Sunday, June 19, 2016

Treasure in the Royal Tower Review

My work and my vacation kind of threw off my YouTube schedule, so I wasn't able to do a review for Nancy Drew: Treasure in the Royal Tower, like I expected.

So here, have a sneak preview of my review for the game. It covers...hmmm...the first minute of the game? Ha ha. It goes from the start of the game to Nancy leaving her room, and that's it.

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Treasure in the Royal Tower starts with Nancy writing a letter to George. Nancy is on a Wisconsin ski vacation, but a snowstorm has ruined everything. Now she's stuck inside, and it's boring.

Then Nancy explains that the building is a huge, old castle with dead ends and secret passageways, and there's a mystery because the caretaker is acting strangely, and also, Nancy took candid pictures of the hot ski instructor when he wasn't looking. So really, even IF Nancy could go skiing, she'd still be inside, investigating.

Nancy's opening letter appears in her inventory, and that's neat. I think this is the only game where it's an inventory item, and not just a plot device to introduce us to the story. It also guides the player to Dexter, because the first thing you need to do is drop off the letter with Dexter and start the chore run. More on that later.

First, Nancy's room. Gonna be honest, I don't like it. It's pretty bland, and it tries to trick you into thinking it has more going on than it actually does, by spreading things out unnecessarily. That is, you have three things to pick up: Nancy's room key, the room service menu and a pamphlet about Wickford Castle. They all get put in separate areas, for no apparent reason. In real life, Nancy wouldn't have half her stuff in the dressers and half her stuff in her suitcases. Or maybe she would. Is Nancy a slob? Her family DOES have a housekeeper. Maybe she's a slob.

There's also a radiator in Nancy's room which is making noise, and a telephone. The telephone system got upgraded. Now there's an operator and voicemail. Oh, boy! I think it was a nice idea, but maybe not. Who calls the operator? I don't do that. Do I? [Check to see if you actually do have to use the phone at some point in the game.]

On a table in Nancy's room is Sassy Detective magazine, which explains how to fingerprint security locks. I like the fact that this exists. It's much better than Legend of the Crystal Skull, where there isn't any explanation of how fingerprinting works at all. You're just magically supposed to how it works, and that Bess has powder in her inventory in the first place. [Fix this complaint so it doesn't sound weird.]

So Nancy leaves her room and explores the Wickford Castle. It's a nice location, and it comes across as big and imposing. The only problem people have with the castle is navigating through it. Because it's so big, and because the upper floor is identical hallways, it's very easy to get lost the first time you're playing the game. It doesn't help that there are three dead ends, so you can get lost and end up in an area which goes nowhere. Some people find that frustrating, other people think it's wonderful. Me, I quickly learned to avoid those three pathways, so it wasn't a big deal.

One change I'd make to the castle is that I'd include the Royal Tower. Like, a closed and locked door with a sign that says "Royal Tower, no entrance permitted" or something like that. That would stir up mystery and intrigue about what's inside the Royal Tower, and make it more obvious that Nancy's main goal is to get into the Royal Tower. Because when I last replayed the game, I was surprised at how unimportant the Royal Tower is. Lisa mentions it once, and I think that's it.

We never SEE the tower at any point. I don't even know where to locate it on a map of the game, because the only way to reach it is through a windy tunnel to the elevator and through another windy tunnel under the elevator. And even when you solve the elevator puzzle, it's not obvious that your destination is the locked tower, because we never SEE the tower. So that's what I'd do. I'd put the tower SOMEWHERE in the game, even if it's something simple like a locked door.

Actually, a locked entrance to the tower would be nice, because Dexter could give you the key to that, when he notices the red dirt on your shoes, and that way, getting back to the tower a second time wouldn't involve a huge detour.

The hotel castle itself has three dead ends, and it's easy to get lost the first time around. The top floor is the largest. The first floor has a huge chunk which is missing, and the basement floor has the exit. Uh, what?

The navigation is not good, and it'd be a big help if the navigation was consistent everywhere, instead of varying from place to place. Probably the biggest pain is getting into Nancy's room. You can't zoom in on it. You have to walk PAST it, then U-turn, THEN zoom in on it. Also, it'd help if her room number was listed on her card, because I forgot what room she's in.

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