How much more insensitive can she possibly be about mental health? After that, she disses Nancy again by indicating that Nancy is bugging her by existing and sharing a room with her. Sorry, girl, but I don't think having a low-maintenance new roommate (who is never in the room and barely talks to you) should be bothering you that much. If you're really four days away from turning in a thirty-page paper, you should only be revising by now. Coming from someone who survived three senior theses; I think you'll live. Clearly, she can't be that busy though since she took the time to look Nancy up on social media, and then wanted Nancy to dish all the details of her life immediately after meeting her. Sorry, but I don't think you are entitled to that information after just meeting someone, roommate or not. Not one of the other students said anything about social media to Nancy, so...

    2) Talk about arrogant! This girl says that she is the only "viable" candidate for valedictorian. It's pretty obvious that every other girl has worked just as hard to maintain high GPAs and participated in all kinds of extracurricular activities. As a past valedictorian, I can say that I didn't look at my competition as inferior or less deserving than me. I know what kind of work that entails, and I respected my peers for having the drive and dedication to perform that well in high school. The fact that she thinks every other candidate is completely unworthy and that they are inferior to her is honestly disgusting and so narcissistic. Perhaps worse, she constantly downplays this arrogance and pretends to be humble, like when she says she didn't think her English essay was that good but that the faculty went "gaga" over it. There are few things that annoy me more.

    3) She literally talks poorly about every valedictorian candidate, yet apparently wants people to like her and doesn't understand why no one does. She says that Izzy is jealous of her, accuses Leela of cheating and faking her injury, claims that Mel didn't deserve to be at Waverly, and believes, earnestly, that she was "the most deserving applicant" to ever to apply to Waverly. In over 100 years. Are you kidding me?! I mean...I legitimately do not understand her reasoning. Unless she didn't actually mean what she said and only said it to deflect from her true feelings, which I don't believe for a second, I do not understand why she doesn't get why people don't like her. She isn't awkward or weird. She is mean and narcissistic. (Also, I was not an athlete, but her saying that a "jock" couldn't be valedictorian or Girl needs to take her closed-minded opinions and leave. Some of the most brilliant, driven girls I knew in college were also student athletes. On top of it all, Corine acts like Leela being there on a scholarship, athletic or otherwise, is cheap and makes her less worthy of being at Waverly. Excuse me?! I don't know what Leela's family's economic situation is like, but no one should be disregarded because they don't come from a wealthy background. Clearly, Leela is extremely smart and capable, and her having any kind of scholarship does not change that fact.)

    4) I'm just sad that we finally have another African-American character in this game, and she is so thoroughly unlikable. In twenty-one games, there have only been six (confirmed, aka non-phone) African-American characters, and only three have been women. Besides how appallingly small those numbers are and how sad it makes me, it's even worse that two of the WOC we have at this point in the series have legitimately awful personalities (i.e., Simone and Corine) and the third (i.e., Ingrid) is treated horribly for no reason. It makes me really unhappy and uncomfortable to realize that this trend continued for so long.

    Mel Corbalis - Art major, valedictorian candidate, goth girl, legacy student

    1) Nice to Nancy

    2) Doesn't act maliciously towards her fellow classmates

    3) Doesn't care what anyone thinks

    4) Authentic to herself

    5) Down-to-earth

    6) Good musician

    7) Loves art

    8) Actually nice and friendly to Corine

    9) Cool

    10) Smart


    1) Honestly, I have nothing.

    Reasons for Suspicion:

    1) Not especially keen on most of her classmates, but really dislikes Izzy and maybe a bit bitter about Leela

    2) Legacy student, so she could have a lot of knowledge about the school

    Other Notes:

    1) I love Mel. I think she is the least stereotypical student of the bunch, except maybe Rachel, but I'm glad they didn't play up the goth girl tropes too hard. I'd be her friend any day.

