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Nancy Drew: Alibi in Ashes effectively shakes up the formula of past Nancy Drew mysteries. With Nancy confined to a police station, players spend most of the game switching between her three friends while Nancy coordinates the investigation on her cellphone. The setting – Nancy’s quaint hometown – isn’t as exotic as the settings of some of the other games, but it’s still fun to explore Nancy’s childhood haunts (including her home and the famous desk that players see at the start of every Nancy Drew game). And like previous games, Alibi in Ashes is full of challenging puzzles, interesting characters, and a compelling mystery to solve.
Alibi in Ashes installed without any issues and played perfectly throughout, with no bugs, glitches or dead ends. Overall, an enjoyably alternative addition to the Nancy Drew game series.
While it’s been nice to travel the world in the past, I had a great time learning about Nancy’s home town and her place in it. Being such a renowned do-gooder hasn’t made Nancy quite as many supporters as you would think, which is an interesting insight into a character that you usually don’t learn much about. Not only that, the writers have taken the time to flesh out the characters and motivations for several of the suspects, including the old antique dealer, whose life story is as poignant as any I’ve come across in a game in a while. Though Alibi In Ashes doesn’t improve at all on from the limited graphics and interface issues of its predecessors, the developers have done a great job of dividing up the familiar gameplay formula between four different characters for a little more variety this time.
If you love Nancy Drew games, this one is shorter and not as complicated as previous ones in the series. It is more about investigating known suspects instead of following a plot with lots twists that eventually leads to the evidence that solves the mystery. Early on in "Alibi in Ashes" you will have a good sense of who's the culprit, and then you spend the rest of the mystery proving it. While it is fun to explore Nancy's hometown of River Heights and her childhood house, the game limits your investigation areas to only a few actual locations. And the switching-between-friends mechanic grows old quickly. It is a good mystery but not a great one.
Alibi in Ashes should be praised for trying out some new gameplay ideas to shake up the formula, but in the end it's not as strong as some of the other games in the Nancy Drew series.
Overall, Nancy Drew: Alibi in Ashes is a good game but definitely not among the best games in the series. The game is short in puzzles, especially puzzles that fit the game's theme or the Clues Challenge. There are also not enough locations for Nancy and her friends to visit. Despite these shortcomings, I am already looking forward to Nancy's next adventure.