Great moment from the tutorial: Nancy takes a special moment to inform me that if I do something like "fall off a roof" or "blow something up" I can take a Second Chance to rewind to "before I goofed". Yes a 'goof' like causing things to explode. Ahaha. If we hadn't done exactly that in previous games, I would probably be less amused.
So what's the setup this time? Jewels? Smugglers? Jetpack ghosts? No, actually. Nancy's just going to see a movie. Nancy and a never-mentioned-before friend of hers, Maya Nguyen, are off to see the latest Brady Armstrong film: "Vanishing Destiny". (It looks very, uhm, Pride and Prejudice.) They're in St. Louis at the Royal Palladium theater, which has been open since the 1920s. Even Houdini performed here! (I'M SURE THAT WILL NEVER COME UP AGAIN.)
Unfortunately the theater is scheduled to be torn down, and the local historians are Unhappy. Like, picket-lines unhappy. Fortunately, Maya has a press pass because she's an Intrepid Reporter, so Nancy and her are going to interview Brady in person and then watch the film. What could possibly go wrong?
"Go get 'em, Scoop!" Nancy enthuses, as Maya vanishes into Brady's dressing room. Then she instantly does a 180 and heads for the snack bar. Suddenly, a scream from behind! Maya's in trouble! Nancy whips around and busts the door down, but Maya's nowhere to be seen. Suddenly, the phone rings!
"LISTEN CAREFULLY" says the deepest voice in the world. "IF THEY KNOCK THE THEATER DOWN, THE GIRL GOES WITH IT!" Nancy of course demands answers, but the Voice just hangs up. Looks like we've got a case. Nancy takes a step back.
The phone rings again. This time, it's the caretaker, Joseph Hughes. He's deeply confused when Nancy starts shouting that he'll never get away with this. Eventually he coaxes the story out.
Nancy's on an inside line, so the previous call must've come from inside the theater. He was expecting Brady to be in, y'know, Brady's dressing room. He fills Nancy in that there's a secret passageway out of there (WE ARE THREE MINUTES INTO THE GAME AND ALREADY THERE IS A SECRET PASSAGEWAY) and declares he'll go lock all the doors to make sure nobody can get out.
I notice that on the phone there's some lit-up buttons for the various lines. Nancy's is 4, the Men's Dressing Room. The kidnapper called from 5, the Woman's Dressing Room. And the caretaker is on line 3, the Projection Booth. Anyway, we get looking f--
Oops. We've been caught by Brady Armstrong. At first he thinks Nancy's a kooky fangirl who broke in to get an autograph. When she starts explaining the kidnapping plot, he gets Serious. And by serious I mean he makes fingerguns and starts shouting about "Radicals".
Brady thinks someone called Nicholas Falcone is the person responsible. He's some kind of radical treehugging historian upset about the destruction of the theater. In any event, when Nancy mentions searching the building Brady gets excited and sprints off to help. Aw, he's like a giant puppy.
With all that setup done, we can get down to searching the room. As Nancy noted on the phone a moment ago, there's only one visible door in or out of the dressing room. But as Joseph mentioned, there's a secret door somewhere in here. Nancy instantly gets to rooting around. Behind a costume rack is a rather obvious outline, there's a desk (but the drawer is locked), there's a magic wand in a dresser nearby (Nancy pockets it, because hey, free magic wand) and behind a painting is a ... a big-ass lever set into the wall. That's not really "secret".
PICTURED: A TOTALLY SECRET LEVER.
This opens the Obvious Outline behind the costume rack, which leads us all the way around the back of the theater via a long brick passage. It comes out --
"I may have to cut this short, Hal. Somebody just climbed out of my wardrobe."
I don't know who this is yet, but she gives no shits whatsoever. Upon Nancy trying to explain that her friend is missing, she waves Nancy off with a "yeah, and I have a premiere tonight and no stylist for my star, so DON'T talk to ME about emergency situations, girl".
Well fine. I stroll out of the lady's dressing room (and no, I don't really suspect HER) and get looking around backstage, on-stage... anywhere I can walk, I do, hunting around for CLUES. Which there seems to be a severe lack of. Eventually she works her way through the lobby to the front office, where we find -- hello.
Why yes, I think an appropriate reaction IS to phone the police at this juncture. So Nancy telephones the cops, and what follows is a good eight minutes of Nancy dealing with a desk clerk, getting forwarded to Missing Persons, describing Maya, describing the scene, admitting the only evidence she has is a threatening phone call, answering some questions (Maya's parents are in Vietnam this time of year, so it's impossible to contact them easily) and being told to wait 24 hours and call back, at which point it will be an official missing person case and they can proceed with investigating.
"But I'm pretty sure the kidnapper is still in this building! RIGHT NOW!" Nancy wails.
