on October 14, 2009
After being sorely disappointed by the previous installment in HER's usually fun Nancy Drew series, I admit I was a bit apprehensive about this one. Happily, however, I thoroughly enjoyed this solid game.
Set at a girls' boarding school, Warnings at Waverly Academy offers a well-thought out plot centered around a mysterious series of threatening notes. As the story develops, it weaves both the fictitious history of the school as well as the real history of an American literary figure into a much more complex storyline than you might expect from the initial premise. There's a particularly clever twist that comes just when you think you've got it all figured out, and while you've probably pegged the bad guy--or girl, since Ned's the only male voice in this one--by the end, it's not a "well, duh," kind of solution.
Practically all of Nancy's tasks are seamlessly integrated into the storyline, making even the usually somewhat tedious chores such as cooking feel important to the advancement of the game. I found the game immensely less difficult than some other recent ones--I'm looking at you, Ransom of the Seven Ships--and although some of the puzzles were head-scratchers, none were so baffling to drive me to online hints. There's also a nice diversity of tasks: some visual, some logical, some skill-based.
The archetypal characters at the school are distinctive and interesting, with what come across as actual personalities and motivations--which is good, because there are quite a few of them, another welcome change from the last game. The addition of texting made the story feel very contemporary and real. Although the setting was fairly limited with little exploration available, the graphics were nicely rendered and the music quite pleasant.
So what are the downsides? The world of the game isn't as deep as it could have been, with few locale additions as the story progresses; equally, the game isn't perhaps as long as some others, although it's certainly not the shortest, either. Suspense or even a sense of foreboding is distinctly lacking. Nancy's perils involve demerits rather than actual danger most of the time. And the nature of the storyline seems to dictate the audience for this game to a degree: girls and young women will probably appreciate the characters and school life aspects much more than would some older players. For some, too, the puzzles are probably too easy. Those caveats aside, I recommend this games wholeheartedly for the ND player more interested in plot than in puzzles and in secrets than in secret passages.
on October 25, 2009
Nancy Drew 21: Warnings At Waverly Academy
-Before I Begin...
My review will be spilt up into sections and have a in-depth look at that topic. If you hate reading medium/long reviews or just don't have the patience I would not continue reading, but if you want to learn the most about the product before you buy it you'll continue.
The interface is just the same as Ransom Of The Seven Ships and the other newer games. Just point in the direction you want to go in and click basically. There is a new icon though that is special to this game, that is the Phone icon. The Phone icon lets you go onto Nancy's phone to make calls, take pictures, get text messages, change the time in the game, and change the settings (background and message tone). I really liked the cell phone feature of this game because it has been missing from the games for a while (last seen in Legend Of The Crystal Skull and it only let you call people). It's a lot of fun to take pictures and change the background of the phone too.
The plot surrounds the "Black Cat", a person who is sending threatening notes to valedictorian candidates and even causing them to leave the school by way of "freakish accidents". The most recent victims were either sent to the hospital because of an allergic reaction or locked up in a closet in the dead of night. I loved this plot because it was somewhat scary and it even tied in with some history of Waverly Academy and a real-life famous poet. I found the plot pretty straightforward yet very intriguing because there is a couple plot twists that add even more oomph. I really liked that there was basically one mission: find out who the "Black Cat" is! I just loved this plot a lot!
If you played Ransom Of The Seven Ships, you may have been extremely disappointed with the amount of characters/suspects there was. Well if you were disappointed then, you won't be with this game! There are five characters in this game, each with very different personalities. There is a goth girl, a straight-A outcast/nerd, a shy girl, a sporty determined girl, and the conceited gossip girl. You'll definitely have fun meeting all of them and hearing what they have to say about each other. I loved that there were so many characters! There was also a couple minor characters that you don't "see" that were cool too. Warnings At Waverly Academy basically makes up for all the lack of characters in Ransom Of The Seven Ships. There was a lot of interaction with the characters too, so it wasn't just like having one conversation in the beginning of the game and then not having anything else to say to them at all. I really enjoyed the characters and it has definitely been a step up from the character interaction from previous games like Haunting Of Castle Malloy or Legend Of The Crystal Skull.
