reviews\ Jun 19, 2007 at 8:00 pm

Nancy Drew: The White Wolf of Icicle Creek - PC - Review

Nancy Drew is off to the Canadian Rockies in this latest adventure from Her Interactive. The last several Nancy Drew games featured the Hardy Boys as well as Nancy, but this time, it’s Nancy going solo as she tries to solve the mystery of The White Wolf of Icicle Creek.

The Icicle Creek lodge is a popular mountain resort, but there has been a recent rash of near-disasters that threaten the future of the lodge. Chantel Moique, the owner of the lodge, is friends with the Rawleys, who run Shadow Ranch. The Rawleys recommend Nancy Drew to help Chantel discover what or who is causing all the trouble at Icicle Creek. Nancy arrives at Icicle Creek and while posing as a maid and cook, sets out to solve the mystery.

The incidents all seem to be random accidents that don’t appear to be connected. Unfortunately for the owner, though, the accidents have involved several of the paying guests, who are understandably upset and vow never to come back to the lodge. Food poisoning, explosions, and a gas leak are just some of the strange occurrences. Even more odd are the appearances of a mysterious white wolf at the locations of some of these accidents.

Nancy Drew: The White Wolf of Icicle Creek screenshots

This game follows the same formula as previous Nancy Drew games, in that it is a third-person adventure. Players will gather clues by talking to the characters, collecting inventory items and solving puzzles. Many of the later Nancy Drew games also feature mini-games that can be played separately from the game. This installment has mini-games, but they aren’t really stand-alone games for the most part.  A nice rendition of Fox and Geese is included, but can only be played sometimes when one of the characters is at the game board. Other activities and games include a logical game similar to Minetrap, a simple Rubik’s Cube type game, and a snowball fight activity.

Other familiar features such as the Jr. and Sr. detective levels and the use of the phone and computer to keep notes is present, but a few things have changed. The Second Chance is slightly different, in that Nancy doesn’t really expire or get fired, but automatically begins at a set point right before the calamity. While this is described as being really different, it’s actually not, in that Nancy still undergoes the disaster before she gets to being again, just as in the Second Chance option.

A more noticeable difference is the changed menu interface, which is wholly different. Players now access the game from a Nancy Drew “hub,” where they can pick the game they want to play. The save, load and quit functions are different, as well. Instead of a list of words describing the functions in a menu, these options are now present as icons accessible directly from the in-game screen. The inventory and journal are handled differently in that they are presented as smaller menus that pop-up over the game screen and can be seen through. These changes all work very well.

Nancy Drew: The White Wolf of Icicle Creek screenshots

The actual mystery isn’t extremely compelling nor is the connection of the wolf to the whole thing relevant, but the wolf itself is pretty interesting, especially for any young person that loves nature or wolves. The scenery is outstanding, and the overall appearance of the game is very attractive, especially if you’re in Georgia with temperatures in the 90’s. The puzzles and activities are a mixed bag, with some good ones like the Minetrap and Fox and Geese games, but also some bad ones like the snowmobile one that was extremely lame, and the fishing, which could have been more fun. There aren’t as many manipulative puzzles to solve for clues as usual, either. However, the puzzles that are present are mostly challenging and interesting.

Many of the earlier Nancy Drew games feature lots of trivia and facts about certain things, but only some of the later games do. Icicle Creek doesn’t have much educational content, besides a few notes about birds and fish and a conversation with one of the characters that yields a lot of information about wolves. A lot of these games also feature daily chores and tasks for Nancy, and this time around Nancy is whipping up restaurant orders in the kitchen. This is fun the first few times, but having to keep returning to this activity three times a day is a bit wearing.

The White Wolf of Icicle Creek is one of the better Nancy Drew games, and is much better than the last one, Creature of Kapu Cave. The story is more interesting and there are more puzzles and activities. However, it’s not quite on a par with games like Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon, Shadow Ranch, Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake, Blackmoor Manor, and Haunted Carousel. Making the games and activities playable independently, and including more puzzles and facts would have improved this game. One thing I would like to see changed is the negative tone of the “You’re Fired!” that Nancy gets every time she makes a mistake.  As she’s working for free as a favor to Chantel and the Rawleys, this is pretty harsh. If it hurts my feelings, it probably affects some young players, as well.

Still, White Wolf of Icicle Creek is a welcome return to the former quality of the Nancy Drew series and one that kids and teens will definitely enjoy. Parents, this is a good solution for the “I’m bored!” you’re hearing this summer!

Review Scoring Details for Nancy Drew: The White Wolf of Icicle Creek

Gameplay: 8.0
This is a welcomed return to the quality of previous Nancy Drew games. The story of the wolf is interesting, even if the main mystery isn’t all that exciting. The puzzles and activities are challenging and fun for the most part, and the game is a good length. Kids will have fun!

Graphics: 8.0
As always, the graphics are great. The outside snowy scenes are particularly attractive, especially if you’re dying in a heat wave.

Sound: 7.0
The sound affects are average, and there really isn’t any music as such. Some hoedown music would have been fun in this lodge setting.

Difficulty: Medium
The puzzles and activities range from a medium difficulty to an easy one. None of them are overly difficult.

Concept: 7.0
The game doesn’t offer anything substantially new of different to the series, or to the genre as a whole, but it is well-presented.

Overall: 8.0
This is a fun Nancy Drew adventure. It ranks with the better games in the series, and kids and teens will enjoy playing. The puzzles could have been more challenging, and having some of them as stand-alone games would have been nice, but the overall game is engaging and well-designed.


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