Nancy Drew PC Game Review: Warnings at Waverly Academy

Autumn means it is time for a Nancy Drew game–particularly a spooky one! Having played Warnings at Waverly Academy before, I already knew who the culprit was. However, I also knew that while the game has a slightly spooky atmosphere, it would not keep me awake at night. Mentions of black cats and a bit of creepy chanting are about all I can handle! While not HerInteractive’s longest or most complicated game, Warnings at Waverly Academy game me what I wanted–a few hours of fun puzzle solving along with the iconic Nancy Drew.

The Nancy Drew PC games can vary quite a bit in quality, length, and even format. While I appreciate the educational aspects of the games, I do not particularly enjoy the ones where Nancy has to read books of information or read museum exhibit signs, and then pass quizzes in order to advance. Having information dropped more organically or be part of a puzzle (like the many puzzles that require gamers to learn musical notes) makes the game more fun. Warnings at Waverly Academy delivers organic information for the most part, making it more enjoyable than tedious.

Warnings at Waverly Academy also appeals to me because I love when Nancy has to take on jobs, or chores. Not everyone likes these diversion from the main game, but mini games like serving up trays in the snack shop usually prove really entertaining for me. And they can make the game feel longer, as well. Unfortunately, however, this game has more diversions than just Nancy’s snack duties. She also has to play darts (and air hockey) repeatedly with another student, and she spends most of her time at the Academy running around doing chores (and homework assignments, for some reason) for the other girls. It sometimes felt like Nancy was too busy being taken advantage of by catty prep students for her to actually start solving the mystery.

The plot and mystery of the game are lacking a bit. I thought, from the interviews and the clues, that the culprit’s motivations were going to be different from what they actually were. I also thought the sudden reveal of hidden chambers and traps–while pretty standard in Nancy Drew games–seemed a bit out of place. And, ultimately, despite the culprit’s previous crimes, which included locking a claustrophobic student in a closet and giving a student with allergies something they were allergic to, I was still left wondering if the culprit was really capable of murdering Nancy. The characterization just is not there.

The game play, however, is largely satisfying. Nancy has plenty of places to explore and numerous characters to interview, so the game never feels like it is stagnating. Also, the puzzles and clues are (at senior level) are about the right bit of challenging. I never felt bored solving the puzzles, but I also never truly got stuck. More challenging puzzles might have been nice to extend the game play somewhat, but, overall, I was not upset that, for once, a puzzle was not proving to be overly frustrating.

Warnings at Waverly Academy may not be a standout among all the Nancy Drew games, but it is enjoyable. I liked the boarding school setting, the ability to interview numerous characters, and the options to run the snack shop or play other mini games (though air hockey is far easier to beat than darts). Playing reminded me of how much I love these games, so it might be time soon to replay another.

Do you play the Nancy Drew PC games?

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