Nancy Drew Message in a Haunted Mansion

I’m on a Nancy Drew video game streak! I played this game right after playing through Nancy Drew Alibi in Ashes. I was looking for a creepier game with more jump scares. I still haven’t found a Nancy Drew game that’s scarier than Ghost of Thornton Hall. Nancy Drew Message in a Haunted Mansion wasn’t one of my favorite games as I found the gameplay convoluted at times.

In this adventure, Nancy Drew is asked to come to a mansion outside the San Francisco area. As she’s staying at the mansion, she interviews Rose Green who plans on turning the mansion into a bed and breakfast. The mansion has been plagued with several accidents which worries Rose. Rose has asked Nancy to help investigate as she’s on the verge of abandoning her efforts. Nancy is always willing to help and she begins exploring the mansion to uncover what’s going on.

In this game, Nancy has to rely on time. Each suspect she can interview is only available at the mansion from a certain time. This allows Nancy a limited window to interview or explore certain areas. Once I memorized the schedule, this didn’t become an issue. I did mention how the gameplay was a bit convoluted. Some of the next steps in the game didn’t unlock until I talked to everyone. For example, I was told to find this man’s briefcase and I couldn’t find it in the room. It wasn’t until I had a dialogue with one of the other characters that when I re-entered the room, the man’s briefcase was there to unlock. Without the help of a walkthrough, I would have been stuck.

I was hoping for more jump scares in this one. There was a ghostly figure wandering around the mansion and creaks as Nancy ascended the stairs, but that was about it. There also weren’t any mini-games either. The mini-games are fun and I find they often make a Nancy Drew game memorable. I felt this game was a bit boring to play at times.

Overall, I’m glad I played this as my goal is to complete all the Nancy Drew games, however, this one wasn’t the best. It was a bit boring and the gameplay left me feeling stuck at times where I felt I needed to use a walkthrough to get through the game. The next Nancy Drew game on my list is Nancy Drew Shadow at the Water’s Edge.

Roleplaying in Person – Vampire the Masquerade

Before the Covid pandemic hit, the last roleplaying session I played was Vampire the Masquerade. It was a one-shot hosted by my friend. I didn’t know then that Covid would hit and quarantine would begin. I tried playing role-playing games hosted on roll20, discord, or Zoom, but it wasn’t the same. I felt let down after a session because I didn’t enjoy the virtual aspect of it. I decided to take a break entirely from roleplaying until I could play in person. This finally happened!

I am a part of the Facebook group Dungeons & Dragons Minnesota This group allows for anyone in Minnesota to find players, a DM, or post about their campaign. I found a group nearby me playing in a Vampire campaign. I was immediately intrigued. After meeting the DM before playing, he helped me come up with my character. The DM was super nice and not judgemental as I asked questions about the rules. I have played Vampire before, however, I’m not an expert. Once my character was created, we set a date to play.

My character is named Luella “Lou” Montgomery. She’s a twenty-seven year old art student living in Minneapolis. She is a Malkavian which means she’s a mentally ill Vampire. She carries around a teddy bear that she has named Mr. Waffles and she often talks to him. In creating Lou, I was inspired by the little sisters from the video game, Bioshock. Lou possesses this child-like quality about her, although she can easily transition into being more adult which aids in her creepiness.

I thought the first session went well! Our characters didn’t die, and the session kept me entertained throughout. Our first session took four and a half hours. I couldn’t believe we played for that long without a break. The session was fast-paced with a mix of dialogue, investigation, and our showdown at a creepy house.

Our next session will be in August. One reason I was able to commit to this campaign was meeting once a month. Weekly DnD sessions can be tough for me to meet, so monthly is a lot easier. I’m looking forward to playing my character and seeing her develop.

How has your experience been roleplaying during the pandemic? Are you back to in-person sessions? Let me know in the comments below!

Nancy Drew Alibi in Ashes

Animal Crossing New Horizons is devoting all my gaming time. I’m still nowhere near done with decorating my island, although I wanted to play other video games simultaneously. I wanted to play a video game with a start and an endpoint. This led me back to Steam to play through another Nancy Drew game. The latest Nancy Drew game I finished was Nancy Drew Alibi in Ashes.