    Leela Yadav - Biology major, valedictorian candidate, student athlete, Indian

    1) Competitive

    2) Driven

    3) Knows what she wants and goes for it

    4) Confident

    5) Hardworking

    6) Smart

    7) Loves biology

    8) Helpful

    9) Nice to Nancy


    1) Too eager to play games

    2) Dislikes Rachel

    Reasons for Suspicion:

    1) She really hates Izzy and doesn't seem to like Rachel, Mel, or Corine either

    2) She is extremely competitive and hates to lose

    Other Notes:

    1) Some of the things Leela says might come across as arrogant, but I think she is different from Corine because she doesn't act like she is better than everyone else or the best to ever exist. She is proud of her accomplishments. She never really says anything mean or completely unwarranted either. Her comments about Rachel being "schizoid" are insensitive, but her reasoning is sound at least. I can't say I'd want to be her friend necessarily, but I wouldn't be unfriendly towards her either.

    2) The fact that she is an athlete majoring in biology is pretty cliché.

    3) She is the first female Indian character, which is exciting.

    Izzy Romero - Psychology major, valedictorian candidate, student body president, popular, queen bee, Latinx


    1) Smart

    2) Loves psychology

    3) Loves her school

    4) Driven and hardworking

    5) Sees what she wants and goes for it (this can be a bad thing too)

    6) Helpful to Nancy


    1) Mean

    2) Vindictive

    3) Judgmental

    5) Dislikes her classmates

    6) She is an AWFUL friend/roommate

    7) She justifies her bad actions

    Reasons for Suspicion:

    1) She is clearly manipulative, untrustworthy, and up to no good openly

    2) Knows a lot about the school

    3) Dislikes all of her peers

    Other Notes:

    1) I don't really like Izzy that much. I feel like part of her behavior might actually be an act--playing the part so to speak--but that doesn't excuse the terrible things she says and does over the course of the game. I take particular offense to her comment about redheads.

    Rachel Hubbard - Math major, valedictorian candidate, quiet student, unpopular

    1) Kind

    2) Smart

    3) Loves math

    4) Seems genuinely grateful for Nancy's help on the chores

    1) Drags you into helping her repeatedly, despite the fact that it would 100% be considered cheating

    2) Will not talk to you at all unless you have finished all of the tasks she wants you to complete

    3) A bit forgetful

    4) Doesn't like Mel, but then says she kind of likes Mel

    Reasons for Suspicion:

    1) Failed chemistry test, which may take her out of the running for valedictorian

    2) Says something and then denies it later

    Other Notes:

    1) I really like Rachel, even though she is a serious chore master. I have A LOT I could say about her, but I don't want to spoil anything.

    Megan Vargas - History major, valedictorian candidate

    Other Notes:

    1) I know Megan isn't really in the game and only serves as a minor phone character, but I wanted to include her since she is involved in the game. I used to like her and feel really bad for her--and I still hate what happened to her--but I found out that she really doesn't like Mel or Izzy. She says horrible things about them and is honestly pretty awful.

    Paige Griffin - resident advisor

    Other Notes:

    1) I just wanted to say that Paige is not a very good RA at all. The fact that she refuses to open her door or even ask why someone wants to talk to her is ridiculous. She is completely neglecting her duties in favor of giving credits and demerits and patrolling the halls at night. (At least she does some of her job.) Maybe her attitude comes from working with teenagers--not certain if a boarding school would have RAs that are also students like in college--but she is really not helpful. She should be on top of this stuff with the Black Cat and these roommate conflicts, but it seems like she does nothing but sit in her room all day. It's a shame that I finally got a character with my name, but we can't see her and she isn't very nice.

