Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Nancy Drew: The Silent Spy

Nancy Drew: The Silent Spy

Fall 2014 Software
Ages: 10 & Up
Price: $19.99

Her Interactive's 29th Nancy Drew title takes this first-person, point-and-click adventure franchise to new heights-and not so much in mystery and intrigue, though there's plenty of that. More impressively, this suspenseful and engaging story, set in Scotland, introduces a treacherous terrorist theme combined with a deeply personal plot that goes emotionally where no previous Nancy Drew title has gone.

After receiving a letter and creepy phone calls offering new information about the death of her mother, Kate Drew, a former spy who supposedly died in an automobile accident in Scotland years earlier, Nancy travels to Glasgow to uncover the truth. Once there, the teenage detective finds clues to a dangerous terrorist sleeper cell her mother had been investigating, and runs into some danger of her own.

With Scotland the setting, you'd think the rich history and rustic environment would provide exceptional locale graphics, but this mission doesn't exactly take the scenic route. Besides a deli serving Scottish fare, the rocky Loch Lomond shoreline, a "Highland Games" training arena, and some cultural content in music and history, there's not all that much Bonnie Olde here.

Instead, this game goes inward: Nancy's flashbacks of her mother, memories of her mother playing the piano, of her overhearing an argument between her mother and father, of her mother reasoning with her. There's even her mother's journal and letters. It's all quite moving, though Nancy remains a focused professional throughout the investigation…until the end.

As in nearly all Nancy Drew titles, this one provides two difficulty levels; a convincing cast of suspicious characters for Nancy to question; a challenging set of games and code-breaking puzzles (from zip lines and archery to bomb defusing and bagpipe playing); tasks Nancy must complete to progress; and, of course, the serious sleuthing for clues which is at the heart of all Nancy Drew games.

But this game is also about spying, spy craft and the perilous world of espionage. No sooner does Nancy land in Scotland than she's mugged. Then she quickly detects that she's being followed. She is threatened often. She escapes a She escapes a particularly disgusting attempt on her life involving a garbage compactor. There's spy gadgetry and cloak-and-dagger action throughout.

So The Silent Spy is a thriller, for sure. But it's also an intimate family drama that lets Nancy Drew fans know that Her Interactive hasn't run out of new ideas and unexpected twists for its star teen detective.

Don Oldenburg   ©2014 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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Her Interactive, Inc.

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