Nancy Drew: Alibi in Ashes

Alibi in Ashes is a thrilling sequel of an extraordinary series.

By RON, Posted 20 Apr 2012

When it comes to pushing a series to its limit, Her Interactive without doubt knows how to pull that off. Out of innumerable point-and-click adventure games out there, Nancy Drew is almost certainly one of the best series ever created. The proof is in the pudding with the 25th installment of the Nancy Drew series ‘Alibi in Ashes’, which is a blazing illustration of great gamesmanship – this time solving the mystery of an anonymous fire outbreak in the River Heights Town Hall.

After a resourceful tutorial session, following the trace of a clues challenge, you take the role of Nancy Drew, who finds her way towards the River Heights’s Town Hall, and the situation takes a rapid turn for the worse, when the building she’s inside catches ablaze. It isn’t easy for her to find the way out, but when she finally does, police have already arrived and she gets arrested for being the only person found at the crime scene. As she doesn’t have any clue on who started the fire or how the building lit up, she must remain under police custody. Luckily for her, she notices some familiar faces during the fire escape; who could be the main suspects, and she has friends who can carry out the investigation on her behalf. Thus the story begins.

Nancy Drew, Alibi In Ashes, Review

Just like every other game of the Nancy Drew series, this sequel offers a similar gameplay. Besides playing as Nancy, you can also play and control three other characters as well. They are George Fayne, Bess Marvin and Ned Nickerson. They have been part of Nancy’s team for years, and together they have solved many mysterious cases. George and Bess are her closest of friends, and Ned is her boyfriend. So these four trust each other in every step, and be willing to provide every possible aid when danger calls.  Though Nancy still has access to a phone, she can consult leads with her friends, and pass the case to any of them based on the investigation’s necessity. While controlling Nancy or any other character, you use the mouse pointers to move from one place to another. The cursor changes its color while rolling over any object or spot pointing out, thus allowing for interaction.

Direction arrows will appear while moving from one scene to another in a particular location, and to move from one location to another; the game offers an overhead view of the River Heights map. Once you’ve clicked on a location you wish to travel to for investigative purposes, your character will automatically drive her car, and the game screen will be activated right after they reach their destination. Even though the map lets you to travel to many different places, only a few of them allow interactions. And those that don’t; play a likable sound effect to explain why you can’t enter.

Being an adventure by nature the game offers different types of puzzles in most of these settings. Unlike we usually see in similar games, the puzzles found here are actually interesting and involve a decent amount of thinking time. If you have played any other game from this series and then jump into this you’ll see what I mean. If you haven’t, try picturing yourself reading a manual before cracking an electrical lock, or breaking through a police computer. There are clues and leads scattered in many different locations, and combining them together to progress the story is the only feature that matches with any similar game type. But the realistic feel and the intellectual gameplay here are what stand it apart from its peers.

Nancy Drew, Alibi In Ashes, Review

The visual aspects are also a treat and are a fabulous display of precision with every single detail neatly done. Design of the characters, scenarios and the various objects are all represented beautifully, and it is supported with proficient sound effects. The quality of the voice-over work is also worth a mention, and heightens an already engaging experience. During conversations; both facial and voice expressions are so acutely done that it’s almost as if you’re having a real-life encounter as opposed to a pixelated equivalent.  Not only are the visual and sound effects great, but the quality of the gameplay materials are exceedingly rich too. For instance the dialogs of each conversation are not at all lousy and when matched to the life-like expressions tell its own story as to why this is such a critically-acclaimed adventure series.

But nothing is perfect! There are some issues that have let the game down a little. And the first thing that comes to my mind would be the length of the game. For an adventure game such as this, I’d really expect to play it for 4-5 hours with a few more twists and turns thrown in. I personally felt that the game suddenly ended when it clearly had areas where it could have been lengthened and loose ends could have been tied up. Also, even though the whole game itself is a puzzle, more interactive puzzles could’ve been added to the list. Also, at times it feels the game could have included some more characters and locations to provide an extra level of depth. It’s frustrating as when viewing the map there are places listed, but the game only allows you to travel to those with specific information, and I feel it could have provided a much more expansive gameplay experience had they included these, whether relevant to the case or not.

If running and gunning is your type, then this clearly isn’t your game to play. If you like to exercise your intelligence and experience the pragmatic world out there, Nancy Drew: Alibi in Ashes could just be the game you have been searching for.

Sarwar Ron, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): Her Interactive
Developer(s): Her Interactive
Genres: Adventure
Themes: Adventure
Release Date: 2011-10-18

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