    Music: If there is one thing about this game that is truly exceptional, it's the soundtrack! After experiencing utter devastation with RAN's soundtrack, I was desperate for the next game to deliver something incredible, as Kevin Manthei so often does. Thankfully, my wish was granted and Warnings at Waverly Academy provided some of my absolute favorite compositions in all of the games' soundtracks. It is a solid soundtrack, and honestly one of my favorites from Kevin Manthei, though ranking the soundtracks is nearly impossible for me. However, based on the number of times I have listened to those tracks, I can tell you right now it is way up there. (Perhaps one day I'll do a review series on the soundtracks separately.)

    Without question, my favorite (original) piece from the soundtrack is "Gossip." I love it so much I made it my Animal Crossing town tune for a year. It's such a happy, bubbly little melody, and I love how it contrasts with the rest of the soundtrack without sounding out-of-place. My other favorite is the track called "Violin," which is actually Tartini's Violin Sonata in G Minor. Unfortunately, you only get to hear this piece in the locked classroom, but, boy, does it make an impression during that time! It is such a beautiful and haunting piece already, but it become even more terrifying in the game with that intense reverb that makes it sound like it is floating down the hall. The rest of the tracks are excellent as well, and much of the soundtrack that was composed by Manthei himself gives me the distinct feeling of being stuck inside during a blizzard or walking down a hall at night, which is perfect for the game. The "classical" compositions that Manthei included were perfect choices, and they really added to the game and Mel's character. I loved hearing her practice scales and pieces while I roamed the halls. The compositions included in the game are as follows:

    Cello 1 = Bach Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, Prelude

    Cello Song 2 = Bach Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, Sarabande

    Cello Song 3 = Bach Cello Suite No. 3 in C Major, Gigue

    Violin = Tartini Violin Sonata in G Minor, Larghetto affettuoso

    Piano = Chopin Scherzo No. 2, Op. 31 (I have never heard this played in the game that I can recall, but I adore Chopin and this piece is exquisite.)

    I highly, highly recommend listening to the full versions of all of them outside of the game!

    Puzzles: Overall, this game has pretty good puzzles. Some of them are a little annoying if you have to do them repeatedly and others are a little vague, but they are largely enjoyable. As always, I have broken them up into five categories.

    Great: Snack Shop

    I love the Snack Shop so much. I probably do it between five and ten times per in-game day because I think it is so fun. The gossip Nancy overhears while preparing food is absolutely hilarious and pretty accurate to what you might hear in a college cafeteria as well. While the teacher orders are actually stressful on senior detective, especially if you are playing with a touch pad instead of a mouse, I like that the mini-game has two difficulty modes and adds pressure like those time management games. It's so fun!

    Good: DNA model, air hockey, valedictorian webpage design, IP address, orthographic views, piano, Victorian flatware, star line puzzle, furnace puzzle

    All of the puzzles in this category are fun and moderately difficult, though some are much harder than others. My favorite of these is probably the star line puzzle, but the most creative is the Victorian flatware puzzle for sure.

    Mediocre: Double Take, Scram, cornerstone plaque, Roman numerals, raven, US map puzzle

    I actually like the puzzles in this category, but I found them to be a little too easy. Of them, my favorite is the US map puzzle. I was a geography nut when I was five--seriously, I had world geography/culture computer games and a US puzzle with state-shaped puzzle pieces--so it was strangely nostalgic. It's a really beautiful map too.

    Bad: Taking photos, star cellar puzzle, ending puzzle

    The two photo puzzles can actually be fun if you get the right shot the first time. With age and increased photography practice, I have gotten better at it, but I was awful at it originally. My favorite thing to do now is get a perfect zoom, perfect pan picture with awkward facial expressions. Rachel doesn't even notice or care. The star cellar puzzle is just confusing. It isn't hard, but I had absolutely no idea what I was supposed to do or how I was supposed to solve it. The ending puzzle after the culprit reveal is tacky and way too simple and boring for an ending puzzle.

    Horrible: Climbing the tree

    This puzzle. It is not the most remarkable awful puzzle out there, but I personally do not like it. If I didn't have to watch Nancy fall and get a Good News/Bad News second chance screen every time, I might not mind as much, but I still don't like it. There are so many branches clustered together and so many jumps. Usually, I am great at memorization puzzles, but this one...nope.

