Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Nancy Drew: Tomb of the Lost Queen Review

Here's my official review of Nancy Drew: Tomb of the Lost Queen. The review is going to appear on GameCola.net sometime in the near future.


Her Interactive continues to amaze me. After making 30 or so games in 14 years, you think they’d run out of creative talent and energy ten times over, and that every new Nancy Drew game would be an obvious clone of the previous one. But they consistently deliver new and interesting games, to the point where I preorder every single game they make, and I have yet to be disappointed.

Nancy Drew: Tomb of the Lost Queen is Nancy’s 26th adventure. This time, Nancy is in Egypt, working as an archaeology assistant for Kingston University. This is about the tenth time in her teenage life that she’s been hired to work overseas; I’m pretty sure that, by now, she has the most impressive resume ever.

The dig team has just found a previously unknown tomb. Could this be the tomb of Nefertari, Egypt’s legendary lost queen? Answer: Yes. Duh. Reread the game’s title if you don’t believe me. Of course, the tomb is full of puzzles and traps, and even a curse which wiped out a previous expedition in the 1940’s. Nancy has to dodge danger, sabotage and hieroglpyh puzzles on her quest to find the sarcophagus of Nefertari.

screenshot2

The first thing about the game that caught my attention was the graphics. The game screen has increased from 800 by 600 to 1360 by 768. The series has upgraded to widescreen HD? Count me in! The change in graphics quality is immediately noticeable, as characters and background art are much prettier and detailed than ever before.

The interface has also changed. Nancy’s inventory is now at the bottom of the screen, as opposed to being in a separate inventory menu. Nancy’s task list and journal have similarly been made more easily accessible. These are small changes that newcomers to the series won’t notice, but they all come across as carefully chosen and expertly utilized, in order to make the gameplay experience go more smoothly.

And what a gameplay experience it is! I had seven hours of fun. Well, maybe more like three hours of fun and four hours of me wandering around, confused. I’m not very good at these games. Still, the various puzzles and things were all nicely planned out, so that the game’s environment got bigger and more expansive, the longer you played. What starts off as “this is kind of a small tomb with nothing inside it” turns into “this is kind of a large tomb” as you discover all the hidden passageways and puzzles.

screenshot1

It seems inevitable that whenever a series goes on for an extended time, the fans start to get nostalgic for the earlier, better games. They stop asking if Game X is good in and of itself; they start asking if Game X is good, in comparison to Game Y. I think Tomb of the Lost Queen does a good job if you submit it to the nostalgia test. If this same game was released ten years earlier, between Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake and Secret of the Scarlet Hand, it wouldn’t stick out like a sore thumb. It would fit in quite nicely, and it might even be considered a notch above one or two of the other games.

This game strikes me as the first game of the series after Ransom of the Seven Ships to be mainly puzzle-based, as opposed to mystery-based or horror-based. I’m usually a sucker for puzzle games, but I have to compliment the game on its non-puzzle elements, too, such as the suitable background music, the plot progression and the character interactions. As usual, there is a lot of humorous dialogue in this game. Good and interesting conversations are so prevalent in the Nancy Drew series that it seems the developers would be challenged to write boring dialogue.

All in all, Tomb of the Lost Queen is a perfect example of why the Nancy Drew series is so great. The puzzle/mystery/adventure series keeps delivering one solid game after another. They’re not afraid to try new things, and all the various little improvements spread throughout the game come together to form a superior gaming experience. I know I say this every time, but I can’t wait to see what Nancy’s next adventure will be like.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

"It seems inevitable that whenever a series goes on for an extended time, the fans start to get nostalgic for the earlier, better games. They stop asking if Game X is good in and of itself; they start asking if Game X is good, in comparison to Game Y."

Not to be all preachy or anything, but I think this is why people all find fault with the newer games. I try not to base how much I like it on how it compares to previous games. Sometimes I judge it by genre (such as a sabotage mystery, haunting, etc).

I forget where I read this, but someone on the HerInteractive boards or on another ND site once wondered that, if the old games were the new ones and the new ones were the old ones; how would we feel?

Anonymous said...

Nicely written! But I think that as a reviewer you could have tried to point out some more of the game's drawbacks. I understand that you like the game, but some people can think that you're hired by HerInteractive (well, to tell the truth, there's no need in that, ND games have enough fans as it is). I personally think that the game would be much better , if there were more inventory-based puzzles (for example, combine something with something and something else).

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's a fallacy to compare games against each other. The charm of the older games is what first drew me in to Nancy Drew. I think if the tables were reversed--if the newer games had come first--I wouldn't have liked Nancy Drew in the first place. I suppose I'm one of the "negative revewiers." ;) But think about it, in the earlier games we did such exciting things, like disarming a bomb. A BOMB. The most exciting thing we encountered (to me) in Tomb of the Lost Queen was picking up a cobra with a stick. But the next game looks promising, so I still have hope!

Anonymous said...

I agree. Her Interactive is an unsung hero in what games really should be! BTW, The Deadly Device could be the first game in the series that involves a murder since 1998's Secrets Can Kill.

Anonymous said...

That was a REALLY awesome review!!!! :D Can't wait for next game!!!!! :D Anyways...I KNOW this is kind of off topic, but there's a game I think everyone reading this that likes mysteries would like!!! It's a DS game called "Hotel Dusk: Room 215" and u'd have to probably order it sadly, but it's worth it!!! And there's a sequel called "Last Window: The Secret of Cape West", but sadly it's NOT available in North America, but it's available in the UK and u can order it on amazon.com! :D

Marlene said...

I hope Her Interactive does more dangerous things in the games, and I think they will with "The Deadly Device." I love the newer games, though, because I'm a sucker for good graphics.

Tiffany said...

Hmmmm......is there anything you didn't like about the new interface? Comparing looks, user-friendliness, etc.?

HungergGames,ND said...

Watched the Sneak peek for the Deadly Device a while back....A horror/murder! WHAHOO! I love that suspence! Cant wait to get both!

Anonymous said...

michael will u do a walkthrough of the next nancy game?

Unknown said...

I think the Monster of Kapu Cave or whatever it was called, was the WORST game they produced. Frankly, it just seemed lame, simple, and not really that surprising on whodunit.
-shrug- I'm pretty sure it was cool back in the day, I guess..