"Nancy Drew: Legend of the Crystal Skull," the 17th computer mystery in this series, adds a new gameplay element to its award-winning formula. Not only do you play as Nancy Drew, but also, at times, you get to become her best friend Bess.
As with the past mysteries in the series, you solve the mystery by questioning characters and snooping around to find clues. This mystery takes place in New Orleans.
Bruno Bolet has recently died in the old mansion, and when you stop by to check on the deceased's grandson Henry, a person wearing a skeleton costume accosts you. Instead of being scared away, you decide to check into whether Bruno Bolet's death was really from a heart attack.
So begins this carefully constructed mystery where paying attention to details leads to clues. For example, early on, you will find a miniature scale model of a cemetery in the great room of the mansion and discover that the cemetery is adjacent to the mansion's garden. By exploring the model carefully, you uncover a glass eye located inside one of the miniature mausoleums. This starts you on an odyssey to find all of the glass eyes hidden around the property. Likewise, you will stumble upon secret rooms, passageways with peepholes and a cemetery full of clues including some that are found on headstones.
Unlike some of the past Nancy Drew mysteries where you could wander through a lot of scenes without finding anything, this one limits your scope. You can only explore a few rooms and areas at a time, with new ones opening up when you find the right clue. In this manner, the game never overwhelms you. And if you aren't making progress with your sleuthing, you need only look more closely in the few scenes open to you.
As with all the past Nancy Drew mysteries, this game is loaded with puzzles. For one, you will need to make grave rubbings to decipher a code to open a mini-crypt.
This game is fun for families to play either together or individually. With two levels of difficulty, children as young as 10 will enjoy the Junior Detective route, while older children and adults will want to play on the Senior Detective level. And playing together can be fun, because two heads looking for clues is always better then one.
Children playing this game will hear some discussion of "hoodoo" (voodoo) beliefs and practices. They will learn about secret societies, and an artifact that is rumored to provide the owner with immortality.
As for spookiness, the music, rain, and periodic lightning help create the game's eerie mood, but it is never overpowering. And if you make a fatal mistake, the game returns you to the moment before that bad decision and gives you a second chance.
While the Halloween release time is perfect, this spooky mystery is fun to play anytime.
All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.