-Setting & Graphics
The graphics never seem to be a problem with the Nancy Drew games. And this game is no exception because the graphics are absolutely breathtaking. I loved the fact that the dorm was in an old mansion-like hall. There is a lot of places to go in the game. There is a library, rec room, and a whole bunch of dorm rooms to explore. Also there are some outdoor places like the big oak tree and the cellar. One thing I didn't like is that the setting was confined to just one building and sparse outdoor settings. I understand the game would need more memory to have more buildings but I would have liked to maybe go to a couple more classrooms (there is one in Ramsey Hall). Also the dorm rooms were really cool but there is not very many "angles" per say. I would have liked to do a 360 pan in each of the dorm rooms. Otherwise I really liked the way they designed Ramsey Hall and it is really pretty outside when it snows in the game (yes it does snow in the game!). You won't necessarily feel confined, but I did wish the game had at least one other building.
Ransom Of The Seven Ships was definitely a game for those who love puzzles, this game is more revolved around the plot. The puzzles in this game were pretty moderate, none were as challenging as Ransom Of The Seven Ships. There was plenty of variety though which I enjoyed. You also got to do some fun stuff too like play air hockey, darts, and run the snack shop for merits. Speaking of merits, you could also get plenty of demerits. You can get caught being up after curfew, pulling the fire alarm, sneaking into people's rooms, climbing trees and etc. It's really fun to get demerits, but if you get 15 or more you get expelled. Another thing I liked was the use of Nancy's cell phone. A couple activities required you to go around and take pictures of things/people for the school website and you also get text messages concerning gossip. I found myself constantly wanting to run the snack shop because while you are working, some of the girls start chattering and their conversations are quite funny. Overall, you will have a lot of fun completing the puzzles and activities in the game even if they are not particularly challenging.
One disappointment of this game was the ending! I really didn't want the game to end because I was having so much fun! The problem with the ending is that it came kind of unexpectedly. The ending puzzles were pretty suspenseful though which was a great. Also the wrap-up/motive was really interesting and made sense. Although I didn't like that the ending came unexpectedly/abruptly, I did enjoy it and found the resolution to tie the game up nicely.
I know that many people were disappointed with Ransom Of The Seven Ships, but this game kind of balances out Ransom. Warnings At Waverly Academy is solely surrounded by the plot and its characters while Ransom is more centered on its puzzles and setting. So if you had to pick only one to buy, I would base it on whether you are a puzzle junkie or like interacting with characters more. I really enjoyed this game just as much as I enjoyed Ransom. I just liked that they are totally different from each other so playing both of them makes me happy. Warnings has been a step up in a lot of areas like character interaction, plot and scariness. This game wasn't extremely scary, but it did have me curious and engaged. If you played this game on Halloween night you wouldn't be too scared at all (I would recommend Curse Of Blackmoor Manor, Legend Of The Crystal Skull or Ghost Dogs Of Moon Lake if you want scary). This game was definitely one of my top favorites, maybe even my number one because I just loved the setting and characters. I fully recommend this game to all mystery fans (although it may appeal more to girls because it takes place at an all girls boarding school) because it is a great mystery adventure game. It is definitely worth the $20! The next case will come out summer of 2010, Nancy Drew 22: Trail Of The Twister!
Add all these up and divide by 6...
