Please don't list this on a work's page as a trope. Examples can go on the work's YMMV tab.
Nightmare Fuel: Nancy Drew
Ryokans are great to stay at... right? This screenshot isn't even the scariest part of the game, this is just the trailer.
Nancy Drew is a great mystery game for children and adults alike... Too bad there are some moments that makes the audience uneasy.
Going by each game:
#2 Stay Tuned for Danger
The ending of this game definitely needs a mention. The villain locks you in a TV studio, gives you a really long rant about how life is a soap opera, and then murders you. With his bare hands. Laughing. With red lights and random screaming in the background from his other victim.
#3 Message in a Haunted Mansion
The mirror in the hallway. You walk past it a few times, nothing happens. Then... floating ghost girl!
Don't forget the painting that whispers "I see you" when you walk past it and the screech when you go into your room the second time and the creepy voice on the telephone!
So much other things to count. We also have...
The rare occurrence in the dining room where the lights dim, the candles light on their own, and you hear very creepy whispering. Then everything goes back to normal.
The woman crying in the hallway.
The phoenix flicking its head in the parlor.
The noise coming from behind the windows in the parlor.
The random ghostly howl in the hallway.
The shadow in the back of the hallway. Plus the freaky noise that accompanies it.
The note that says "LEAVE THE MANSION, NOW!!!". It's written in such a way that it appears to be somebody screaming at you up close. Yes, the game somehow made it possible to make it look like a note screams at you.
The random shadow walking past the stained glass door...right into the wall.
The door slamming shut as you come up from the basement.
However, if you scour the game enough, you realize most of these are faked.
#06 Secret of the Scarlet Hand
The entire endgame sequence wherein you are trapped inside an airtight monolith with a corpse. And you only have a limited time to figure out how to get out, because if you don't, you'll suffocate (a fact Nancy helpfully reminds you of fairly often). Oh, and it's pitch black, so you have to use a tiny green glowstick to see. Have fun!
#07 Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake
Five minutes into the game, after you're confirmed to be stuck out in the middle of nowhere in an old house (sans locks) the house gets attacked by the eponymous dogs.
Said dogs have a tendency to bang themselves against the doors. Very loudly and abruptly
You can also hear them howling randomly in the distance if you're walking through the forest near the house at night. Needless to say, it's a little unnerving.
And the ease with which you can lose track of where you are and get lost in those woods, with creepy ghost rottweilers howling in the distance, does not help.
#10 Secret of Shadow Ranch
About halfway through the game you can visit Dry Creek, the local ghost town. Of course, it's not really a ghost town the first time you arrive, as there are random shadows drifting through the worn, crumbling buildings and the occasional noise of rocks falling or birds fluttering.
Nancy:I'm getting the definite feeling I'm not alone...
At the end, when you're chased by the culprit Shorty and fail to stop him, he'll pop his head around the corner and cheerfully say "Heeeeeeeerre's SHORTY!".
It's even worse when you play the game through a second time, since Shorty starts to seem a lot less friendly and a lot more like a Stepford Smiler Type C waiting for you to let your guard down.
#11 Curse Of Blackmoor Manor
The entire atmosphere of the game is just... freaky. The music, the (first) nightmare, the castle at night, the secret passageways...
It's scary half a minute in! You walk up to the front door and see a pair of glowing red eyes! "Nancy..."
Blinking. Monkey. The monkey above Jane's door sometimes rolls its eyes and blinks.
This is also one of the only things in the game that can't be explained away by the actions of the culprit or Linda. It just happens.
The chanting during your first night is quite disturbing to say the least. We never find out what made it until after Nancy types up Nigel's memoirs that it was Ethel and Jane holding a midnight ritual in the great hall.
And yet, the voices sound male...
The suit of armor in the secret passageways always seems to be watching you...
This conversation with Linda:
Nancy: Can I get you anything?
Linda: A glass of water would be nice. I get so thirsty sometimes. And I get so hungry.
Then she yells at you to get out, and when you come back there's a bleeding-raw steak on her bedside table. Eeeugh.
#13 Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon
Dolls. Rows and rows of dolls. One says 'Mama' in a creepy voice when you pick it up. One has literally two left feet. Another has a cracked face that even the husband of the doll collector thought was creepy.
