By – Sophie Jones

Nancy Drew Sea of Darkness Review He

Nancy Drew returns as the queen of sleuthing in her 32nd adventure, Sea of Darkness. As a newcomer to the series I was blown away by the charismatic voice actors and elegant design, but, for returning fans you will not be surprised to hear that the game upholds its fantastic standards. Expect to be thrown into a pirate adventure where even Nancy is so engrossed she has forgotten her anniversary.

In this tale, Drew’s detective prowess is needed in the wintry region of Iceland, where in this particular instance, it is eternally dark. But despite the lack of light the scenery can still be marvelled out as the aurora borealis dance in the heavens above the small town of Skipbrot. Alas, what mystery needs our attention this time? A lost freebooter treasure is being hunted by Dagny Silva who calls on Nancy when her comrade, Magnus, disappears whilst sailing the acclaimed pirate ship the Heerlijkheid. Was he simply lost at sea, did he run away with the hidden cache or did something sinister happen? These are some of the many questions that need answering as we snoop around this frozen settlement.

With only a cast of four, the suspect pool is rather shallow and thus it was easy to deduce the odd one out, however, this didn’t deter me as the narrative threw in just enough Red Herrings to keep me forever doubtful of my suspicions. Each of the characters also had surprising depth, as you ventured through the campaign these hostile Icelanders soon opened up and revealed their tragic backstories, broken romances and debt problems. The variation in these encounters made talking with the NPC’s an enjoyable experience and I was always sad when they told me they needed their space.

Like most in the series this game has imaginative and stimulating conundrums. As this was my first experience I was astounded by the intricacy of each problem and I loved how the player was never hand held during them. Being a huge fan of point and click games I was ecstatic to have found one that offered this degree of challenge. Even on the amateur level things weren’t pointed out to me and it was only on rare occasions that you could use hints to solve puzzles, in most cases this tool only offered a sparse bit of information to aid. I would hate to think how this game plays out on Master difficulty, for those experienced I can imagine this offers the perfect trial. Despite veterans knowing the basic formula, I think Sea of Darkness will still be enthralling as, it includes such an array of enigmas you will never feel like this is a routine affair.

Nancy Drew Sea of Darkness Review 1

Another interesting feature was the use of Nancy’s mobile phone. You could use this to play a set of mini games if you wanted to escape the doom and gloom. They also added a little extra playtime and were fun to mess around with. Moreover, the mobile connected players to Ned, Drew’s boyfriend, his interruptions were a nice addition as they helped create a wider immersive world. We were also introduced to a comic relief character Alex Linh Trang over the phone, who breathed fresh air into the gruelling detective tale. This extra virtual dimension broke up gameplay and kept it entertaining.

One of the things I adored about this game was how you could earn money. You could obtain some extra coin by completing small errands in the town’s pub the Missti Skip. My favourite of the two activities included matching English words to Finnish ones. I loved this as I actually learnt something new which is always a fabulous plus when enjoying yourself. This money could then be used in Skipbrot’s cultural centre where you could choose numerous trinkets to take home. The funniest thing about this was you could get an item gift wrapped for Ned. Unfortunately for him I choose the cute cuddly Puffin toy. Needless to say he wasn’t that impressed, I think next time I should go for the ancient sword replica. Additionally, the end game reveals a trophy room where you can ogle the achievements you received during the campaign, these tokens might have you replaying the case so you can collect them all.

In terms of mechanics, it doesn’t bring anything new. The game still follows the same recipe, you have a choice of replies when talking to suspects, a note and a task file, an inventory bar and you can access the phone to call Ned for help. The gameplay is simple and enjoyable but in future games I think a map would be beneficial, as a lot of the time I wasn’t sure if I had explored all of the areas. It was easy to miss locations due to them not being signposted clearly. This caused me to get stuck more than once as I struggled to find the next clue that awaited in one of these badly implemented locales. To continue, I wasn’t keen on how the task log operated. Whenever a mission had been completed this didn’t automatically tick off on the list which annoyed me as I constantly thought I had more to do. Clearing it manually seemed unnecessary and it would have been cleaner to have this aspect on automation.

