The first Nancy Drew PC game I played was Message in a Haunted Mansion, and since then, I have played every game and some more than once. After playing the newest game, Midnight in Salem, I wanted to rank all the Nancy Drew PC games.
To begin with, I am only ranking the Nancy Drew Mystery Adventure Series by Her Interactive. I am not ranking the 2 Dossier Series games as the style of gameplay is very different or the 4 DS games as they were made by different companies than Her Interactive so the gameplay is different as well. My ranking is of course subjective, and others may have different favorite games. I based my ranking on what I thought during my first playthrough and thoughts I had when replaying each game. I will also briefly mention the plot, setting, characters/suspects, puzzles, and if I got stuck and needed to use hints or a walkthrough. I will not judge the games on graphics because the first games that were released in the late 90s and early 2000s do not have as good as graphics as the later games. The only exception is the newest game Midnight in Salem because Her Interactive switched to Unity to make this game. I did not replay the games in order of release, and I played all of the games on junior level (at the start of each game, you can choose between junior/amateur or senior/master detective level).
As a note, I had to change the destination folder when installing the older games because I received an error when I tried to play it. I had to create a new folder in Documents (I named it the title of the game I was installing) and I chose that folder as the destination, and the games played fine afterward. However, I did get a sound error when playing The Final Scene that crashed the game, but when I restarted the game, I did not encounter any other errors. I also did not experience any other errors with any of the other games, but I would recommend saving often especially when playing the older games.
Before I begin ranking the games, I want to clarify the common characters in the series as I only refer to them by their first name.
- Nancy Drew: The protagonist of the series, and she is an amateur detective.
- Ned Nickerson: Nancy’s boyfriend throughout the series. Nancy can call him for hints in a lot of the games.
- Bess Marvin: One of Nancy’s best friends and Nancy can often call her for hints.
- George Fayne: Nancy’s other best friend and Bess’ cousin. When Nancy calls Bess, George will also be on the phone.
- The Hardy Boys: Frank and Joe Hardy are detective brothers and good friends of Nancy. Like with Bess and George, Nancy call also often call the Hardy Boys for hints.
- Carson Drew: Nancy’s father who is a lawyer. Nancy can call him in several of the games.
- Hannah Gruen: Nancy’s live-in cook and housekeeper. After Nancy’s mother passed away, Hannah took on the role of a motherly figure and helped Carson raise her. However, Nancy can only call Hannah in one of the games.
#1 The Secret of Shadow Ranch
- Plot: In the 10th game, Nancy heads on vacation to Shadow Ranch, but a ghostly horse appears and is followed by a string of bad luck at the ranch.
- Setting: Shadow Ranch and several other locations in Arizona, USA.
- Characters: There are 4 characters, and Nancy can call the ranch owners, Bess and George, the Hardy Boys, and a few others.
- Puzzles: There is a good amount of puzzles, and a majority of the game is focused on completing a scavenger hunt. There are two mini-games – Run for Cover, which is fun the first time, but you have to win this game to play the other mini-game.
- Stuck: Every time I play this game, I get stuck with harvesting the vegetables. Nancy can look up on her phone what ripe vegetables look like, but I always end up harvesting the wrong ones or not harvesting enough. I also always miss one arrowhead, and there was one puzzle I was stuck on.
- Thoughts: I like how the present plot is tied back to the late 1800s, and it was fun seeing how the two the timelines are connected. I also love the setting of this game and from Shadow Ranch where Nancy is staying out to the surrounding areas, I definitely feel like Nancy is in the desert of Arizona. I normally do not like games that make Nancy do everyone chores, but I felt like the chores in this game were appropriate. Nancy is staying at a ranch that is short-staffed, so it made sense that she would help out with collecting eggs and feeding the horses. Also, there are horses in this game! Nancy rides one of the horses to the various locations, which I thought was PERFECT. I like the puzzles, and they were not too challenging. The only problem I have with this game is the mini-games because I had to play Run for Cover 5 times before I could win the second mini-game. Besides that, I love this game.
#2 Shadow at Water’s Edge
- Plot: In the 23rd game, Nancy travels to Japan, but at the ryokan (traditional inn) she is staying at, a vengeful ghost is terrifying the guests.
- Setting: The main setting is the ryokan in Kyoto, Japan, and there are several other locations Nancy can visit.
- Characters: There are 4 main characters, and Nancy can call Bess and George.
- Puzzles: There is a good amount of puzzles that are not too challenging. A lot of the puzzles are sudoku, nonograms, and renograms. As far as mini-games, there is a pachinko parlor, and Nancy can trade in pachinko balls for prizes. Nancy can also help one of the characters make bento boxes.
- Stuck: I was stuck one time on the final puzzle, and I did have to time skip a bit for the next action to occur.
- Thoughts: I love this game! The first time I played it I was really creeped out. The replay did not have the same effect, but I still enjoyed playing it nevertheless. I also liked the setting of Japan, the puzzles, and making bento boxes.
