Computer/Video Game Review #3 – Nancy Drew #30: The Shattered Medallion

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Nancy Drew Shattered Medallion logo
Game Rating: E (Everyone), with mild violence
Game Publisher: HerInteractive
Platform: Mac/PC, digital download or physical copy
Release Date: May 20th, 2014
Buy this at: Amazon.com, HerInteractive.com, or your local game shop for $19.99

I’ve been playing the Nancy Drew PC game series since their introduction in 1998. I’m a huge fan of literature and point-and-click adventures, so I knew this series would scratch that itch. I remember how the first game, Secrets Can Kill, came with two CDs you needed to switch out during gameplay. Now, some of HerInteractive’s award-winning titles can fit on an iPad! The technology behind these games (and, well, I guess technology in general) has advanced greatly. Gone are the days of multiple CDs, choppy graphics, and long load times; now we can enjoy our games with crisp animation, quality audio, small file sizes, and almost no load times. The Nancy Drew computer games have transitioned smoothly along with the technological advancements, and The Shattered Medallion showcases that exquisitely.

Screenshot of the camp in the game.
Screenshot of the camp in the game.

In The Shattered Medallion, Nancy has joined the competition reality show Pacific Run (think Amazing Race meets Survivor), with her friend George as her partner. The show is being produced and filmed in Australia, by a young guy named Sonny Joon; we were introduced to him in a previous game, Secret of the Scarlet Hand. He’s really into aliens and comics, and his involvement with Pacific Run seems fishy. Right away, things begin to fall apart, as strange drawings begin to appear, along with the dangerous sabotage of some players.

Can you, acting as Nancy Drew, get to the bottom of the mystery? You’ll need to compete in game challenges along the way, as well as communicate with the opposing teams to dig up more clues. Explore various locations, such as a cave, mine, sheep barn (it makes sense, trust me) and a lake. You can even go underwater and discover artifacts in a one-person submarine! The story here is unique and caters to those who enjoy such competitive shows.

I also enjoyed learning about Australian culture, even though there wasn’t as much reading to do in this game as in previous adventures. There isn’t enough immersion in this installment, and I sometimes felt the story was thin. HerInteractive has been moving in the direction of less story and more puzzle-based adventures. However, the puzzles integrated into the story perfectly, as they related to the team challenges of the reality show. Sometimes, the puzzles were extremely difficult; this game is aimed at preteens, but my 30-year-old mind can barely get through it without a spoiler. I think that is a good thing, as it doesn’t underestimate the child gamer. If you’re really stuck, you could always go on the message boards for free and ask your fellow detectives, or download the PDF game guide.

The replayability of this game is fairly high, as there are trophies to collect at the end for various tasks you complete. Any gamer who has to have all the trophies will definitely play it again to complete their collection. Additionally, Nancy Drew games lend themselves to replayability since they are just so freaking fun. I have played the adventures in my collection numerous times – they never get old.

Lake scene in the game
Lake scene in the game

With every new title released by HerInteractive, the graphics have improved. You won’t find realistic faces here, like in the adventure games on PS4, but the animation in The Shattered Medallion is wonderful. The scenery is gorgeous, with meticulous detail throughout. Colors are vibrant, with realistic shadowing to accent various items. You can play the game windowed or full screen, though the full screen option does not take up the whole screen. As usual, the task bar with your inventory, cell phone, and notes, looks great. The style of it has changed over the years, but I like what they’ve settled on. Overall, fantastic graphics.

The dialogue is witty, and it often contains references to previous games – perfect for the Nancy Drew fan. Unlike other Nancy Drew titles, I didn’t feel there was any unnecessary dialogue that bogged it down. There’s the option of skipping past dialogue, which is helpful, and you can turn that option off if you so desire. The voice acting is phenomenal; I’m not sure if they got actual Aussies to voice the Australian teams, but they sounded realistic to me. Then again, take that with a grain of salt, as I live in the United States. There are various audio options, including separate volume controls for dialogue, music, and effects. I love this feature! Sometimes I have trouble hearing dialogue, but I don’t want the music to blow out my ear drums.

The Shattered Medallion is a simple point-and-click adventure. You play this completely with a mouse, making it perfect for the gamer with a physical disability. Depending on where you place your cursor, you can move left, right, forward, and backward – the cursor changes to let you know where you’re headed. The cursor also changes when you can pick up an item or look at it closer. There is one section of the game that requires you to be very quick with mouse movement in order to move on. I usually don’t have trouble using a mouse, and even I struggled to finish in time. For the most part, though, you should be fine.

Cursor directions
Cursor directions

I¬†think this game is great for gamers with disabilities, especially those who are deaf. The best part of the Nancy Drew series is that they are completely subtitled. You don’t even have to go in to the option menu to turn them on – they are there right from the start! Like I mentioned earlier, there are also separate volume controls if you have trouble hearing the dialogue. For blind gamers, there may be some issues, as the cursor change that indicates an active item could be too subtle to notice. Some of the text on signs or in books may pose a challenge, though making the game full screen could alleviate that problem. There aren’t any overly-stimulating lights or graphics here, so gamers with seizures, or those bothered by such lights, will be okay. If you can’t use a mouse, there are no keyboard options that I am aware of – though you could definitely use this with a touch pad/mouse. The timed puzzles might be tough if you have trouble using a mouse, as I mentioned earlier.

Bottom line: another fun installment of the Nancy Drew computer games. Wonderful graphics, amusing dialogue, challenging puzzles – all the stuff you’re used to with this series. I wish the story was a bit meatier, but I’m hoping that will be addressed in the next game. This is definitely an adventure you should check out!

 

 

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