Alibi in Ashes starts with Nancy receiving a note to go to the town hall in River Heights. As she investigates why she was sent there, she’s locked in a room where a fire starts. After escaping the town hall, she’s questioned by the local police leading to her arrest. Alibi in Ashes is a unique Nancy Drew game as Nancy spends the majority of her time in jail. As the player, Nancy can switch to either her boyfriend Ned, or her friends Bess and George. Nancy can send her allies to various parts of River Heights to look for clues, play mini-games and gather evidence.

I liked being able to switch between Nancy’s friends. I found myself relying on Ned for the most part because certain situations required him to talk to the NPC’s. While I liked being able to play as Nancy’s friend, I thought the mechanics could have been better. To switch characters, Nancy would call her friends. However, I couldn’t switch from Ned to Bess for example, I would use Ned to call Nancy who then had to call Bess to switch the game to her. If they are all friends, why couldn’t I seamlessly switch between Nancy to Ned to Bess without having to go through Nancy? I didn’t think this was a big deterrent to playing the game, although it was a bit of a nuisance at times.

Each Nancy Drew game is known for the puzzles or the mini-games. There was a fun antique box mini-game that can be played in the antique store in River Heights. The box opens with various numbers on the screen. In the game, you have to click numbers 1 – 41 at a certain time. I think I spent about thirty minutes playing this mini-game over and over again. Out of all the Nancy Drew games, I have played, this mini-game was the most enjoyable and addicting.

Towards the end of the game, it’s revealed early on who is the one who framed Nancy. The climax of the game is having to prevent the suspect from revealing incriminating information about Nancy. I enjoy the Nancy Drew games where it’s more of a jump scare of who the evil villain is. It didn’t distract from the game, but I felt a little let down with the villain reveal.

Nancy Drew Alibi in Ashes is a solid Nancy Drew outing. It’s a fun take on the other Nancy Drew games by allowing other playable characters and being able to navigate around Nancy’s hometown of River Heights. Out of the thirty three Nancy Drew games out there to play, I only have twenty eight more to go!

All my post game awards – including playing the clock game too much

May the 4th 2021 – Revisited

Last month, I wrote a post about my Star Wars plan for May the 4th. Every May, I spend almost the entire month devoting myself to all things Star Wars. I do it every year and I find I look forward to it. I wanted to reflect on my month and what I accomplished.

Books and Comics

The main book I wanted to read was Alphabet Squadron by Alexander Freed. I didn’t finish the book. To be honest, I thought the book felt a bit bloated with too many characters introduced. It was hard to keep track of which characters were driving the story and which characters were supposed to be in the background. I’m disappointed because I have felt this way about quite a few of the new Star Wars novelizations. I put this one down and I don’t think I will try re-reading it.

Skipping Alphabet Squadron, I did finish Queen’s Shadow by E.K. Johnston. I gave this book four stars on Goodreads. This lived up to my expectations for Padme and her story before Attack of the Clones. The end of Queen’s Shadow seems to set up further stories for Padme’s handmaidens, so I’m excited to see if more books will be written. I would highly recommend this if you’re a fan of the prequels.

Besides the books, I read every graphic novel I had set about reading except Lando Double or Nothing. It didn’t grip my attention and I ended up putting it down. I will highlight my rating for the other graphic novels down below:

Rise of Kylo Ren – four stars

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – three stars

Star Wars Adventures Vol. #1 – three stars.

Movies & TV

My goal was to continue in The Clone Wars. I ended up finishing season #1 and I’m halfway through season #2. I do think the seasons get better as I continue. I found watching Clone Wars helped when I was reading Queen’s Shadow because of references to the show popping into the book.

Gaming

I started with Star Wars The Old Republic. My laptop surprisingly ran the game without any forced restarts or glitches. However, I found the game to be repetitive and quite boring. I only finished one mission before uninstalling this from my computer. I can see why everyone raves about the game, but it wasn’t for me.

I switched over to Lego Star Wars and had a blast. I ended up getting through all the prequel levels and I’m now onto the A New Hope levels. I do need to take a break from this as I spent all of May playing through it. I do intend to return to it and finish it sometime this year.