Finally, I have to mention the major issue I had with this title which was with its lack of widescreen support. It has been a wee while since I have loaded up a game on my PC and been confronted with imposing black bars. So, when this happened with Nancy Drew I was rather horrified. The lovely rendered scenes were mostly ruined as they were cramped in the centre of the screen because of the wide bars. This really disrupted the pictorial beauty of the game and I was never fully absorbed. This decision angered me as I felt I couldn’t fully appreciate the elaborate details due to its squashed nature. As a long running series I think Her Interactive should consider incorporating widescreen so this can be avoided.

Nancy Drew Sea of Darkness Review 1

Conclusion – Is It Worth Your Money?

As a newcomer, I was pleasantly surprised with how comfortable it was for me to engage in the 32nd title developed by Her Interactive. Sea of Darkness has definitely made me eager to play the other games.  The formula, while getting on in age, still works so avid fans won’t be disappointed.  My only critique is that they perhaps upgrade their content so it supports widescreen as black bars should be a thing of the past.  Nancy Drew is by far one of the best point and click adventures I have ever played.  Sea of Darkness is filled with complicated puzzles and a captivating cast of suspects.  This mystery will surely test your abilities.

Nancy Drew: Sea of Darkness Technical Summary

Nancy Drew Sea of Darkness Review He

  • Time Played – 7 Hours
  • Widescreen Support – No, black bars
  • Windowed Mode – Yes
  • Resolution Played – 1920×1080
  • Bugs/Crashes Encountered – None
  • DRM – None
  • System Specs – i7-4790K @4 GHz, 8GB RAM, GeForce GTX 770
  • Control Scheme – Mouse
  • Game Acquisition Method – Review Copy
  • Availability – Her Interactive
  • Demo – No
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  • http://crazyvillevariety.com Jarrett Riddle

    I love the Nancy Drew games. You should check out Curse of Blackmoor Manor since you liked this one.

    • https://www.youtube.com/user/TellingNoOne Sophie Jones

      Thanks I might do that I was highly addicted to this! I really enjoyed the setting and the puzzles were fabulous.

  • trincetto

    I’ve never played a Nancy Drew game nor read a book, but this game sounds intriguing. What kind of puzzles can I expect in it? Old style inventory-based or “mechanical” ones? Or both?

    • AdamAmes

      Usually a little bit of both. My wife has played almost all of the Nancy Drew games and loves them. Of course, there are the occasional misses, but more often than not, they are solid point-and-click adventures.

      We did a Dual Review for the previous Nancy Drew game. You can view below –

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPz6XGs9jo8

      • trincetto

        Thank you for the video link. I remember seeing it, but I didn’t give the series a try, because the reviewer wasn’t too keen on that particular episode, so I mostly forgot about it.

    • https://www.youtube.com/user/TellingNoOne Sophie Jones

      I was surprised at how hard the puzzles were. There is also alot of variation. There are logic games, riddles , mathematical problems and finally some inventory based puzzles. In the picture below is an example of one of the easier puzzles. Have you ever played 2048? This was very much like this, you have to move the coloured blobs until they integrate with one of the same colour this then turns the blob into another colour until eventually you get white. Of course you have to do all this before you fill up the grid. That is just one example of a logic puzzle. I hoped that helped and feel free to ask any more questions :)

      • trincetto

        Thank you for the reply and the example! I prefer inventory based puzzles, but I don’t mind the occasional logic puzzle. In fact, lately I enjoyed Puzzle Agent, in spite of some annoying puzzles.
        Nice review, by the way!

        • https://www.youtube.com/user/TellingNoOne Sophie Jones

          Thank you and thanks for reading it :)