edit to include a link to the last post: I am a post. The last post.

A quick recap for anyone who didn't see the first post. Nancy Drew games have been coming out for about 15 years at a rate of about two games a year. Then they stopped for four years. It came out they were rarely if ever profitable and had been relying on donors to keep putting out games. They laid off all but about 10 employees. The newest game was slated (after many vague delays) to come out a few weeks ago. It was pushed to last week. As always, r/nancydrew is a lovely, active community that is helpful to new or interested players. Now you're caught up.

Against all odds a (mostly) working game was released. Sort of. Her Interactive, the publisher, had started preorders in mid October. You could preorder a digital download or physical copy. Digital downloads were only good for a few months unless you purchased an "extension" which would let you download for 5 years. Physical copies would ship on release day and not before. When you preordered either version the extension was auto added to your cart and had to be manually removed. It was announced that the game would be available on launch via Steam like almost all other Nancy games. The audience for Nancy games is fairly different from most games. We tend toward casual players who don't play a lot of video games outside this one. We also tend to have older computers or laptops geared towards web browsing.

Many hardcore fans preordered as Steam takes a big cut and we're all praying this won't be our last Nancy game. On release day credit card charges went through. Many people had trouble with their digital download. The site has never been user friendly and was unprepared for the influx of traffic. To my knowledge all digital download preorders were eventually able to get their game by the end of launch day. Physical preorders are another beast.

Physical preorderers were mostly people who prize their collection of boxes, much like the people who hunt for WOW collectors editions. Computer disc drives are becoming less common and have been obsolete on Macs for a while. Physical copies were supposed to ship launch day so many r/nancydrew users started emailing Her the day after launch for the promised shipping tracking. Turns out few if any games were shipped on launch. Her claims overwhelming demand forced them to spread out shipping. Which is kinda the point of taking preorders but not surprising given past actions by them and their known money issues. Many people have tried to cancel their preorder (often cause they gave up and bought via Steam) with no response.

Downloading from Steam day of launch took me less than 5 minutes and was problem free.

Many Mac users have had serious, game breaking issues. I don't have a Mac and haven't looked into their issues but it sounds like Mac users who try to play the game have a lot of difficulty. The gameplay requires the use of left and right mouse buttons and I suspect that the 10 different Dev companies didn't properly account for Macs.

So the game itself? I'll save my opinion for the end but the community was disappointed. There are a lot of cool new features and a new interface that is controversial but over all good if disappointing because the game didn't take advantage of it. The visuals are much better than previous games but not good enough to justify the move to Unity/four year delay. The gameplay area is very limited and new navigation is not free roam or even close to intuitive. Most of the difficulty in the game comes from unintuitive gameplay and navigation. NPC models are reused often and even with in view of each other (there's protesters that are identical other than shirt color). If you look out the window at NPCs they are standing in a T pose. A fan won a contest to voice an NPC and their line was obviously recorded on their phone and had a European accent when they were voicing (what appears to be) an American (another reused NPC model). Not that fan's fault but it is absurdly out of place and adds to the slapped togetherness of the whole thing. Her made an effort to have NPCs emote while talking but the results were at best mixed. Emotes often didn't line up with dialog and often felt random and unconnected to their dialog or motivations. Also some of the character models were beyond the creepy valley. They looked like the time I took E and my roommate did a weird dance to trigger me.

The puzzles are the main draw for this series and in this game ranged from "impossible to fail" / "impossible to figure out how to stand in the right place for this to work" and at the harder end "I was really supposed to logically figure this out instead of failing into the right solution?" with nothing in between. Previous games had puzzles that ranged from "a dedicated 10 year old could eventually get this" to "I took a zillion notes so I got this. Or I'll get this in a few tries". The game is advertised as having 15-20 hours of play. I got through it in 12 hours but a lot of that was watching streamers on my second monitor because I wasn't able to get in the right position to do what was required and needed to see how someone else did it. My second play through took 5 hours. This appears to be what most people experience. The most popular Nancy streamer his blind play through in about 8 hours.

The plot was...not objectively the worst. But there's a Nancy game on a deserted island where her friend is kidnapped and there's only one other person on the island and she can't figure out who did it. There's a lot of plot holes and things unexplained by the end of the game. This isn't abnormal for Nancy games. We're still arguing about an ambiguous, almost fatal act in the 6th Nancy game on r/nancydrew even after we got clarification from the game director.

The biggest drama is Francy. See, in this game the Hardy Boys show up. They've appeared before as NPCs and Phone Friends. There's always been a bit of sexual tension between Nancy and Fred (and Joe too a tiny bit). Ned is Nancy's boyfriend. Ned has been there through thick and thin and always supported globetrotting Nancy. He was a bit pissed when Nancy missed their anniversary dinner because she forgot to tell him she was going to Europe for a case. But he understood. There was some subtext about a proposal in the last game. But this game? Ned is only available for two phone calls instigated by him. The first is ended by a girl wanting attention from Ned and the second is cut off when Ned says he wants to talk about something. We do also get a text message convo that ends with "I love you"'s. But after 30+ games of Ned endgame, it feels odd to have him be distant and maybe involved with another girl. The Hardy Boys wanna start a detective agency with Nancy and that'd be cool for new games. But Frank and especially Joe have made it clear Frank wouldn't mind being more than coworkers. Ned wanting to leave Nancy is reasonable but that's also his appeal. He's Nancy's stay at home husband. He likes his role though he worries. If future games come out I expect a break up and teaming with the Hardy Boys. It makes sense narratively even though it wrecks an almost 100 year relationship that us oddly obsessed fan are clinging to.

Overall, r/nancydrew thought it was a poor entry into the canon. But we are all still standing in front of Her saying "Please sir, can I have some more?"

My Feelings: It's not the worst thing Her has put out. If it had been released on the normal 6 month cycle or even delayed by 12 months it would be viewed as ok. It's slightly (but not much) shorter than about a third of the games. It's plot is kinda out there but not even close to the most out there. The navigation is on par with games from the early 2000's, manageable but a pain in the ass. The environment is pretty. The puzzles are straight ass. The voice acting is amazing and I really can't with the complaints. I thought the music (which is usually on par with what I see in movies) continues to be great. I also loved all the Jonny Cake stuff. Fite me.