The singing, coming from nowhere. Also the glowing yellow lights that fly alongside the train.
Though it's not nearly as creepy if you read up on the in-game backstory of the train.
When Nancy visits Copper Gorge's cemetery and encounters an apparently disembodied and quite unnerving voice, which informs her that it's the cemetery's caretaker. Even she's disconcerted.
#17 Legend of the Crystal Skull
If you look closely, there's a little bit of Paranoia Fuel in the gumbo van. The avatar used for the gumbo seller is exactly the same as Shorty's from Shadow Ranch. It's probably just laziness on the developer's parts, but it's still creepy.
#19 The Haunting of Castle Malloy
During the opening cinematic, Nancy is driving her car along a deserted darkened road and a glowing, shambled figure flies across the windshield. Right afterward, when you have to explore the castle's grounds, you hear a screech.
Which repeats itself again and again randomly as you play through the game.
The BGM ranges from pretty Irish music to outright disturbing music.
The entire nursery was freaking creepy. The morbid little nursery rhymes on the chalkboard... Bleh...
"TRUTH SPEAKS EVEN THOUGH THE TONGUE WERE DEAD"
With a pretty little flower design stitched directly below the above quotation.
Not to mention when the banshee pops up in front of the window!
#21 Warnings at Waverly Academy
In the climax of the game, you find out that the "Black Cat" is none other than Corine. She was after one of the founders' treasure. Her reaction to the exposure? She traps you in the room, and sets a giant pendulum guillotine to slowly descend to slice you.
#23 Shadow at the Water's Edge
The trailer has a nice little preview of things to come. The picture above shows the end of the trailer, a ghost girl who haunts the ryokan that is the main setting of the game.
The first freaky moment happens when Nancy goes to sleep the first night. She wakes up early in the morning, and sees a floating shadow of a girl going across her window. When Nancy opens the door, she sees nothing...
The second freaky moment involving "the ghost" is when Nancy is about to take a bath at the ryokan. She then walks to the mirror, and sees a girl facing down in the reflection. Scared, Nancy turns around and sees nothing, but turns around to see the ghost holding her arms up, mouth gaping open and wide eyes, crawl as fast as if she was teleporting, crash her hands into the mirror and shatter it.
Third freaky moment is when Nancy is heading down a hall, only to see the lights flickering and the doors slamming.
During the mandatory moment in the series when Nancy is trapped and has to escape for her life in this game, the ghost traps Nancy in one of the bedrooms, and she has to decipher the puzzle before getting a large wooden support slammed on her head.
Don't forget that she has to decipher the puzzle while listening to Darth Vader-esque breathing, the constant sound of dripping water, and random loud slams against the bedroom door.
And the slamming sound is always the same. This means that any slam you hear could precede a death sequence.
You're staying alone in Yumi's apartment for the night. It's pink and full of adorable critters, should be okay, right? Sure, until you wake up to glowing green letters slowly spelling out a message in the window next to your bed. "I know your secret. I can't wait to see you again."
The fourth and last freaky moment is the end, when discovering the puzzle in the hidden bath where Kasumi died. After solving the puzzle, Nancy opens the safe, reads the letter, and finds a sword...only to turn around and see the ghost face to face, still wide-eyed and gaping-mouthed as the ghost pins Nancy in the water and attempts to drown her. After solving the puzzle, though, it's discovered she was a robot.
So you're walking around the pond looking for clues and you see a shadow near the water's edge that you can click on. You look into the water and OHMYGODTHEREISAFACEINTHEWATERAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!. After it fades and you restart your heart, you look in again. There's nothing there.
It's in the pond under the tree on the right, if you've exited from the ryokan lobby. Mind you, it doesn't appear every time. Look for Kasumi's face.
The soundtrack of the game is most likely the most unsettling of the series. Only a handful of the BGM is nice, the rest? Unsettling BGM of distorted traditional shamisen music, a BGM that almost sounds like metal grinding against metal and more.
The creators have admitted that their goal was to make the scariest Nancy Drew game so far.
That scary cat. It looks like a freaking demon cat!
How about the way it twitches when it moves and stutters when it meows? Something tells this troper that the inventor needed to work on it a bit more...
