Revisit the Nancy Drew game that started it all.
After 22 games and over a decade, Her Interactive has decided to revisit the game that started it all. Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill Remastered is exactly what it sounds like: an updated version of the 1998 game of the same name. And in spite of its age, the game actually plays surprisingly well, and the new additions make it well worth a play for series veterans. However, Secrets Can Kill Remastered also reveals just how little the Nancy Drew games have changed over the years, as it plays almost identically to its numerous sequels.
The game begins with Nancy going to visit her Aunt Eloise in Florida. But of course, being Nancy Drew, the visit has nothing to do with seeing family or taking some time off. Instead, she’s going undercover to investigate a mysterious murder at a local high school. She’ll come across a handful of students — ranging from a cocky jock to an uptight hall monitor — and will partner up with a somewhat unhelpful detective. Though short, the story takes plenty of interesting turns, and ends on a surprising twist that you probably won’t see coming.
Secrets Can Kill is almost entirely about searching for clues. As Nancy explores the school, she’ll come across an incredible amount of secret, hidden messages. They’re everywhere. And it’s not only a lot of work to find them all, but also to figure out just what they mean. The codes can be rather complicated and require some careful thinking to crack. In addition to finding and solving hidden messages, you’ll also have to interrogate several students, each of whom has their own particular motive for committing the murder. There are even a few timed puzzles, which will result in a “fatal error” if not completed on time. Thankfully, there’s little in the way of punishment for failing these puzzles, you’ll simply be able to restart from where you left off. As with all Nancy Drew games, everything you’ll need to do is laid out in a nice, simple to-do list.
Even though there are lots of clues to find, one of the most disappointing aspects of Secrets Can Kill is just how small it feels. There are only three locations, and two of them are pretty small. So the majority of your time will be spent in the school with only the occasional trip to Aunt Louise’s or the local diner.
This remastered edition of the game features a number of new features, most notably a brand new ending. The detective who teams up with Nancy is a new character, and though his place in the story initially feels small, he ends up playing a very large role that changes how things end. Fans of the original will also notice that some of the puzzles have been changed, and there are frequent, subtle references to past games.
Visually, Secrets Can Kill has been given a 3D makeover that makes it look just like its more modern sequels, which means it looks solid but not spectacular. There’s also a new soundtrack and some uneven voice acting to go along with it. While Nancy sounds the same as ever, many of the other characters just don’t sound right, in particular some of the students who sound much older than they should. There are also some awkward bits of dialog where Nancy will intensely question another character, and then finish the conversation with a cheerful goodbye. It’s not a huge deal, but it is noticeable.
Considering how old the original game is, it’s pretty remarkable just how modern the remastered version of Secrets Can Kill feels. It may be smaller and shorter, but other than that there’s little to differentiate the game from more modern Nancy Drew games like Trail of the Twister. And the new features, especially the new ending, make it worthwhile for fans who already played the original. It won’t win over anyone who hasn’t liked the past 22 games, but Secrets Can Kill is classic Nancy Drew.