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Low-Spoiler Hints and Tips for Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill

Welcome to my Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill 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 murder mystery like Secrets Can Kill'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 Secrets Can Kill 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 Secrets Can Kill, 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: Secrets Can Kill Hints and Tips
Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill Walkthrough
Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill Game Spoilers and Easter Eggs
Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill Plot and Character Information
Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill Cheats and Links
Backseat Game Designer: Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill Critique

Secrets Can Kill Hints and Tips

Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill is the first PC adventure game in the popular Nancy Drew series. Like the other Nancy Drew games, Secrets Can Kill 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 suburban high school and isn't quite up to the quality of the later games in the series, but can still be a fun play-through. These are relatively easy games, designed with young teens in mind, and Secrets Can Kill 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 is scaled back, and you have less time to complete 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, Secrets Can Kill 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 Secrets Can Kill. It's impossible to lose this game other than becoming bored and quitting.

Time Management: There are two timed puzzles in Secrets Can Kill (one triggered by your second trip into the boiler room, and one in the final endgame.) If you run out of time in either case, the "second chance" feature will restart the timer and let you try again. Unlike later Nancy Drew games, however, there is no game clock in The Final Scene, and except for the aforementioned action sequences, time will not pass if you simply sit and wait--NPC's will stay in their assigned locations indefinitely unless you do something to make them leave, and night will not fall without some unrelated help from you. If a game event isn't happening, it's your responsibility to walk around talking to all the NPC's until the plot progresses.

Interrogation: You have a selection of different dialogue choices during most conversations with suspects in Secrets Can Kill, 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, both because it gives you more details so that you can figure the kidnapping 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 game.

Movement: The movement controls in the Nancy Drew games are very inconsistent and often unintuitive--sometimes it is hard to see an exit to your left or right, because the cursor does not shift to show that you can turn 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). The same cursor (a red magnifying glass) is also used for examining something, moving forwards, and sometimes (most confusingly) even turning and stepping forwards at once. There's no way to predict any of 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 Phone: Nancy can use the phone in the student lounge to call her own friends, Bess, George, and Ned, or to call any of the other telephone numbers you can find scattered throughout the game. Unlike some later Nancy Drew games, each of these phone numbers actually has a unique response when you call (Aunt Eloise's particularly amused me,) but none reveal any information relevant to the plot (you can't ask the judo place about the judo tournament, for example), and using the phone at all is optional in this game.

Problem Spots: There's not much that could possibly go wrong as you play Secrets Can Kill. Other than giving up and quitting, there's no way to lose this game. In fact, it doesn't even matter if you never read or pick up any 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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