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Nancy Drew Labyrinth of Lies Review

Nancy Drew Labyrinth of Lies Review

Nancy Drew Labyrinth of Lies Review

Nancy Drew Labyrinth of Lies Review by Bailey James. "A solid addition to the Nancy Drew series. Diehard fans will be relieved to see some recurring problems getting addressed, and casual players will enjoy the variety of puzzles and the characters that make this engine churn."


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Her Interactive’s newest installment in the long-running Nancy Drew series, Labyrinth of Lies, is a largely successful title that sets the franchise back on track after its last few titles have stumbled. A strong and well-rounded cast of characters balance out a mixed bag of puzzles and settings that nonetheless makes this a title worth picking up for diehard Nancy Drew fans and those who are new to the series.


This time, our favorite girl detective has been sent to Greece to assist with the setup of an art exhibit at a museum but finds herself in the middle of an elaborate crime (as usual) when priceless artifacts go missing. Nancy is tasked with hunting them down and must also keep an eye on the suspects, a set of actors performing in a play about the myth of Persephone being put on to advertise the show.

I was especially prepared to be critical of this plot because it bears a striking similarity to my favorite Nancy Drew game, Secret of the Scarlet Hand. In that game, Nancy has been sent to Washington D.C. to assist with the execution of an art exhibit at a museum but finds herself in the middle of an elaborate crime (as usual) when priceless artifacts go missing. Sound familiar? It should. The games go in different directions with the same conceit—SSH has more to do with embezzlement and understanding the ancient Mayans, while LIE is more concerned with forgery and provenance—but nonetheless it feels like a bit of a cop-out. Greece, which has some of the world’s richest history and culture, could have probably been showcased to great effect without relying on dumping all its treasures in the story framework of a museum.

Despite this retreading of old ground, the play Persephone in Winter that functions as the keystone of the plot adds a richness to it that makes it feel utterly convincing. It’s clear that the writers put a lot of work into making this story-within-a-story feel like a real artifact, and it shows. The whole first act can be read as a thirty-page script, and there are also dozens of short recordings of the cast that offer further insight into the story being told and the motivations behind the actors playing each role. The Persephone myth has also been updated for a modern audience with contemporary jokes and a new ending, which keeps ancient Greece from feeling like too dusty a location for our modern-day detective.


In its most recent titles, HeR has focused a lot of its attention on creating memorable characters for each game, and the same is true here. Though this can lead to what feels like a lack of attention to other crucial gameplay elements like exploration and puzzles, it means the suspects are mostly unassailable. Labyrinth of Lies is no exception, serving up a wide range of backgrounds, motives, and personalities that clash pleasingly when all the primary suspects are forced to rehearse together. The only real weakness is Thanos, a thuggish Greek playing Hades who communicates mostly in grunts of hostility, but he still rounds the rest of the chatty, reactive characters nicely. Frank and Joe Hardy return as phone friends and provide delightful side commentary and advice (and, at one point, a handy art book that seemed to travel from the U.S. to Greece in the mail in about five minutes), The suspects are people you don’t mind spending some time interrogating,

Nancy herself is something of an enigma, reacting with unnecessary aggression to situations that could have used more finesse, and revealing the truth for the sake of being honest even when it didn’t suit her. This problem has persisted in other recent titles like The Shattered Medallion, but it’s possible to overlook here; we hear far more from the other characters, who carry the show.

Gameplay and Exploration

HeR’s graphics and sound are top-notch here. Greece has been beautifully rendered and the music is moody but inconspicuous. Voice acting is skilled and the technical aspects of gameplay have been honed to near-perfection. Nancy records useful tidbits of information and suspicions about the activities around her in a notebook and a diary she keeps on her phone, and there’s a task list at the amateur level that reminds players of the puzzles and duties they should be working on to progress the case forward. The game is a nice length too; you’ll probably spend nine or ten hours solving the case and more if you spend time on all the bonus puzzles scattered throughout the game world.

Though there are lots of areas to explore, the game nonetheless makes you feel like you’re on very tight rails. Large and carefully rendered areas will contain only a few hotspots, and Nancy will refuse to look at anything other than what’s strictly necessary for completing the case. Often I found myself wanting to take a closer look at something that seemed intriguing and being unable to turn the camera toward it. I would rather be able to poke around every corner of a smaller space than feel as though Nancy is merely glancing around a large maze of locations. The museum also feels a bit scant in the knowledge department, especially compared to its predecessor in Secret of the Scarlet Hand, which contained enough information about the ancient Maya to fill a real museum exhibit. Location designs are passable but nothing mind-blowing.


The game contains a wide variety of puzzles, most of which were reasonably well-integrated into the framework of the story (there are always a few instances of people improbably hiding important information behind easily deducible security systems, but these can be overlooked). Though there are a couple of instances of unclear instructions, in general there are no unfathomable head-scratchers and the game threw plenty of absorbing challenges my way. The game also includes several popular puzzles from recent installments as cell phone games, which provided a nice distraction whenever I got stuck and wanted a mental break from my current challenge.


Overall, this was a solid addition to the Nancy Drew series. Diehard fans will be relieved to see some recurring problems get addressed, and casual players will enjoy the variety of puzzles and the characters that make this engine churn. If you’re a Greek history nut looking for an authentic experience of the country, Labyrinth of Lies probably isn’t for you, but it’s a good way to dip your toe in the water. This game won’t become the stuff of myths, but it’s a worthy diversion.

Final Grade: B+
Solid characters and story immersion
+ Varied and absorbing puzzles 
+ Exquisite graphics and sound 
– Locations felt limited and pragmatic 
– Game only scratched the surface of Greek history and culture



Bailey James

Bailey James

Bailey’s lifelong love of adventure games began with the Nancy Drew game Message in a Haunted Mansion, when she learned that you can drop chandeliers on bad people without getting in trouble, and has since expanded to include a panoply of other favorites like the Myst games, the Monkey Island series, any game involving Sherlock Holmes, the Tomb Raider franchise, and the all-time best adventure game ever created, Grim Fandango. She's added more recent releases like Firewatch and Life is Strange to her list but nonetheless loves diving into the old classics. She still spends large amounts of time searching for secret passages in the hope of finding an unsolved mystery lurking out of sight. Bailey graduated from Oberlin College and lived in New York City for three years before returning to her hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she is a business development representative for a trucking software company. In addition to hoarding adventure games, her other interests include film, cooking, running, writing fiction, and eating copiously.

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