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Nancy Drew: The Shattered Medallion

Score: 69%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Her Interactive
Developer: Her Interactive
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

Nancy Drew: The Shattered Medallion is the latest, and 30th, game that follows the female teenaged sleuth. Unfortunately, as far as milestones go, this particular title doesn't do a good job of celebrating what has generally been a good, solid series.

As far as how The Shattered Medallion presents itself, the game's visuals show that the series is constantly making strides on this front. Characters look good and the various locations around New Zealand look good, but not spectacular. While the game takes place in New Zealand, don't expect the same grand vistas featured in The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films.

As for the gameís sound, while Nancy herself sounds okay, many of the other characters have a tendency towards wooden dialogue and performances. The background music is okay and stays out of the way, but definitely isnít anything that will get stuck in your head after you are done playing the game, while the various sound effects do a pretty good job of setting the scene as you travel between woodsy areas and beaches.


Gameplay:

Nancy Drew: The Shattered Medallion starts off with the teenage detective being invited to a reality show, "Pacific Run: New Zealand." Here she and her friends will compete against other teams by solving puzzles and trying to become the top contenders in the show.

Oddly enough, it is that reality show setting that really throws the whole groove off in The Shattered Medallion. For one, what story the game presents feels very disjointed as you are tasked to solve very random puzzle for no other reason than they are puzzles that need to be solved for the show. For another, I felt like I kept waiting for the reality show aspect to be interrupted or ended so that the real mystery could begin, only to find that it never really got off the ground. Oh sure, there is a little something that needs to be uncovered, but the mysteries and criminals that surround Nancy Drew seem to be on vacation while she is in New Zealand.

As for the puzzles themselves, there is a lot of variety to them as you will do everything from scour the land for local plants, to arrange and categorize sheep, and even decode a few cyphers, but there was no real cohesion to them. From my talks with developers of most adventure games, they start with the story, and from there, they figure out where puzzles should go and how to weave them in so that they make sense. In this case, the opposite seems true. Given a bunch of random puzzles, the only story that can really fit them is a setting where random puzzles are a matter of course, a game show.

From story to mystery to puzzles, The Shattered Medallion feels like the weakest Nancy Drew game Iíve played yet.


Difficulty:

Nancy Drew: The Shattered Medallion has two difficulty settings, and while there is a noticeable difference in the puzzle difficulty, I found that even the gameís Master Sleuth setting was easier than I would have expected, even from a Nancy Drew game that has been a bit inconsistent in the past with challenging puzzles. For the most part, the challenges that the game puts in the playerís path are quick and easy, and given the short gameplay time, this is not a good thing.

The only other differences in The Shattered Medallion between the Amateur and Master Sleuth settings is how much detail the task list provides and whether there are any hints.


Game Mechanics:

I guess one of the bigger issues I have with Nancy Drew: The Shattered Medallion is that it just doesnít seem like the same effort went into it that has gone into past Nancy Drew titles. Not only is the gameplay itself short, but the story is weak and the main drive of the game seems to be more of an excuse to throw random puzzles at the player then to find some way to weave them together in a clever plot. The reality show setting felt like someone saying "Hey, we have all these puzzles that we came up with, but couldnít fit into the stories of other games, so let's just put them all together."

With the name of "Nancy Drew" comes a certain amount of expectation, namely, a mystery to solve. Sure, there was a bit of intrigue, but there wasnít really a whole lot of sleuthing. In the end, I feel like Nancy Drew: The Shattered Medallion would have had a better feel to it if it wasnít attached to the teenage detective and the developers at Her Interactive had decided to simply make a game based on the reality show setting. Without trying to shoehorn it into the plot that Her Interactive has laid out, the random collection of puzzles might have felt a bit more natural.

Long-time fans of this game might want to pick The Shattered Medallion up only to finally meet the illusive character Sonny Joon, but quite frankly, those same players will most likely find the experience more disappointing than tolerable. Unless you are a hardcore fan of the series and feel the need to continue your collection for the sake of the collection, I feel that this is one Nancy Drew title to pass on.


-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows XP/Vista/7/8, 1.5 GHz Pentium 4 processor, 512 MB RAM, 3 GB Hard Drive space, DirectX 9.0 Compatible video card, 16 bit DirectX compatible sound card, 4x DVD drive, mouse, speakers
 

Test System:



Windows 8.1, Intel i7 X980 3.33GHz, 12 GB RAM, Radeon HD 5870 Graphics Card, DirectX 9.0c

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