5 *'s (Interface)
5 *'s (Plot)
5 *'s (Characters)
4 *'s (Setting & Graphics)
5 *'s (Puzzles/Activites)
4 *'s (Ending)
= 28 Stars Divide By 6 (Categories) = 4.6 = Rounded to 5 Stars
Ransom Of The Seven Ships (See my review of this game)
The Phantom Of Venice (See my review of this game)
Danger On Deception Island
Last Train To Blue Moon Canyon (See my review of this game)
Thanks for reading my review!
on December 13, 2009
I've played all the games in this series and some have been better than others, but I disliked the last game (Ransom) so much that I almost didn't buy Waverly. This was a much more enjoyable game, but I had some problems with it. Like a previous reviewer, I got stuck at the Rachel/photo part of the game. Reading through the Her Interactive message boards, MANY players got stuck here. There were a number of hints listed in the message boards for how to get out of this part of the game, things totally unrelated to what I was being told to do in the game (I was being told in the game that I had made a mistake on a task and had to redo it, but that wasn't the case). In my case, none of the hints worked and I had to restart my game. Then towards the end, my game crashed completely and I had to start from an older saved version.
This brought back memories of one of the earlier games (Stay Tuned for Danger?), where there was a bug in the game that if you didn't get a pair of pliers out of a room at a certain point, you'd be stuck and unable to progress. I liked the boarding school setting of this game, but the frustration of having to restart my game is keeping me from giving it more than 3 stars. Maybe Her Interactive rushed this one out a bit too fast.
on October 21, 2009
As an older player, I was quite bored with the first half of the game as there simply wasn't much suspsense or intrigue. You get dragged into petty gossip and must play headache inducing games to advance. Granted, if your coordination is not that good, you will skip through the arcade version of the game by default.
This game seems to be attempting to tap into the market created by "Gossip Girl" by drawing on simillar themes. You essentially investigate the intimidation tactics of someone by the name of "Black Cat," who seems to be attempting to drive her competititon to distraction so that she will become valeldictorian. (At the end, you will discover her real reason for sending the Black Cat notes.) Like Gossip Girl, the students gossip, cheat, steal each other's boyfriends, and engage in sabotage. The students are also subjected to a school hierachy with a "mean girl" on top.
Even though the girls pointed fingers at each other, I was able to guess the culprit from the beginning.
If you are of grade school age, you might be able to relate best to this game. Like "Gossip Girl," these privileged girls, who attend a private school, engage in power plays against each other through subterfuge, blackmail, cliques, threats, intimidation, and deception.
Like "Blackmoor Manor," this game also incorporates illuminati rituals. You get to witness one of the girls, who happens to be a "goth" (ie, celebrates the death culture) participate in an Illuminati ritual in a dark robe. (Think Bohemian Grove.)
The game is enjoyable and guides the player through many interesting twists. I really feel as though I got to know the girls. The graphics are exquisite. It is also on par with the classical games. However, there are limited places to explore. Since Nancy obtained a card which allowed her to enter every room, it would have been nice if she could have explored those rooms when the student was absent. There were also doors to rooms which could not be opened, and Bess was on speed dial, even though we couldn't call her.
It is also fun to get demerits. You can vandalize school property; pull the fire alarm, sneak out of windows in the middle of the night, talk in the hallway past curfew, break into rooms, and do any number of things to get demerits and eventually expelled.
Good game. I would recommend playing it
"Warnings at Waverly Academy" (WAC) is Nancy Drew's 21st adventure with HerInteractive. In WAC, Nancy goes undercover at Waverly Academy, a posh girls-only boarding school in New York. Some of the girls have been getting threatening notes from "the Black Cat," which are then followed by malicious accidents. Nancy, as Becca Sawyer, has been asked by the school's headmistress to investigate.
Unlike the previous installments Nancy Drew: The Haunting of Castle Malloy and Nancy Drew: Ransom of the Seven Ships, there are five characters (suspects) that you have to befriend: Izzy Romero, Mel Corbalis, Leela Yadav, Corine Myers, and Rachel Hubbard. True, the girls fall into somewhat predictable stereotypes (the jock, the Queen Bee, the Goth girl), but they've been given distinct personalities with backstories.
The first comparison that springs to mind is the benchmark of Nancy Drew games, Nancy Drew: Curse of Blackmoor Manor. The game is not nearly as long (or difficult!) as Blackmoor Manor. Other than the fact that both games take place in drafty Gothic buildings, there's really not much in common.
