I'm the daughter of a veteran who spent my childhood in Killeen. As of 2013, I have a degree in English from the University of Texas at Austin. I'm a critic of books, films, television, and video games. Find me on Twitter: @rachel_knows

Photo: You Should Be Playing: Nancy Drew: Labyrinth of Lies

"Mistress Demeter, bringer of seasons, what god or man has rapt away Persephone and pierced with sorrow your dear heart?" --half-remembered hymn to Demeter

Here we are again, in the shoes of everyone’s favorite girl sleuth, and I’m so happy to be back! The story this time around is one of the better ones I’ve seen recently. A small museum in Greece is preparing to open a new exhibit alongside the premiere of a new play at their revamped amphitheater. When some artifacts go missing, Nancy is brought in to investigate. The only other people around are the actors staging the play, and Nancy has to help them with their staging while also investigating them for possible involvement.

 

The story is equal parts familiar and refreshing. Greek myth was one of my favorite topics when I was in grade school, so wrapping myself up in it again is very comforting. On the other hand, the mystery itself has a noir-ish feel. No spoilers, but Nancy feels like the wrench thrown into the works of a much larger, well-organized crime, which is relatively rare for the ND series.

 

Some parts of the story don’t make any sense. For instance, it’s never explained how this tiny amphitheater can support extremely elaborate stages of the various parts of the Underworld nor how they can fit underneath the theater and yet are able to be raised to the stage. The sets include a coin-operated Charon and a model of Hades’ throne room which apparently includes real lava. If you’re going to include these things, I feel they’d make more sense as part of the museum exhibit, a la Secret of the Scarlet Hand.

 

My favorite thing about this game, aside from the setting, is the music. From plucky little lyre tunes as Nancy strolls through the exhibits to a somber vocal tone as she wanders the Underworld set, this soundtrack is by far the best one of the recent games. I should also mention that the environment and character design is gorgeous, even if I do wonder why the actors spend the entire day leading up to the show in full costume. The puzzles are also excellent and numerous. I have about six pages filled with notes I used to solve the puzzles, the most since Shadow at the Water’s Edge.

 

One thing that confounded me was the lack of phone connections. You can talk to Frank and Joe Hardy as well as Melina, your contact at the museum, but that’s it. Am I the only one who misses being able to call up Nancy’s friends and chitchat? Hearing Nancy give her opinion about the various details and suspects helps to flesh out the case. Bess and George’s exclusion is particularly bizarre, since they played such a large role in the last game.

 

Overall, the word for this game is “refreshing.” It feels like a new entry in this series and doesn’t rely on old or overused tropes. While some parts of it don’t quite satisfy, I had enough fun with it to play it twice. I call that an all-around good case!

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