"Unlikely, miss. No competent kidnapper would hold their victim anywhere near the scene of the crime." the officer replies. Anyway, he's unlikely to do anything until either A: Tomorrow or B: Nancy gets some evidence showing that the kidnapping was violent, which means they can treat it as assault and get things moving faster.
This sort of thing is why Nancy Drew usually just sidesteps police involvement and acts in a vigilante capacity. Anyway, Maya is unlikely to be killed on day one if she's their trump card and the building is scheduled to be destroyed in 72 hours, so we have some time to work with here.
Nancy also takes a few minutes to call Bess and snark loudly about so-called "Police Procedure". Bess promises to round up George and Ned and get everybody waiting by the phone for support if Nancy needs it... and Nancy thinks she will. "It's been a while since I took a case this personally!"
Hear that, kidnapper scum? You messed with Nancy Drew and called down the wrath of the NANCY CREW.
Outside the office, Nancy spots someone at the snack bar and strolls over to ask him about Maya. He hasn't seen her, but when Nancy explains that she was kidnapped and is being held with a threat that if the theater goes, so does she ... he perks right up.
"Applause for the cause!" he crows. "That'll blast those bigwigs outta their dreamworld!" Nancy is less than thrilled to hear this. She mentions she just got off the phone with the police, and our latest suspect snorts. The police? What, THOSE wastes of tax dollars? They're useless!
This, of course, is Nicholas Falcone, and he's sorry if he's OFFENDED Nancy or anything, but it's not like her friend is gonna be hurt. Whoever took her is just making a statement. "Oh, so it's just a PRETEND kidnapping?" Nancy snarks back. "Those screams sounded so real!" Falcone waves off the implications, but when Nancy says she intends to look anyway, he's approving. Don't let anyone tell you not to do what you believe, Nancy. FIGHT THE POWER.
Is what he actually says. And he shoves a fist in the air, too. (Falcone Punch!) Oh my god this guy is too RADICAL to be a suspect. He's like Baby's First Revolutionary. What's more, his group is called "Humans Against the Destruction of Illustrious Theaters". Or "HAD IT".
Let's give it up for Nicholas Falcone, the first animated strawman ever seen outside of Oz.
Aside from that, though, about the only thing I successfully locate is a quarter on the floor in one of the theater balconies. Hmm. I've got to be missing something, because I can't even find any puzzles. I take it a little slower and really comb the building and eventually locate a few hotspots I missed previously. In one of the many rows of theater seats, for example, there's a blob of chewing gum. Nancy pokes it with her magic wand and collects it on the tip. For, uh, evidence purposes I guess.
Using the wand-with-gum-at-the-tip, Nancy can bend over a railing and collect a loose decorative ... gear-looking thingie? I'm not sure what that's for, but hey. Puzzle trinket. Never turn down free inventory.
Then there's this parlor game in the lobby. It starts playing some extremely thumpy drummy jazz at us, so that's a mental health hazard, but it also is the first puzzle-like thing we've seen all game. Let's play! This works kinda like Pac-Man meets that one Dalek game. You play as the round music note. The square ones mimic your moves and try to stop you from reaching the dancers. You have to be Clever and use walls to keep them away.
Once that's finished, you get another one of those weird decorative gear thingies.
What are these things FOR anyway? Gah. I haven't SEEN anything that needs a pair of dingles wedged into them...
BACK through the theater again, click click click search search click click. Eventually Nancy finds some ropes backstage and futzes with them, and a hook drops down from the rafters, and we connect that hook to a box and secure it very carefully and swing the box up out of the way to find -- a trapdoor to the basement!
Ah-ha. HERE'S where they put all the puzzles. They're all down in the basement. Figures.
Like this thing. LOOK at this thing. What does it do? Well, you click it and it rotates these card symbols. Sometimes it rotates just the one you clicked, sometimes it rotates the one next to it or two over or whatever. THAT'S A PUZZLE. Boom BAM boom we solve the puzzle because we're Nancy Drew. What's inside the box locked with a puzzle?
ANOTHER PUZZLE OF COURSE!
WHY DID YOU ASK THAT QUESTION?
DID YOU FORGET WHAT WE'RE PLAYING?
Soooo I spend a while plinking tiles together and agonizing, and then I realize they can ROTATE and I have to flip this lady's zodiac arch all TURNWAYS to get it up and working. Not like some kind of zodiac OVAL, it's an ARCH over her HEAD augh. And that tan splotchy stuff is her SHOULDER in a dress with chocolate colored stars and FRINGE on it, which -- why did you make these fashion choices, ma'am?
Anyway. We crack that puzzle, and guess what's underneath?
but it's okay because the puzzle is "Some gears are missing" and hey guess what we found by pure coincidence? We snap these replacement gears in and I swear if there's a fourth puzzle in this box I'm going to open an IM window and just start ranting at someone random.
But no! Inside is a KEY and a LETTER. The letter is addressed to a Mister Houdini and it's from the former owner of this very theater!