I would say that this was a successful Star Wars month. Aside from not liking Alphabet Squadron, I set out to do exactly what I intended. I hope you all had a lovely May the 4th Be With You!

Designing my Island with My Nintendo Switch

Last year, Animal Crossing New Horizons was all the rage. I was envious as I adored Animal Crossing New Leaf on my 3DS. One of the highlights of my sophomore year of college was playing New Leaf on campus in between classes. As such, I had my eye on purchasing a Switch, but I never ended up committing to the purchase. Recently, my work had a contest with a prize of accruing Amazon gift cards. Now felt like the perfect time to purchase the Nintendo Switch with my remaining Amazon gift cards.

I purchased the Animal Crossing New Horizons Switch. I could have gotten the regular Switch for a better price, however, part of the reason I was buying the Switch in the first place was to play Animal Crossing New Horizons, so I felt like it was fitting to pay the extra for this version. My Switch arrived on Thursday, but I didn’t want to play it until the weekend. I named my island MaplePeaks because I wanted a generic name, so I could change the theme as I see fit. I’m still new to the game, so I don’t want to show off my island just yet.

Besides Animal Crossing, my fiance wants to play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Don’t hate me, but I’m not a big fan of the Zelda franchise, so I’m glad my fiance will play for the both of us. Purchasing the Switch ended up being a great idea for both me and my fiance to play games we don’t have any other way to play.

While I may be late to the Animal Crossing New Horizons party, please leave your friend code down below, so I can visit your island!

Science Fiction Board Games I Adore

I decided to participate in another Seriously Geeky Sunday theme. If you missed my previous Seriously Geeky Sunday post, this is created by Heather at Just Geeking By. Every Sunday, Heather comes up with a theme. If you aren’t following Heather (why not???) bookmark her site, follow her on Twitter or Instagram which are both linked. The first theme I participated in was centered around comic books, today’s theme is Science Fiction. This prompt had no questions, instead, it allowed for freedom in what to write. I decided to create a list of science fiction themed board games that I adore.

Cultists & Cthulhu

Cultists & Cthulhu is an easy game to learn and to teach back to other players. Cultists & Cthulhu is a game that would be perfect for any brewery trip because it doesn’t have a lot of pieces to take up space. I like this game because of my love for all things Cthulhu and the dice rolling it puts players on the same level. Some board or card games give an advantage to those who have played the game before due to knowing the game’s overall strategy. Cultists & Cthulhu with the added dice component makes for a different game every time.

Star Trek Ascendancy

Playing Star Trek Ascendancy makes me want to become a Star Trek fan. This game is a bit more complex as there’s a lot more to keep track of. I liked being able to develop my faction and travel around space attacking other players. I thought this game offered a challenge but rewarding especially winning a space fight. Since this game takes up a lot more time, I would recommend devoting a whole day to learning the rules and seeing who wins in intergalactic domination.

Doctor Who Time of the Daleks

Doctor Who Time of the Daleks is cooperative, meaning all the players are trying to work together to meet a common goal. Cooperative board games are some of my favorite types of games to play especially if I’m not in the mood for a competitive game. This game is extremely challenging with relying on dice to pass certain challenges. I always play as the tenth or eleventh doctor, however, expansions have come out which feature other doctors. This is always a blast to play.

Pandemic

I haven’t been able to play Pandemic because it felt a bit too real. I like Pandemic because it’s also cooperative. It’s easy to learn and there are ways to make the game more difficult depending on how many players there are or whether players are looking for a tough challenge. I like how Pandemic is somewhat educational with learning geography on major global cities to various roles of individuals who are trying to stop a pandemic. This may not be considered science fiction because it’s not fiction? However, it’s too late, I have already included this game in my list.

City of Remnants

City of Remnants is a strategy-based game where players pick gangs to take over a space planet. There are black markets, gunfights, gambling, and practically anything else you would think of on a corrupt space planet. I have only played this once, so I would need to play it a couple more times before I’m able to pick up on the rules.

This turned into a longer post than I had expected! Let me know what science fiction board games you are playing in the comments as I’m always looking for recommendations! Another shout out to Heather for putting on Seriously Geeky Sundays. It’s nice to have a prompt, so I don’t have to brainstorm what to write.

