Rank 1: ‘Alibi in Ashes’

The time has finally come for the unveiling of the best Nancy Drew game!

Posting my thoughts on each game for the past month has been a blast, and I’m really grateful for the unexpectedly large response I’ve gotten from this ranking list. The Senior Detective Blog team thanks you, which is just me, so I thank you for reading!

Drum-roll please…

The number one Nancy Drew computer game is…..

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Alibi in Ashes,” case 25! (But you already knew that because of the thumbnail and title of this blog post, which made that intro fun but vastly unnecessary)

I don’t know if it’s the brilliant cast of characters, the excellently nontraditional premise, or the chance to finally explore Nancy’s hometown, but I absolutely love this game.

We start out as Nancy tracking down a lead from the “Clues Challenge,” a week-long city-wide competition of solving puzzles and riddles to find a medallion. This year, the winning team will be able to place an item in the River Heights‘ time capsule on Anvil Day (after the old time capsule is opened).

Cool, right? Obviously, Nancy has joined forces with her always reliable crew: Bess, George, and Ned. Their name is “Team Danger” wit the Nancy as the captain, of course. No one knows tracking down clues like her.

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For some reason, Nancy goes to the old town hall by herself after she decoded the next clue (gee, way to make it a team effort, Nancy. Trying to take all the credit?).

Once she arrives at the old town hall, she finds a strange, snowflake-shaped ice cube placed on the thermostat in the utility room. Then, the thermostat starts ticking and going crazy until it explodes. Suddenly, the whole building is on fire.

As we barely make it out, we see four witnesses (who are the only other presumed suspects), councilwoman Toni Scallari, Nancy’s arch nemesis Deirdre Shannon, Heights Nine reporter Brenda Carlton, and town reject Alexei Markovic.

Since Nancy was the only person seen in the building, Chief McGinnis arrests her for arson! Yes, Nancy Drew gets ARRESTED.

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We know Nancy didn’t do it, she knows she didn’t do it, and her friends know that she didn’t do it. So, we have to find enough evidence to prove Nancy’s innocence and determine the real arsonist.

Here’s the twist: since Nancy is stuck at the police station (the chief was reasonable enough to let her out of the holding cell), we get to play as her friends to investigate.

Yes, we get to play as Bess, George, Ned, AND Nancy! All you have to do is use your cell phone to call Nancy and switch between characters.

Now, I know that some people find the switching between characters to be very tedious and annoying. Yes, you have to do retry often in the game as well. I don’t mind it at all. I like the little break it provides, plus its much more fun trying to get all of the dialogue out of everyone that you can.

Some characters will only confide in one of Nancy’s friends. I think it’s fun, and most of the conversations are great.

This game, like my favorite “Stay Tuned for Danger,” involves a bunch of real snooping and grilling the suspects. Boy, do the suspects have a lot to offer up.

“Alibi in Ashes” has the best crop of characters in Her Interactive‘s series, in my opinion. Each are incredibly well-developed and have distinct personalities.

Brenda Carlton, the incessant TV reporter, has hated Nancy for some time now. She had some big story ready about an ancient antiquities exhibit, but Nancy beat her to it.

She’s already hurt Nancy’s good name throughout River Heights by blaming her for the fire, but is she trying to get Nancy locked up for good just to make national headlines?

Alexei Markovic, a former town sleuth just like Nancy, was dealt a bad hand by some rich big-wig who ruined his entire reputation. He was as good of a detective as Nancy, but he was publicly shamed and ridiculed so badly that he never got another case.

Now he owns an antique shop in town, living a sad, lonely life. He was good friends with Carson Drew, Nancy’s father, too. He even hired Carson to represent him in court. Unfortunately, Carson was too young to hold any ground, and he lost.

Is Alexei jealous of Nancy to the point of trying to ruin her career, too? Or is he trying to get back at the Drews for losing his case so long ago.

Deirdre Shannon, Nancy’s arch enemy, is the rich, popular girl around River Heights. She hates Nancy because Nancy gets so much acclaim. She’s also incredibly jealous that Nancy is dating Ned.

Could Deirdre be fed up with Miss Drew to the point of framing her with arson? She’s also in the Clues Challenge, and she wants to win. Maybe years of hatred and jealous have caused her to reach the breaking point.

Toni Scallari is a shrewd councilwoman who is running for re-election. She’d never admit this in a press conference or anything, but she despises Nancy because she makes city officials look bad for not doing their jobs.

