I've played most of this series, so I knew what to expect when I started the game. I wouldn't recommend this particular game to a new player, because other games in the series were better designed and, ultimately, more enjoyable. Try Nancy Drew: The White Wolf of Icicle Creek or Nancy Drew: The Secret of Shadow Ranch if you're looking for somewhere to start.
Like all games in the series, you play as Nancy Drew, the teen super sleuth who somehow manages to get tangled up in mysteries wherever life takes her. You choose to play either as a Junior or Senior Detective, with no checklist of tasks to guide you if you choose the more difficult setting. In this game, Nancy is aiding the "Italian FBI" as an undercover agent, trying to discover who is the masked thief stealing priceless artifacts from high profile sites around Venice. You speak with suspects, solve puzzles, and find clues that help you discover the true identity of the Phantom.
I'll do the cons first.
+ The mode of transportation is pointlessly tedious
+ Making money requires dancing on stage in a tight, leather cat costume, which is strange for a game designed primarily for children
+ The same wasp sprayer from Nancy Drew: Legend of the Crystal Skull returns for this game, which makes for a near-impossible task to complete when playing with a touchpad
+ Repeatedly translating words into English by clicking on them with the dictionary grew tiresome quickly
+ Locked doors must be unlocked each time you enter
+ The PDA used to communicate with Nancy's contact with Italian law enforcement is confusing
+ The game had puzzles of different levels of difficulty and of vastly different styles, with some reminiscent of puzzles from earlier games in the series
+ No switching back and forth between characters, as is the case with other Nancy Drew titles
+ Lots of places to explore and tasks to complete
+ The story was enjoyable, not as spooky as others in the series, and complex enough to make the case a challenge
Though not the best game in the series, The Phantom of Venice is still solid and worth playing. Compared to the rest, I'd give this title a 7 out of 10.