Nancy Drew: Tomb of the Lost Queen
First posted on 11 May 2012. Last updated on 25 October 2012.
Nancy Drew: Tomb of the Lost Queen is the 26th game in the long-running Nancy Drew series of point-and-click adventure games from Her Interactive. This time, the sassy detective has been sent to Egypt to investigate an archaeology expedition gone horribly wrong. Are the problems at the dig site just accidents, evidence of a curse, or some troubles that are even more nefarious? All in all, Nancy Drew: Tomb of the Lost Queen is an excellent addition to the franchise and an easy recommendation to all Nancy Drew fans as well as newcomers.
As the game's title implies, the story is set in an ancient Egyptian tomb, though it is not clear whose body lies interred within. The best guess is that it belongs to Nefertari, the Egyptian queen much loved by the famous king Ramses II. Needless to say, fans of Ancient Egypt will delight in the meticulously detailed environments. The tomb itself is brightly colored and decorated with murals and mysterious hieroglyphs, setting just the right tone for some fun sleuthing. The tomb is loaded with nasty traps designed to snare robbers. It is also protected by a supposed curse.
Nancy, of course, suspects that the accidents are being caused by a saboteur rather than magic. Throughout the game, Nancy interviews the members of the excavation team—Abdullah, a haughty and overbearing Egyptologist; Jamila, a wacky alien enthusiast; Dylan, a cute but suspicious tour guide; and Lily, a student with a shady academic background. Nancy will also interact with her old friends Bess and Professor Hotchkiss as well as Professor Jon Boyle who is the leader of the expedition but is now recovering in the hospital.
As usual, each character has a motive for disrupting the expedition, and the player must consider carefully both the testimony and the evidence that Nancy collects. Abdullah's arrogance and insatiable demand for accolades is perhaps enough of a motive for him to remove Doyle, his competition, from the picture. Jamila's fanatical devotion to the Annunaki, an alien race she believes to be the builder of the pyramids, places her at odds with the rest of the team, especially Abdullah, who hates her and wants her removed from the dig. Lily is struggling as a student and is frequently abused by her idol, Abdullah. She is also terrified of the curse and has good reason to wish the expedition halted. Finally, Dylan desperately wants the scientists to go home so he can bring tourists to the site and make a lot of money selling artifacts on the black market.
The puzzles in this game will be familiar to most adventure game fans. There are word games, cryptograms, rotating puzzles, sliding puzzles, and even some physics based puzzles. While some puzzles are more challenging than others, all of them can be solved logically. If the player gets stuck, the player can have Nancy call her friend Bess or Professor Hotchkiss, who are usually able to point her in the right direction. Many of the puzzles require putting multiple clues together. For instance, opening a chest in the base camp requires a set of instructions and a couple of sections of a ripped overlay. While there are no timed puzzles, a few puzzles must be solved within a given number of turns. Even if Nancy dies, a handy "Try Again" feature lets the player get back to the game with a minimum of fuss. Nancy's phone is often quite useful, allowing the player to snap photos of clues to consult later, thereby eliminating the need to backtrack or keep notes on paper. My only complaint is that the camera only has enough memory for 15 photos. Overall, though, the puzzles are well designed and quite enjoyable.
With Nancy Drew: Tomb of the Lost Queen, Her Interactive has introduced a few subtle updates to the series' common interface. Instead of starting the game in Nancy's house, for instance, the game now begins right away on location (Egypt, in this case). As well, the inventory system now shows the items along the bottom of the screen with a slider mechanism. Unfortunately, though the graphics are now sharper and more detailed, the updated interface still does not include support for different resolutions for widescreen monitors. Thus, playing the game in widescreen monitors will yield a pillarboxing effect. I hope that the developer will someday update the game's engine to accommodate these higher resolutions. On a positive note, the 3D graphics are terrific, with convincing body animation and facial expressions. As always, the writing and voice acting are excellent. The music also deserves praise. With a pleasing mix of ambient and Egyptian-inspired themes, it really adds to the immersion.
All in all, I really enjoy playing Nancy Drew: Tomb of the Lost Queen. I highly recommend it to any adventure game fan. The puzzles, characters, storyline, and setting are perfect for a brief getaway in amateur sleuthing.