Nancy Drew: Labyrinth of Lies
First posted on 05 December 2014. Last updated on 05 December 2014.
Nancy Drew: Labyrinth of Lies Bonus Edition
The Bonus Edition of Nancy Drew: Labyrinth of Lies includes additional in-game features, such as new story contents and extra mini-games not found in the original.
Nancy Drew: Labyrinth of Lies is the 31st title in Her Interactive's series of first-person adventure games based on the venerable Nancy Drew franchise. This time, the adventure sends the sassy detective to Greece, where she must go undercover with an acting troupe and discover how priceless historical artifacts are being stolen from a museum. Along the way, the player will learn a great deal about the history of ancient Greece, including its art, stage plays, and myths. As always, Nancy must also deal with a cast of suspicious characters, each with a tangible motive. Fans of previous games of the series will find much to enjoy in this game, and the difficulty level of the puzzles will challenge even experienced or older players (though an easy mode is also available for novice or younger players). I recommend this game to any Nancy Drew fan who enjoys learning about history and legend and solving some really clever logic puzzles.
Over the history of the series, the youthful detective has travelled to many fun and exotic locations, including Venice (in Nancy Drew: The Phantom of Venice), Japan (in Nancy Drew: Shadow at the Water's Edge), and Egypt (in Nancy Drew: Tomb of the Lost Queen). The current game continues this tradition with a trip to Greece, legendary for its rich history of tragic drama, epic poetry, fabulous architecture, and terrific art. A local theater group has formed to perform classic Greek dramas, but with an innovative twist—the scenery will contain actual historical artifacts on loan from various museums. However, Nancy is called in by a museum curator, who suspects that some thief is replacing the actual artifacts with clever forgeries! The obvious suspects are the actors themselves, but the police have been unable to figure out if they are telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Fortunately for Nancy, there are only a handful of suspicious actors in the troupe: Xenia Doukas (who plays Persephone), Niobe Papadaki (who plays Demeter), Thanos Ganas (who plays Hades), and Grigor Karakinos (who plays Hermes). Xenia is also the director of the play and seems nervous about losing her job, giving her both a motive and access to the artifacts. Niobe is an accomplished prop and stage artist and has the skills necessary to produce the replicas. Thanos' dark and foreboding presence, combined with his preference for staying out of sight in the "underworld" beneath the amphitheater, certainly makes him look suspicious. Grigor is friendly and charming, but as the stage manager and operator of the stage mechanisms, he has ample opportunities to swap out the artifacts. Finally, Melina Rosi, the museum curator, is the perfect candidate for orchestrating the thefts, while hiring Nancy under false pretenses to remove herself from suspicion. Nancy has her work cut out for her interviewing and trying to find the inconsistencies in all their stories. Thankfully, Nancy is not alone in trying to crack the case—she can call her friends, the famous Hardy Boys, Frank and Joe, who are always eager to help (and to provide comic relief too). Nancy's other friends, Bess and George, and Nancy's boyfriend, Ned, are sadly unavailable.
The writers for the game have done a good job crafting plausible stories for these characters, making it easy to sympathize with all of them but Thanos (whose character is just an acerbic bully). While all of the characters are serviceable for the sake of the plot, none of them really standout. Nancy must constantly pry to get any information at all from them, and even Melina clams up eventually and refuses to talk. Nobody seems to like Nancy or want her around.
Though the characters may be a slight disappointment, the puzzles are an unexpectedly pleasant surprise. Almost all of them are thematically related to Greek mythology and culture. In many cases, the player must combine clues from a number of different sources to ascertain their solutions. For example, there is a short puzzle that involves matching up symbols, such as a heart or lightning bolt, with an animal icon. Solving this puzzle only requires a bit of careful reading. Other puzzles are much more difficult. An example is the seating puzzle, which has Nancy assigning seats according to a rather precise set of conditions. The puzzles that give me the most trouble are disarming a touch screen panel and setting up the lighting for the theater. Some puzzles take hours to solve! Still, while they are difficult, all of them are solvable with enough patience and keen reasoning.
As always, Her Interactive has done a great job with the audiovisuals in this game. The game is set mostly between an amphitheater and a small art museum. Each room or outdoor location is highly detailed and fun to explore. I especially like the bizarre, surreal locations below the stage—the "underworld", which even has a mechanical boatman to take me across the river Styx. The character models are also nice, though Xenia and Niobe look and sound so much alike I have trouble telling them apart. The musical score, composed by North by Sound, consists of beautiful Greek inspired tunes. While the music does not get repetitive, the soundtrack may benefit from a few additional songs.
My only major complaint is that the game is still limited to standard resolutions, with no support for high definition and widescreen resolutions. I suppose it is proving difficult for Her Interactive to upgrade the game's graphics engine and existing art assets. Still, the pillarboxing effect give the game a decidedly dated look. On a positive note, there are options to skip previous dialogs. As well, if the player messes up badly enough to get a "game over" screen, the player can instantly restore the game to a safe point to retry again. Nancy can also take pictures with her phone (a tool that comes in quite handy when solving puzzles!) and keeps a fairly detailed journal and task list.
Overall, I have greatly enjoyed playing Nancy Drew: Labyrinth of Lies. My favorite part of Nancy Drew games has always been solving the games' many clever puzzles—Nancy Drew: Labyrinth of Lies has those in abundance. The only downsides are the lack of support for widescreen resolutions and a somewhat unlikable cast of characters (though the hilarious phone dialogs with Frank and Joe Hardy make up for much of it). Still, I recommend this game to all fans of the series as well as newcomers thinking of trying the series out for the first time.