#3 Danger by Design
- Plot: In the 14th game, Nancy goes undercover at a fashion design studio to investigate the lead designer, Minette, who wears a white mask, often has tantrums, and fires almost every employee.
- Setting: Paris, France.
- Characters: There are 5 characters, and Nancy can call Bess and George and the Hardy Boys.
- Puzzles: There is a good amount of puzzles with varying difficulties. There are several mini-games including completing paintings for money, playing hangman, and a Model Match computer game.
- Stuck: I was stuck once when buying things at the market because I did not want to waste my money and buy things I did not need.
- Thoughts: Danger by Design is one of my favorite games. I love the plot and being able to explore different locations in Paris including the catacombs. As far as the puzzles, I enjoyed the puzzles, and I was finally able to complete the end game puzzle without hints. One downside is that I do wish there were more ways to make money because painting the same painting over and over again gets boring quickly and you need a good amount of money to buy things at the market. Besides that, I think Danger by Design is a great game.
#4 Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon
- Plot: In the 13th game, Nancy is invited by the Hardy Boys on a train ride hosted by a socialite who gathered guests to solve a 100-year-old mystery.
- Setting: The main location is the train, and there are two locations in Colorado and Nevada, USA.
- Characters: There are 6 characters including Frank and Joe, and Nancy can call Bess and George.
- Puzzles: This game probably has the most puzzles out of all the games. Each train car has multiple puzzles as well as each location the train stops at. The puzzles are not too challenging, but there are some that are time-consuming. There are several mini-games including 2 at the location in Colorado which are a horse race game and a Gold Rush pachinko game. There are also the Camptown Races and Leaping Lizards games on the train.
- Stuck: I was stuck twice on the puzzles near the end.
- Thoughts: I like this game because the plot is interesting. I also like the setting of the train, and it was great that there are two locations the train stops at. This is the first game with the Hardy Boys. Before this game, the Hardy Boys were only a phone contact, so I liked being able to finally see them as characters. As I mentioned, this game is puzzle heavy and some of the puzzles have a lot of steps or going back and forth between locations. However, I did not mind all the puzzles, but I remember being stuck on the dolls during my first playthrough, but this time, I had no problem completing that puzzle. Overall, Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon is one of my favorite games because the plot, setting, and puzzles are fun and unique.
#5 Ghost of Thornton Hall
- Plot: In the 28th game, Nancy investigates the disappearance of Jessalyn Thornton who went missing during her pre-wedding celebration.
- Setting: The Thornton estate in Georgia, USA.
- Characters: There are 5 characters, and Nancy can call several others including Bess and Ned.
- Puzzles: There are many challenging puzzles in this game. There is not a mini-game in this game unless you count making a cup of tea.
- Stuck: I was stuck once when I was not sure what to do next and another time on one of the puzzles.
- Thoughts: The first playthrough was definitely creepy with the supernatural elements, and like with Shadow at Water’s Edge, the replay did not have the same effect, but the setting is still creepy. There are multiple endings to this game, which I liked, but there are few unanswered questions that lead fans to come up with their own theories. Overall, I liked Ghost of Thornton Hall especially with the creepiness of the setting.
#6 Alibi in Ashes
- Plot: In the 25th game, Nancy participates in a local contest with Bess, George, and Ned, which leads to her being arrested and charged with arson for burning down the town hall.
- Setting: River Heights (Nancy’s hometown).
- Characters: There are 4 characters and 4 playable characters including Nancy, Bess, George, and Ned. A few other characters like Carson can be called.
- Puzzles: There are not that many puzzles in this game, and they are not challenging. The main focus is on collecting evidence as the 4 playable characters. There are two mini-games in this game including a word unscramble and number puncher games.
- Stuck: I was stuck once near the end because I was not sure what I had to do.
- Thoughts: I enjoyed playing as the 4 different characters, and I also liked the way of traveling by seeing the whole map of River Heights and clicking on a location. The plot was also different compared to the other games, which I liked. I did not mind there not being that many puzzles because there was still a lot to do in the game. Overall, I enjoyed playing Alibi in Ashes.
#7 The Captive Curse
- Plot: In the 24th game, Nancy is asked by the castle’s owner to investigate the mysterious creature that has been terrorizing the community.
- Setting: Castle Finster in Germany and the surrounding forest.
- Characters: There are 4 characters, and Nancy can call a few others including the castle owner and Ned.
- Puzzles: There are good, somewhat challenging puzzles, and two mini-games – Raid and Monster.
- Stuck: I was stuck a few times on the puzzles.
- Thoughts: I love the setting of the castle, and the forest is creepy especially since the whole game is set at night, and I was terrified to walk around it. However, there is a lot of dialogue, especially when talking to Renate and Anja, which I felt could have been cut down. Despite the unnecessary dialogue, I liked the lore surrounding the castle and creature, but there were some unanswered questions at the end of the game. I also liked the mini-games, and I would like to play Raid in real life. Overall, The Captive Curse is a creepy, but fun game to play.
