In Nancy Drew: The Phantom of Venice, Nancy has been invited to Venice by the Italian police to help them solve a series of crimes where priceless Venetian artifacts have been stolen. For the first time, Nancy is working undercover for the police as she infiltrates a crime syndicate.
Set against the beautiful backdrop of Venice, Italy, as depicted in almost photo-realistic scenes, the mystery takes the player around the city to many of its famous piazzas and locations. The game takes advantage of being in Venice, and lets you ride on gondolas to get from place to place. When you do, you see more of this scenic city.
You play the game by taking on the persona of Nancy and see Venice through her eyes. The game utilizes a point-and-click method of navigation, with several of the scenes allowing you to look in 360 degrees by placing your cursor at the edge of the screen.
The plot is complicated and fascinating, as you meet characters who aren't what they seem, and others who are hiding behind Carnevale masks. You get to do spy things like planting bugs in pens and decoding encryptions that use Chinese ideograms and Chess notation. There are even arcade-type games, including one where you must smoke out a screen full of buzzing bees.
Fans of this Her Interactive series won't be disappointed with this newest installment because Nancy Drew: The Phantom of Venice
delivers a top-notch mystery game experience. While Her Interactive has not deviated much from the formula that has made this series so popular, the Nancy-as-a-spy play mechanic makes the gameplay feel fresh. For fans who have played the earlier games in the series, you will still find two levels of difficulty and the quintessential "second chance" feature that returns you to the moment before you made a fatal mistake and lets you replay the scene.
If you have never played a Nancy Drew game before, you can jump right in with this one. Each game stands on its own and comes with a complete tutorial. The game is structured to help you, if you want, by providing you with a journal that automatically keeps clues that Nancy discovers by talking to others and snooping. Plus, if you play on the easier of the two levels as a Junior Detective, a clipboard is available to you with a list reminding you what to do next.
The recommended category of age 10 and older reflects the difficulty of the mystery and puzzle play, but does not mean there is inappropriate content. This is a fabulous E-rated game, and one that families could enjoy playing together. If you get stuck, there are hints and tips on the game's website at www.HerInteractive
All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.