She owns Scoop, the local ice cream joint, so she’s more than willing to talk to her number one customer, Bess. But after all is said and done, she wishes that Nancy would quit meddling around and let law enforcement handle everything.

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The characters just make the entire game, for me. They’re diverse, entertaining, and have a lot of secrets.

Gameplay consists of interrogating the suspects, finding evidence, and having some fun along the way. Another reason why this is the number one game is because, like my number two game again, there’s no chores!

Picking locks, finding fingerprints, collecting items for the evidence board, and finding alibis are just some of the gameplay activities. Everything has a purpose for being a part of the game.

Now, the end of the game gets a little tricky, especially the very last puzzle, but it’s not impossible. I don’t want to spoil anything, though.

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While there’s a pleasant absence of chores, there’s also a nice presence of distractions.

We can stop any time and play some of the best mini-games in the series, like the unscramble arcade game in Scoop and the number punch game at Alexei’s. We can also order and eat as much use cream from scoop as we desire.

Nancy’s house is also open for us to explore (yay!) There’s so much memorabilia from past cases and a lot of fun other things to see.

One note though. We get to play as and see Bess and George, but we never actually see Ned in the game. His picture is on our cell phones, but we never see him. I just thought that was weird.

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Other than that, I just absolutely love “Alibi in Ashes.” River Heights is everything I hoped it would be and then some.

The game barely scraped past “Stay Tuned for Danger” for the top spot. However, I think that this game is just a different, improved take on that game’s model, and that’s saying a lot. This title is also completely different from every other one in the series.

Well, there you have it; the ranking list is finished! I plan on posting a condensed version tomorrow with all of the games in one place.

Now, I need YOU GUYS to give me ideas as to what you want to see next on my blog. Would you like more ranking lists of different aspects of the games? How about just my thoughts on certain things related to Nancy Drew? I want your ideas!

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Thanks a million for keeping up with The Senior Detective Blog!

My Current Case: Alibi in Ashes

Now that my initial step into the blog-iverse is finished, what’s a better way to follow up my first blog post than to discuss the Nancy Drew game that I’m currently playing? For future reference (unless I state otherwise), I’ll keep my posts and discussions spoiler-free.

Also, Nancy Drew had her 86th anniversary yesterday, April 28. I’d rather call it her birthday, though, so Happy Birthday, Nancy! Since she started out in River Heights, I chose this game (perfect timing!):

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Game #25, “Alibi in Ashes,” is the case I’m solving (or I should say re-solving) at the moment. It’s pretty hectic at my university right now with it being the end of the semester, so I chose a title that I think is simpler than many of the others (and I’ve played it a bunch of times because it’s one of my favorites).

As the box and title sequence reveal, Nancy gets trapped inside of the Old Town Hall, which is completely on fire. Since she was seen escaping the building, Nancy is the prime arson suspect. So, as Nancy is stuck in jail, her best friends, Bess, George, and Ned, have to work together to help get her out.

Like I said, this game is one of my favorites! I really enjoy switching between Nancy and her friends; it’s a cool aspect of the games that doesn’t happen often (well, barely at all). I liked learning about the protocol of an arson investigation, and the police department was pretty cool. You get to analyze fingerprints, update the evidence board, and use a chromatograph machine to determine accelerants.

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This game is also full of interesting suspects who all have potential motives for framing Nancy: Deirdre Shannon, Alexei Markovic, Toni Scallari, and Brenda Carlton. All four were present at the scene of the fire, so they’re suspects of the police investigation as well. Each one has a distinct personality, and they’re only willing to disclose information to some of Nancy’s friends.

Along with driving through town searching for clues and “playing” around with the evidence, fans get a chance to explore Nancy’s house! She has a huge bedroom, actually, and it’s full of memorabilia from past games and cases.

As for the puzzles, this game has a pretty decent amount. Lock-picking and sound mixing are some of the fun ones.

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The in-game mini games in “Alibi in Ashes” are some of my favorites in the series as well. I really love the number punch game where you have to press numbers 1 through 41 in order without messing up. It scrambles them up each time you play it, and it never gets old. The other game, which is inside the ice cream shop in town, is called “Swap A Lot.” It’s one of those puzzles where you have to unscramble the words by moving letters vertically until they’re all in the right spots. All of the phrases are quotes from the past games, and it just to the fun.

By the end, it’s kind of obvious who the culprit is, but it’s really fun getting there! I’m not going to spoil the ending or the story line, so I’ll leave it at that. Here’s a trailer of the game!