Game Review: Nancy Drew Secrets Can Kill

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Her Interactive’s first Nancy Drew game, Secrets Can Kill, was made back in 1998. Her Interactive discontinued this game in August of 2010. This game was made for Windows 98/ME/2000/XP, and is rated E for Everyone. They have recently remastered this game; however, that game will be reviewed later on since I will review the games in the order that they were made.

In this game, Nancy Drew is called in to solve the murder of Jake Rodgers at Paseo Del Mar High School. The game takes place in Florida, and Nancy stays at her Aunt Eloise’s house. We do not actually see Aunt Eloise in the game; however, if you call her number using Nancy’s calling card, you can hear Aunt Eloise *try* to set up a message on her answering machine. That is rather funny.

The characters include:

Connie Watson: She can be found in the student lounge. She is into judo.

Daryl Gray: He works at Maxine’s Diner, and is Nancy’s confidant for the case. He likes to flirt with Nancy, and drives a Porsche (kind of weird for someone who works at a diner….).

Hal Tanaka: Exchange student from Japan. He is found in the room adjacent to the student lounge. He is really focused on school (and kind of intense). He is trying to get a scholarship and please his family. By the way, his name isn’t actually Hal. He just picked the name because his real name is too hard to pronounce.

Last but not least, Hector “Hulk” Sanchez: He is the school jock (found, unsurprisingly, by the gym). His life ambition is to play football.

Cons:

Being made in 1998, the graphics are not great. The characters seem very cartoonish. Also, you have to constantly change discs in the middle of the game. That was really annoying after a while. Nancy can call Bess, George, and Ned for help, but she doesn’t really talk to them. She just asks them something like “Can you give me some advice?” Compared to the older games, the phone conversation is very short. Relating to this, when Nancy is talking to other characters, sometimes she just asks one word, like “Stressed?” or “Murder?” The game does reflect the time it was made and the fact that it’s Her Interactive’s first Nancy Drew game.

Pros:

Having said that, it’s a really good game. The plot to the game twists and turns. It turns out that somehow, each character was involved somehow with Jake. I’m not saying they worked together to kill Jake, but there was a connection with each of the characters. That made a somewhat complicated plot for the first Nancy Drew game. Her Interactive introduced a small slider puzzle in the beginning that is reminiscent of puzzles from other games. There is heavy character development in the game. You learn more about each character’s background, and at one point, each of the characters is mad at Nancy because she asks too many questions.

Screenshots from Secrets Can Kill

Screenshots from Secrets Can Kill

Some interesting points:

You can call different phone numbers you find in the game and hear some funny stuff, such as Aunt Eloise and the answering machine.

There is a school library (of course, having part of the game being set in a high school). You can read some of the books, and some books you just see the title on the spine. An American Sign Language book had a page called (I believe) Numbers and Alphabet, and there was a significant clue here to the code for Jake’s locker (in case you didn’t get enough of a hint from your phone friends). Also, there was a book called, The Story of Her Interactive and the Making of Nancy Drew by Megan Gaiser and Barbary Brunner.

There are also many random messages all over school, some of which give you (again) significant clues regarding how to beat the game.

Gameplay Moments

During the game, there was one moment where I was very stuck. I had to get a note from a character in the game to progress on, and I had to use retrace my steps to find what I missed. I even had to use a GameBoomers walkthrough. It turned out that I had had not read a number of things. Once I retraced my steps, I was able to progress on. Other than that, the game was not too difficult. I had to use a few second chances in the boiler room because I kept on blowing the school up.

There was some snooping involved in this game. You had to break into a few areas to retrieve vital information, such as Jake’s locker or the teacher’s lounge. However, Nancy could just walk into the backroom in Maxine’s Diner (didn’t Daryl notice this?).

Overall Impression:

Overall, I enjoyed playing this game. This created a good foundation for Her Interactive to work from, and many of the gameplay features found in this game (snooping, calling friends for help, puzzles) are found in many, if not all, of the newer games.

You can look at this game at Secrets Can Kill

To see the Her Interactive website, go to Her Interactive

© Amy Burney, Amy’s Fantastical Writings

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