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on June 28, 2011
After "Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon", the Nancy Drew games seemed to gradually fall further away from the quality that games 3 - 13 held onto. "The White Wolf of Icicle Creek", "Legend of the Crystal Skull" and "The Phantom of Venice" made the games seem like they could gradually be working themselves back up (though I enjoyed Crystal Skull even more than the classics), but then the overwhelming third person in the next two releases kept them from reaching their fullest potential. While the games were fun, they still had a long way to go before they were as good as the classics. When "Warnings at Waverly Academy" came out, we were pleasantly surprised to see a game that lacked third person. It didn't have as much snooping, but it lacked third person and didn't have an overwhelming amount of puzzle-solving like the past few games did. "Trail of the Twister" seemed a bit like the best of both words (like White Wolf), as it did still have third person driving and puzzles that were borderline impossible to figure out, but the character development was a step above most of the more recent releases (especially "Ransom of the Seven Ships"). Then came "Shadow at the Water's Edge", which redeemed the series for many, with lots of sleuthing, character interaction, exploration, and (best of all) no third person. I had the feeling that "The Captive Curse" would define where the Nancy Drew games were heading from hereon out, as "Shadow at the Water's Edge" was so different compared to most of the recent releases. After finally playing it, I'm very delighted to say that the classic formula is back. The Nancy Drew we all know, love, and missed has returned!

In this game, a wealthy German investor named Markus Boehm has called Nancy to help solve a case surrounding Castle Finster, a castle which he's purchased and is trying to attract tourists to. Legend has it that a monster lurks in the woods beyond the castle, returning every now and then to seek out a young woman to take captive. What the monster does with his victims, nobody knows, but none of the girls who've been taken captive by it have ever been seen again. When it looks like the monster has returned, residents fear for their lives and keep their doors locked. Nancy agrees to try to help, but soon finds herself in danger of becoming the next young woman to be taken captive by the monster. Can she solve the case before the monster makes her its next victim?

The plot sort of made me think of a mix of "Treasure in the Royal Tower", "Curse of Blackmoor Manor", and "The Haunting of Castle Malloy". I don't think this is a bad thing, as I rather enjoyed the plots of those games. The story may seem familiar, but once the game is actually played, it seems more unique in and of itself. The game lacks any sort of treasure hunts or something along those lines like the majority of the previous games have, too, making it fully focused on discovering the truth behind the monster. There also aren't any chores that really need to be done in this game, which is a bonus, as they did become rather overwhelming in some of the more recent releases. The closest thing to a "chore" done in this game is when one suspect asks Nancy to talk to another for them once or twice.

The graphics used in this game were beautiful. All of the characters looked very realistic, and their animations were incredible. I loved exploring Castle Finster, which is large and extremely beautiful. It's been a long time since a Nancy Drew game has taken place in a castle that's this explorable, interactive, and lovely. I'd say the last time that happened was "Treasure in the Royal Tower", and I've actually come to prefer this game over that one.

The puzzles in this game were all very well-integrated, and all seemed to have a reason for being there. There were a lot of them, but "The Captive Curse" isn't focused on solving one puzzle after another after another, eventually taking away from the mystery (much like "The Haunting of Castle Malloy" or "Ransom of the Seven Ships").

Like the earlier games, this one has a lot of exploration and secret passageways. This was wonderful, as I missed having so much space to explore in the more recent games. While the castle and the neighboring woods are easy to get lost in the first few times around, they eventually grow familiar. I found them very nicely done, and I didn't even mind getting lost in the castle all that much, because just looking at the beautiful scenery left me mesmerized...

The characters in this game were definitely above average compared to some of the more recent games. The previous three did a better job with characterization and development than most of the more "modern" games before them (game 14 and after are the "modern" games). I liked the phone friends and the suspects, and Markus seemed to even play a rather vital role in solving the case (as he did provide Nancy with a wealth of information, more so than most of the people she's been called for help from).

