Adventure Gamers Awards
Nancy Drew, teenage sleuth, has traveled the world helping to fight crime and solve mysteries. In Nancy Drew: Labyrinth Of Lies, outing #31, our young detective packs her bags for Greece to help out a friend in need when priceless artifacts mysteriously disappear from a struggling art museum. Solving the mystery will throw you into the middle of a modern retelling of a classic Greek play that will have you guessing who’s just acting and who’s really taking their character to heart. Of course, this wouldn’t be a Nancy Drew game without a variety of head-scratching – though at times tedious – obstacles thrown in with a fair amount of educational content. While you may have fun learning about Greek art and history, repetitive puzzles and a lack of innovation or upgraded presentation can leave everything feeling a bit stale and musty.
Nancy’s friend Melina has her dream job curating a museum filled with fine Grecian antiquities, but she finds herself dealing with the reality of dwindling visitors who no longer seem inclined to spend time wandering through a dusty old museum. To turn the ship around, Melina experiments with bringing in a troupe of actors to perform a play on the museum’s scenic grounds. And not just any old play; she’s also brought in an avant-garde staging company that promises to add pyrotechnics and innovative stagecraft to the performance.
Unfortunately, Melina’ s plans run afoul when a shipment of treasures goes missing. Unwilling to stop the play, which may increase museum attendance, Melina calls in her detective friend. Upon Nancy’s arrival, she hears a beautiful young woman screaming for help as a dark, brooding man in Grecian costume stands menacingly over her. But when Nancy attempts to prevent any violence, she finds out that Xenia and Thanos are simply rehearsing, rather convincingly, a play about the Persephone myth.
Xenia, graceful and beautiful, is also the director and writer, and though she exudes a calm exterior, she admits to Nancy that she feels quite out of her depth with everything that needs to be done. And in the first of multiple indications that all is not what it seems with the cast, she also warns Nancy away from the boys in the play as they can be rather intense. The dark, brooding Thanos possibly has violent mafia connections that could threaten to derail Nancy’s entire investigation; in fact, he may have killed a man himself. Fortunately, Nancy can call Frank and Joe Hardy to help her out. They’re no slouches when it comes to detective work, and they use their network of sources to give Nancy additional information when she asks for it. Make sure to reach out to them from time to time, as chatting with them will occasionally be a catalyst for action moving forward.
Nancy also verbally jousts with the handsome and gregarious Grigor, who plays Hermes in the play. His past is also quite suspect, with many misadventures moving through the foster care system, though he swears he has been redeemed and is working hard to repay someone who helped him out of a bad spot. Aside from these bad boys, Nancy meets Niobe, the fourth cast mate. She too has a mysterious background, an up-and-coming artist who’s had a brush-in with authorities. Strangely, she doesn’t appear to have any acting ability at all. Even Melina isn’t off the suspect list. Though she never makes a personal appearance in the game (Nancy only interacts with her on the phone), you learn about how she always loved museums and always wanted to be part of the art and history surrounding them. However, she often gets her facts confused, and you aren’t quite sure if she’s telling Nancy the truth.
When Nancy isn’t questioning the actors, she investigates the museum and its environs, and of course must also do a ton of reading. You’ll read about everything from the dark underworld Tartarus, to Greek architecture, to a rewrite of the Persephone myth. All of this reading might have been tedious if the writing weren’t as capable as it is. You won’t just be reading, however, as Nancy also stumbles upon recorded rehearsals of “Persephone in Winter,” a story about a mother, her daughter, and the nature of sacrifice. It would have been nice to actually view the cast acting out portions of the play, but the line reading here is very entertaining anyway: Grigor is lightweight and fun, Xenia is stoic as Persephone, while the talentless Niobe, playing Persephone’s mother Demeter, reads in a monotone at certain times and with odd overemphasis at others, struggling to reach the depths of noble anguish that Xenia pushes for in her direction. The real voice actress who plays Niobe, pretending to be bad at acting and then hitting moments of true frustration, is just great. One drawback to the voice work, however, is the comings and goings of Greek accents, though the game attempts to play this off as all part of the mystery.Continued on the next page...