#8 Curse of Blackmoor Manor
- Plot: In the 14th game, Nancy visits her neighbor’s daughter, Linda Penvellyn, who recently married a British diplomat, but a mysterious ailment keeps Linda bedridden.
- Setting: Blackmoor Manor in Blackmoor, England.
- Characters: There are 5 characters, and Nancy can call Ned and several others. There is a talking parrot named LouLou that Nancy can get hints from.
- Puzzles: There are quite a few puzzles, and they have a range of difficulty. There was 1 slider puzzle, which I detest. There are numerous mini-games including Bul (from the 6th game Secret of the Scarlet Hand), Skull & Bones (like Go Fish), a jigsaw puzzle, Petroglyph Punch (a reference Secret of Shadow Ranch), Constellation Match, and another game similar to Go Fish.
- Stuck: I was stuck twice with the puzzles including the slider puzzle and twice with what to do next.
- Thoughts: The plot was interesting because it focused on Nancy figuring out what is wrong with Linda and also learning about the history of the Penvellyns. The only setting is Blackmoor Manor, but I thought it was a good setting because there is a lot to explore. I also liked the puzzles, and the mini-games were fun especially since there were 6 games so you did not have to play the same one over and over again. Overall, Curse of Blackmoor Manor is a good game.
#9 Treasure in the Royal Tower
- Plot: In the 4th game, Nancy goes on vacation to Wickford Castle, but she and the other guests are snowed in. While trapped in the castle, Nancy investigates the secret that Marie Antoinette supposedly left behind in the royal tower.
- Setting: Wickford Castle Ski Resort in Butter Ridge, Wisconsin, USA.
- Characters: There are 4 characters, and Nancy can call Ned and Bess and George for hints.
- Puzzles: There are some puzzles, but they are not that difficult. There are no mini-games.
- Stuck: I was stuck twice on what to do next.
- Thoughts: I like the plot of this game, and out of the earlier Nancy Drew games, I like this plot the most. I love the setting of a castle ski resort. The castle is the only setting in this game, but it is large so it feels like there is a lot to explore. The puzzles were fine, but they were not that challenging. Like the first 4 games in this series, there is no task list. However, Nancy can call Ned, Bess, and George for hints, which were helpful. I think Treasure in the Royal Tower is the best game out of the first 5 games in the Nancy Drew series, and overall, it is a good game.
#10 Sea of Darkness
- Plot: In the 32nd game, Nancy investigates the disappearance of the captain of the Heerlijkheid ship.
- Setting: Skipbrot, Iceland.
- Characters: There are 4 characters, and Nancy can call Ned.
- Puzzles: There are many challenging puzzles. As far as mini-games, there is an English-Icelandic translation game and a food game where Nancy makes borramatur trays. By playing the mini-games, you can earn money. On Nancy’s phone, there also various mini-games you can play for fun that were from previous games.
- Stuck: I was stuck a few times on what to do next, and I was also stuck on the crystal puzzle and a puzzle near the end.
- Thoughts: I love the setting of Iceland, and during the game you can see the Northern Lights, which I thought was amazing. I also feel like this game has the most developed backstories for the characters, which is a definite improvement from previous games where you do not learn much about the characters. The game is puzzle heavy, and one of the reasons why I got stuck on the crystal puzzle was because it was right after another long puzzle, and I could not concentrate on figuring it out. I liked the translation mini-game, but I disliked the borramatur tray mini-game. The borramatur try game is similar to making bento boxes in Shadow at the Water’s Edge, but I found this one even harder. I would have liked a mini-game that did not require a lot of thinking because there are so many other puzzles in the game that require concentration. I also got stuck several times because I was not always sure what to do next even with the task list. This is the last game Her Interactive made before switching to Unity to make Midnight in Salem, and I honestly think Her Interactive should not have made the switch. Just comparing the graphics, this game is so much better with the setting and character animations. Also, I will miss the voice actor for Nancy. But back to the game, Sea of Darkness is a good game, but there are A LOT of puzzles.
#11 Secret of the Old Clock
- Plot: In the 12th game, Nancy is asked to visit Emily who was left to run an inn on her own after her mother’s death.
- Setting: Titusville, Illinois, USA during the 1930s.
- Characters: There are 4 characters, and Nancy can call Carson and Bess.
- Puzzles: There are a lot of puzzles, and the mini-game is minigolf.
- Stuck: I was stuck once on the logic puzzle and once on what to do next.
- Thoughts: I like the plot of this game, but there was one really long fetch quest that was more frustrating than fun. However, I do like that this game is set in the 1930s because it makes it unique from all the other games in this series. To get the different locations in Titusville, Nancy drives her blue roadster around, which you control from a bird’s eye view. The only problem with driving around is that you have to fill up on gas. You can get money by delivering telegrams, but you use gas to deliver those telegrams so most of the money you make goes to buying gas. With that said, I liked the puzzles, and I thought mini golf was fun. I only had to play mini-golf twice to get par. I remember being stuck on the sewing task the first time I played this game and having to redo it a ton of times, but I completed the sewing task on my first try during this playthrough. Overall, I think Secret of the Old Clock is a good game.