The suspects include Karl Weschler, the mayor of Castle Finster who dislikes tourists. Anja Mittelmeier is the castellan of Castle Finster and Karl's second-in-command, who seems to have a bit of a dislike toward her boss. Lukas Mittelmeier is a young boy whose father is the head of security, and he enjoys pulling pranks on people. Renate Stoller is an old and mysterious woman who's very superstitious; she seems to know a lot about the monster legend and believes it wholeheartedly. They all had some good reason to be the culprit in the end, but I had my suspicions on a certain character from almost the beginning of the game. The character seemed to posses the most mystery about him/her, and (in my opinion) had the most solid reason to do something like this. My suspicion did turn out to be correct, but there was enough evidence and clues pointing toward the other three characters to make me wonder about them at times too. Overall, I'd say it was a bit easy to guess the culprit, but it was also easy to get suspicious of the other characters and accuse an innocent party.

The soundtrack of this game was pretty good. I would say that the same songs did seem to play over and over again most of the time, but none of them ever got annoying. They complimented the castle's beautiful scenery, and they also added to the overall aura of mystery and suspense. I didn't think this was necessarily the most memorable soundtrack, but it was definitely a good one.

This game really has shown the redemption of the Nancy Drew games. I have high hopes for the future games because of this one, and I definitely think (and hope!) that the next game will be one of the best ones we've seen yet. It's been a long time since I've been THIS excited for the next Nancy Drew game, and I'd have to say that this game is evidence that the curse that's kept Nancy from her full potential in the most recent games is no longer keeping her captive (pun intended). Overall, this game gets a well-deserved 5 star review. Way to go, Nancy!
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on June 28, 2011
Nancy Drew 24: The Captive Curse

-Before I Begin...
My review will be spilt up into sections and have a in-depth look at that topic. Then at the end of the review I round up the stars and give an overall rating.

-Interface
The interface is very simple, intuitive, and has not been changed from the previous release. What's new is that cell phone has changed (yet again). The new feature is the Hint Hotline app, which is only available on Junior Detective mode. I think the app is great, especially since the clues that Bess & George/Ned give aren't always helpful. The hint hotline is very good at giving as little or as much help as you want, however you cannot skip right to the spoiler you have to continue to go back and forth between the puzzle you are working on and the app itself. There are also some phone games (available on the Special Edition, not sure about the standard) I found the phone games kind of silly because they are from other past games, and they weren't very "arcade-ish" like most real life mobile games are. Anyways it's just a small nitpick. Otherwise I like the new phone interface, it's very streamlined. I'd also like to point out that this game is now a DVD-ROM, so it only requires one disc to fit all the game goodies. With it being a DVD I could definitely see how much smoother the game installation and game play itself was. I experienced no problems whatsoever.
*****

-Plot
Nancy Drew games seem to always have a strong plot and this one is no exception. Nancy has been hired by a rich investor to investigate a monster problem at Castle Finster in Germany. It's a straightforward mystery that's been recycled from many past games, but the setting and the motives are different. I did like the plot, but after playing a game about ghost haunting (Shadow At The Water's Edge), this plot seemed a little stale. If it weren't for the spectacular setting, this game would not stand out against the others in the series. It's time for Her Interactive to step up their story development and come up with something fresh and new. But, as a standalone game, Captive Curse has an engaging plot that will keep you enticed to follow the strange mystery to the end.
****

-Characters
The characters in this game are by far one of the best groups. Each character has a specific, intricate personality with an intriguing back story and definitive secrets to hide. In terms of character development, this game shines at its brightest. What's also great is the variety. There are four on-screen characters to interact with. My favorite has to be Lukas, who is a hilarious and mischievous little boy who happens to be the son of the castle's security guard. Then there is the friendly but power hungry Anja, niece to Lukas who is on the up and up on what's really going on at the castle. Another character named Karl is the castle's mayor who is trying to quiet down the monster rumors, meanwhile he keeps himself locked tight in the castle so he can busy himself with his own homemade strategy board game. Finally there is the mysterious storyteller named Renate, a stubborn old lady with a sweet spot for food. In terms of character interaction, there is tons of conversations to be had and millions of questions to be asked. I had a great time getting to know the characters, and their facial expressions and voice work was amazing! The phone friends that you have in this game are Ned, Frank, and Markus (the rich investor who hired you for the mystery). This game definitely stuck out as one where your phone friends are really interesting this time around, there seems to be some drama in Nancy & Ned's relationship that you'll definitely want to see in the game.
*****

