Nancy Drew: The White Wolf of Icicle Creek

As Nancy Drew, travel to the Canadian Rockies and go undercover as maid/cook to investigate who or what is behind the mournful howls and mysterious explosions plaguing Icicle Creek Lodge

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Genre: Mystery Adventure
Release Date: June 2007
Platform: PC

Note: Originally published 8 August 2007     

WARNING: The White Wolf of Icicle Creek uses new technology that requires a DirectX 9 compatible graphics card. Make sure that your graphics card meets this requirement or you will be one of many ND fans would will find yourself with the first Nancy Drew game that might not run on your system.

Who would have thought back in 1998 that almost 9 years later the Nancy Drew series would still be going strong? Her Interactive has given adventure gaming fans something to look forward to with not one, but two Nancy Drew games every year. It’s a remarkable achievement to say the least and one they should be very proud of.

For the most part the games have always been reliable and something to look forward to, however, last year some (including myself) began to question if they had lost their way. The Creature of Kapu Cave was a major disappointment - packed with monotonous chores and extremely short. It started to feel as though HI might have lost their passion and were following some boilerplate format and essentially putting out the same games with relatively few changes.

Well, I am happy to report that those feelings were unfounded. The White Wolf of Icicle Creek is one of the best Nancy Drew games to come out in years.

A New Format

First things first, the Nancy Drew engine has gone through some major changes. The game screen is now larger although the game still runs at 800x600.  The familiar books menu is gone as well, which at first sounded like a bad idea. In retrospect though, I like this new format much better even though there is something to be said about keeping with tradition.

Also gone is the Second Chance option.  This was used when Nancy might have made a bad move that resulted in someone getting away or, presumably, Nancy was killed. When these events happen, you are no longer given opportunity to choose to take a second chance – it is done automatically.

This makes sense too. How many people didn’t choose Second Chance when faced with a game-ending event? I doubt very many people said, “No, I would rather reload a saved game from an hour ago.” So the Second Chance option was pretty much pointless since people were going to do it anyway. So if you do encounter a game ending event, don’t worry, the game will automatically put you back to where you were just before you made the bad decision.

The rest of the game is still as we expect – 1st-person point & click.

The Story

I have to admit that I was expecting this to be a scary game based on some of the information I had before playing. It becomes pretty apparent early on that there is nothing scary about this game and it is a pretty straightforward mystery. That’s not a bad thing!

This time around, Nancy finds herself in the Canadian wilderness at a secluded Inn at the request of the owner. Strange accidents have been happening closely followed by the appearance of mysterious white wolf. Your job is to solve the mystery before things get out of control and tourists are too worried to vacation at the inn – thus Nancy’s friend will be out of business.

Add to this a cast of suspects who all seem like guilty candidates at one point or another. This brings up my biggest disappointment with the Nancy Drew games, which I have mentioned in a previous review – the guilty person can be ANYONE at the end. There is no weeding out of suspects, which culminates in you determining who is guilty. At the end it can be any of the people you have talked to with an explanation of how and why they did it made up of information you never really came across during the entire game.

Bigger is Better

After being pretty disappointed with the previous ND game, The Creature of Kapu Cave, mainly because of it’s over abundance of chores and being extremely short, I can happily report that The White Wolf of Icicle Creek was much better in both categories. I clocked in over 12 hours, which is a pretty good size for any adventure game. It was never a dull 12 hours either as there was lots to explore and examine.

There were indeed the chores that have become commonplace in the Nancy Drew games, but I found them to be very easy and they didn’t take up a lot of game time. I just wish I could make a bed that fast in real life…

What I really enjoyed the most were the puzzles, which I found to be somewhat challenging yet not too taxing on the brain. Many were quite unique and very well integrated into the game. Lots of logic-based challenges await the player as well as playing a game of Fox and Geese against the computer AI. At first it might seem difficult, but after a few rounds you get the hang of it and it is fairly easy to win. However, be prepared for some rather long bouts against your opponent.

Be warned, some of the challenges do require a bit of dexterity with the mouse and you better click fast. Most notable in this regard was the snowball fight. Some people might have a bit of trouble with this one, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and got a serious chuckle when my throws connected and I could hear my opponent wince in pain. Sorry to seem cruel, but it was funny.

Conclusion

Nancy Drew fans will NOT be disappointed in this latest installment. It’s a solid game effort by Her Interactive and those who might have been passing on the Nancy Drew series might just want to give this one a try. In my opinion, The White Wolf of Icicle Creek is an excellent step in the right direction after the last few ND titles that seemed to be lacking some of that old magic that made the series so popular in the first place.

Final Grade: B+

System Requirements:

    Windows XP/Vista
    1 GHz or greater Pentium or equivalent class CPU,
    128 MB of RAM,
    1 GB or more of hard drive space,
    32 MB DirectX 9.0 compatible video card,
    16 bit DirectX compatible sound card,
    24X CD-ROM drive, mouse, and speakers

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