The school grounds are compact and make for easy (if limited) exploration. Inside the school, you have access to about ten or so rooms during the course of the game, along with limited space outside. I would have liked to see more areas to explore, particularly outside (there's an inviting-looking gazebo I kept wanting to explore). The puzzles fit well into the storyline. There's some filler in the form of "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" puzzles; if Nancy wants access to a particular item, she has to do something for another girl first. But these puzzles fit well and are subject-related (a science puzzle, a math problem or two). You're also responsible for working in the school's snack shop (you have to do it at least once a (game) day or you get demerits). You can die (there's a handy Second Chance feature) or get expelled (say, for pulling the fire alarm, too many noise violations, picking locks, or sneaking out at night), but it's smooth sailing for the most part.
Even though Nancy has had plenty of techno-tools in her arsenal in previous games, WAC felt totally current: you keep in touch with the other girls via Twitter, there's mention of MySpace (called URSpace), and part of your job is to help with the school's website. HerInteractive even did a cool "Watching Waverly" Twitter soap opera before the game's launch (the Twitter script can be read at twitter dot com/HerInteractive/watchingwaverly And the school has a "website" at warningsatwaverlyacademy dot com (the campus map got my hopes up that it would be explorable).
Overall, WAC was short, but fun. You really get a feel for the girls, the school, and the mystery. The historical storyline tied in well with the overall theme. The graphics look great, particularly the character animations (special mention to the modeling of Rachel; I thought I was watching a movie during cutscenes, she was so realistic). The music was perfect without being intrusive. There's a fun Easter Egg that you can find (there's probably more), and references to earlier ND games (including the ever-present Koko Kringles). And there's not much in the way of scare factor, so this is a good choice for younger gamers (much less of an emphasis on the supernatural than Blackmoor or Nancy Drew: The Legend of the Crystal Skull).
on January 9, 2010
My twelve year old grand daughter's a Nancy Drew fan. Her dad sugested I buy this as her Christmas present. I thought I was buying a book. Imagine how surprised I was to discover it was a computer game! There were five of us together for the holiday. One by one we all gathered around the coffee table. With Franny controlling the mouse we worked as a team to solve the mystery on a large screen TV. The puzzles were difficult enough to stump two whiz kids & three grown ups. Lots of laughter & applause when we moved ahead in the game. It was an irrestible family activity. Everyone joined in to help Franny. Nancy Drew saved us from what could have been a dull afternoon. Working as a team we exercised our brains & burned off some of of the calories we consumed at dinner. Nancy Drew rescued us & we, in turn, helped her solve a mystery. Not for those who like to nap after eating.
on December 7, 2009
I find it hard to believe that "Ransom of the Seven Ships" would have been a disappointment to many, but this one would not. Impossible! Are some of these rave reviews written by employees of Her Interactive? At the very least these "ravers" have been closely following the Her Interactive online forums in order to play the game to the finish.
Having played all other games, I would rate "Warnings at Waverly Academy" at the level of "The Final Scene." It is about as frustrating to follow.
PROS: The plot line is interesting. The characters are also well developed. The graphics are acceptable although very dark.
CONS: There are definite bugs that confuse the player. One in particular is when the player has completed all tasks to only find that the key character (Rachel) still complains that the task is not done correctly. The real problem is a time factor key--the player is left on her own to determine that she needs to go to bed; of course, there is no way of knowing this from the game. There are several places where the player is left to figure out what to do without any prompting from anything other than the Her Interactive online forums. This is unacceptable. It isn't unusual to become stuck in a Nancy Drew game, but typically this happens near the end of the game, when all pieces need to fall in place for the climax; in this game, it is a matter of course--very single-threaded.
This game is, in fact, single-threaded to a fault (bug). It is possible to have Ned giving you hints about things you have already completed. It's one thing to have to "catch up" on phone conversations, but quite another to have the characters dragging the plot line out of sync.