-Setting & Graphics
With the game now being on a DVD-ROM I could definitely notice a sizable difference in the graphics. The cut scenes were even more gorgeous and the graphics themselves were simply outstanding. Every location had crisp, clear, and natural looking graphics. I have to say that everything looked amazing. In terms of setting, this place is huge! The castle has many locations to explore and you will definitely get lost in the beginning of the game! There are many hallways, stairs, corridors to walk through. The castle has many rooms to explore, from an office to a bedroom, to a gift shop and etc. The castle décor was very detailed, tasteful and just beautiful. I loved all the chandeliers and the wall sconces, and the paneling. The castle is just an extravagant piece of eye candy. What's also great is the amount of passageways, I won't spoil too much, but there is a lot of ways to get around in this game! In terms of outside the castle, there is a courtyard (which is useful really only for the well) and a forest which has many paths to follow. I found myself getting lost easily, which could be a good thing or a bad thing for people. To me it was a good thing, I like being able to have a large expanse of territory to cover. That said, I will say the rooms could have had more things to click on/zoom in on. The rooms only have a few hotspots for you to fully explore which kind of left me a tiny tiny bit disappointed. I really wanted to be able to search every nook and cranny of the rooms. But that is just a personal preference, and I can't complain when the graphics and setting were outstandingly done. I have to give props to whoever designed the layout of the castle!
*****

-Puzzles/Activities
This game had only a few real puzzles in it, which I found refreshing. The last game (#23) was puzzle heavy it seemed, and this one seemed lighter. That said, every puzzle required some brain power. The nice thing is that every puzzle made sense to the game as well. No chores, no random time-fillers, just real and original puzzles that belonged in the game. And most of all there was SNOOPING! Tons and tons of snooping! Every character has some personal items that you get to snoop through. This has been a feature that has been a little bit lacking in the past games, but this game makes up for all of it. Another great thing this game has is some fun mini games, Lukas has a great addictive game and Karl has a homemade strategy board game for you to play for money. They are fun little games that you are never really forced to do, which makes it all more the fun. Another great feature is that you get to buy food and souvenirs from the gift shop, and for some reason I love virtual shopping and eating! My only suggestion is that maybe a couple more activities/puzzles could have been added to extend the length of the game.
*****

-Ending
The ending was very unexpected and abrupt. In fact it felt a bit anticlimactic. As you learn the history of the legendary monster, you feel like the game is going to have this big dramatic ending scene. Instead you get something a bit more toned down. Her Interactive has also brought back the "guess who the culprit is", but this time if you get it wrong you die, which seems a little silly to me. There are some ending puzzles that are pretty straightforward and then finally you have to catch the culprit. Capturing the culprit is very easy as well, it took hardly any thought. When the ending cut scene plays you get the mystery solved but you don't get the answer to ALL of your questions. I didn't like the ending, but it could have been worse. The culprit's motives also seemed realistic and understandable. The ending just could have been more dramatic and exciting to me though.
***

-Scare Factor
The scare factor in this game was mellow. Not boring mellow, but just not "on the edge of your seat" scary either. There were some scary moments for sure, but not on the level of the previous game, which has taken the title of scariest Nancy Drew game to date. You do see the monster of course, and Her Interactive did a great job making it pretty gruesome looking. I would say the backstory behind the monster is pretty scary and creepy. There are places in the castle (namely the passageways) where you feel a creeped out as well. The castle has some scary history which adds to the overall eeriness. There are only about one or two accidents that Nancy encounters, nothing compared to the previous game. So overall, this was not a particularly frightening game. I thought the scariness could have been amped up a notch or two, but then again this game is right of the heels of a VERY scary game, so it wouldn't be fair to say this game has no scare factor at all.
***

-Overall
I really enjoyed this game; it was a great game for a lazy summer day. The back story of the castle was really fascinating, and the characters were pretty amazing. I just wish the game was longer and had a more climatic ending! But there is little this game lacks, and it's definitely a new favorite of mine. The replay ability of this game is very high for me; I'll definitely be playing it over and over to get all the game awards and outtakes. In terms of challenging-ness, this is one of the easier games of the series, it focuses more on plot and characters and snooping itself more than puzzles. I would say Shadow At The Water's Edge has a perfect balance of plot & puzzles. Still, this game is very fun and memorable in my entire collection of 24 games. For old and new fans alike, this is a fantastic game. I would strongly recommend you buy the game, even with its few faults. This game is a great preparation for Nancy's 25th mystery which will take place in none other than River Heights with Bess, George and Ned! Stay tuned for Nancy Drew 25: Alibi in Ashes coming this fall!

