Publisher: Her Interactive
Developer: Her Interactive
System requirements: Windows XP/Vista/Win 7, 1 GHz CPU, 256 MB RAM, 1 GB hard-drive space, 32 MB Direct X 9.0-compatible graphics card, 16-bit sound card
ESRB rating: Everyone 10+
Release date: October 19, 2010
Shadow at the Water’s Edge is Nancy Drew’s 23rd PC adventure. Releasing just in time for Halloween, the game is a true horror mystery pitting Nancy against a vengeful ghost at a haunted inn.
Nancy and her friends are on vacation in Japan. While George and Bess are at a convention, Nancy is staying at a traditional Japanese family-owned inn called a Ryokan. She spends her days as an English teacher for young students, while her evenings are spent learning calligraphy, katakana, origami and so on. But things suddenly take a turn for the strange when an angry ghost starts haunting Nancy and scaring other guests away. No one is willing to talk about it or even acknowledge the bizarre events, so Nancy tries to solve the mystery of a five-year-old death and terrible haunting on her own.
Shadow at the Water’s Edge plays almost the same way as its predecessors. You navigate Nancy through her world with the mouse. Clicking on things picks them up, examines or otherwise interacts with them. The menu bar along the bottom of the screen contains the familiar journal used for keeping track of observations, a phone for taking pictures, and a checklist of things to do.
Shadow features the lovely environments and voice acting I’ve come to expect from the series, and the 3D people look better with every release. The story here is much darker than previous ones, and the puzzles are harder than ever, featuring challenging Japanese nonograms (known more commonly outside of Japan as Picross), renograms, and the ever-popular sudoku.
As good as the game looks and sounds, I was not pleased with the addition of sudoku puzzles. While I normally enjoy number puzzles, I loathe sudoku. I’m not good at them. Being told I had to solve a massive sudoku to progress was frustrating, and I highly doubt that the 10-year-olds the game claims to be suited for could solve it. The renograms and nonograms weren’t as frustrating, but I’m also quite good at them. For those who are number-challenged, these puzzles can be extremely intimidating and could be enough to turn them away.
Shadow at the Water’s Edge is a good game with a fascinating horror story to enjoy, but the need to solve large number puzzles could make the game less appealing to some people. Still, it’s quite fun and definitely worth playing.