Let me sit you all down and tell you a little story. A story of a handsome, charming, handsome, and hilariously un-self aware man who was lucky enough to marry a beautiful, smart, (and fortunately for him) forgiving woman. Said man (who we will call… Micah) learned that his wife (while not showing a great interest in video games) did like one particularly genre of games. Namely: Nancy Drew.
“Nancy Drew?” You say. “The one from those books that you haven’t ever even a little bit read?”
“Yup.” I reply, gazing up at the wheeling ceiling above me. “That Nancy Drew.”
Not only had I never read the Nancy Drew books before, but I had never heard of Nancy Drew, or whatever it is that she happened to be drawing. Apparently there’s this whole subculture of Nancy Drew-ites dwelling right here amongst us. They look like me and you, but secretly, deep, deep down where they keep their deepest desires and most secret cupcake recipes they believe that the best way to lock a door is to come up with an elaborate math algorithm or Chinese box puzzle. They believe that there are other ways to beat video games then murdering everyone in site or nuking everyone out of site. They believe that if you sit down and think through a problem, you will probably just end up hitting a bunch of random keys and hoping for the best. They believe…. in Nancy Drew.
Allow me to describe to you the gist of a Nancy Drew game using the plot of the most recent Nancy Drew game to come out, “Nancy Drew: And the Ghost that Jack Built.” I mean… “Nancy Drew and the Ghost of Thornton Hall.”
You are dropped off at Thornton Island a place legendarily haunted by the memory of when Eddie Murphy was funny and– I mean by the ghost of a girl named… ummm…. something. We’ll call her– Petunia. That’s a good ghostly name right? Anyway Petunia’s ghost may or may not have abducted another girl whose name I also don’t remember but just so that we don’t confuse her with Petunia I will call this particular girl, Kenneth.
So Petunia may have kidnapped Kenneth and it’s up to us as Nancy Drew to get to the bottom of things. On the journey to said bottom (which sounds WAY creepier then I thought it was going to originally) we run across Kenneth’s Fiance’, Kenneth’s Uncle, Kenneth’s mother, and Kenneth’s crazy Aunt. All of these people have something to hide and a big part of the game is talking to each of them and trying to figure out what they know, what they are hiding, and why in the WORLD they named their daughter Kenneth. Stupid people, Kenneth’s are for kids!!– I mean boys.
The other big part of Nancy Drew games are the puzzles. All manner and canner of puzzles are thrown at Nancy having to do with various topics such as Math, logic, time-space transference, the square root of pie, and how to make a battery out of an orange (no for real… that was in there.) These puzzles make up the bulk of the game and really do tax the brain like the ancient Romans taxed people they didn’t like as much.
My wife actually plays Nancy Drew; controlling the character, talking to the people, solving most of the puzzles etc. I am the Watson to her Sherlock, the Nurse to her doctor, the pickle water to her cucumber and as such mostly I just sit there and offer semi-helpful, rarely accurate, often ridiculous advice, which she mostly ignores (correctly). Every once in a while though through careful study, diligent work, and complete and total dark stabbing I am able to get a puzzle right. For me this is like winning the lottery, the Bachelorette, and the Hunger Games all at once and usually after such activities I sit there in smug self satisfaction until the next puzzle comes along and I am reminded that I have no actual idea how I solved the last one.
A couple semi-review like thoughts:
Nancy Drew is a surprisingly fun game (or game series if you want to be entirely accurate.) I mean I’m not selling my Skyrim disc to buy the next game or anything but they’re interesting and a nice break from the constant murder-death of other video games.
You do have to go into Nancy Drew with an iron will though. Unless you are significantly smarter then me (not difficult unless you’re a caterpillar) AND my wife (VERY difficult) these puzzles will stump you. WILL. You will sit and stare at your computer for HOURS trying to figure out how on earth you’re supposed to get tile B next to Tile C while block 4 maintains it’s geosynchronous orbit with Venus and you will probably still not get it. That said, when you DO finally figure it out, when the lights come on and the cows come home you will feel like Einstein!!! Until the next puzzle that is.
Another nice thing about these games is they’re cheap and easy to run on just about any computer. I mean I bought my laptop used from a T-rex in the Pre-mezazzoic era and it runs Nancy Drew just fine. You can get a copy of some of the older games in the series for about… ten bucks on Steam which is not exactly a steep price in today’s gaming world where you have to drop sixty bucks just to get to hold the wrapping on a new game.
The most important thing about these games for me really is that it’s a great way for me and my wife to just hang out and play a game that is equal parts relaxing and challenging. That’s what I would recommend this game for, if you’re a hardcore gamer with callouses on your thumbs from murder and death and lack of social skills, this game will probably not push your buttons (gaming metaphor.) But if you’re a relative newby to the gaming world, a couple looking to spend a few hours puzzling through stuff together, or just someone looking for a fun way to kill some time and exercise your brain; go ahead an give Nancy Drew a try. You might just be surprised by what you find.
So there you have it friends, a Nancy Drew review, bet you never thought you’d see that on here huh? Well, we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled pop-culture madness Thursday when I will (probably) review Now You See Me! Until then, thanks for reading and have a good week!