Add all these up and divide by 7...
5 *'s (Interface)
4 *'s (Plot)
5 *'s (Characters)
5 *'s (Setting & Graphics)
5 *'s (Puzzles/Activites)
3 *'s (Scare Factor)
3 *'s (Ending)
= 30 Stars Divide By 7 (Categories) = 4 Stars

-Recommended Games
Shadow At The Water's Edge (See my review of this game)
Secrets Can Kill REMASTERED (See my review of this game)
Warnings At Waverly Academy (See my review of this game)
The Phantom Of Venice (See my review of this game)
Danger On Deception Island

Thanks for reading my review!
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VINE VOICEon August 11, 2011
I loved this game- I thought it was one of the better Nancy Drew games. In this game Nancy finds herself in Germany investigating monster sightings at a remote castle. The castle has a long history of legends surrounding the monster, and the monster has an appetite for young women, just like Nancy.

This game has the elements that make a Nancy Drew game fun. There's a large, beautiful castle to explore. There are people to talk to, and you have to talk to them repeatedly. The mini-games are complex, but not difficult, and they fit with the context of the story. There's no irritating mini-game that's nearly impossible to pass. I got many hours of gameplay from this game. I'd compare it to Blackmoor Manor and Crystal Skull. I thoroughly enjoyed playing this game. The mini-games were so much better than previous ND games, and the artwork was absolutely amazing.
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on August 7, 2011
My sister and I own and have finished all the Nancy Drew games, so naturally we pre-ordered this game to complete our collection. It took a few days to complete, and overall we enjoyed this game.
Unlike games like "Trail of the Twister", in Captive Curse there was a TON of character interaction. In fact, that's mostly what it was. I didn't mind, because I'm more of a fan of the character interaction in the game than the puzzles. However, some of these characters talk a little TOO much. Like, Alejandro from Scarlet Hand, too much.
The 'monster' in this game was somewhat scary, but the times it appeared were so predictable some of the fun was lost.
It got boring, as there was no place to go except the castle, the courtyard, and paths through the forest.
The puzzles were fairly easy, and they were classic Nancy Drew ones combined with some new ideas.
The ending was very easy to accomplish, in my opinion, and lacked the suspense that most games have.
Overall, I liked this game. It reminded me of Danger By Design, one of my favorite games.
I would reccommend it to any Nancy Drew fan, new or old.
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I've played and enjoyed almost all of the Nancy Drew games, but have found the last few entries somewhat disappointing; Trail of the Twister was fun but lacked atmosphere, and both Warnings at Waverly Academy and Shadow at the Water's Edge were dull, half-baked messes that rivaled Danger by Design for my least favorite game in the series. All that said, I found the Captive Curse to be a very pleasing return to form and greatly enjoyed my time with the game.

Legend states that for years a Frankenstein-esque monster has plagued Castle Finster in Germany; in the past, many young girls have been kidnapped by this monster, never to be heard from again. When the monster is sighted again in the present day, Nancy is hired by the castle's owner to investigate. The plot is considerably darker than the average Nancy Drew game; this one makes full use of its E10+ rating, as kidnapping and murder are referenced (in passing, without graphic detail) as part of Castle Finster's dark history. Nancy interacts with four major characters throughout the game, as well as three phone friends; all of the character interaction is very well done, and the dialogue is perhaps the sharpest and funniest in the entire series. The major suspects are simultaneously endearing and suspicious; a difficult feat to accomplish, and one that adds much to the game's story. The driving mystery is entertaining and well worth pursuing, and I was satisfied with its conclusion.

The game has quite a few locations to explore, including the castle interior, the courtyard, a forest, and an extra location that I won't spoil. The castle itself is quite nice, but navigation feels a bit awkward and there seem to be a few spaces that don't have any real purpose aside from looking pretty and adding to the castle's scale. The forest is an absolute nightmare to navigate, but I suspect that was done deliberately. That said, the aforementioned "extra location" is a real treat - highly atmospheric and very creepy by Nancy Drew standards. The "scare factor" is still low for a teenage or adult player, but I don't expect more than Scooby-Doo level scares from games targeted at preteens anyway; if I genuinely want to be scared out of my pants, I'll play Silent Hill 2 or Amnesia: The Dark Descent.

