reviews\ Aug 7, 2005 at 8:00 pm

Nancy Drew: Secret of the Old Clock - PC - Review

The popular Nancy Drew series has been a strong one for several years now, with no signs of slowing down. Her Interactive has been releasing the games at the rate of around two a year. Their latest game, Nancy Drew: Secret of the Old Clock, takes a slight deviation from the other games with a story set back in the 1930's, based on the original book that started it all.

SOTOC is actually not entirely based on the book of the same name, but has story elements from the first several books of the series and takes place at the Lilac Inn, the setting for Mystery at the Lilac Inn. This makes sense, as the game would have to be different from the book, or everyone would know the ending of the game.

The Lilac Inn has a new owner, a young girl who's only 17. Her mother recently died, and left the Inn to her daughter. As Emily, the daughter, won't be of legal age for several months, her guardian has come to stay with her at the Inn. Of course, there are mysterious goings on, and Nancy, an acquaintance of Emily's, is invited to stay at the Lilac Inn and help Emily discover what is behind it all.

As in all the Nancy Drew games, this is a point-and-click adventure, where players collect items for their inventory and interview various characters. There are plenty of puzzles and clues to collect, and also several mini-games, which are either part of the puzzles or are stand-alone games. The puzzle mini-games are playable even after the puzzle is solved, which is a great feature. The puzzles are fun for the most part, but aren't as well integrated into the story as they usually are; here, they seem to be arbitrarily placed. One puzzle, though, is tedious, and requires several tries to solve. Nancy has to play a round of putt-putt golf and make par on her score in order to get a clue. Making par is tough, and may be frustrating to younger players.

Nancy gets to drive her car this time around, but don't get too excited, teens, this can quickly become a chore! Her car is one big gas hog, and Nancy will have to use part of her hard-earned money on gas, which is a pain, considering that the car has to be used to help earn money in the first place. So, get used to driving, cuz you're going to be doing a lot.

This game is similar in design and appearance to previous games, which is good, as all the Nancy Drew games are superior in terms of execution and style. SOTOC is no exception, and is an above-average game for this age group. However, it's not quite as well-done as other Nancy Drew games. The game itself is too short, and can be played in one day easily. The puzzles are too easy, and are awkwardly placed at times. The good news is that the mini-games are designed well and offer engaging play (I really enjoyed MasterMind!), and the atmosphere of the 1930's is also fun.

Her Interactive has again released an engaging, quality game for kids ages 10-14, but one that doesn't quite reach the high standards set by their previous games. Still, a good addition to any family's software library.

Review Scoring Details for Nancy Drew: Secret of the Old Clock

Gameplay: 7.0
Whlie the game is fun enough to play, it's way too short. Many players will breeze through in a day of playing. The last game, Blackmoor Manor, was much longer and definitely more challenging. Also, the puzzles are not very logically placed, and don't have much to do with the story.

Graphics: 8.0 
The graphics are as good as they usually are.

Sound: 8.0
The music is great, and evokes the 30's well.

Difficulty: Easy
Easy puzzles, easy game.

Concept: 8.0
Using the first Nancy Drew book as the backdrop for the game was an excellent idea.

Overall: 7.8
A good game, but not one that lives up to the high standards set by previous Nancy Drew games. It's just too short. There is a new Nancy Drew game in the works, one that will include the Hardy boys, hopefully that will be a longer, more involved game.


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