Nancy Drew Sleuths Out a Winner

Nancy Drew: Message in
a Haunted Mansion
Reviewed On
Available For

In the mood for an interactive mystery adventure? HER Interactive then can fill your order with Nancy Drew: Message in a Haunted Mansion. This is the third game in a series of 3D Nancy Drew interactive mystery games that HER Interactive has produced. There is a new one about to come out, but in the meantime I figured I would take a look at this title.

Message in a Haunted Mansion is recommended for players ten and up. In this adventure, Nancy finds herself in an old Victorian mansion in San Francisco helping a friend with the renovations of the building. When mysterious accidents and ghostly events begin occurring around the place, Nancy must answer duty’s call. You, the player, must step into Nancy’s sensible shoes as the super-sleuth begins her (and your) investigation of the strange events.

The difficulty level you choose for the game controls how hard puzzles will be in the game. Junior Level detectives receive more verbal clues from Nancy as well as other hints throughout the game. Senior Detectives have more difficult puzzles to solve. Some of the puzzles in the game include a tangram floor tile puzzle and a computer game maze.

Nancy must uncover clues and investigate the people who are involved with the mansion. You must collect items for your inventory which appear in the inventory window (always visible in the player’s lower right area of their game screen). The cursor in the game is cleverly shown as a magnifying glass. When you are hot on the trail of a clue, the magnifying glass turns red to show you the spots or people in the mansion that need your further investigation.

If players find themselves at a loss for what to do next, you can call Nancy’s friends and relations on the telephone. These folks offer up clues for what you might want to do next, and they offer further information to help with some of the clues that you’ve found so they make a bit more sense. Nancy keeps track of some of the information as you find it in a journal locked away in the suitcase in her room. It’s a very good idea to make your own use of the blank paper journal that comes with the game because Nancy’s notes are a bit abbreviated. There are lots of notes to be taken by the player for keeping track of names of people, the history of the mansion, Chinese symbols, passwords and more as you encounter them in the game. Don’t worry that your notes are being taken in vain because you will need them. A lot of information is needed to help you solve this case.

Another nice feature about this game is that Nancy’s alarm clock allows the player to sleep through uneventful parts of the game day. If you want her to meet up with someone at a particular time in the game, set the alarm clock in Nancy’s room, and she’ll take a nap until you’d like her to begin sleuthing again. A pocket watch to the bottom left hand side of the game screen also keeps track of game time (which passes much more quickly than real time).

If you accidentally blunder things in this game, don’t fret (they won’t slam this mansion’s door in your face with the case left unsolved). There are second chances allowed in Nancy’s world to permit you to continue with your detective work. I tried this option out myself (purely for er, um, review purposes, yeah). After doing something I should not have done, cringing through the scene showing the dramatic and horrific results of my giant goof, and listening to Nancy’s friends over the phone in the next cut scene chastising me for my stupidity, I quickly was absolved of my sinful amateur detective ways through the all forgiving Second Chance button. Simply click on the Second Chance option and you are magically transported back to a time before your fatal goof-up (just don’t do it again!). If only real life has this feature.

This game has amazing graphics which help create an atmosphere of both beauty and mystery. Players are kept with in the rooms and halls of the mansion the entire game. There are plenty of places easily found, and not so easily found (secret rooms and passage ways) that need to be explored. These detailed graphics really help to set the mood of the game for the player along with the chilling soundtrack. Moans and ghostly sounds fill the air at different points in the game. A mysterious soundtrack accompanies your treks around the mansion and helps to create a tone of creepiness and anticipation (and somewhat irritation at points when the same monotonous tune lurks behind you to the point of distraction.)

Even though this game is aimed at adventurous girls ten and up, it is easily entertaining for anyone who enjoys interactive mystery games. Whatever your gender (there is no shame in being a Nancy-boy here) you will enjoy this title.

Players enjoying this game will not be presented with your run of the mill female teenage hero who is too boy crazy or worried about her make-up to crack this case. Nancy is a heroine who uses her head and throughout the game encourages players to do the same. This game can be enjoyed by an individual player or groups of players putting their thinking caps together. This game has a great educational value in allowing players to develop and apply their problem solving skills.

Players must make use of their deductive reasoning skills and apply their logic to piece together this mystery. Puzzles and games throughout this mystery also allow for more brain teasing exercises to be experienced by the player. I highly recommend this game for its amazingly designed atmosphere, educational value, and for the sheer enjoyment of it. I am giving it a perfect 5 GiN Gems. Pick up your magnifying glass and examine this game for yourself!

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