May the 4th Be With You – 2021 Plan

It’s almost May which means May the 4th is rapidly approaching. Every May, I devote my entire month to all things Star Wars. Last year, I re-watched all the movies and read a few Star Wars books throughout the month. This year, I wanted to share my May the 4th plan and hold myself accountable throughout the month. I genuinely look forward to May to dive into all things Star Wars.

Books and Comics

The first book I plan on reading is Alphabet Squadron by Alexander Freed. I received this book for free at Del Rey’s booth at C2E2 I was planning on reading this book last year, but the book was a lot longer than I had anticipated. I’m going to start reading Alphabet Squadron this week leading into May to give myself a greater chance of finishing the book in May.

To prepare for May the 4th, I bought books from my local bookstore, Cream and Amber. I purchased Queen’s Shadow by E.K. Johnston. This is the first book in a Padme book series. This has been on my TBR for a while, so I’m excited to finally read it. Padme is one of the most fearless characters in the Star Wars franchise. I hope this book lives up to my expectations.

As far as comics, I bought The Rise of Kylo Ren, Lando Double or Nothing, Star Wars Adventures Vol #1 Heroes of the Galaxy, and Star Wars: Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Captain Phasma. My goal is to read all of these along with Alphabet Squadron and Queen’s Shadow.

Movies & TV

Instead of re-watching the films, I’m going to watch The Clone Wars. I’m halfway through season #1 and I started to lose interest. Everyone I talk to who has watched The Clone Wars cannot stop raving about it and I don’t want to be missing out. I don’t think I will finish all the seasons in a month, but I hope to at least get through most of the show and get the motivation to finish the whole show.

Gaming

Last year, I put so many hours into Star Wars Battlefront II and it was a blast. I decided to try out Star Wars The Old Republic. I’m not sure if my laptop will be able to run the game, so as a backup, I found LEGO Star Wars The Complete Saga on Steam as well. Another option I have is to finish playing Jedi Fallen Order which I still have not completed the main campaign.

I am going to have a jam packed Star Wars themed month and I’m thrilled! I would love any Star Wars themed reading suggestions or podcasts, feel free to add those in the comments below.

Nancy Drew Secrets Can Kill

I’m back with another Nancy Drew video game review. I still have four other Nancy Drew games I purchased that I haven’t played through yet. I tend to play each Nancy Drew game on Sundays because I usually have a couple of hours I can spend playing the game before I go to bed. Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill is the first installment of detective games. While Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill was released in 1998, the game was re-mastered in 2010 and released on Steam. This was another fun outing, but it’s a bit clunky as the Nancy Drew video game formula hasn’t been established yet.

Eww what a jerk.

Nancy Drew visits her Aunt Eloise in Florida. Her aunt is the librarian at a high school and Nancy is looped into investigating the murder of one of the high school students, Jake Rogers. Since Nancy is in high school, it’s assumed she can get information from the students. Nancy is introduced to the staff, several students, and works with an undercover detective to gather evidence as to who murdered Jake. From Nancy’s investigations, it seems every person Nancy interacts with would have a reason to want Jake dead. Who killed Jake and will Nancy be able to solve the mystery without putting herself in danger?

Oooh creepy.

The answer to the above question is no. There are several instances in this game where Nancy can die if she doesn’t solve the puzzle in time. This includes being trapped in a boiler room and accidentally setting off a gas explosion in a diner. Both puzzles weren’t tough to solve, and while I died at least once, I was able to figure out the puzzle rather quickly. There is one broad puzzle that encompasses the entire game which involves searching for periodic elements Jake has hidden on student boards. The puzzles were fun to solve, and it helps to have a notebook handy while playing through the game.

I will say, this game does have a twist ending I didn’t see coming. There’s a videotape Nancy discovers that illustrates the conclusion as to who could have been involved with Jake’s murder. I had my mouth open for a little bit because it genuinely came out of left field. This bad guy suddenly appears behind Nancy which did give me a bit of a scare.