#12 Danger on Deception Island
- Plot: In the 9th game, Nancy is invited to go on a whale-watching excursion, but the tour boat is vandalized on her arrival.
- Setting: Deception Island near Washington state in the USA.
- Characters: There are 4 characters, and Nancy can call others including Bess and George and the Hardy Boys.
- Puzzles: The puzzles are not hard, and a lot of the puzzles are scavenger hunt based. There are several mini-games at one of the locations on the island.
- Stuck: I was stuck once when finding the clams because I could not find all of them.
- Thoughts: I liked the setting and learning about the history of Deception Island. I also liked being able to kayak in the harbor, but collecting the clams was annoying. Danger on Deception Island is a good game, but it is not in my top favorites.
#13 Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake
- Plot: In the 7th game, Nancy is invited by her friend to stay at her lakeside cabin, but ghost dogs have driven her away, and Nancy decides to investigate.
- Setting: Moon Lake, Pennsylvania, USA.
- Characters: There are 3 characters, and Nancy can call Bess and George and the Hardy Boys.
- Puzzles: There are some puzzles, but they are not that difficult. There are several scavenger hunt type puzzles, and there are no mini-games.
- Stuck: I was stuck once near the end because I was not sure what to do.
- Thoughts: I liked the plot of dogs from the 1920s coming back to haunt the new owners of the cabin. The first time I played this game, the ghost dogs scared me, and I hated playing at night in the game. This playthrough, the game is not as creepy, but I still preferred playing during the day haha. I do like the setting of Moon Lake, and there are 3 places on the lake Nancy can visit including the cabin and surrounding forest. As I mentioned, the puzzles were not challenging, but a lot of them involved finding objects. Two of the puzzles involved finding objects in the forest, which is literally a maze, and those puzzles were time-consuming. With that said, I liked this game and I liked the creepy factor it had.
#14 The Haunted Carousel
- Plot: In the 8th game, Nancy is asked to investigate a series of mishaps at an amusement park.
- Setting: Captain’s Cove Amusement Park in New Jersey, USA.
- Characters: There are 4 characters, and Nancy can call several others including the park owner, the Hardy Boys, and Bess.
- Puzzles: There are some puzzles, but they are not hard except for 1 I had trouble with. There are also arcade mini-games to play.
- Stuck: I was stuck once on a puzzle and another time near the end because I did not find a clue.
- Thoughts: I like the setting of an amusement park, and for an earlier game, there are surprisingly 9 locations to visit. I also thought the plot was interesting, but the puzzles and mini-games are on the easier side. The game is rather short, but not as short as the first game Secrets Can Kill. Overall, The Haunted Carousel is a fun short game.
#15 The White Wolf of Icicle Creek
- Plot: In the 16th game, Nancy travels to the Canadian Rockies to investigate a string of suspicious accidents.
- Setting: Icicle Creek Lodge in Alberta, Canada and the surrounding areas.
- Characters: There are 5 characters, and Nancy can call many others including the lodge owner and Ned.
- Puzzles: There are some puzzles in this game, but they are not too hard. There are also several mini-games including making breakfast, lunch, and dinner and playing Fox and Geese.
- Stuck: I was stuck once near the end because I had something on the task list that I was not sure how to complete.
- Thoughts: I like the plot of this game even though the puzzles were not hard. The game can feel like a burden because Nancy takes over as a maid, chef, and is in charge of keeping the guests happy. Since the game is set during the Canadian winter, Nancy is limited by the weather and also her duties on how long she can be outside investigating before she has to be back at the lodge. In my previous playthrough, I remember getting stuck out in the cold for too long, but I did not have that problem this time since I was better at time management. Overall, The White Wolf of Icicle Creek is a good game, but at times it can seem burdensome.
#16 The Phantom of Venice
- Plot: In the 18th game, Nancy is asked by Italian authorities to join the case and catch the phantom thief before they strike again.
- Setting: Various locations in Venice, Italy.
- Characters: There are 5 characters, and Nancy can call Ned.
- Puzzles: There are good puzzles in this game, but there are also some time wasters, which I did not care for. You also play Scopa as a mini-game and Nancy can earn money by dancing.
- Stuck: I was stuck twice on the puzzles including the end puzzle and once on what to do next (turned out Nancy needed to sleep).
- Thoughts: I loved the setting because it is like Nancy is actually in Italy from the house she is staying at to the locations throughout the city. I also liked the plot, but I did not like the methods of earning money in this game. I also do not like that you have to win a game of Scopa to further the plot because the game is mostly luck-based with what cards you are dealt with and there is little strategy involved. Besides that, I like playing The Phantom of Venice.
#17 Warnings at Waverly Academy
- Plot: In the 21st game, Nancy goes undercover as a student at a girls’ boarding school to figure out who is behind the threatening notes and accidents.
