This is a post I’ve been both looking forward to and dreading. You see, Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake was the first Nancy Drew game I played and remains my favorite to date. It’s near and dear to my heart, which makes it pretty much impossible to view objectively. That being said, it’s my favorite for a number of reasons, so my fangirling isn’t unwarranted. It’s a very solid game.
Nancy’s father’s friend, Sally McDonald, recently bought an old cabin to fix up in the Moon Lake area of Pennsylvania. It’s a beautiful area and a nature-lover’s paradise. But soon after buying the home, Sally started receiving terrifying visits from ghost dogs who would attack the house. By time Nancy arrives to investigate, Sally has become so frightened that she’s left, leaving Nancy alone in the haunted old house.
Now, I realize that a cabin haunted by ghost dogs sounds really, really stupid, but it’s very well done. The first night you’re there (which is really early in the game, so I’m not considering this a spoiler), you experience one of their attacks, and it’s scary. You can immediately see that you friend wasn’t kidding about the seriousness of the situation. That eased my initial “ghost dogs, seriously?” reaction and got me excited. After all, the haunting subgroup of Nancy Drew games is my favorite.
Ghost Dogs features another great cast of characters for Nancy to interact with, continuing what has become a strong tradition by this point.
Emily Griffen owns the general store Em’s Emporium. It has everything the tourist camper would need to enjoy his or her time on the lake, and many of the basic staples residents would need as well. She’s obsessed with combing the lake for Prohibition-era treasures, and firmly believes that Mickey Malone’s cabin houses valuable secrets. Could her lust for valuable objects of the past drive her to scaring away the cabin’s new resident?
Red Knott is an avid birdwatcher who comes to Moon Lake every year. He hates tourists and doesn’t like Sally much, since her cabin — long abandoned — is right next to his stand. The loud renovations and general noise of living have scared away many of his precious birds, and he may have turned to extreme measures to rid the area of her.
Jeff Akers loves his job as a park ranger, which is good, since he’s the only one at Moon Lake. He strictly adheres to all rules and regulations, and takes a great deal of pleasure from making others adhere to them as well. He was desperately hoping that the parks department would purchase the land Sally’s cabin is situated on, expanding the size of the park and allowing for more tourism. Perhaps he wanted it badly enough to scare away the obstacle to his career success.
There are lots of different kinds of puzzles in this one, which help to make it so good. There are “arrange the things” puzzles, “find the things” puzzles, and “figure out how to fix the thing” puzzles. While this isn’t much different from other games in the series, there are a better-than-usual mix of the puzzle types. And a higher frequency of them in general. Rather than the game progressing due to overtly triggered events, the plot moves forward based on Nancy’s ability to get puzzles solved. What I mean by this is, there’s more action on the player’s end and less dialouge tree manipulation and looking at the right thing at the right time. This makes everything feel more involved and fun.
Nothing new, which isn’t a bad thing. Her Interactive has found a system of features that works, and it’s sticking to what it knows it can do well. Nothing stands out as spectacular because nothing is messed up.
Whether you’re a seasoned veteran of Nancy Drew or mystery games or looking to get your feet wet, Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake is an excellent gaming choice. In fact, I just replayed it myself AND found a copy to gift to my cousin-in-law who has started getting interested in puzzle gaming. She hasn’t played it yet, so I don’t know her thoughts, but I’m confident I’ve started her on a path of fun.