Publisher: Her Interactive
Year Made: 2015
Platforms: PC, Mac OS
Content Areas: English Language Arts, Social Studies
Suggested Age Level: Middle School, High School
Play Length: 6 hours
Number of Players: Single Player
Difficulty Rating: Medium
Recently, the Nancy Drew series has been making trips around the world with games in historic and beautiful settings, ranging from France, Japan, Greece, New Zealand, Italy, Ireland, Scotland, Egypt, and more. The international trend continues as Nancy makes her way to Iceland in Nancy Drew: Sea of Darkness. Nancy is invited to the small town of Skipbrot after the recently restored Heerlijkheid ship crashes into the docks and its captain goes missing. Playing as Nancy Drew, players must shed some light on the secrets in Skipbrot and find both the missing captain and the truth behind Heerlijkheid’s missing treasure.
Her Interactive has had some incredibly engaging mysteries in the past (for example, The Ghost of Thornton Hall or Secret of the Scarlet Hand). Sea of Darkness was by no means a bad entry in the series, but the mystery didn’t feel as engaging as past mysteries. It was good. Not bad, not great, but it was good. I still recommend the game, but there are plenty of others that are better introductions to the series, because they feature more engaging stories and mysteries. Another downside to Sea of Darkness is that it doesn’t have as much focus on the history of its host country as past entries have. Usually, the international games go into detail about the history and culture of its setting. While Sea of Darkness taught some Icelandic and explored a bit of history, it seemed to focus more on the logic and math puzzles. The puzzles themselves were engaging and challenging, but it was a bit of a letdown to not see more of Iceland’s history and culture wound into them.
One clear tie into education is the fact that playing the Nancy Drew games can help students fall in love with the Nancy Drew book series. There are decades worth of books that readers can latch onto and enjoy. Within the game, players also do a heavy amount of reading and critical thinking as they unravel the mystery. From a social studies perspective, Sea of Darkness can both teach students and open the gateway for them to learn more about Iceland and Icelandic culture. As a secondary focus, Sea of Darkness also talks extensively about ships, pirates, and privateers of the eighteenth century. Pirates and privateers are even woven into the story itself, encouraging players to learn and discover more as they approach the truth to the mystery. Nearly all of the Nancy Drew games combine a good story with a historic setting or focus. Students could create their own mystery set in a time period they study in social studies and use elements of a good story (or mystery specifically) from English class. To further extend learning, students could even let classmates play through their games (or at least the mysteries) and have a game fest within the classes.
While Nancy Drew: Sea of Darkness isn’t one of the best entries in the series, it is a solid game with an interesting mystery and provides good insight into both the history of pirates and Icelandic culture.
Educational Rating: 8/8
(Classroom Tech Friendly, Motivation, Concrete Learning, Additional Skills, Feedback, Difficulty, Accessibility, Extension)
Overall Rating: 6/8
(Immersion, Environment, Storyline, Replayability, Entertainment, Gameplay, Originality, User Control)