Nancy Drew: The Final Scene

2001 Her Interactive
Designed by Erin Brown
Reviewed 2002 February 6

Rating -3 Linearity narrow, segmented
Reasonability deductive Connectivity minimal
Difficulty pedestrian Relevance weak
Interface 1st paned simple Real-time minor

Nancy visits her friend Maya in St. Louis. While going to interview an actor in an old theatre, Maya is kidnapped. Is it related to the imminent demolition of the theatre? A publicity stunt by the actor? Some dark connection to the mysterious owners of the theatre? It's up to Nancy to figure it out and rescue Maya before the theatre comes crashing down on top of her.

The story and characters follow the standard series formula: a small set of simple but not stereotypical characters, all with hidden motives, in a small locale. Nancy uncovers their secrets, until she's left with a showdown with the culprit. It's not exciting, but it's good enough to allow a good game.

It's not sufficient to make a good game, however, and that's where The Final Scene falters. The challenges are not very relevant to the setting, very puzzly. Worse yet, they're not very good puzzles, most recycled with minor changes from earlier games in the series. How many jigsaw puzzles does Nancy have to solve? Most of the puzzles are locks, too, underscoring the creative bankruptcy in the challenge design. Nancy is supposed to be a sleuth, collecting clues and assembling into hypotheses -- playing with slider puzzles doesn't fit the character.

While the challenges are poor, together with many plot triggers they pace the story well. Many adventures involve long bouts of challenges punctuated by a few quick expositions of plot. Not so here. The character backgrounds are constantly evolving as Nancy discovers evidence, and the story advances continuously as Nancy does things and talks to people.

The interface and presentation is the same as the other games in the series: attractive and atmospheric, but nothing to impress your friends with. Either they're getting better at the 3D mannikins, or I'm getting used to them.

If you're not familiar with the series, and haven't played too many adventures, the challenges won't be such a drag to the enjoyment of the game. If you like Nancy Drew books, The Final Scene is probably worth it for the story.

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.