|Interface||1st paned simple||Real-time||minor|
Nancy goes to visit a friend at her cabin on Moon Lake. When she gets there, her friend has fled, chased away by ghostly dogs that attack the cabin. Why are they attacking? Who is controlling them?
In this episode, there are only three characters Nancy has to deal with face to face, with a few more heard only on the telephone. As usual, each of the local characters has a plausible motive to want to chase people away from the cabin.
Ghost Dogs, however, plays differently from previous Nancy games. The challenges are well integrated, not set-pieces, and Nancy's investigations are more relevant to the story. In previous games, Nancy's investigations spooked the culprits into showing themselves, usually before Nancy had figured it all out; here, Nancy puts the pieces together herself. When the culprit reveals h**self, Nancy has already figured out who it is, and Nancy's progress forces the confrontation.
The game is still not difficult, if you notice the clues. They're not hidden, or especially subtle, but they could easily fall into a personal blind spot. If you're stuck, just look at everything and talk to everyone, paying careful attention.
The challenges are mostly inventory based. There are also a few machine based challenges, in the form of mechanisms to reveal and open secret passages. Rather than being machines where you figure out the rules and then apply them, these tend to be more believable code-based locks, where the codes are presented as clues in the wider environment, or as part of your research. I.e., they function as such devices should, with only a small puzzly flourish. There are a few timed sequences, as in previous Nancys, with generous constraints and a painless auto-restore.
The engine has a few small changes. Rather than a clock that steadily advances, Nancy goes up to the bedroom to advance time to either day or night, when certain actions must be taken. Some inventory objects can be used on their own: for example, a map can be looked at then put back into the inventory, and a PDA can be opened and used. As previously, the presentation is effective and attractive, but not spectacular.
Ghosts Dogs is the first Nancy Drew game that feels like a true detective game. The plot is well paced and synchronised with player activity. Hopefully future adventures in the series will follow its lead.