Nancy Drew: The Secret of Shadow Ranch

2004 Her Interactive
Designed by Ann Collins-Ludwick
Reviewed 2004 October 10

Rating -3 Linearity narrow
Reasonability reasonable Connectivity moderate
Difficulty pedestrian Relevance moderate
Interface 1st paned simple Real-time occasional

Nancy visits a ranch owned by her friend's relatives. A ghostly horse, mysterious misfortunes, and a tale of long hidden loot present Nancy with yet another mystery to unravel.

As usual for the series, the story and activity flows along smoothly. There's also a gentle, pleasant educational aspect that is well integrated into the game.

Also as usual, the challenges are weakly conceived, relying on the usual puzzle suspects. There seem to be more in the real-time camp this time, often leaning more towards activities than challenges, but all easy. The ratio of activities to problems is too high for my taste. There is a nice symbolic puzzle to figure out, though, so there's some intellectual meat on the game.

The interface has some significant changes. The viewport is larger, squeezing the inventory into its own pop-up window. I'm ambivalent on this, since it adds "weight" to inventory handling, but the bigger scene is nice. The phone has been extended to include a web browser and e-mail, useful for Nancy's researches. There are still a few books to read, to appease the Luddites. Finally, there's an auto-journal to keep track of Nancy's discoveries, suspicions, and goals. It's not quite a hint system, but it helps to keep you on track, and saves on the paperwork.

This is a weaker effort than the past few in the series, but not so weak that fans of the series (games or books) won't enjoy it.

Beware! Here are some spoiler-ridden notes on the game. They're only recommended for people who have played the game and want to see some of my rationale for my evaluations.

Related reviews:

  • The Nancy Drew Series
    David Tanguay's Game Reviews
    Here's a description of all the gobbledygook in these reviews. It's also a bit of an essay on the nature of adventure games.