Nancy Drew is a great mystery game for children and adults alike... Too bad there are some moments that makes the audience uneasy.
- For the uninitiated, Nancy whispering "Dare to Play" and "It's up to you as Nancy Drew" can be this.
Going by each game:
#02 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.
#03 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.
- A red chair seat rising up in the foyer outside the parlor as if someone invisible just sat up.
- The phoenix flicking its head in the parlor.
- A vase filled with flowers that look healthy the first time you see it and then on immediately clicking back they'll be dead.
- One of the paintings can wink at you. (The Victorian painting on the stairway in the same area where you hear "I see you".)
- The noise and green light coming from behind the windows in the parlor.
- The random ghostly howl in the hallway.
- The seance.
- 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.
- If you scour the game enough, you realize most of these are faked by Abby and occasionally Louis, but some like the parlor swan, the flowers, the red chair and the dining room candles are never really explained.
- When you talk to Emily Foxworth about the meaning of Gum Bo Fu, you can hear the door to the parlor room open and close during her response. This happens every time, even in the middle of the night when Louis isn't supposed to come in for hours. So somebody was listening in on Nancy.
- The attic and the secret rooms behind the library fireplace and behind the saloon mirror are some of the most genuinely unnerving areas in the game, and funnily enough are some of the few areas in the game where no haunting events happen, but the attic takes the cake. You're stuck in a dark, cluttered room, with an unblinking baby doll's head at one end of the room undercut by the tensest theme in the game. It doesn't help that when you first try to leave, the handle snaps off, leaving you trapped in the room until you find a crowbar.
#06 Secret of the Scarlet Hand
- The entire endgame sequence wherein you are trapped inside an airtight monolith with a corpse. And if you think that sounds bad, you also 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!
- Add to it that you have to reach into the corpse's mouth to start making your escape, as well as the Fridge Horror when you realize this was just a young girl who happened to write down a chronicle of events that depicted Pacal in a way he didn't like, and for this she was trapped in the monolith and died the same way Nancy does if you don't escape in time. Even with the culprit's hammy performance and the weird poetic Gainax Ending acting as grade-A Nightmare Retardant, it only does so much.
#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.
- In the endgame when you're confronted by the culprit, who happens to wield, of all weapons, a heavy metal-plated bone, and you have to make all the right moves and cover your tracks to avoid the culprit lest you get a Gory Discretion Shot preceding the bone bashing your head in.
#09 Danger On Deception Island
- The game in general isn't a very scary one, but the climax surely has to rate a mention due to its suspenseful nature. You have to sneak through the culprit's ship in the fog without being caught, hearing the voices of henchmen all around you and knowing that one misstep or moment of hesitation will get you an instant Game Over. Finally the true villain appears, corners you in a locked room, and walks slowly towards you with a murderous look on their face while gloating about how your death will look like an accident. If you're not fast enough, the culprit will advance with their hands outstretched to strangle you as the screen goes dark. The worst part? The culprit is quite arguably the character who has been the nicest to you the whole time, even bringing you out to the ship to rescue your friend, all to get you into the position where it'd be easiest to kill you.
#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 Ethel. It just happens. Though, considering the Penvellyns are a family half-filled with Gadgeteer Geniuses, many of whom integrated their contributions into the manor itself including moving statues already, the truth isn't necessarily supernatural.
- Coming down the hallway after your first attempt to go to sleep and seeing the mysterious cloaked figure walking just around the corner while you hear the ethereal scream of an unseen woman. Likely the scream actually came from Linda, and it turns out that Ethel was very likely the figure in the cloak.
- The disturbing dreams you can have at night under the right circumstances, including twisted versions of the main hall portraits.
- 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.
- Also, in the east passageway, there's a secret viewing compartment where you can spy in on Linda's room, right behind her nightstand. Cue Jump Scare as ou see her hand extend to grab a mirror, a hand that's completely covered in fur, followed by an eerie shriek of dread from Linda as she sees herself in the mirror. Not only is it nightmare fuel of the highest sort but it shows just how absolutely and completely devastating the toll of the curse is on Linda. Eventually it turns out Jane was just sneaking hair growth treatments into the lotion also on Linda's nightstand.
#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.
#15 The Creature of Kapu Cave
- Arriving at the trashed campsite and discovering the tape recorder that caught the roaring and grunting of whatever did it. Even if you find out it was actually just Dr. Craven, it's still an unsettling thing to begin the game with.
- The eerie whispering that you hear occasionally when moving to another area in the island. It ends up being just bugs, but still.
- Hearing Frank drown if you choose the wrong route through the underwater tunnels can be pretty disturbing.
#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.
- This game's atmosphere in general for this game is uneasy and dread-inducing, taking place in Louisiana entirely at night. Macabre reminders of mortality and death are scattered throughout the game, with a cemetery in the backyard, and main puzzles that rely on hunting dismembered eyeballs in order to uncover the eponymous Crystal Skull, which the deceased Bruno Bolet owned out of fear of death. Not to mention the first five minutes of the game have you getting up close and personal with a skeleton man who knocks you out with hoodoo powder.
- Going into Renee Amande's room, you'll see an empty rocking chair in front of the bed. On going and getting a KoKo Kringle bar and backing out, you'll see the rocking chair start to move, and when you turn to face it, you're faced with a creepy doll sitting there now. In fact, it's one of the dolls from Blue Moon Canyon. Funnily enough, it's not the only Uncanny Valley doll in the game.