I found that Captive Curse had a good balance of exploration, puzzles, and dialogue; the start of the game may be a bit too talky for some players, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Snooping and exploration are back, and the game no longer feels like an endless series of "go here, do that - good dog, have some plot" tasks assigned by other characters. The puzzles are an enormous improvement over Shadow at the Water's Edge; they're challenging but not tedious, and (thank God) none of them have strict time limits, at least not on Junior level. For those who care, there is no third-person gameplay; I've never minded it myself, but I know that some players don't like it. The game is very well paced, and I can't say that I found it to be considerably shorter than any of the other ND games I've played.

The graphics are, as usual, somewhat dated, but Her Interactive continues to make the best of what they have; the environments look good, the characters are well-animated, and it'll still run excellently on a low-spec laptop. Voice acting is great, though the faux German accents are a little corny, and the music and sound design definitely meet the series' solid standards.

Overall, I really enjoyed the Captive Curse and don't hesitate to recommend it to any fan of the series. It won't be replacing Legend of the Crystal Skull as my favorite, but it's definitely in my Top 10, and maybe even my Top 5. Nice work, Her Interactive; keep it up!

(And speaking of keeping it up, the next game looks great!)
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VINE VOICEon December 8, 2011
INTRO
I don't know what it is about castles, but nearly every Nancy Drew game that took place at one has been fantastic! Curse of Blackmoor Manor? Many fans' favorite game. Treasure In The Royal Tower? One of the most loved classics in the series. The Haunting of Castle Malloy? Well...they can't all be amazing. However, The Captive Curse can safely be added to the "good list" of Nancy Drew castle games.

STORY
-Castle Finster is shrouded in monster legends that have been used to create a holiday in which every eats, drinks, and is merry. However, this year's holiday may not happen because the monster from those legends appears to have returned. In past stories, he torments the castle until he is able to take into his possession a young girl who is never seen by any of the castle residents again. You, as Nancy Drew, have been called to the castle to find out who-or what-is behind these monster sightings and stop them ASAP. Unless, of course, you turn out to be the next victim.

-I just have to say that this is a fabulous story. I honestly found it much spookier than the previous Shadow at the Water's Edge although it was neither terrifying or gory. The monster aspect was somehow not cheesy and actually added suspense to game. There are a few little quirks in realism which I won't go into because of spoiler reasons, but they really don't matter much when compared to the rest of the plot.

GAMEPLAY
-All of the games in the "Nancy Drew Adventure Series" are first-person point-and-click adventure games. You take on the character of Nancy and explore rooms, look for clues, question suspects, and solve puzzles. For the first time in a while Her has managed to create a large, engaging atmosphere. There are many places to explore; and although I'm a veteran Nancy Drew player, I was a bit overwhelmed at first over the fact that there is a large castle to look around in AND a large forest area. That's not even considering all of secret passageways scattered around.

-The puzzles are another way that Her surprisingly excelled at in this game. There were many, many puzzles and nearly all of them made sense to the plot! It was a breakthrough after having so many games just have chores or completely disjointed puzzles in them. The only time that I remember being frustrated with a puzzle was in a scenario that required pixel-hunting. I stayed stuck for a few days before I finally had to look that one up.

-The characters are so much fun in this game. You've got the friendly gossip, the mischievous schoolboy, the zany manager, and the moody storyteller. Their personalities are portrayed brilliantly! My only complaint is that there was just slightly a bit too much dialogue. I often got bored of asking questions for 5 minutes only to realize there are 3 more questions to be asked.

-The interface is mostly the same as it has been in previous games. You've got your inventory (which gets pretty filled up in this adventure), your journal to keep track of everything that happens, your checklist for the easier Junior Detective level, and your cell phone (which doesn't work; you have to use your room phone).

-The length is about 7-8 hours of gameplay, double the length of other recent games in the series.

GRAPHICS/SOUND
-The graphics were gorgeous in the game as always. The castle courtyard had a creepy vibe, the castle was cheery but dangerous, and the forest was so suspenseful that you never knew if something was about to jump out at you.

