Shadow at the Water's Edge is the 23rd installment in the point-and-click Nancy Drew adventure game series by Her Interactive. The game runs on Windows XP and Windows Vista . It is also the third game of the series that can run on Mac OS X. In the game, the player assumes the role of American teenage detective Nancy Drew by using puzzles and interrogation of non-playable characters to solve a mystery. There are two levels of gameplay, Junior and Senior detective modes, each offering different difficulty levels of puzzles and hints. (Neither of these changes affect the actual plot of the game.) Since it contains scenes with mild violence and peril, the game is rated E for everyone 10 and up.
In the game, Nancy is sent to Kyoto, Japan by P.G. Krolmeister as a reward for the solving of the preceding mystery in the game series (Trail of the Twister). She is accompanied by her friends Bess and George. While there, she is to work as an English teacher. Once she arrives at her ryokan, however, she discovers that not all is as it seems. Strange events, supposedly caused by a woman who died mysteriously at the inn, are scaring away guests. One by one, the guests leave the Ryokan Hiei, until Nancy is left only with the secretive family that owns the inn. Unable to resist a mystery, she works to discover the secrets behind the hauntings . Along the way, she uncovers tangled family relationships that play a part in solving a complicated puzzle left by the dead woman. Gameplay is also not limited just to the inn. Players can navigate the complicated subway system of Kyoto to such places as a technology expo and a pachinko parlor. Nancy also has an in-game cellular phone, which can be used to call other characters, receive text messages, play games, and take photos. There are also two slightly different endings to the game that are determined by what the player decides to do when he or she catches the culprit.
- Nancy Drew: Nancy is an eighteen-year old amateur detective from the fictional town of River Heights in the United States. She is the only playable character in the game, which means the player must solve the mystery from her perspective.
- Kasumi Shimizu: Kasumi is a dead member of the family who owns the Ryokan Hiei. She drowned one night in the baths at the inn, and now her ghost supposedly haunts the ryokan. Though the player never meets her during the duration of the game, she is often mentioned by other characters. Before her death, Kasumi created an elaborate puzzle hoping it would encourage her family to work together. Nancy finds letters written by Kasumi that contain clues towards solving this puzzle.
- Yumi Shimizu: Yumi is Kasumi's older daughter who runs a bento stand called Happy Bento in the inner city of Kyoto. As the oldest daughter, she is, by tradition, to inherit her family's ryokan, though she chooses to live a life in the city instead. She has a very strained relationship with her family and Rentaro, due, in part, to her unconventional views and over-bearing personality. Players can meet and interact with Yumi at her bento stand by the Technology Expo in Kyoto. She also meets Bess and George at the expo, and they quickly become friends.
- Miwako Shimizu: Miwako is the receptionist at the Ryokan Hiei and is the younger daughter of Kasumi. She is devoted to the ryokan and her family heritage. However, being the younger daughter means she will not inherit the inn. She gets very upset when she hears anything about her dead mother, Kasumi. Her traditional views creates tension between herself and her older sister Yumi and her boyfriend Rentaro. Players can meet and interact with Miwako in the lobby of the ryokan.
- Rentaro Aihara: Longtime friend and neighbor of the Shimizu's, Rentaro is also Miwako's boyfriend and the ryokan's handyman. He is into electronics, and bought a robotic cat, Suki, for Miwako. His goofy and quirky personality sometimes annoys the Shimizu's, but for the most part, they get along. He dreams of one day moving to the city with Miwako, but she is too tied to the inn to move. Players can meet Rentaro at the ryokan's baths, and interact with him at the shed in the ryokan's gardens.
- Takae Nagai: Takae is Miwako and Yumi's grandmother and the mother of Kasumi. She is very strict about Japanese tradition and believes Yumi should move back to take over the ryokan. Players can meet and interact with Takae in the "Cultural Room" of the ryokan, where she teaches lessons on Japanese culture.
- Suki: The robotic cat given to Miwako by Rentaro. She can be found standing guard over Miwako's desk in the ryokan's lobby.
- George Fayne: Nancy's athletic, tomboyish best friend and Bess' cousin. Her love of electronics leads her to spend the majority of her time in Japan at the Technology Expo. She can only be contacted through Nancy's in-game cell phone.
- Bess Marvin: Nancy's pretty, blonde best friend and George's cousin. Her time in Kyoto is spent mostly with George at the Technology Expo. She isn't quite the tomboy George is and is more interested in Kyoto's creative fashion than the Technology Expo. Along with George, she has befriended Yumi. She can only be contacted through Nancy's in-game cell phone.
- Savannah Woodham: A ghost hunter who came to investigate the ryokan, but ended up being scared away by the supposed hauntings. Though now a journalist, she has also written a book in which she features the Ryokan Hiei. In the game, she is covering the Technology Expo for a technology magazine, and is thus available only as a phone character.