Another bug-ridden area of the game is the air-hockey game, which has become a source of frustration for many players as stated on the Her Interactive forums.
For much of the game the player is locked into a very restricted area and very confining paths (think "The Final Scene") that become boring quickly.
My overall opinion about this game is that it was rushed to the market without adequate beta testing, or that Her Interactive was too concerned about the Dossier series. I hope that future games by Her Interactive are better.
on October 16, 2012
I will start out this review by saying that it has been a few months since I played this game, so my review will not be as highly detailed as I would like. But I do remember quite a bit and I will say this is a really good game! I'm going to split my review up into different sections so I can give the game a more accurate rating.
PLOT - 4.5/5: Nancy is being sent undercover to Waverly Acedemy, an all girls boarding school in Upstate New York. Posing as a student named Becca Sawyer, it's up to Nancy to investigate a string of attacks meant to scare off Valedictorian candidates by a mysterious attacker who calls herself the Black Cat. Basically, the first note you receive from the Black Cat is a warning, and if you get a second one, the Black Cat attacks. Already among the Black Cat's victims are Megan, a girl who suffered an allergic reaction, and Danielle, who was locked in a closet overnight. There is also a sub plot involving one of Waverly's founding teachers and the fact that she may have a treasure hidden somewhere in the school.
Ultimately, I liked this plot. Although I found it somewhat unrealistic that the school would deal with such serious attacks by sending someone in undercover, I still enjoyed being undercover because no one in the school knew Nancy's real identity, which led to lots of snooping possibilities. I also liked the catty atmosphere between the students. It was fun talking to one girl and getting her opinion then getting a totally different opinion from the next girl. The sub-plot kind of lost me, but that's probably because I was so consumed in the mystery. Overall, an intriguing and fun plot!
CHARACTERS - 4/5: I loved the characters in this game, and there were plenty of them! They were all different (although rather stereotypical), and it was so fun getting to interact with all of them. I also loved how everyone was a suspect! There's Mel, a goth cello player. Izzy is the queen bee, though she's not very well-liked. Rachel is kind of outcast who was really needy and asks Nancy to do things for her the second you meet her. Corine is Nancy's roommate, she's friendly, but almost creepy because she strives so hard for people to like her. Leela is sporty and competitive, but I really liked her. And there is Megan, who you can call on the phone. There is also a girl named Paige, who is the Residential Advisor. You can knock on Paige's door and she'll tell you to go away, but that's it. The whole game I was waiting to be able to talk to Paige and you couldn't, which I thought was kind of wierd. It seems like she would have been an important character considering she's in charge of the girls.
SETTING - 5/5: The setting was great. I loved how each girl's room reflected her personality. I also thought that the school was so beautiful. It looked totally realistic, there were little lounge areas for the girls and a rec room with games and a snack bar in it. There was even a TV in the rec room, but I couldn't figure out how to use it (I don't even know if it could be used, haha). You could go outside of the school a little bit, but not very much. I felt like there were plenty of places to explore in this game!
PUZZLES - 3.5/5: I felt like you had to do too many favors, or chores, in this game. I wish Nancy would stop offering to help people so often! It was kind of ridiculous to be doing these girls' homework when you've only known them for, like, less than a day. That was annoying I thought. Also, it's Nancy's job to serve snacks. I loved working at the snack bar because you get to hear these funny girls gossip about their cute teacher, besides making the snacks is so easy and only takes a few minutes. Climbing up the tree was really difficult, even with a walkthrough. But the other puzzles all seemed to fit in well with the game and, except for the homework, I felt like they were helping me move along in the mystery.
WAS IT CHALLENGING?: Sort of. I used a walkthrough on a lot of it, because I don't really like spending a bunch of time trying to figure out a puzzle. The tree climbing puzzle was tricky though even with a walkthrough. I would give it a 2.5 for challenge, but it could be different for you depending on how good you are at puzzles.