He's offering a half-ownership in the theater in exchange for Houdini not slapping a giant lawsuit on his ass, because the owner cannot pay him $50,000 for a contracted performance of "The Watery Grave" that honestly the theater owner didn't think he was going to successfully escape from.
(Harry Houdini, famous magician, well known for NOT escaping from deathtraps and dying on-stage.)
Apparently Houdini agreed to take part-ownership, because there's a signed ownership contract in the back of the letter. D'you know what this means? It means, if we find someone descended from Houdini or otherwise able to handle Houdini's estate, and who gives a crap, we can SAVE THE THEATER!
Still sucks to be Maya, though.
Uh speaking of Maya, now that we've found some stuff let's head around the theater and see if anyone feels like talking some more. Maybe this will open up some dialogue lines. Or that's the plan, anyway, but on the way out I see a three-card monty machine and NATURALLY I have to play with it. Happily, the eye is quicker than the hand and we win some FLASH PAPER.
Paper that makes a bright, distracting flash? I'm betting we're gonna carry this to the end of the game and then blind a suspect with it.
Then we trot back through the theater. Brady is back in his room, and he admits that Simone (his manager, Lady of the Phone) is pretty much a control freak when it comes to his career. Answers all his emails for him and such. ... Hm. Okay, that tells me nothing.
Finally I find the one person I hadn't been able to talk to yet. Joe, up in the projection booth. (But not until after Nancy's pocketed a fuse and a film slide from rustling around in there.) Joe notes that maybe Nancy should call the police, and Nancy snarks about that 24-hour period.
"Don't let the turkeys get you down!" Joe suggests. ... Uh, yeah, that's how that saying goes.
So the two of them decide to get Nancy some blueprints and send her searching EVERY INCH of the theater, because I haven't already. This involves phoning the county admin office and asking for the ORIGINAL floor plans, not the '56 Remodel plans. Nancy trots downstairs to make the call.
Back in the lobby, Falcone hits Nancy up for the four-one-one. "The what?" Nancy asks, sounding faintly disturbed, and he has to explain it's VINTAGE SLANG for the LOW DOWN.
"Oh, you want INFORMATION." Nancy realizes.
"Egg-zachly!" he smirks.
...you spend a lot of time on 4chan or something, don't you Nich.
Nancy grills him on his relationship with the police ("They like to dig through my garbage and follow my van around." he sneers.) and about what they plan to do with the lot when the building is torn down. "The company's called "WAVE OF THE FUTURE", and it's run by somebody named B. Thompson, except MYSTERIOUSLY he's never available for comment. B? More like BALONEY Thompson, AM I RIGHT?"
Falcone, stop, you're outdoing me in the wit department.
The conversation eventually comes around to Falcone's grandmother, who actually (according to him) did all the sculpting and design work on the walls. Thing is, the owner was a jerkass and never actually paid her. Seems she was talked into working without a contract, and then he just stiffed her and then the Great Depression hit.. she never worked as an artist again. So... can Nancy find some evidence, something ... ANYTHING to help his grandma get JUSTICE? Because that's what Falcone really wants. JUSTICE, and the salvation of his grandma's artwork.
This forks into a conversation about those papers Nancy found in the basement.
"Your grandmother's not the only one J.J. Thompson tried to stiff." Nancy explains.
"Don't just stand there, start breakin' it DOWN!" jives Nich. So Nancy explains about Houdini and Falcone gets excited about the prospect of finding one of Houdini's family to vouch for the theater.
"Nancy! I've got a LAPTOP out in my... VAN." he smarms. "Catch ya on the flip side. I gotta do some research." When he leaves, he unblocks a rack of HAD IT brochures, which have the county admin number printed inside.
So we get on the phone with them, but unfortunately the blueprints are missing! Some energetic guy with a hat was looking at them last. ... Well that... that helps. Thanks.
With nothing left to go on... oops, no. Joe gives a call from upstairs. Nancy heads back up to the projector room to find that Brady's located Maya's press pass! With this we can call the police and say we found some evidence. Which we do!
Unfortunately, the police don't care. A dropped press pass is not evidence of a crime. Nancy gets damn huffy and starts talking about how Nicholas Falcone mentioned the kidnapper might be making a statement, and the police officer gets downright irate. Turns out that a year or so ago, another theater in Nashville was going to be torn down and the owner of the demolition company's daughter went missing. Three weeks later she turned up cuddling with Falcone in a coffee shop.
"Nicholas Falcone will stop at nothing to further his radical agenda." the cop continues. "Vandalism, chaining himself to construction equipment, outright sabotage... He has a minor criminal record, but unfortunately being a gigantic pain in the neck is not criminal activity."
"But it won't win you any good citizen awards either." Nancy muses. AND SHE SHOULD KNOW.
Long story short, the police aren't coming until tomorrow. Resigned, Nancy goes home to get some sleep.
Oh, this looks promising.
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