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Nancy Drew: Warnings at Waverly Academy

Nancy Drew: Warnings at Waverly Academy



The Bottom Line
Another excellent mystery with our favorite sleuth, Nancy Drew -- this time set in an all-girls prep school.
In Nancy Drew: Warnings at Waverly Academy, you play as Nancy and go undercover at an elite, all-girls boarding school to discover the identity of the "Black Cat" who is sending cryptic messages and causing life-threatening accidents to the school's top high school students.

Undercover as a new transfer student, Nancy arrives on campus during a midterm break. She meets a group of stressed-out students who are busy cramming for tests, writing papers, and finishing projects. This is a world of hierarchical friendships: rumors galore, secret societies, and petty punishments. The school operates on a demerit system, so Nancy has to be careful about making it to her room for lights-out and sneaking around after curfew.
As Nancy, you have the ability to move freely about this stunning old school. You can converse with anyone you meet via a drop-down menu where you select from different options. What you choose to say affects the response you get from the girl you are talking with. Your goal is to befriend as many of these girls as you can, so as to obtain information about what has been happening and why.

The girls you are investigating are all vying for class valedictorian, an award that comes with a free scholarship to the college. Each girl has her own theory about what's been happening, and as it turns out, her own motivation. There's the poor scholarship student who clearly needs the financial aid, the jock who needs the accolade to get into the top colleges, the goth legacy student who wants to prove that she's at the school because she's smart, not just connected. Two in this elite group have already gone home to recover from the accidents that have happened, including one who went into anaphylactic shock after someone slipped peanuts into her food.
To fit in, Nancy offers to assist as many girls as she can. She helps one design the school's website by taking photographs using her cellphone; and with others, she does favors of finding missing notebooks and books. She even wins the jock over by playing air hockey and darts, two fun arcade games. She curries favors with others by preparing them food in a fill-the-orders minigame that is reminiscent of the popular Cooking Mama games.

The Her Interactive Nancy Drew series has achieved great popularity because all of the games feature two compelling components: a great mystery and fascinating puzzles. "Warnings at Waverly Academy" is no exception.
This mystery feels authentic – it's as if you are back in high school trying to navigate through the swirling rumors to discern the facts. It feels real to this era, because some of the story is revealed through text messages on Nancy's cell phone and also via research conducted on the school's computer. Adding to this fun is a special "sneak mode" which allows Nancy to hide from the hall monitor if she's out snooping when she's supposed to be in bed.

As Nancy sleuths, she must solve puzzles to unearth clues. The puzzles in this game are particularly good. Nancy decodes musical notation to play a ditty on the piano, which then unlocks a secret compartment. She has to memorize the route a squirrel hops through branches so that she can follow it up a tree to retrieve a purloined token.
While this game's setting is not as exotic as some of Nancy's more recent exploits in Paris (Danger by Design), the Caribbean (Ransom of the Seven Ships), and Venice (The Phantom of Venice), there is a cozy feel to this mystery set snuggly in a New England prep school, beautifully rendered to show mahogany wood paneling, inlaid floors, snowy landscapes, and funky dorm rooms.

Another excellent feature is the game's two difficulty levels. Junior Detective is perfect for the rookie gumshoe, whereas Senior Detective is just hard enough for the seasoned sleuth. Also helpful is the game's Second Chance feature which kicks in if you make a bad judgment that ends the game. The game automatically gives you the option of restarting to right before you erred.

All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.

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Nancy Drew: Warnings at Waverly Academy
Company: Her Interactive
Price: 19.99
Platforms: Mac