Nancy Drew: The Shattered Medallion
First posted on 17 September 2014. Last updated on 21 November 2014.
Nancy Drew: The Shattered Medallion Bonus Edition
The Bonus Edition of Nancy Drew: The Shattered Medallion includes additional in-game features, such as new story contents and extra mini-games not found in the original.
Nancy Drew: The Shattered Medallion is the 30th title in long-running series of first-person adventure games from Her Interactive based on the popular Nancy Drew franchise. This time, Nancy and her friend George are off to New Zealand to be on a reality television contest show called Pacific Run. This cutthroat competition pits pairs of adventurers against each other, who must solve puzzles and perform other feats before the other teams. Naturally, it does not take long before Nancy notices a more sinister agenda afoot—the zany producer, Sonny Joon, has misdirected the rest of the film crew and seems to be running the show for his own mysterious ends. Even worse, George is disqualified after a suspicious accident on a footbridge, and her replacement, Bess, is far more interested in flirting with Sonny than winning the contest! While the game may be plagued by a few misfires, it is still a satisfying adventure that I recommend highly to any Nancy Drew fan.
As expected, the game tries to exploit the current popularity of reality television for its story. It provides a great context for a wide variety of fun contests and puzzles, and the exotic scenery is bright and cheerful. The game show setting also means, of course, that the real challenge will come from the other contestants, who always try to find ways to bend or even break the rules to secure an unfair advantage. In fact, early in the game, Nancy suspects that one of the contestants is trying to sabotage the competition and putting George's life at risk just to get ahead in the contest. While Nancy can still sneak into the off-limits area to speak and consult with George, it is up to the distracted Bess to help her win the show.
Naturally, a good reality show requires a great and colorful cast to work. Nancy's fellow contestants are Patrick Dowsett, a dull-witted and highly eccentric rugby star, Kiri Nind, a cutthroat competitor, and Leena Patel, a professional cryptographer. Nancy learns about these characters (and their ulterior motives) by frequent dialogues, their taped "confessions", and information dug about them by George. For fans of the series, however, the real treat is finally getting to meet the enigmatic Sonny Joon, whose odd doodles (and fascination for Koko Kringle bars) have featured prominently in previous Nancy Drew games.
Supposedly, Sonny works for a secretive organization called S.P.I.E.D., which is dedicated to uncovering the truth about aliens. It soon becomes apparent that Sonny has taken over the show for reasons connected with this organization. Meanwhile, Nancy must also find out who among her fellow contestants is responsible for the sabotage. All of these characters are fun to meet, with the possible exception of Bess—who is particularly aggravating, as she spends more time mooning over Sonny than helping Nancy with the challenges! Among the other characters, perhaps Patrick is the most interesting, if only because his dialog is so bizarre and humorous. Sonny is perhaps the most memorable, delivering caustic lines laced with satire and wit.
The game does not disappoint in using the setting of a reality show competition to provide endless opportunities for puzzles and mini-games. Unfortunately, Nancy never competes one-on-one with the other competitors, and the convenient pretext that Sonny has misdirected the rest of the crew means that she spends most of her time alone. Still, I enjoy going underwater in the submersible and hearing the television announcer's sarcastic voiceovers between segments. (Inexplicably, the show seems to be still airing despite the absence of the film crew!) A nice bonus is the educational value of the puzzles, many of which teach about the real life geography and wool industry of New Zealand. I just wish that the game can somehow capture more of the energy and excitement of being on a real reality television set. The only time I feel that I am on a reality show is when the announcer comes on between contests. I also want to see the other contestants more and to be able to compete with them head-to-head.
The audiovisuals in this game are of the same high production quality as those in previous games of the series. Scenes are filled with fine details and vibrant colors. Sadly, the game still does not support widescreen resolutions, giving its graphics a dated look. The music and voice acting are wonderful as always, and the interface is straightforward and easy enough for young gamers to navigate. Once again, the player can choose between 2 difficulty levels—Amateur and Master Sleuth, the latter of which provides plenty enough challenge for even adult gamers. There is also a built-in achievement system, providing some replay value and encouraging a more thorough and thoughtful playthrough. It is always fun to find the hidden charms for Nancy's phone. An additional bonus is the inclusion of many of the best standalone puzzles from previous Nancy Drew games as mini-games on Nancy's phone.
While Nancy Drew: The Shattered Medallion is a fun and rewarding adventure, I feel that the game has not taken full advantage of the television show as a theme. Instead, Nancy is again left mostly to her own devices, solving puzzles, and intermittently interacting with characters who stand in place for most of the game. Most of the real competition and drama take place behind the scenes, which the player only learns about them after the fact. Still, finally introducing Sonny in the game is a real treat for many Nancy Drew fans who have always wondered about this mysterious character and a great way for Her Interactive to celebrate this release milestone in the Nancy Drew series.