- Setting: Waverly Academy in Averyville, New York, USA.
- Characters: There are 5 characters, and Nancy can call Ned.
- Puzzles: There is a good amount of puzzles, and some are challenging. As far as mini-games, Nancy runs a snack bar, and she can play air hockey and scram.
- Stuck: I was stuck 3 times with the puzzles in the game.
- Thoughts: I like the plot and how it is tied to Edgar Allan Poe, but the only setting is Ramsey Hall at Waverly Academy, so there is not much to explore. The mini-games were fun, but I felt like most of the tasks and puzzles were doing the other students’ “chores” like their homework. Besides that, I liked the game and had fun playing it.
#18 Labyrinth of Lies
- Plot: In the 31st game, Nancy is asked to investigate the mysterious disappearance of museum artifacts.
- Setting: Phidias Cultural Center in Greece and the adjacent amphitheater.
- Characters: There are 4 characters, and Nancy can call the Hardy Boys and the museum curator.
- Puzzles: There is a good amount of challenging puzzles, but there are THREE slider puzzles, which I detest. The mini-games are not that fun, and I only did them once to further the plot.
- Stuck: I was stuck twice because I did not do one action to further the plot and I forgot about one puzzle, which was one of the more challenging ones.
- Thoughts: Labyrinth of Lies is a fine game with a decent plot and setting, and I liked the aspects of Greek culture. However, I felt like the game is lacking something.
#19 The Deadly Device
- Plot: In the 27th game, Nancy is asked by a lab owner to investigate the suspicious death of a physicist.
- Setting: Technology of Tomorrow Today laboratory in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA.
- Characters: There are 5 characters, and Nancy can call the Hardy Boys and Deirdre Shannon.
- Puzzles: There are plenty of puzzles in this game, but they are science and tech-based making them challenging. There is a mini-game called Aggregation, and it is fun, and it gets more challenging after each level.
- Stuck: I was stuck numerous times with the puzzles.
- Thoughts: Since this game is set in a lab, it is a given most of the puzzles will be science-based, but it was not my cup of the tea. The lab is also the only setting in the game, but there are two floors, which I guess is enough to explore. The plot was good, but this game was not one of my favorites because of how difficult the puzzles were. I would recommend this game though if you are up for a challenge.
#20 Message in a Haunted Mansion
- Plot: In the 3rd game, Nancy is invited to a Victorian mansion to help with renovations, but there are mysterious accidents and Nancy investigates who or what is behind them.
- Setting: A Victorian Mansion in San Francisco, California, USA.
- Characters: There are 4 characters, and Nancy can call Bess and George and Hannah.
- Puzzles: There are not that many actual puzzles, and most of the puzzles are at the end of the game. There is one slider puzzle, which I detest. There are also no mini-games.
- Stuck: I was stuck once on a puzzle near the end of the game.
- Thoughts: As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Message in a Haunted Mansion was the first Nancy Drew game I have ever played. There are hauntings in the game, and I remember being scared when playing it. The hauntings do not have the same effect this time around, but I still like that part of the game. The mansion is the only setting in this game, and I feel like there is not that much to explore. As far as the characters, this is the only game Nancy can call Hannah and actually talk to her. Hannah is a big part of Nancy’s life, so I like that she is a part of this game. The puzzles were fine, but there was not that many, and I felt like a lot of the game was spent finding objects. One of the puzzles requires finding and remembering different things around the house, and for that puzzle I had to look up the answer because I did not remember where all of those things were. There is no task list, and Nancy keeps a journal in her suitcase, but it is not that helpful. Nancy can get hints from Bess and George, and those hints are helpful if you get stuck. Message in a Haunted Mansion is a decent game, and it is certainly better than the first two (Secrets Can Kill and Stay Tuned for Danger).
#21 Secret of the Scarlet Hand
- Plot: In the 6th game, Nancy has taken an internship as deputy curator for a museum focused on Mayan culture, but one of their prized artifacts is suddenly stolen and the only clue is a scarlet handprint.
- Setting: Beech Hill Museum and several other locations in Washington D.C., USA.
- Characters: There are 4 characters, and Nancy can call Bess and George, the Hardy Boys, and numerous others.
- Puzzles: There is a decent amount of puzzles, but they are on the easier side especially the ones in the temple. However, some of the puzzles do require a bit of going back and forth in the museum. There are no mini-games per se, but there are games in the temple that can be repeated.
- Stuck: I was stuck a few times because I could not find a certain item. Also, since this is an earlier game, there is not a task list for the whole game, but Nancy has an initial to-do list, and she can call Bess and George for hints.