-The voice acting was great and was one of the reason the characterization mentioned before was so good. A few times the actors themselves seem to realize how many lines they have and start to sound bored, but it doesn't happen frequently enough to detract substantially from the game.

-The music was fantastic, which I don't say often with these newer ND games. It was definitely German with tones added to it depending on the mood of the moment.

OVERALL
This is definitely one of the more pleasurable games to play that Her has recently released. The only thing that keeps it from being perfect is the length dialogues and slight pixel-hunting. I highly recommend this as one of the best games in the series, and I hope if you play it, that you enjoy it as much as I did.
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on July 5, 2011
I'm sort of surprised in reading the glowing reviews of this game that only ONE person mentioned how short it is!!! It was an ok game, but its length - less than 8 hours of game play - is why I'm only giving it 2.5 stars.

I'm used to spending at least a week with a ND game, wandering around the setting, finding clues, playing games with characters (or performing chores for them) in order to get info or puzzle pieces etc. In the Captive Curse the characters you interact with mostly just lay out everything for you when you ask...that's nice and all, but it doesn't make for an interesting or engaging GAME.

Also, everything seemed just a little underdone. The castle halls especially were very bare with little decoration. There were long series of spaces you had to move through in order to get from one character to another, but the volume of space seemed unnecessary to the story. In Treasure in the Royal Tower there were similar large spaces to navigate, but there were actually puzzles that revealed themselves in those hallways. Here...they are just really long, boring hallways.

The story is supposed to take place in just one night, which I didn't really like but that is more of a personal preference than an issue with the game.

When I finished Captive Curse my immediate feeling was this should have been a ND Dossier story, something that was short, shallow and fun, not a full blown title game. I know HER Interactive had offered a `special' version of the game for those who preordered from their website by June 15th so I can only hope those who did preorder the game got a fuller, richer version. For me it was just an ok game, certainly not the best ND title out there and way, way too short to be considered a satisfying Nancy Drew fix.
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on July 6, 2011
I love this game, the story line is great, it wasnt to short like some of the games it had quite a few puzzles and tasks to do,I LOVED IT! Great game and cant wait for the next one.
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on June 30, 2011
In Nancy Drew's latest mystery, she's swooping off to the German countryside, where a mysterious, Frankenstein-like monster has been terroizing the residents of a medieval castle. As Nancy Drew, it's up to you to solve the mystery and perhaps even a legend, if you dare.

This game is one of the best to come out in a long time. It has a lot of character interaction, unlike some previous games. Also, while this game has puzzles, by no means are you bombarded by them. There are absolutely NO chores that are just time-fillers. In short, this is a really fun game.

The only new aspect of gameplay in this newest Nancy Drew installment is the addition of a hint mechanism that Ned (bless his little heart) installed on your phone. So now, instead of calling people to ask for a hint, you just open it up on your phone. In this game, talking on your cellphone wasn't very easy because of service (which is really realistic), so it would have been annoying walking back and forth from Nancy's room to ask for a hint.

Also, there was quite a bit of snooping. You get to explore everyone's area at some point, and each suspect has some damaging information about them.

However, there were very few cutscene events in the game, and to be honest, the culprit wasn't that much of a shocker. (I kind of guessed it who was midway through.)Also, I'm one for neat, tied-up endings where everything's said and done and there are no lingering questions. That's not the case in this game. Instead, there's this really big question hanging over the backdrop of the game that is never answered. Though it's probably so that we're supposed to take what we get and understand the answer in our own way, I just prefer those sewn-up endings.

If you're thinking of getting this game, get it! You won't be disappointed!
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on July 15, 2013
I let my younger siblings watch this as I played for the first time, and one little clip made all of them jump and cover their eyes! It wasn't too scary, and nothing bad, just things jumping out at you. This was a fun game, and I really liked it, especially talking to the different characters. The old lady in the dinning room is interesting, and one of her stories, we walked around saying over and over because it was so funny. Good plot, and I would have never guessed who was the bad guy/girl in a million years! The easter egg you can find adds a little searching, if you want to look for it, if the game isn't enough. I liked this game a lot, and would recommend it to anyone who likes Nancy Drew books or games!
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