Message in a Haunted Mansion is the third installment in the series of Nancy Drew games developed by Her Interactive. Like the other titles in the series, Message in a Haunted Mansion is a first-person point-and-click adventure game based around detective skills and mysterious situations with related puzzles.
This time around, as super sleuth Nancy Drew, you are invited to investigate a series of mysterious accidents during the renovations in a spooky old Victorian mansion house in San Fransisco. Rose Green has put her everything into buying the decrepit multi-storey mansion, with thoughts of turning it back into the money-spinning bed and breakfast it was years ago. Somehow you have been enlisted to help and whilst matching parquet floor tiles and playing old instruments, you happen upon clues to the mystery of the accidents that have been plaguing the refurbishments. The other enlistees have their motives, as does Rose, but which one, if any, are behind the mysterious happenings in the house?
Could Charlie the handy man be handier in darker circles than we are led to believe, or is he just a nice guy with no closet skeletons? Or do we suspect that Abby? Our supposedly psychic friend definitely has something more than tarot cards up her mysterious sleeve. Surely Lois could not be the unsuspicious legal type and be hiding only innocent pranks in his briefcase? Who knows for sure, except Nancy, as she wings her way through creepy corridors and hidden sectors in her relentless quest to detect the mystery and crime that is bound to be loitering in a dusty corner somewhere in the mansion.
With 2 aptitude levels, you can play the game as either a junior or senior detective, dependant upon your age or degree of experience. If junior level is chosen, you can access hints from your best friends via the telephone either in your room or on your person. The choice of difficulty also means you can replay the game under a different difficulty setting, either improving your strategy and memory or just enjoying the atmosphere and puzzles all over again.
The storyline in this particular game has a Chinese theme. The atmosphere is great and only gently spooky. Even those with delicate nerves that want to pook around in a good mystery can enjoy Message in a Haunted Mansion without fear. There are several characters to interact with or glean for clues and plenty of rooms take in.
We are forewarned on the box that not all our suspects always tell the truth, so use your sleuthing powers of deduction to decipher the answers given and choose carefully which questions to ask. If you do not exercise caution, you may end up giving too much away to the culprit!
Time passes quite quickly throughout the game, so keep an eye on your pocket-watch, situated permanently on the left of your screen. Time can be changed by using the alarm clock in your bedroom and this is handy for times of trouble or if you feel at a loss. Check out everything, click, snoop, delve, spy, and question. The answers are there, you just have to find them. Listen attentively to the sound effects and leave no ornate panel untouched.
The mansion will soon become familiar to you, which is helpful for any timed segments. These segments are a finale characteristic of nearly all the Nancy Drew series, but if you do not like a rush, or pressure in your game, all is not lost. The timed games are not too hectic and you can take advantage of the second chance option that let’s you try them as many times as you like.
The game comes on one disk, so no CD swapping will be required. Just like the second volume in the series, there are over 30 save game slots. The characters and graphics are 3D, with 360 degree interactive environments. Attention to details such as lip-synch is nicely done. With the promise of 20 hours of game play, you're in for a treat. No technical issues or glitches were found, so don your tweed and enjoy another game from the award winning Nancy Drew series.