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Low-Spoiler Hints for Nancy Drew: Secret of the Scarlet Hand

Welcome to my Nancy Drew: Secret of the Scarlet Hand hints page. (-: If you're new to my series of low-spoiler computer game walkthroughs, the idea is to point gamers towards things they might not have thought of in each game rather than divulging puzzle solutions or giving step-by-step instructions. There's not much point in playing an adventure game if you know the puzzle solutions in advance, and there's no point at all in investigating a threatening mystery like Secret of the Scarlet Hand's if you've already had the story spoiled for you.

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So these pages are as close to spoiler-free as possible while still providing some valuable Secret of the Scarlet Hand hints and game recommendations. If you are looking for the solution to a particular puzzle, I recommend UHS--due to their unique website setup you can only see one hint at a time, so you can get the answer to one pesky puzzle without ruining all the others for yourself. Here's the UHS link if you're interested. My site here focuses on exactly the things traditional walkthroughs don't: the non-critical bits of Secret of the Scarlet Hand, detours you can take, little things you can do to smooth the gameplay out for yourself, extra details you might miss if you did only what was strictly necessary to complete the game. If you want even fewer spoilers--you're considering whether to buy the game, for example, and want to know whether there's anything you're going to detest in it--please try my Nancy Drew Review page to find all the pertinant information in one convenient spoiler-free package.

Now, on with the game!

Nancy Drew: Secret of the Scarlet Hand Hints and Tips
Nancy Drew: Secret of the Scarlet Hand Walkthrough
Nancy Drew: Secret of the Scarlet Hand Game Spoilers and Easter Eggs
Nancy Drew: Secret of the Scarlet Hand Plot and Character Information
Nancy Drew: Secret of the Scarlet Hand Cheats and Links
Backseat Game Designer: Nancy Drew: Secret of the Scarlet Hand Critique

Secret of the Scarlet Hand Hints and Tips

Nancy Drew: Secret of the Scarlet Hand is a modern PC adventure game in the popular Nancy Drew series. Like the other Nancy Drew games, Secret of the Scarlet Hand offers a simple 1st-person point-and-click interface with which to navigate a small gameworld, solving puzzles and interrogating suspects. This one is set in a museum full of ancient Mayan artifacts. These are relatively easy games, designed with young teens in mind, and Secret of the Scarlet Hand is very much plug and play. However, there are a number of things you may want to be aware of before beginning to play in order to get maximum enjoyment out of the game. Without spoiling anything:

Difficulty Setting: I've never seen a game with such an irrelevant difficulty setting as the Nancy Drew series has. There are no additional puzzles if you play on Senior Detective--the in-game hint system (i.e. Bess, George, and the Hardy Boys) is scaled back, and you have less time to complete the timed challenges, and that's it. If you've played the game on one setting, there is no need to go back and play it again on the other.

Savegames: Like other games in this series, Secret of the Scarlet Hand is well-constructed and does not suffer from serious bugs; in fact, the Nancy Drew games have a "second chance" feature that allows you to automatically replay any scene in which Nancy dies or fails at her mission, so you theoretically shouldn't need to worry about savegames at all. Though there are a few potentially critical glitches in some of the other Nancy Drew titles, I have not found any in Scarlet Hand. It's impossible to lose this game other than becoming bored and quitting.

Time Management: There are two timed puzzles at the very end of the game (one beginning when you pick up the calendar stones, and one after the final confrontation with the thief.) Except for these timed challenges, Secret of the Scarlet Hand proceeds in Ultima-style flextime--the NPCs will become available and unavailable for conversation at set times every day, but if you miss them, you can just sleep for the requisite number of hours and catch them there the next day (use the alarm clock next to Nancy's bed to accomplish this.) It doesn't matter if you conclude this quest in three days or thirteen; except for the routine movements of NPC's, nothing in the museum changes except in response to actions you've taken yourself.

Interrogation: You have a selection of different dialogue choices during most conversations with suspects in Secret of the Scarlet Hand, but in no case do your choices affect anything in the game. This is somewhat unfortunate (it would have been nice for the amount of information you decide to reveal to the suspects to affect their behavior), but it also means you really needn't waste your time reloading or replaying any conversations. You should, however, make an effort to exhaust every line of conversation with every character (except Bess, George, Frank and Joe, who are completely optional), both because it gives you more details so that you can figure the mystery out for yourself, and also because the act of conversing with an NPC often triggers an unrelated plot event to happen somewhere else in the museum.

Movement: The movement controls in the Nancy Drew games can be inconsistent and unintuitive--sometimes it is hard to see an exit to your left, right, or even straight ahead (!), because the cursor does not shift to show that you can go that way unless it is resting in the precisely correct location (which is not always to the far margin of the screen where you'd expect it). Clicking a down arrow will sometimes cause you to look down, and other times cause you to move down. There's no way to predict these things in advance, and it can be very disorienting. Luckily the area available to explore in each of these games is very small, so you can get used to the arrows in each location quickly. The only location that's really difficult to navigate around is the monolith itself-- curved side arrows usually cause Nancy to rotate in place, but when she's standing next to the monolith, the same arrows cause the MONOLITH to rotate. It took me a while to get used to that, and also means that it's hard to walk away from the monolith (since Nancy cannot rotate so that she is facing away from it.) It helps to know that there is nothing else in that environment (nothing on any of the benches, footpaths, etc.) so it doesn't really matter that it's difficult or impossible to get a look at anything other than the monolith itself.

The Phone: Nancy needs to use the phone a LOT in this game, and it's even more of a pain than it is in most Nancy Drew games, because new telephone numbers Nancy comes across are not automatically noted in her phone log the way they were in previous games (you have to write down every phone number you come across in your own notes, except for the Hardy boys' cellphone number, which is only there for fun anyway.) Also, it seems to be impossible to make long-distance calls from the museum, so you need to click all the way back to Nancy's hotel room every time you need to make a call. Hopefully this girl is going to invest in a cellphone of her own one of these days.

Problem Spots: There's not much that could possibly go wrong as you play Secret of the Scarlet Hand. Other than dying, there's no way to lose this game. In fact, it doesn't even matter if you never read or pick up some of the important evidence. There is only one ending cutscene, and it is not affected by any choices you make. Of course, the game is more fun and makes more sense if you bother collecting the evidence and conversing with suspects.

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