Nancy Drew: Alibi in Ashes Review

Nancy Drew Alibi in Ashes Logo from Official Her Interactive site

*Sources of screenshots are listed in their respective file-names.

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The Nancy Drew adventure game series has a 16-year history as educational, (for the most part) family-friendly fun for boys and girls alike.

It’s ironic that a game set in Nancy’s hometown of River Heights–Nancy Drew: Alibi in Ashes*–is such a great starting point to entering this world.

The Nancy Drew series usually puts you squarely in the role of Nancy Drew–investigating crimes in far-off locales, discovering clues and catching criminals.

Nancy Drew Phantom of Venice image from Her Interactive Store Page

Italy from Nancy Drew: The Phantom of Venice.

Nancy Drew Shadow at the Water's Edge Image from Her Interactive Store Page

Japan from Nancy Drew: Shadow at the Water’s Edge.

New Zealand from the most recent Nancy Drew release, The Shattered Medallion (review coming soon!).

New Zealand from the most recent Nancy Drew release, The Shattered Medallion (review coming soon!).

This time, Nancy must solve what may be the most high-stakes case yet–her own!

Nancy Drew AIA Screenshot 1

What made you decide to burn down the old Town Hall?” 
I didn’t!

Suspected of the arson of River Heights’ old Town Hall, players must switch between Nancy Drew and her most loyal friends (Ned, Bess and George) to clear her name and find out who REALLY did it.

Nancy Drew AIA Screenshot 2

Wouldn’t you want to get back at Nancy after she ruined your big debut?
I did. And then I got over it. Do you have any idea how busy I am? I don’t even have the energy to hold a grudge, and if I did, I’d never have time to do anything about it.

This character-switching mechanic offers some interesting possibilities, but can also lead to a few headaches (like forgetting to bring the character you equipped with a lockpick…).

Players must consider who they speak to certain suspects with, as your choice could either lead to finding an interesting new piece of information:

Nancy Drew AIA Screenshot 7

“I can’t believe that’s actually you! You were the original kid detective. You should advertise that, put it on your sign or something.
That’s not who I am now.

Or rejection:

Nancy Drew AIA Screenshot 3

I don’t like you. You break things.

Players will journey to several locations around River Heights. During the investigation, you will collect clues and question possible culprits.

It appears there’s much more to Nancy’s small Midwestern town than meets the eye…

Nancy Drew AIA Screenshot from Her Interactive Store PAge

You’ll learn about aspects of real police work by collecting fingerprints and checking them against a database. You’ll also discover how to determine the cause of a fire and whether or not it’s arson.

Nancy Drew AIA Screenshot 8

If your brain gets tired from all the detective work, there are several small minigames you can play (three on your smartphone and one in the ice cream shop).

Although most of these are sourced from previous Nancy Drew games, they provide nice breaks in the action (and in the case of Swap A Lot can even help solve the mystery).

Nancy Drew AIA Screenshots Bundle 1 (2)

Swap A Lot

The intelligent and humorous dialog from both protagonists and suspects help draw players into the story.

Nancy Drew AIA Screenshot 4

Chief to a Rookie: “Is there a lot of crime in Pancake City? It’s good to know that you’re keeping the mean streets of Pancake City free from crime!

Two difficulty levels (Junior Detective and Senior Detective) ensure that players of all ages are challenged at a level they are comfortable with. Trying to beat both difficulties also adds a bit of replay value to this title.

Nancy Drew AIA Screenshots Bundle 1 (3)

If you get stuck, a copy of the Strategy Guide is included with every purchase of the game on Her Interactive.

At points where all of these elements “gel”–when you’re driving around the city, switching between characters and can feel you’re close to cracking the case–is when Alibi in Ashes shines.

Nancy Drew AIA Screenshot 9

Conclusion:

Although many of the scarier, supernatural mysteries in the series (such as Nancy Drew: Shadow at the Water’s Edge) are found to be due to natural causes, it’s comforting to find no elements of this type in Nancy Drew: Alibi in Ashes.

Nancy Drew: Alibi in Ashes is not only an exceptional game in its own right but a perfect introduction to the long-running series.

Potential Concerns:

References are made to Alexei and Nancy being cursed and hexed in the courses of their investigations.

Nancy’s playable boyfriend Ned Nickerson is asked to flirt with and date (date not shown) a potential culprit to gain information.

Ned Nickerson Date Screenshots (1)

Did you know that she’s mean even if she likes you? She said a date with me was like taking a tour of a stuffed animal factory.

"- at first it's fun looking at the cute stuff, but then you get bored before it ends. And that was the nicest thing she said the whole time."

– at first it’s fun looking at the cute stuff, but then you get bored before it ends. And that was the nicest thing she said the whole time.

Buy Now! (PC)

*This title was received for review. See our statement of ethics here and game review criteria here.
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*More articles from Video Games and the Bible.

About Nelson

Writer, amateur #gamedev, and Founder o' Video Games and the Bible. My interviews bring the boys to the yard. Featured from Kotaku to Rock Paper Shotgun. Dropsy.
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