It’s finally here: the top 10 Nancy Drew games!
Basically, any of these games could qualify for the top spot, especially as we get closer to number one, and most of the ranks edged the former out by slim margins.
As you can tell by the title and header image of this post, the tenth best Nancy Drew game is case 23, “Shadow at the Water’s Edge.”
This game, along with “Ghost of Thornton Hall,” are pretty much THE overall fan-favorites of the newer-ish games, just as “The Secret of Shadow Ranch” and “Curse of Blackmoor Manor” are pretty much the two favorites of the old games (which you’ll be happy to realize are both in my top 10!).
I’m pulling away from the overall support for this game for a few reasons of which I’ll go into detail, but I still had to include it in the top 10 because it’s an excellent game as a whole.
Nancy gets a free trip with her friends to Kyoto, Japan as a reward for solving this game’s predecessor, “Trail of the Twister.” Although, Nancy has to teach English as a second language during the day (which for some reason lasts 12 hours a day).
Of course, per usual of Her Interactive’s series, strange things are going on at the Ryokan Hei, the traditional Japanese inn, which range from falling pictures to full out scare-fests. Being a super sleuth, Nancy has no choice to stay and figure out just what, or who, is haunting the inn and terrifying the guests into leaving.
It’s supposed to be one of the scariest games, and it tends to live up to that, but not by solely relying on jump-scares and creepy corridors. The backstory is so well-done, and it’s actually more sad than it is scary.
The characters in this game are alright; they’re not the best cast of a game, but they’re certainly not the worst.
Miwako, who works at the front desk, basically runs the inn. She’s timid and easily flustered, but she tries her best to be strong and accommodating. Her grandmother, Takae, is strict and uber-traditional (like most Japanese grandmothers I suppose). She teaches lessons in the traditional Japanese arts from one of the guest rooms, and it’s interesting for about a minute, until it turns boring and tedious (because you have to complete each lesson).
Rentaro, Miwako’s boyfriend, is headquartered in the utility she’d in the lovely scenic garden. He’s quirky and kind of funny, and he’s definitely a nerd. Yumi, Miwako’s sister, owns a bento shop near an exposition center. She doesn’t like the hotel-business (even though the oldest sister is supposed to take over), which frustrates Takae to no end.
All of the characters are okay, but when you even mention Kasumi, they all lose their cool and won’t talk to Nancy at all for a while. Kasumi was Takae’s daughter, the sisters’ mother. She died in the ryokan some years back, and nobody has gotten over it since. It’s almost like they all blame themselves, and haven’t forgiven anyone.
Kasumi’s picture falls right when Nancy enters the Ryokan, so either she’s haunting the place, or someone has rigged it to seek that way. So that’s our mission: figure out what the heck is going on.
We get a lot of advice from Savannah Woodham, a renowned paranormal investigator. We get her advice from her previous stay at the inn, and we get to hear from her pain of an assistant Logan, too. She adds a lot to the game.
Bess and George are just phone contacts, as usual, but you have to talk to them as they help you along at the expo center with Yumi.
So, the game goes on with some scary situations and weird happenings, until all is settled and explained.
It’s petty well done, and definitely deserves to be in the top 10, but I can’t justify ranking “Shadow at the Water’s Edge” any higher than this.
There are multiple puzzles, like fixing a portrait and a number-picture puzzle, which are virtually impossible with not much help, rhyme or reason. It’s kind of ridiculous.
The characters tend to get on my nerves, but the last testimony from Takae is worth the whole game. The backstory of Kasumi is fantastically done, and is no-doubt the best part of the game.
We do get to see a robotic cat! Yes, you heard me correctly. There’s a robotic cat named Suki, and it’s pretty awesome. It’s fun just giving it commands and watching it do things.
Most of the puzzles are so-so, if not hard, and there are SO MANY word/number puzzles from Rentaro to complete if you want the award at the end.
Also, what the heck is the point of the pachinko parlor? I think it’s just a lame spot put in just to say that there is another location.
The setting of the ryokan is excellent though. The feel is great, and the music is surprisingly effective and eerie, even if it does sound like someone is tuning a piano. It’s so atmospheric that it makes you feel the characters’ pain.
So, “Shadow at the Water’s Edge” is fantastic in its own right and deserves praise. The puzzles, along with some of the dialogue, are at times just painful and boring though, and that’s why it can’t go any higher.
Tune in tomorrow to see which title takes spot 9!