Although this was a fun game, I wouldn’t start playing through Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill first. While it’s the first game released in chronological order, it’s a bit clunky and the graphics while re-mastered are still not the greatest. I would recommend trying Nancy Drew and the Haunted Carousel or Nancy Drew Ghost of Thornton Hall first before starting this game. I think I liked this game more because I had played other Nancy Drew games first.

Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill was worth playing through. Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill can be purchased and downloaded on Steam.

Invested in Critical Role

The first time I heard Critical Role mentioned was at Gen Con in 2019. The cast of Critical Role was appearing and my friend was thrilled. He had tickets to go and he said it was the highlight of his convention. Earlier this year, I figured I’d watch the first episode on Youtube because why not? I was still at home and wasn’t sure when I was going to be vaccinated. I can’t believe how easily I have become invested in their campaign. For the past month, all I have been watching is Critical Role.

For those completely new to Critical Role like I was, it’s a D&D campaign show hosted by voice actor, Matthew Mercer, and his other voice actor friends. Every show is streamed live on Thursday nights Pacific Standard Time and uploaded to their Youtube channel. Originally, Critical Role was a private campaign Mercer had, but they decided to partner with Geek & Sundry and start airing their episodes on their channel in 2015. All of the episodes of Critical Role can be watched on Youtube.

When I started watching Critical Role, I went back to the beginning with episode #1 of their first campaign, Vox Machina. There were some recommendations to start with campaign #2 Mighty Nein since it was more refined with better video quality, however, I wanted to start from the beginning. From my watching experience, I would recommend watching Critical Role from the start. It’s fun to witness the chemistry the players have with each other. It’s tough to pick a favorite character because all the characters serve a role in the story.

Another reason I’m enjoying Critical Role is that it’s easy to follow along. I have listened to other D&D podcasts where I couldn’t quite keep up with the game. It helps that Critical Role has a recap told by Mercer and story introductions narrated by each cast member. I usually skip over their backstories, but every ten episodes or so, I will listen to them in full just to keep their stories fresh in my mind. I also prefer watching Critical Role on their Youtube channel versus listening to the podcast.

Additionally, I love how Critical Role gives back to their community. In the beginning, Critical Role was taking donations for 826LA which focused on creating opportunities for younger kids. Now, they have their non-profit that’s launched. I think it’s admirable since they have gotten so popular to start giving back to the community.

I wish I started watching Critical Role sooner than I am now. It’s such a fun group to watch and they all seem to get along with and care for each other. Critical Role has gotten me through some hectic workweeks along with making me look forward to the end of the workday. It’s been a true escape to leave the stresses of work in my office and come aboard Vox Machina and their adventures through Tal’Dorei.

Nancy Drew & the Haunted Carousel

The Nancy Drew computer games can be a huge hit (Ghost of Thornton Hall) or pretty mediocre (Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake). I’m determined to play through them all and officially rank them once I do. It still surprises me how challenging the Nancy Drew games are. The puzzles require some in-depth thought and it’s easy to get stuck not knowing what to do next. Nancy Drew & the Haunted Carousel was one of my favorite Nancy Drew games I played.

In this game, Nancy is recruited by Paula Santos, the owner of Captain’s Cove Amusement Park in New Jersey. One of the horses from the Carousel was stolen and some of the rides seemingly begin to move on their own. Nancy is introduced to several employees of the park who each have a motive as to why they would be interested in the park shutting down. Since this game is set at a carnival, this game is a bit heavy on mini-games especially when Nancy is exploring the arcade. Nancy Drew & the Haunted Carousel is one of the better games to start with because Nancy isn’t at risk of dying in this game. If Nancy makes a wrong choice, it’s more likely she’s fired from the case than perishing. There are also fewer “jump scares” in this game than other Nancy Drew games I played.

I liked how this game had more suspects. It made it that much more intriguing when it was finally revealed who the culprit was. I liked the setting at the park. Certain areas in the game were super creepy. I was a little anxious going through those areas because I was convinced something would jump out at me. The soundtrack to this game complemented the haunted theme.

Overall, this would be a good beginner Nancy Drew game. It’s less scary, and the puzzles while challenging are doable. I have five other Nancy Drew games installed on my computer, so it’s safe to say another Nancy Drew review will be written soon.