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Something Different: A Cake Review

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  • Something Different: A Cake Review

    My Introduction
    Hi there! I'm disneygirl12, and welcome to my 29th cake review! It's been a little while since I've written one, hasn't it? :D Today I shall be reviewing the mobile game/interactive story version of The Secret of Shadow Ranch. Because this game/story is so different from the adventure and dossier series, it's going to be difficult putting this into context. So instead, I'll be reviewing this game/story from a general standpoint.
    Okay, so why do I keep calling this a game/story? Well, it's not a game game, but more of an interactive story. This story is just great, and one of the reasons I love going back to this app on my phone when I have the time; it kind of fuses the original Nancy Drew book The Secret of Shadow Ranch with the storyline and characters present in the PC game of the same name (hey, that rhymed!). You "play" as Nancy in a series of chapters. I say "play" because it's sort of like one of those choose-your-own-adventure books, except if you make a mistake, you just start over from an earlier point in that chapter or maybe the chapter entirely. You get to make choices: after reading parts of the chapter, you get to choose whether or not to play certain mini-games, pick up clues, decide where you want to go when given the choice, the list goes on. (And for convenience, instead of calling it a game/story from here on out, I'll just be calling it an app.)
    Okay, now for the actual plot (which as I said is very reminiscent of both the book and the PC game): Nancy, Bess and George are going to visit the latter two's aunt and uncle Bet and Ed Rawley at Shadow Ranch, though they hear that strange things have been going on. It's up to them to find out the cause of all of this and put a stop to it.

    Fruitcakes (cons)
    One of the recurring mini-games is a short hidden object search, and I always found the objects difficult to find. They blend in a little too well to the environment. (And don't worry - this hidden object search game does not dominate this app and it's not like those other HOGs where you have a list of items to find. Rather, depending on what point in the game you're in, you'll find multiple of the same object, such as ripped up pieces of paper. And you always have the option to skip this mini-game.)

    Good Cakes (pros)
    As you may have figured, I absolutely love that the story fuses both the game and the book. It's like the best of both worlds - a little bit of the old and a little bit of the new. I myself wasn't too familiar with the book when I first played this app, so it was really neat seeing the differences between this and the PC game (especially after I had read the book).
    This is NOT an app that you'll quickly beat. I've picked this up time and time again since I bought it in 2012 and I STILL am not done with it! There are several well-lengthened (is that even a word?) chapters and even the occasional bonus chapter. So if you're worried you'll be over with this after a short time, you needn't worry anymore. :D
    This game does have some audio, though at no point does it ever feel excessive. It has some of the songs from the PC game (which I never felt distracted me from reading) and they fit in perfectly with the current chapter or mini-game being played. And at times there are little illustrations, and if you tap on them they can play a sound effect. Or if that image is a character, they'll say a small piece of dialogue. For example, I remember there was one chapter with a small pic of George and she said "How's it going?" if you tapped the picture. All of this was a very nice touch.
    Two words: replay value. I cannot stress this enough, because this app excels at it! I wouldn't say there are easter eggs in this app per se, but there are a few "collectibles". Going different routes throughout the story can lead you to certain collectibles, so if you want to collect them all, the app tempts you to go back and replay previous chapters to find them all. :D And as I've said, the "game" is very lengthy, so the fact the replay value is so great only adds to that.
    The subplots in this game are great. Every chapter kind of has a new premise, all of which I found interesting. Often times they revolve around Nancy and her friends exploring some new place, and I always get really immersed in what they do and find there. They pick up clues and, of course, that whole choose-your-own-adventure thing comes into play. There is usually some kind of conflict and you get to choose what you want them to do. And there are usually more than just 2 options each time, adding to the variety.
    As I mentioned in my little intro up there, you're always presented with options. This makes the game much more personal because you get to choose what Nancy and her friends do (another rhyme!).
    While reading, sometimes there will be an instance in which you're supposed to pick up some kind of a clue. If you don't pick up on that specific clue, the app will give you the option to re-read the section and they'll highlight the clues you were supposed to find. I really loved this feature because it gives those of us like me who may not have deducted that the option to do so. And, of course, if you did catch it, you have the option to proceed with the chapter and see what Nancy does about it.

    Overall, I seriously love this app. It truly feels that HeR put their all into it because it has so much going on! It pleases both the fans of the books and the games by combining their plots in an ingenious way, and the story unravels very nicely. There's always something new going on and you're always given options. As I've said, there are mini-games to play throughout it and collectibles to...well, collect. The audio and illustrations were nice additions, especially since they were from the games. This is just a fantastic app that I seriously think was under-priced. It's, what, 99 cents for your iPhone or iPod Touch? Or just a dollar more than that for your iPad? I seriously see that as a bargain because it's just phenomenal. It is DEFINITELY worth the price (of course, in my humble opinion ). And if you still weren't sure, there was a LITE version of this available, too. It lets you play the first chapter for free, so you really get a feel of what the app is like.
    With all of this said, I highly recommend that you get this app. (I can't give an official star rating because there are no other games in this series. ;D) Unfortunately, I don't know if you can anymore because I'm not finding it on iTunes... Did HeR really discontinue this without me knowing about it? Aw. I hope that they resurrect this little series sometime in the future. Well that concludes this review; thank you so much for reading! Feel free to comment; they're always welcome! :)

    Read my last review, on The Shattered Medallion.
    Read my next review, on Secret of the Old Clock.
    Read my review on the PC release.
    Last edited by disneygirl12; July 23, 2015, 12:17 AM. Reason: Added link
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    Hope everyone's having a great summer!