Developer: Her Interactive
Price: FREE (then $5.99 after 60 minutes)
Version Reviewed: 1.1
Device Reviewed On: iPad mini (Retina)

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★★☆
Playtime Rating: ★★★★☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Finally making its way to mobile after its debut on both PC and Mac last year, Her Interactive’s Nancy Drew: Ghost Of Thornton Hall marks but the first in a long line of official ‘Nancy Drew’-branded tap-and-discover mysteries that are set to hit the App Store over the coming months.

Taking the role of world-renown detective Nancy Drew, this best-with-headphones story is set on the mysterious Blackrock Island where the Thornton family home and business is situated. One morning, Drew’s colleague Savannah calls to inform her that she has received details of the disappearance of Jessalyn Thornton, the family’s daughter, but sadly can’t take the case. Left up to Drew to solve the mystery of Jessalyn’s disappearance, Drew must travel to Blackrock Island. However with ghost stories about the haunted hall abound, just what exactly is Nancy Drew getting herself into?

photo 4Nancy Drew: Ghost Of Thornton Hall works by giving players 60 minutes to get as far as they can, after which they must pay $5.99 to buy the full version of the game. During this time players can explore the island, the hall, and speak to the island’s residents in order to gain clues as to Jessalyn’s disappearance and relationship with the people that where surrounding her.

Collecting objects along the way, players will use the game’s tap-and-find elements to both solve puzzles and uncover the mysteries behind Thornton Hall. Keeping track of Drew’s observations, suspects, and tasks regarding the case is achieved via a slide-up drawer interface located to the right, while items Drew has picked up and added to her inventory can be found at accessed at the bottom of the screen. In special circumstances, these items can also be combined to solve a specific problem.

photo 3From a gameplay standpoint, Nancy Drew: Ghost Of Thornton Hall is enjoyable. The inclusion of both an atmospheric soundtrack and high-quality voices for out spoken dialog is a nice addition, and adds to the ‘realism’ of the story that unfolds in front of the player. If I’m being picky, I would say that the only sticking point currently is the scrollable section that allows players to choose which response Drew will eventually give to each character. This was quite fiddly to use overall, and often resulted in selecting an unintended response.

Other than that small gripe, I thoroughly enjoyed the hour I spent with Nancy Drew: Ghost Of Thornton Hall. It’s directional tap-driven navigation may take some getting used to at first, especially given that swipe gestures don’t work here, but after one has spent a few minutes with it the control system just feels natural. There were a few crashes in version 1.0, but a small update to the game pushed out at the beginning of this week appears to have resolved them.

Definitely one for the mystery fans out there.

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