- Thoughts: The plot is focused on learning about the Mayans and solving the theft, which was fine. I thought the museum was a good location and there was plenty to explore, but the other locations are only 1 room in a generic building and do not convey Washington D.C. at all. A portion of the game requires tracking down items, which means A LOT of phone calls. I definitely think the calls could have been cut down. Also, you have to remember or write down the phone numbers because they do not show up in the list of phone numbers Nancy can call. A lot of the puzzles require going back and forth between museum exhibits, which was a bit frustrating and time-consuming. Nancy does not have a journal with her, so you have to write down or take pictures with your phone of everything you need to know for the puzzles. Nancy does have a notes section on her laptop in her hotel room, but they are not that helpful especially when you need to complete puzzles at the museum. Secret of the Scarlet Hand is an okay game, but it is heavy on the educational aspect and some of the puzzles are loooong.
#22 Trail of the Twister
- Plot: In the 22nd game, Nancy joins a team of storm chasers who are in a competition to win $100 million if they can discover a formula to predict tornado touchdowns. However, equipment starts failing and crew members become injured, and Nancy investigates who or what is behind them.
- Setting: Oklahoma, USA.
- Characters: There are 5 characters, and Nancy can call the Hardy Boys.
- Puzzles: There are a lot of puzzles with a range of difficulty. There are 2 mini-games – Gold Rush and making weather balloons, and you can earn money from both.
- Stuck: I was stuck once on the siren puzzle because I thought I did it right, and I could not figure out what was wrong and I was also stuck on the puzzle near the end. I was also stuck a couple of times because I was not sure what to do next.
- Thoughts: I think the plot is interesting because it was neat that Nancy was a storm chaser while investigating the accidents. The setting was fine, but I felt like it was limited to only a few locations. There is a large map and you control Nancy’s car from a bird’s eye view when going to the locations, but besides the farm that acts as the team’s base and the general store, there is really nothing to do at the other locations you can stop at. As far as the puzzles, they were fine, but some I was unclear on what to do because of the lack of directions. I did like the Gold Rush mini-game, but making the weather balloons were challenging and you do not get much money from it. Overall, Trail of the Twister is an okay game.
#23 The Silent Spy
- Plot: In the 29th game, Nancy travels to Scotland to uncover the truth of her mother’s death.
- Setting: Several locations in Glasgow, Scotland.
- Characters: There are 4 characters, and Nancy can call a few others including Ned and Carson.
- Puzzles: There is a good amount of puzzles, but some were very difficult to solve. The money-making mini-game of decorating cookies was fine.
- Stuck: I was stuck numerous times with the difficult puzzles and on occasion with what to do next.
- Thoughts: I like that you learn more about Nancy’s mom, but the plot was confusing and overly complicated. Also, the locations look generic and not like Scotland such as the hotel Nancy is staying at and the house she visits. The game is fine, but there are many problems with the plot.
#24 The Final Scene
- Plot: In the 5th game, Nancy investigates the kidnapping of her high school friend Maya in a historical theater, but the theater is being demolished in 3 days and Nancy needs to find her before time runs out.
- Setting: The Royal Palladium Theater in St. Louis, Missouri, USA.
- Characters: There are 4 characters, and Nancy can call Bess, Ned, and several others.
- Puzzles: There are a few easy puzzles in this game and one mini-game in the theater lobby.
- Stuck: I was twice on what to do next because there was no journal or task list so you have to keep track of EVERYTHING on your own.
- Thoughts: Even though the plot takes over a period of 3 days, the game is short. However, the game did build urgency to find Maya before the demolition of the theater. The setting was fine, but the theater is the ONLY setting, and I think more could have been done within the historic theater. There are also too many long “necessary” phone calls where Nancy does not have any dialogue options, and you have to sit and listen until the call is over. The Final Scene is problematic, but it is not the worst game.
#25 Secrets Can Kill Remastered
- Plot: In the 1st game, Nancy is visiting her aunt when a student is found dead in the local high school, and Nancy investigates his death.
- Setting: 3 locations in Florida including Nancy’s aunt’s house, the high school, and a diner.
- Characters: There are 5 characters, and Nancy can call Ned.
- Puzzles: The puzzles are not hard except for the last one, and there is one slider puzzle, which I detest. There is one mini-game – Barnacle Blast, which is from The Haunted Carousel.
- Stuck: I was stuck twice when finding all 18 clues.
- Thoughts: First off, I have played the original Secrets Can Kill, but for this ranking, I played the remastered version. The original had 2d characters in 3d environments whereas the remastered version has 3d characters, a new ending, and a few more puzzles. The main plot is the same though. The game is really short and took no more than 2 hours to play. The game is also dark because it is one of two games (the other being The Deadly Device) that involves investigating an actual death (Nancy’s mother died about 10 years before The Silent Spy so she is not investigating her actual death). In the other games, Nancy is investigating accidents or disappearances, which is a lot lighter than death. I did not like this game, but considering this is the first game in the series, it is okay.
#26 The Haunting of Castle Malloy
- Plot: In the 19th game, Nancy visits Castle Malloy for a wedding, but the groom goes missing, and Nancy investigates his disappearance.
- Setting: Castle Malloy in Ireland
- Characters: There are 4 characters, and Nancy can call Bess and George and Ned.
