In this 27th instalment of the classic series, our titular heroine make some shocking discoveries.
In Her Interactive’s 27th installment in the Nancy Drew franchise, we see our master sleuth investigating a cold case in the equally cold mountains of Colorado. Locked away in a Tesla-inspired laboratory are secrets surrounding the murder of a brilliant scientist, killed by a device with which Nancy must become incredibly familiar with along the way. The hunt for clues is on.
Nancy Drew: The Deadly Device sees players investigating every nook and cranny of a high-tech research facility, with a small cast of interesting characters to play off of throughout. Each character has his or her own distinct personality and quirks, all of which can and must be manipulated for clues. Immediately, you’ll notice that the game’s many conversations allow the story to progress evenly and organically. Meanwhile, with so many theories as to “whodunit,” Nancy’s collapsible task list will help you keep things straight. This task list is once again a great inclusion here, as it offers the ability to ask for hints on particular tasks. At the same time, these hints won’t blatantly spoil the whole experience. Instead, you’ll gain knowledge gradually, and will only see the final solution if you literally ask the game to give it to you.
On the other hand, you won’t know if you’ve actually completed a task on this list for good unless you click on its corresponding checkbox to hear Nancy respond in the affirmative. For those unfamiliar with the series, I can see this making things a bit confusing, as a player might think they’ve failed to complete a task along the way because it didn’t automatically disappear from the list. Further, the game’s point and click mechanics are a bit tricky when it comes to the lab’s many small rooms and hallways, and it’s easy to get disoriented or accidentally click to face the wrong direction. If doors had more labels or the hallways simply had more distinguishable features, it would be a lot easier to get around, but it’s a setup that obviously becomes more acceptable over time.
In between case investigations, Nancy can pull out her trusty cell phone to play a variety of light mini-games, and you’ll find more puzzles and mini-games to play as part of the storyline. Some of these are timed, adding tension to the mix as you race against the clock to save the day, but none are overly confusing or unfair. If anything, they’re more time consuming than they are difficult, and their setups tend to encourage some in-depth observation before you start randomly clicking on the screen, just as a real world detective would.
While the improved user-interface (which was first launched only in recent series instalments) is still obviously a nice touch, the same problems we’ve had with previous games are back here again. This biggest flaw is the inability to skip or speed up dialog. It’s great to see conversation options for Nancy during the fully voiced interactions, but it would also be nice to skip dialog before a character has finished talking if we wish to speed up the pace of the game. This inability is especially annoying if you start a conversation when the character has nothing else to say to you for the moment, as you’ll need to listen to them tell you that before you can go back to your other duties. Still, the character models are realistic and animate well against the crisp backgrounds.
The storyline is easily the best thing Nancy Drew: Deadly Device has going for it. With so many instalments under its proverbial belt, Her Interactive clearly knows how to develop an intriguing tale, and that’s no exception here. In fact, the storyline is so interesting that the game’s few flaws can be looked past just to continue on in the investigation to learn the truth. It would still be great to see the Nancy Drew franchise become even more updated for modern audiences, but this is a solid instalment in the franchise to play while we wait for what’s to come next.