#28 The Ghost of Thornton Hall
First and foremost is the fact that Word of God has said their goal was to make a game that was even scarier than Shadow At The Water's Edge. Judging by the trailer, it would appear they have succeeded.
One of the tombstones in Thornton's family cemetery bears Nancy's name.
Nancy: Who did this?
Wade: Let's hope it's one of the living.
The creepy singing that can be heard from time to time in the corridors of the mansion.
In some areas you can spot a creature running◊ in creepy jerking movements across the floor of the mansion. It looks like an armadillo, but slimier and more disgusting. Such creatures are never mentioned again, their nature and purpose are never explained. Did we mention that Nancy sleeps on the floor in this game? It was apparently a naked mole rat, albeit a very, very creepy one.
One of the Non-Standard Game Overs in the climax really deserves a mention. When you finally find Jessalyn Thornton, you have the opportunity to threaten him/her with telling everybody where they hide. Her voice momentally becomes trembling and scared. Then she sics Charlotte's ghost on you. The worst thing is that if you choose the other conversation option, this person appears completely normal, if understandably very scared and frustrated. You'll spend the rest of the game knowing what they are capable of. Sweet dreams.
Even the easter eggs in the game are terrifying. One of them is found in a skeleton's eye-socket, and when you find all of them, you get a poem that reads like something out of The Flowers of Evil.
If you've no dress, do not fret
You can still attend the same
We'll let you share with Charlotte
A gown of coal and glowing flame
And as the last song is played
And night sneaks in the window panes
We'll huddle together in the walls
Forgetting one another's names.
If you watch '"Doctor Who'' the moving statues are more than terrifying, even if shortly before, Wade might have explained this may have been one of the 'contraptions' from the war that one of the Thornton's ancestors built (which still doesn't explain why Charlotte's statue moved).
Even the more "mundane" aspects of the game are unnerving. For example, the explanation for the hauntings: Nancy and company were unknowingly inhaling constant lungfuls of carbon monoxide due to Thornton Hall's faulty furnace. If you're a hypochrondriac, have a good time obsessing over that idea.
And, according to Word of God, that monoxide was giving you hallucinations. That's their explanation for most of the seemingly supernatural stuff in-game. And these hallucinations, coupled with the gas-induced drowsiness, could shock you badly enough to CAUSE A HEART ATTACK. That's how they explain said supernatural stuff sometimes sending you to the 'You have made a fatal error' screen. So, yeah. Have fun replaying the game and wondering how much of it is real and how much is the fevered rantings of the hallucinating protagonist...who thinks she's perfectly sane and it's everyone else who's crazy.
Without giving too much away, At the end of the game, when the house catches on fire, you have the choice of saving Clara, not choosing to save her alters the epilogue with Nancy stating that they have yet to find Clara, and that a woman watching could swear she saw two woman descending from the house. Yes, the game developers did just give you the chance of letting someone die.
#29 The Silent Spy
Nancy gets shot at. And the shots are heard again in one of her last flashbacks. The shooting was faked, but it's still terrifying.
The first time you visit Moira.
The entire plot of the game, for that matter. Nancy thinks she's going to Scotland to investigate her mother's death - instead she has to stop a terrorist organization from exposing the entire city of Glasgow to a virus that may or may not kill much of the population. If she fails, said terrorist organization will personally send in the help necessary to get Glasgow on its feet, while essentially taking over the city in the process. For all that this isn't explicitly discussed very often, it's still a terrifying idea when you really think about it, especially since it's one of the rare cases when Nancy herself isn't enough to stop everything in its tracks.
#31 Labyrinth of Lies
The gradual revelation of Thanos as an Ax-Crazy mafia member, which reaches a climax when Nancy finds a letter written by Grigor, confessing to the plot because he fully expects to be killed by Thanos after the art heist is complete.
Thanos isn't even the Big Bad. The real mastermind has a chilling monologue, coupled with Wham Line, after shackling Nancy to the throne room in Tartarus.
Nancy: It's not too late to turn back, you're not like them!
Xenia: Of course I'm not. I'm smarter. I've got Niobe under my thumb, Thanos wrapped around my finger, and my heel on your throat.
After Nancy imprisons Thanos in the underground cage, you have to leave the room to find something. When you come back, the cage is empty...and he could be hiding anywhere, waiting to jump out at you.