- Puzzles: There are a lot of puzzles and most of them are on the more challenging side. There are also plenty of mini-games including playing darts, Detective Difference (spotting differences between two pictures), and making drinks at the inn. You earn tips from making drinks, which you use to play the games.
- Stuck: I was stuck plenty of times on the puzzles including the slider puzzle, which is my least favorite type of puzzle, one of the dollhouse puzzles, and the stone pillars.
- Thoughts: I do not really like this game. I like the setting of the castle and that you can explore ALL of the castle grounds. When you are outside, you control Nancy from a bird’s eye view, which was a nice difference from the regular point and click movement. There is also the bog area and the inn, which makes it seem like there is a lot to explore. However, the puzzles are challenging, and I often needed help in figuring them out. There is also a time-consuming puzzle at that the end, which is not too difficult, but I do not like it at all. Overall, The Haunting of Castle Malloy is a challenging game with difficult and time-consuming puzzles, and I would not really recommend it.
#27 Legend of the Crystal Skull
- Plot: In the 17th game, Nancy visits Henry Bolet after his uncle Bruno Bolet passed away and his crystal skull the “Whisperer” went missing.
- Setting: New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.
- Characters: There are 4 characters, and Nancy can call Ned. Both Nancy and Bess are playable.
- Puzzles: There are many puzzles, and they are on the more difficult side. There is a bowling lane machine mini-game as well as dressing up an iguana.
- Stuck: I was stuck numerous times on the puzzles like the Rube Goldberg trap, the buzzard puzzle, the movable books, and the clock.
- Thoughts: I like the plot and setting of New Orleans, but I have always found this game overwhelming because of all the puzzles. Even after replaying the game, I often still get stuck on the puzzles. I finally managed to complete the scavenger hunt and end game puzzles without looking up the answers, but like the puzzle at Zeke’s and the buzzards, I still have no idea how to complete it without just guessing. I recommend this game if you want to play a game with a lot of challenging puzzles, but it is not my cup of tea.
#28 Tomb of the Lost Queen
- Plot: In the 26th game, Nancy is an assistant for a team of Egyptologists and archaeologists, but a suspicious accident leaves the team leaderless and Nancy decides to investigate.
- Setting: Cairo, Egypt.
- Characters: There are 4 characters, and Nancy call Bess and a couple of others.
- Puzzles: There are many challenging puzzles, and there is one mini-game – Senet.
- Stuck: I was stuck several times on the puzzles including translating the hieroglyphs and the final puzzle. I was also stuck a few times on what to do next.
- Thoughts: The plot was interesting, but the setting is rather small and only includes the camp and temple. I guess it makes sense if you are in the middle of the desert, but the game does seem limiting that way. The characters are also not that great and seem one dimensional, but I did like that Professor Hotchkiss from Treasure in the Royal Tower returned as a phone contact. There are many puzzles where you have to translate hieroglyphs to English and vice versa, which was challenging. I was able to do most of them by myself, but they are time-consuming and there was a couple I needed help with. The task list was also not that helpful, and I needed outside help on what to do next. Besides that, there is no purpose for the mini-game, but it was fun playing it once. Overall, Tomb of the Lost Queen is an okay game, but the setting and characters are lacking and the puzzles are challenging.
#29 The Shattered Medallion
- Plot: In the 30th game, Nancy joins a reality tv contest with George, but the show is spiraling out of control with mishaps and cheating competitors.
- Setting: New Zealand.
- Characters: There are 6 characters including Bess and George, and Nancy calls one character from a previous game for a brief conversation.
- Puzzles: There are a lot of puzzles, and two mini-games from The Captive Curse – Raid and Monster.
- Stuck: I was stuck a few times with the puzzles and a few times with what to do next.
- Thoughts: I like that Nancy finally gets to meet Sonny Joon. In 8 previous games, Nancy finds notes and doodles from Sonny, and up until this game, he was a mysterious character. The setting of New Zealand was also nice, however, that is the extent of what I like about this game. The plot is confusing and definitely out there. I also do not like that the mini-games are reused from The Captive Curse. Earning points on the reality show portion of the game also does not matter, and the ending will always be the same regardless of how many points you have. Overall, I was disappointed by this game because of the plot, but there are several other worse games.
#30 Stay Tuned for Danger
- Plot: In the 2nd game, a soap star receives threatening letters, and Nancy is asked to investigate.
- Setting: New York City, New York, USA.
- Characters: There are 5 characters, and Nancy can call Bess, George, and Ned.
- Puzzles: There are a handful of puzzles, but they are on the easier side. Some of the puzzles require random guessing, and there are no mini-games.
- Stuck: I was stuck once because I apparently needed to get an item from one room, but after you leave the room the first time, you cannot go back and you need the item to continue the plot…I had to either wait a really long time for the game to change to night or restart the game. I restarted, and I had a walkthrough handy so I could make sure I got all the items in each area.
