Nancy Drew: Trail of the Twister
First posted on 17 August 2010. Last updated on 21 November 2014.
Nancy Drew: Trail of the Twister is the 22nd game in the popular Nancy Drew series from Her Interactive. I have played and enjoyed all of the previous Nancy Drew games, and I am pleased to say that this latest installation is a great addition to the series. This time, Nancy the "sassy detective" has been hired by billionaire industrialist P.G. Krolmeister to investigate a series of suspicious equipment malfunctions at the headquarters of his Oklahoma storm research team. Further, his sponsored team of "storm chasers" is competing with a rival team for a $100,000,000 grant. As usual, there are plenty of suspects and a great deal of danger for Nancy. All in all, this is a great game that I heartily recommend to all fans of Nancy Drew.
After Nancy arrives in Oklahoma, she is introduced to Scott Varnell, the team leader. Nancy must pose as a "gopher" for the team, running errands and doing odd jobs such as capturing mice, repairing equipment, and snapping some photos of clouds for the team's database. Scott is a disgruntled and unpleasant employer who feels undervalued and cheated by Krolmeister. Nancy also meets the other members on the team: Debbie, Frosty, and Chase. Debbie is Scott's main assistant, who seems to trust him completely—although Nancy soon discovers she may be hiding her true feelings. Frosty is a hotshot storm photographer who also feels undervalued; his contract forbids him from selling his award-winning photographs. Chase, meanwhile, seems to be a dull-witted handyman, though his odd behavior and easy access to the equipment make him a prime suspect. Finally, Nancy must deal with Pa, owner of the local general store and a very colorful character. Pa's wife has recently passed away, but that has not stopped him from acting in the local theater and entertaining visitors with his in-store museum.
Tornadoes are the main theme of the game. Not surprisingly, this is reflected in many of the game's puzzles. Nancy must repair damaged antennas, arrange tornado warning sirens, and photograph many different types of cloud formations. Getting from place to place in town requires driving in vehicles. These action sequences add some nice variety to the gameplay, and a convenient GPS device serves as a map to help the player navigate from point to point. There are many other vehicles on the roads, and it can be quite challenging to avoid them. If Nancy's vehicle takes enough damage, she must restart her journey. There are many kinds of logic puzzles in the game, such as a minesweeper inspired arcade mini-game and a mouse maze mini-game. Not all of the puzzles must be solved to win the game, but the player may miss out on the many optional achievements. Several of the puzzles are repeatable, such as placing fans on circuit boards for Chase. Nancy receives "Pa pennies" for completing these puzzles, which in turn can be used to buy candy for herself or her colleagues as well as a very expensive secret prize. Because noticing certain objects opens up new conversation objects with the characters, it is important to return to them many times to check for these options. Every so often Debbie will ask Nancy to go to bed; these segments serve as chapter breaks.
The audiovisuals in this game are of the same high quality as the previous games of the series. They may not impress hardcore gamers, but I find them charming and well suited here. The settings are well drawn, and the characters are well animated. Voice acting is also excellent; all of the characters have good dialog and sound quite convincing. The music is mostly inspired by bluegrass and country. It is pleasant to listen to and does not distract from the gameplay, but I wish for more songs in the game.
The only real nitpick I have with the game concerns the cloud pictures. Nancy is supposed to take pictures of each type of cloud formation, but I am not able to find all of them no matter how many times I visit the various viewpoints. Furthermore, Nancy does not tell the player immediately if she had taken a good picture of a cloud, thus forcing the player to drive all the way back to the farmhouse and upload it into a laptop in order to check it. This is a minor complaint though, since completing this assignment is not necessary to finish the game.
Any fan of the previous games in the Nancy Drew series will enjoy Nancy Drew: Trail of the Twister. It has all of the components that make this series stand out—fun puzzles, memorable characters, and decent educational value. I highly recommended it.