ENDING - 4.5/5: I liked the ending. Though Nancy's escape was somewhat far-fetched, it was still very exciting! The culprit's motives made sense and there were no loose ends with the other characters. I also loved catching the culprit. A solid ending to a fun game!
= 24, divided by 6 = 4 stars
on October 20, 2009
I've played almost all of the Nancy Drew games. Warnings is a solid game worth playing. The character interaction was great, and the mini games were fun. The interface with the cell phone was excellent and very useful. I definitely enjoyed this game over Ransom of the Seven Ships, yet I still think that Blackmoor Manor,Icicle Creek, and Castle Malloy are my favorites. I think that I like the creepy settings more than the tropical settings. There weren't enough places to go and explore in Warnings. You only get to explore the dorm and a small area outside. I don't feel like Warnings had the depth of some other Nancy Drew games. The game was over too quickly. I wasn't too enthralled with the ending/wrap up of the mystery.
Anyway, this is a good, solid game worth playing. I definitely recommend.
on January 5, 2013
This game has a lot of great things going for it, but I feel it could have been better. I really loved the prestigious-school setting, and even though there weren't as many places to explore as in other games, the places you could go were very pretty and well-animated. There were some moments where the characters, especially the culprit during the end reveal, looked a little 2-dimensional, but I'm not going to be too picky about the character animation when my real complaint is the lack of interaction with the characters. We get to have approximately one real conversation with each person when we first meet them, and everything they say to us after that is basically a request to do some chore or homework assignment for them. Granted, I actually really liked the chores and puzzles we had to do for them, but I would have loved to know more about each suspect. I was stunned when the game was over already and we hadn't even learned possible motives for more than one or two people! More character development would have been nice, but the puzzles were fun. I thought they were exactly the right difficulty level. There was one in particular, though, that would probably be pretty hard if you're playing alone, since it involves memorizing a long sequence of quick movements that you watch. It might be good to recruit a friend to help you with that one, so each of you can take on half of the memorizing.
From the very start of the game, the plot totally intrigued me! As is often the case in ND games, there are actually multiple plots going on at once: one is the reason Nancy was called out on the case, that is, one of the students, calling herself the "Black Cat," has been leaving threatening notes and causing "accidents" to other students. The accidents are genuinely malicious, which keeps the plot interesting, if not actually scary. The other plot involves the history of the academy, and in particular, one of the founders of the school, a teacher at Waverly back in the 1800's who died mysteriously and, as we learn very early on, seemed to have some sort of dark past. I thought both of these plots were terrific and engaging...but then the game ended, and it felt like there was so much that was left unsaid! There were a number of times where someone would be secretive about something, and then we would never find out what it was! This was especially the case with the historical plot, where the former teacher is built up to be such an intriguing character and we end up learning so disappointingly little about her!
I should briefly mention the mini-games. I thought they were especially good in this game, and for anyone who is apprehensive about working in the snack shop after WAYYY too much cooking in "White Wolf of Icicle Creek," let me reassure you, it's not nearly as bad as that. In fact, it was relaxing, fun, and I actually did it voluntarily, which I never usually do with mini-games because I like to stick to the plot. Unlike "White Wolf," there is no stress of having a time limit because there are no foods that can burn. You just set things on the trays. The other games, air hockey and a darts-based game called Scram, are also especially fun. I ended up turning to them a lot while stuck on what to do next (I played for the first time on Senior Detective level, which actually wasn't too hard, but there were one or two times where I was stuck and directionless.)
Overall, this game was actually really fun, with excellent puzzles and a very enjoyable setting, but I took off one star from the overall rating because the plot/characters were so underdeveloped that I honestly thought I had accidentally skipped something by the time the end showed up and I was yelling, "But they didn't answer THAT, or THAT, or..." Nancy's post-game wrapup of the story does tie up a lot, but I do wish we would have learned more people's motives before being thrown into the end without ever having really gotten to know anyone.