    Graphics: The environmental graphics of this game are excellent. While the environment is small and a bit claustrophobic after a while, it is still beautifully rendered. I especially love the little changes from day to night and the snow. The character graphics are an improvement from the previous two games--the characters' appearances aren't quite as unusual--but they look increasingly unrealistic from facial dimensions to textures. Leela's eyes are insanely large. One of Mel's irises is positioned slightly higher than the other, which you can see when she smiles for her picture, and her hair doesn't look like hair at all. They all look a little more cartoonish than the previous characters, but I don't think they look really bad either. I'm particularly fond of Rachel's design and her little red nose. Still, the characters' faces and bodies are really quite dynamic, which is great.

    Ending: I should go ahead and say from the start that I do not like the ending. I have many, many problems with it, but I will not be able to discuss all of them without getting into spoiler territory, unfortunately. Still, I will thoroughly discuss what I don't like about the ending, starting with the culprit reveal. Now, I have to admit that I was extremely surprised by the culprit choice when I first played the game. I am not sure how I was this blind, but I truly had one of those moments, which is pretty rare for me. I honestly don't think I had a firm idea of who the culprit was, though, because the ending came so swiftly, which I will talk about momentarily. Anyway, when the culprit was revealed, I was shocked and extremely confused, especially since I had somehow not reached the conclusion that I was looking for what was found. (I don't think I read certain items in the game carefully since I thought they were more like flavor text, so that was partially my fault.) So, my confusion over the culprit and her motive, which was not presented well in the game prior to this point, negatively swayed my opinion of the ending early on.

    After the culprit's getaway, the physically impossible, highly unlikely, and extremely cheesy ending puzzle began. The actual puzzle itself is quite simple, but adding the you-know-what made it hard for me to take anything seriously. Besides the fact that there is no way such a space existed in the dorm, the likelihood of a certain someone employing such a method to protect a specific item is low. Not sure about you, but I don't think the punishment fit the crime, except ironically. I get that they were going for something stressful that could tie-in with the plot, but that Just no. Once Nancy dodges danger and resumes her pursuit, we have yet another physical impossibility. Unless Ramsey Hall is really the House on Ash Tree Lane or The Oldest House, I do not think it is capable of bending the laws of time and space in such a manner. While I appreciated how this part of the ending was carried out, I did not like that aspect of it.

    Thus, the ending letter begins and we learn the fate of our cast of characters. Unfortunately, this part of the ending is just as unrealistic as the previous part. First of all, the culprit absolutely should have been sued and arrested. The multiple crimes she committed were not worthy of a slap on the wrist and simple expulsion, and the fact that Megan's parents dropped the charges against the school is outlandish to me, unless they transferred said lawsuit to the culprit. Also, the school's decision on another matter was ridiculous, and I am glad there were alumnae out there that had the compassion and good sense to rectify that matter. I still have lots of questions about how that would even work, but I cannot say more here without delving into spoilers. I do wish we knew who became valedictorian though after all of that chaos.

    All that being said, I think the real reason the ending felt so unsatisfying, besides the plot problems I have touched on before, was how quickly it came. The game finally had some real momentum with a true Black Cat strike against one of the students, but instead of continuing a bit further and tying up loose ends, the game immediately makes us confront the culprit. No one will talk to us and there is nothing to do, so we just have to go end the game. It's awful. I think we should have had quite a bit happen between that strike and the ending so it didn't feel so rushed.

    Other points of interest: The voice acting in this game is as solid as always. With an all-female cast, I feel like it was important to give everyone a distinct voice timbre and speaking style without falling into "teenage girl" clichés, not that I would expect that from any of the people HeR hires. None of the performances stand out to me the way some have in the past, but I really like Mel's delivery on some of her lines, such as "She's so fake and vacuous; it's like talking to a mannequin." All of the voices really suit the characters' appearances and personalities.