- Thoughts: The plot was interesting, but the setting was lacking, and there are only 3 locations – the apartment Nancy is staying at, the studio, and an office. This is a difficult game not because of the puzzles, but you need to pick up certain items at specific times or else you will not be able to progress in the game. Since this is an earlier game, there is not a task list, and the hints from Nancy’s friends were not that helpful. It is helpful to follow a walkthrough in order to be sure you have picked up all the items you will need for later in the game. Like Secrets Can Kill, it is a short game, and I did not really like it.
#31 The Creature of Kapu Cave
- Plot: In the 15th game, Nancy becomes the research assistant for entomologist Dr. Quigley Kim, but upon arrival the camp is ravaged and the doctor is missing.
- Setting: Hawaii.
- Characters: There are 4 characters, and Nancy, Frank, and Joe are playable. Nancy can also call Ned.
- Puzzles: There are some puzzles, but they are not hard and some require guessing. There are also time-wasters such as fishing and making shell necklaces, which were very boring. Besides fishing and making necklaces, there is The Wiki Tiki mini-game (similar to a rock, paper, scissors guessing game).
- Stuck: I was never stuck, but I did not want to waste money and time on guesses for one of the puzzles, so I looked up the answer.
- Thoughts: I like the setting, and I do get Hawaii vibes, but I did not care for the plot and the ending came out of nowhere. I also did not like the time-wasters, but you have to make money fishing and/or making necklaces to further the plot, which was annoying. The analysis for the doctor is also time-consuming, and I remember my first playthrough being stuck on it. To sum up, I really did not like this game, and it is one of my least favorites.
#32 Ransom of the Seven Ships
- Plot: In the 20th game, Bess is kidnapped and the only way Nancy can rescue her is by solving a 400-year-old mystery.
- Setting: Dread Isle in the Bahamas
- Characters: There is one character, a talking parrot, and monkeys…Nancy and George are playable, but Nancy cannot call anyone so the parrot becomes the hint system.
- Puzzles: There is a good amount of challenging puzzles, but several take place underwater. Nancy has a limited amount of air, therefore, they are timed, and I did not like that at all. There are also three mini-games Nancy can play with the monkeys, which were fine. However, one of the games is luck based, and I had to play it four times to further the plot, which was annoying.
- Stuck: I was stuck numerous times on the puzzles especially with the underwater timed puzzles. I was also stuck on the scavenger hunt puzzle because I got lost and the cryptogram puzzles because Nancy never says when it is decoded correctly. The hourglass puzzle was also frustrating and even with a walkthrough, I had to start over about 10 times.
- Thoughts: This game is terrible. I do like the setting of an island in the Bahamas, but the method of traveling is time-consuming. Nancy “drives” a golf cart around the island, which you control from a bird’s eye view. At first it was fun, but after a while it became burdensome driving back and forth between the locations. THERE IS ONLY 1 CHARACTER, and I do not understand why there is only one character. Also, at first, the puzzles were fun, but I did not like the underwater puzzles at all. When Nancy runs out of air, you have to restart the puzzle, which makes it nerve-wracking and frustrating to finish in time AND have enough air to get back to the previous location. Some of the puzzles were too difficult even on amateur, and I felt like they could have been made easier especially the hourglass one. This game would be the worst Nancy Drew game, but since there are actually puzzles, it is the second-worst. I also want to add that Her Interactive recently discontinued this game because the one character is depicted in blackface.
#33 Midnight in Salem
- Plot: In the 33rd game, Nancy investigates the arson at the Hathorne House, which was owned by Judge John Hathorne who was the inquisitor of the Salem witch trials.
- Setting: Various locations in Salem, Massachusetts.
- Characters: There are 8 characters, and Nancy and the Hardy Boys are playable.
- Puzzles: There are very few puzzles in this game, and they are not challenging because they are either a time-waster or there was a book right next to puzzle to help you solve it. Most of the puzzles are in the last part of the game. The mini-games of making Johnny Cakes and herb remedies were also not that fun.
- Stuck: I was stuck 3 times because I did not know how to do the items on the checklist, and there is no hint system in the game unlike in previous games where you could call Bess, George, and Ned for help or you could receive hints directly from the task list.
- Thoughts: Even though Midnight in Salem is the newest game, the graphics are terrible especially when Nancy is in a moving car, and the character animations are jumpy as well. I only liked the setting of this game, but it was ruined by the subpar graphics. There is also way too much dialogue, but luckily most of it can be skipped. Speaking of dialogue, Nancy Drew has been voiced by the same voice actor in every PC game, but for this game, she has a new voice actor. I do prefer the old voice actor because that is what I grew up with, but the new voice actor is fine. The new movement system is clunky because you have to put your cursor in the exact right spot to move to a new area. It was difficult to move to new areas in the game because of that. The game feels like a fan-made Nancy Drew game because of how unfinished it is, and it is by far the worst game because of all the problems I mentioned and the lack of actual puzzles. I would only recommend playing this game if you have played every other Nancy Drew game and you really want a new story to play through.
Have you played any Nancy Drew games before?