Reviews: Nancy Drew: The Final Scene
A friend has just vanished at the Royal Palladium Theater and you, as Nancy Drew, are in a race against time to find her
Developer: Her Interactive
Publisher: Dreamcatcher Games
Genre: Mystery Adventure
Release Date: November 2001
Note: Originally published January 2002
You know, you can't keep a good perpetually-young-and-perky detective down. And to prove it, the indomitable Nancy Drew is back with her second adventure in less than a year!
This is the fifth outing for Nancy in the peppy adventure series from Her Interactive, and for my money it's the most successful game of the series.
This time around, Nancy is in St. Louis at the Royal Palladium Theatre, a historic old theater which is slated for demolition. It's going out with a bit of razzle-dazzle, however, as it's the site for the world premiere of hearthrob Brady Armstrong's newest motion picture, Vanishing Destiny. In fact, Nancy's friend Maya Nguyen is scheduled to interview Brady in his dressing room right before the premiere.
Moments into the story, a shocking development kicks the story into high gear. This is the quickest the story has heated up in any game in the series, and it's an excellent way to start the game.
Perhaps it's my theatrical background, but I have to admit a bias toward the setting of the game. Sneaking around an old theater that's chock-full of history and secrets - it's perfect Nancy Drew material. Not only is the theater full of secret trap doors and hidden rooms, but it has an intimate history with none other than Harry Houdini.
The graphics in the game are up to the usual high standard set by the series.
An improvement in this game over the earlier four, at least to this player, is far less reliance on that annoying "alarm clock" device. I always found that device artificial and confusing, and it's a relief that the chronology of the game in TFS is woven much more tightly.
The puzzles are solid and entertaining, with everything from a jigsaw puzzle and a Chinese block puzzle to inventory-based puzzles that involve keymaking and repairing dusty old theater equipment.
I do continue to wish that the characters had more mobility. The four major characters in the game haunt their respective areas like ghosts in an old castle. I long to be surprised in a Nancy Drew game by turning an unexpected corner and finding a character out of place (and not just in the endgame).
The voicework this time is not bad, but still not exactly inspired. I particularly wish the actress performing Nancy would tone it down a bit. There's just something a bit ghoulish about hearing her gush about the allure of popcorn moments after an apparently serious crime has been committed.
The character models are not as successful as the backgrounds, but they're not bad. Except in one area, and this is something I've held my tongue about for several Nancy games, but after looking at the way the "hunky" movie star is depicted in TFS, I've just got to say it. The Her Interactive graphic team needs to take another look at men's bodies. Both this game and the previous title, "Treasure in a Royal Tower," include characters of men who are supposed to be hunks. Ahem. I'm not asking for Tomb Raider exaggeration here, but a slight V-taper would not be out of line.
On the other hand, the story is good and the usual "everyone's got a dark secret" formula necessary for a Nancy Drew story really works, as each character has an intriguing background. There's the actor - he's a hot ticket matinee idol, but what is he afraid of? There's the actor's agent - just how far would she go to promote her client's career? Of course there's the crusty old projectionist . . . and why does he seem to be so reluctant to leave the doomed theater? Finally, there's the passionate young activist - is he willing to break the law to accomplish his goals?
The theater itself is a character in the story and it has a past of its own, which includes not only secret business deals but one of Houdini's most ingenious escape illusions.
Fans of Her Interactive's Nancy Drew series won't want to miss this excellent installment. And for newcomers, The Final Scene is an excellent place to start.
166 MHz Processor
16 MB Ram
8X CD Rom Drive
150 MB Hard Disk Space
16 Bit DirectX™ 7.0 (or Higher) Compatible Color Graphics Video Card & Sound Card
Mouse and Speakers