    Unless my memory is failing me, this is the first game with Nancy's new cellphone interface! I absolutely love the cellphone in all of the games, and it really makes a fun addition to this game with the camera feature and anonymous texts from Waverly's rumor mill. The customizable ringtone, message tone, and alarm are cool too. The credit/demerit system makes for a fun addition to the game as well, though I must admit that I usually don't get any demerits. Maybe I should rank them up next time. I think my record for most credits was 20.

    Just some random notes: It is pretty easy to get stuck in this game, especially if you are waiting on a text to come through. It doesn't help that you can barely talk to Corine or Leela after the early part of the game. It's not as bad as some games in the series, but I thought it was worth mentioning. Also, the valedictorian process seemed a bit unrealistic to me. Maybe a private school or boarding school is different, but, from my experience, valedictorians are chosen solely based on (weighted or unweighted) GPA, usually at the end of the third or fourth nine weeks. So, Rachel bombing one chemistry test should not have put her out of the running if she still had a good grade in the class. Plus, GPAs are established early on, so they wouldn't change that much based on one course grade. We're talking hundredths of a point. Lastly, the Black Cat is EXTREMELY malicious. The things she did could have legitimately killed her classmates and done permanent psychological or physiological damage. None of the ND culprits have been "good people," but that's just plain disturbing.

    The Takeaway: Warnings at Waverly Academy has plot problems, a terrible ending, and some serious setting issues, but the characters and puzzles are pretty solid overall. The setting feels a bit confining after a while, but it is beautifully animated. The music is incredible and features numerous "classical" pieces that fit the game perfectly. I think this game could have been a lot better, especially in how it balanced the plot and subplot, but its flaws do not keep it from being an fun, entertaining experience, at least until the ending. That being said, I give the game five stars out of ten.

    So the final question is obviously whether I think you should play this game. For sure! If you are a dedicated fan who wants to play all of the games, I think you'll enjoy this one, even though it is unlikely to become your favorite. If you've got a good many games under your belt and you're looking for another game to play, I would recommend looking at something else first, unless you find the plot so gripping that you have to know more or relish the idea of spending time with teenagers. If you are new to the ND games, I would recommend choosing another game with a stronger plot. Also, it is not scary at all, so if you are looking for a scary game, give this one a hard pass. If you would like to play one of my favorite Nancy Drew games, try out Treasure in the Royal Tower, The Final Scene, Curse of Blackmoor Manor, Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon, and Secret of Shadow Ranch out of the older games. If a new(er) game is more your speed, and especially if you have already played the aforementioned titles, then I highly recommend Shadow at the Water's Edge, The Deadly Device, Ghost of Thornton Hall, and The Silent Spy (again, all in my top ten).

    Thank you for reading my review! I hope that my perspectives and ramblings inspire someone 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 Trail of the Twister within the next week, barring any more real-life events that cause delays, and I will continue to post them as I try to finish up my 2018 Nancy Drew Marathon before 2019 I hope you'll follow the trail to the next review.

    Previous review: Ransom of the Seven Ships
    Next review: Trail of the Twister

    Last edited by yukixiaomeimei; November 19, 2021, 04:20 PM.

  • #2
    This is a wonderfully-detailed review . You inspired me to look up these tracks as well, and I felt immediately transported. It really is a delightful score!

    I had never once considered how unrealistic the architecture was, but now I will forever be puzzled as well!

    I have a serious 'soft spot' for this game, despite its flaws, as I was a bit younger when it came out and had no concept for GPAs/Valedictorians/majors. It is interesting to me that they discuss having "majors" as high school students, but I understand that that may be common at other schools and at prestigious private schools as well. Overall, the "grown up" drama was a hit with me back then! I still love it now, though, because of all the other positives you mention!

    It definitely is objectively flawed, but there is something so nostalgic about it, too!