- Logan: Savannah Woodham's somewhat rude assistant who has a crush on Bess. Since he is at the Technology Expo, he is available only as a phone character.==
- Nancy Drew - Lani Minella
- Rentaro Aihara- Marc Biagi
- Miwako Shimizu- Mikano Fukaya
- Yumi Shimizu- Kira Lauren
- Takae Nagai- Waylayn Sharples
- Savannah Woodham- Adrienne Maclain
- Logan Mitchell- Ryan Demerick
- George Fayne- Chiara Motley
- Bess Marvin- Jennifer Pratt
- Additional Characters- Chris Maxfield, Naoko Nibu-Butler, Akika Tanaka, Adrienne Maclain, and Sana Watterson
Aside from game-event puzzles and challenges, Shadow on the Water's Edge incorporates several additional Japanese puzzle games and pastimes into the gameplay. While it's necessary to complete some of these puzzles and games, the designers have allowed a degree of open-ended playing, which allows the player to complete a number of optional additional mini-games without affecting the overall outcome of the game.
Games Rentaro Provides:
(Game-event puzzles involving sudoku and nonograms also occur.)
Games On Nancy's Cell Phone:
- Avatar creator- Create anime style characters for use as cell phone avatars. (Can only be used after downloading the program in-game off of Yumi's computer.)
- Land Rush mini-game from Trail of the Twister. (Available on pre-ordered versions of the game only.)
- Memory mini-game from Warnings at Waverly Academy. (Available on pre-ordered versions of the game only.)
- Bento puzzle - the player assembles bento boxes for Yumi based upon clues.
In each of the games, there are different points where Nancy can make "fatal errors." These points are usually when she blows her cover as a detective or gets seriously injured. At such points, the game will stop and give the player the option to try again before the fatal error occurred. If the player doesn't wish to retry, then the game is over.
Fatal Errors in Shadow at the Water's Edge:
- Asking Miwako about the newspaper article on Kasumi's death.
- Attempting to get past Suki while she's in guard mode.
- Getting caught by Miwako when steaming open her password envelope.
- Not solving the mirror image puzzle in time and getting hit by a falling plank.
- Drowning when Nancy is pushed into the bath.
- Letting the culprit escape.
Awards are given at the end of the game for completing special tasks that have no effect on the actual plot:
- Easter Egg: For finding an Easter egg (there are four that may be obtained; see below).
- Puzzler Pro: For completing all of Rentaro's puzzles.
- Sous Chef: For filling a lot of bento orders.
- Fashion Designer: For sending a lot of avatars to friends.
- Souvenir Searcher: For winning all the prizes at the pachinko parlor.
- Recording Artist: For recording all of the ghost sounds.
- Squeaky Clean: For taking many baths in the hot spring.
- Cat Whisperer: For giving Suki all the commands.
- Mystery Seeker: For watching the DVD from Yumi's apartment.
- Password Pilferer: For returning Miwako's password envelope to its original place.
- Teacher's Pet: For always checking the students' homework.
- Trivia Tamer: For answering the trivia question given at the end of the game correctly.
- Gaming Guru: For playing the games a lot on Nancy's cellphone. (Special edition only)
Easter eggs are left by the game developers to find in the game. They are often found by completing random tasks, but rarely have any effect on the plot of the game.
- By printing out the blurry photo of an egg off Nancy's cell phone, an Easter egg is awarded.
- An Easter egg is awarded if you open the puzzle box twice.
- Record from the machine Rentaro gave you while standing very close to the stone thing in the garden by the entrance. Listen to the recording, go to the bath, and click the cracked tile (to the right of the bath).
- Put 15–30 pachinko balls in the prize machine and the Easter egg will appear for purchase for one pachinko ball.
The game was officially released on October 19, 2010, though pre-orders began on September 20, 2010. Special editions of the game, which included bonus avatar outfits, games, commands for Suki, and outtakes, were sent out to those who pre-ordered the game directly from Her Interactive. Leading up to the game release, Her Interactive released a demo, a fictional blog for one of the game's characters, Yumi, and a microsite featuring John Grey from Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon.
Critics and players generally found the game to be good, though not one of the best in the series. While the graphics, characters, and plot of the game were hailed, the puzzles were generally felt to be tedious and repetitive. This game is also considered to be one of the scariest in the series.
- The first guest to check out of the ryokan is German. This is a hint to the next game The Captive Curse, which takes place in Germany.
- When replaced with letters on a phone, Savannah Woodham's phone number spells 555-GHST, short for ghost.
- In the Room Tracker on Miwako's computer, some of the guests that stayed at the ryokan are Joon, Grey, McGinnis, Mueller, Chen, Tanaka, Nguyen, Berg. These are references to Sonny Joon of the Her Interactive Nancy Drew game series, John Grey from Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon, Chief McGinnis from the Nancy Drew book series, Simone Mueller and Maya Nguyen from The Final Scene, Elliott Chen from The Haunted Carousel, Hal Tanaka from Secrets Can Kill, and Helena Berg from The Phantom of Venice.
- Trying to take a photo of Nancy at the broken photo booth in the pachinko parlor, prints a blurry photo of her.
- The doll on the shelf in Yumi's apartment is like the one in the general store in Secret of the Old Clock.
- After completing the standard edition, several animation outtakes play following the closing credits.