After months and months of trying to figure out how to get a Windows partition on my 2020 Macbook Pro, I’m falling down a hole of playing Nancy Drew games again. While I never grew up playing them myself, plenty of my friends were raised on them. They tell stories of being planted in front of their geriatric computer blocks for hours at a time, click-and-pointing through the mysteries. And while it’s certainly been years since the last one has come out, this doesn’t keep the Nancy Drew games from being a fun time if you find yourself bored this Halloween.
If you’re looking for a good way to occupy yourself and flex those thinking skills, there’s a game for everyone here! Read on for the five spookiest Nancy Drew games to play… if you dare!
5. Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake
If you’re looking for something that won’t have your spine tingling too much, give Nancy Drew: Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake a look! Taking place in Pennsylvania, you (as Nancy Drew) are drawn by an old friend named Sally McDonald to come visit when ghostly dogs begin haunting her cabin in the woods. It turns out that the cabin has been owned by a gangster called Mickey Malone (what a name!) and that the ghost dogs might just be his beloved pups from the past!
Comparatively tame as it is, every scene with the ghost dogs is sure to make you jump. There’s nothing like a pack of wild animals and glowing eyes to make sure you lock your doors!
Ghost Dogs is fun, with a cool cast of characters and a cozy, camping feel to it. However, it does have its frustrating moments too. My tip to you, prospective player, is to save your game plenty before you ever enter the wooded path! Getting lost in there is the real scare!
4. Haunting of Castle Malloy
Fairies and gnomes are normally ethereal and cute, but in this Nancy Drew game, they’re a little more on the creepy side. In Nancy Drew: The Haunting of Castle Malloy, you’re invited to visit Ireland, courtesy of Nancy’s old friend, Kyler Mallory. Kyler is getting married soon, but her groom, Matt, has vanished. Kyler thinks it’s just a prank, but some suspect the fairies have stolen Matt away for good, refusing to give him back. In the end, it’s up to you, as Nancy, to figure out what is going on.
Banshees and other Irish folk tales take center stage in this game. While the game isn’t too scary, the darkened setting and crumbling castle give it a gorgeously sinister fairytale feel! The puzzles can be a little tricky in this one, but the fascinating story makes it well worth the effort!
3. Legend of the Crystal Skull
Travel to New Orleans in Nancy Drew: Legend of the Crystal Skull! When Henry Bolet’s uncle dies without warning, Nancy’s boyfriend Ned asks her to stop by Henry’s house to check in on his friend. But when she arrives and is confronted by a costumed figure who knocks her out, both the gloomy weather and Nancy’s sense of curiosity keep her there long enough to solve the mystery.
This game doesn’t feature too many jump scares or real horror but still has a very frightening atmosphere. Taking inspiration from real-life Louisiana lore and ghost stories, it’s hard not to feel on edge when you’re playing this game!
2. Ghost of Thornton Hall
Explore a haunted manor in this especially eerie installment! Nancy Drew: Ghost of Thornton Hall is close to being my favorite on not only this list but all the Nancy Drew games. In this one, you are asked to go down to Georgia and investigate the sudden disappearance of Jessalyn Thornton, a young girl living on the über-creepy Blackrock Island, only days before her wedding!
If the manor isn’t creepy enough, Thornton Hall’s grounds are clouded in heavy mist and fog, with a chilling cemetery right around the corner waiting for you to explore!
There are truly not many flaws to this game. It features a striking score and a particularly emotional story that will linger with you long after you’ve completed the game. Additionally, the jump scares in it are pretty effective. Make sure to play this one in the dark for the full effect!
1. Shadow at the Water’s Edge
At the top of the list, we have Nancy Drew: Shadow at the Water’s Edge! Most Nancy Drew game fans will agree that out of all the games, Shadow at the Water’s Edge is the one that terrified everyone the most as a child. Even now, as an adult, I can’t lie and say that I haven’t felt anxious and scared while playing this one.
It takes place in Japan, inside a seemingly haunted Ryokan (that’s a traditional Japanese inn, btw), where ghostly visages appear without warning. Nancy initially isn’t there to investigate anything, but when all the Ryokan’s customers are hassled by spectral apparitions, well… our sleuth doesn’t know when to leave well enough alone.
The game is quite excellent, with very engaging puzzles and mini-games that help balance the spooky atmosphere. Still, it’s worth mentioning the more questionable aspects. The racial stereotypes and bad voice-acting are just as horrifying as Ringu-style ghosts in this one.
Even if you’ve never played a single Nancy Drew game before, I highly encourage you to give them a look. Anyone, whether old or young, can enjoy them. And while I hope we hope you’ll try one out this Halloween, there’s enough of them to play all year round!
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