Nancy Drew: The Final Scene
Review by Old
Be Careful Inviting Nancy for a Visit!
Not having a daughter, I had never read a Nancy Drew book or played
any of the PC games. I was pleased, therefore, to accept this assignment
and approach the task, as much as possible, from an open, naive,
innocent perspectivetrying, as much as an old geezer can,
to adopt the vantage point of a teenager, in terms of game appeal
and marketing. An interesting challenge, and one I enjoyed!
The Final Scene comes packaged with volume 162 of the Drew
series: The Case of the Lost Song. Reading this pleasant
little mystery prior to playing the game gave me my first sense
of Nancy's world and offered some generalizations which I suspect
apply to most of her books and games.
Much like my favorite mystery heroine, J.B. Fletcher, crimes seem
to happen when Nancy's around! Lock the doors, bolt the windows,
put on extra security if you're having her for a weekend stay. Wherever
she goes, a crime has or is about to occur! Of course, the converse
is trueif a crime does occur, it seems good to have this ace
Nancy, her cousins, and boyfriend have a high level of self-confidence
in Ms. Drew's crime-solving ability. "I have a knack for solving
mysteries," claims our 18-year-old Sherlock. Also, her "experience
has taught her that the simpler the theory, the more likely it was
right." As raves cousin Beth, "her gut instincts proved
her right again!"
Our young sleuth carries with her most of the time a penknife and
pick-lock set, as well as a magnifying glass in the PC gamesvery
handy indeed for spontaneous detecting!
The language employed in conversations is quite sanitized and youth-oriented.
You'll find such phrases as: "What a two-faced skunk,"
"this is beyond a bummer," "she was middle-aged but
When Nancy's cousin, George, put on a miniskirt and danced with
Jason, I was worried, until reading a bit more carefully that George
had been referred to earlier as "her" and "she."
Whew, what a relief!
"Step into My Shoes; You'll Be My Eyes and Ears!"
The Final Scene is the fifth game in Her Interactive's Nancy
Drew series, and the first I've played. Much as with the books and
previous games, our Nancy walks into a serious situation as she
visits her old friend Maya in St. Louis. Excitedly preparing for
a visit to a movie premier at the old Royal Palladium Theater, and
an interview by Maya of the star, Brady Armstrong, Nancy very quickly
finds herself embroiled in a desperate search for Maya, who is kidnapped
shortly after entering the theater. The police won't take the allegation
seriously for 24 hours, and the theater is scheduled for the wrecking
ball in just three days! So it's up to our resourceful heroine to
explore this huge facility, interview potential suspects, solve
puzzles and problems, all within a three-day timeline.
Clearly, the developers have honed their craft in terms of presentation,
interface and general management of Nancy. As the youngster says
in the fine but simplified (remember the target audience of age
10+) tutorial: you'll "choose what I do. Trust your instincts
and have fun!" There are two levels of play, Junior and Senior
Detective, with the paths separated primarily by difficulty of puzzles
and relative lack of hints at the senior level. Rooms and corridors
can be viewed in 360-degree horizontal panning (not vertical), but
only one section at a time. The first-person interface is point-and-click,
with only the mouse required for play. The cursor shows movement
options and lights up clearly when an interaction is possible. Inventory
is large and obvious; conversations are legible; main menu and help
options are there for the asking. Indeed, the relative dominance
of the interface is my main criticism of the gameusing a ruler,
I found that only 53% of the screen is occupied by the game proper,
while the other 47% is interface and border! This is a major concern
with some RPG games, where complications of character-building and
magic-selection abound, but it seems quite unnecessary with an adventure
title. It certainly took away from the overall involvement for this
A Little WD40, Please!
With four suspects, Nancy has some heavy interviewing and extensive
exploring to do. The three-day division is interesting in that it
allows considerable freedom of movement on each of the days, but
still the game insists on certain tasks being accomplished before
one graduates to the next day.
The theater is huge and beautiful. The background renderings, from
frayed wallpaper to old posters, are lovingly done and worthy of
exploration. Hidden passages and trap doors are encountered, along
with magician secret rooms and an assortment of interesting gamesa
jazz/dance puzzle; the Amazing Monty Magician card game; a rabbit
slider puzzle. Nancy can come to a nasty and premature end in this
game, but the developers have placed a thoughtful "second chance"
option in the menu, taking you to the spot just before you "died."
Although the characters (suspects) are nicely depicted, I found
them a bit static and lifeless. Indeed, there is little in the way
of nonplayer character interaction in the game, and much of the
time it seems like you're exploring an empty theater. Background
music is pleasant and voice acting well-done.
The story-movement puzzles are well-integrated into the overall
design and logically solved. Note the WD40 reference! Rarely is
there anything bizarre or not sensible required of you to accomplish
your goal. This, again, points to the value of experience in game
A Good Story, Well Told?
With this kind of narrative-driven adventure title, the story becomes
primary for me, with the nature and design of the puzzles secondary.
The Final Scene has a fine tale to tell, undoubtedly one
that has previously found its way into one of the 100+ Carolyn Keene/Drew
novels. The graphics are crisp and detailed; character management
is clear; hints are available at the junior level; voice acting
and sound are nicely done. I would strongly recommend the game to
younger or newer adventure players. It's safe, comfortable, finely
tuned, and well-constructed. What, then, keeps me from giving it
a coveted Gold Star award?
Although there is not much in the way of direct competition for
this niche of the market, other adventure titles (Syberia,
series), and other blended-adventure games (Zanzarah,
have demonstrated a level of production quality, especially in the
graphics area, that makes The Final Scene seem almost as static
and dated as the theater it portrays. Further, the 47% interface
is unnecessary and certainly not required when we see what can be
done with newer adventure titles such as The
Watchmaker and Mystery
of the Druids.
Yet being a player who values content over graphics, substance
over form, I still enjoyed the game and had a good time with it.
I will look forward, though, to the time when Nancy and her pals
can be portrayed full-screen, and in seamless 360-degree, real 3D
Release Date: November 2001
Four Fat Chicks Links
16 MB RAM
150 MB free hard disk space
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