Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill
Review by Jen
I used to love Nancy Drew and read all of the books before I
was 12. Many years have passed since then, and some early onset
of Alzheimer's has intervened, but I still remember them clearly.
Even though Secrets Can Kill was really designed for teenage
girls, I was looking forward to playing it and reliving my fond
The game starts off with Nancy on a visit to her Aunt Eloise
in Florida. Aunt Eloise works as a librarian at the local high
school. Just before your arrival, a student was murdered at the
school, and as you start the game, you are plunged right into
the thick of the mystery. You explore the school, a diner, and
your aunt's house to uncover clues. You must also draw out the
secrets, by careful choice of words, of the four student suspects,
all of whom had a strong motive for murder. The only thing that
was a little off-putting was the fact that the story takes place
in modern times instead of the thirtiessetting it back then
would have been really cool but a lot harder for the designers
Gameplay consists mostly of observation, and clues abound. Most
of the puzzles are little word games scattered throughout the
school in places like the library and on the bulletin boards.
One of the first puzzles I encountered, however, was the dreaded
sliding tile puzzle. Fearing that this was the harbinger of doom,
I endured it, but I was then pleasantly surprised by how classic-adventure-style
the remainder of the game was. There were also a couple of inventory
puzzles, but nothing wacky a la LucasArts gamesthis was
just a straightforward point-and-click detective game. On starting
the game, you are offered two or three choices of difficulty level,
and I figured since I was a grown woman playing a girl's game,
I'd better choose "hard" so I could maintain a modicum
of self-respect and a shred of dignity. I did get stumped big-time
once, but it was because it took me a while to find an important
location. There were also a couple of places where I died, but
the game has a very nice "second chance" feature.
Graphics are an odd mix that somehow manages to work. You never
see Nancy since it's a first-person game, and I was a little disappointed
that Ned, Bess, and George were out of the picture (actually,
they were included in the game, but only as the online hint systemif
you feel like you need help, you can use the phone to call them
for advice, but the hints proved largely useless). Anyway, back
to the topic at hand: the characters are all cartoons superimposed
on photorealistic scenery. The game style was combination slide
show in that you jump from one location to the next in huge leaps,
and 360-degree panoramic because in most locations you can turn
all the way around and sometimes pan up and down a little. Overall,
though, this made for a quite pleasing mix. The care that was
taken is very evident.
Sound is high-qualitydecent music with not-too-short loops
and well-placed, effective sound effects. The voice acting is
actually pretty good, too, except Nancy sometimes talks too slowly,
as if she had dipped into her Auntie's supply of Valium.
Overall, this is a sweet little game by a female-run company.
Also, although it's pretty easy, it contains classic adventure
game elements and a story strong enough to hold the player's interest,
and so it would be a good introduction to adventure games for
either boys or girls. Drugs, blackmail, murder ... what more could
any adventurer ask for?
Release Date: November 1998
Four Fat Chicks Links
166 MHz processor (200 MHz Pentium recommended)
16 MB RAM (32 MB recommended)
42 MB available hard disk space (220 MB recommended)
16-bit color graphics video card
8X CD-ROM drive (24X recommended)
16-bit Windows-compatible stereo sound card
Mouse and speakers
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