- The other doll that has heaping helpings of Uncanny Valley is a pirate animatronic in Bruno's secret room. This animatronic is responsible for the demonic sounds that Renee had been hearing from her bedroom which is important to solving a puzzle, a puzzle that involves pressing buttons and having the pirate open its eye and speak a string of syllables in a dead, flat tone. That said, it also doubles as nightmare retardant as you can make it say funnier strings of syllables, like "Wah bah zah loo ah", although it eventually careens back into nightmare fuel on solving the puzzle since you have to take its eye.
- Over the game you learn about Bruno Bolet's indnuction into the Jolly Rogers Krewe, a defunct Mardi Gras planning society that teetered the fine edge between Cult and, well, a Brotherhood of Funny Hats considering they all dress in skeleton costumes. Eventually, you have to get Bess to listen in on one of their meetings, which leads to her being caught by her cellphone and getting taken in via the Bag of Kidnapping by the Krewe and their leader, Doctor Buford, who is, by the way, the skeleton who knocked Nancy out in the beginning of the game and was hunting for the Skull, which makes him technically the main albeit-repentant culprit of the story before Renee proves to be far more Ax-Crazy than she looks. The fact that a secret society mainly focused on petitions and Mardi Gras festivities, no matter how secretive, was willing to kidnap someone is shocking as is, and the fact that if Doctor Buford didn't know Bess Marvin already and if she didn't threaten to let slip about his attempted graverobbing expedition it's never made clear what would have happened to her.
- Also, instantly after this scene, Bess is in the middle of explaining everything to Nancy via phone, when she lets slip that she may have told Doctor Buford how close Nancy was getting and that he never went back to the Jolly Rogers meeting, and begins worrying about whether or not she just endangered Nancy's life. Just as Nancy's about to reassure Bess, ocnvenient lightning strikes and the connection is instantly cut, leaving the player to be on the lookout for someone lurking in the shadows for some time. However, it turns out Doctor Buford was making his way to the Bolet house, but only to apologise and offer Bess and Nancy a tour of the best spots in New Orleans as penance for his misdeeds.
- The endgame and the true culprit's motivations and just how they "killed" Dr. Bolet lead themselves to a lot of subtle fridge horror. After freeing herself from the Skull chamber and confronting Renee at the bayou, the thoroughly Ax-Crazy Renee reveals via Motive Rant she didn't kill Dr. Bolet, but accidentally committed manslaughter by breaking the power of suggestion his belief in the skull gave on his lifespan by forging a document saying the Skull was a fake when it wasn't and inducing a heart attack in probably the most realistic example of No Ontological Inertia ever in a video game. Of course, the fact that Bruno Bolet's extended lifespan most likely came from subconscious suggestion and willpower via belief didn't factor for Renee, as she genuinely believes that the skull belongs to her and that she'll reunite all the skulls and learn the secrets man was not meant to know. Between one of the most genuinely deluded villains in the series, the existential undertones of the Skull and game entirely, and the fact that you never find out what the Skull really is capable of other than the fact that it's perfectly crafted for having not made by modern tools in the last few centuries makes it probably the most unsettling endings to a horror-centric Nancy Drew game, likely the most unsettling one until Ghost of Thornton Hall.
- The freakish whatever-it-is in the glass canister at Zeke's. Tap the glass over and over. Yikes!
#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!
- "TRUTH SPEAKS EVEN THOUGH THE TONGUE WERE DEAD"
- When you discover the truth about the banshee; sure, she's not a supernatural entity, but it's still pretty frightening to turn around and find a feral old woman right behind you while you're in her shack. As Nancy tries to explain herself she doesn't say a word, just advances on her to push her down a trap door.
#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...
#24 The Captive Curse
- The overall theme of this game is that a gigantic, unseen monster that lives in the woods has been kidnapping young women from a German castle for centuries. Which means that the whole game is predicated on a series of murdered young women. This is serious territory.
- Late in the game, Lukas, a sometimes-annoying little boy, is kidnapped and thrown into a small, dingy cell in a dungeon—a dungeon that has caved in before, leaving several people near death. THAT is Adult Fear done well.
- At one point, when you return to Nancy's room after finding a German dress on the bed, her regular clothes have been completely torn to shreds.
- What compounds all of the above is the identity of the culprit... Anja. She's a Woman Scorned who's so determined to destroy her former boyfriend's life that she's willing to do unspeakable things. That fire in the public courtyard that could have easily burned down several people's homes? She started it. Those clothes you found ripped to pieces on your bed? She did that, likely with her bare hands (it needed to look like a humanoid monster was behind it). Lukas, the boy she kidnapped? That's her own nephew, and she's using him as live bait. Then, when you confront her in the endgame, she sounds positively delighted at the prospect of causing a "deadly accident"—that is, killing you. She's almost sociopathic in her desire to get revenge—all she cares about are her own goals, and she will hurt or kill anyone who gets in her way.
- Also at the very end, you've essentially successfully managed to become the new target of her vengeance, as she vows that she and Nancy will meet again. Considering this was only four games after RAN featured the return of an Ax-Crazy earlier culprit, and the game afterwards being a vengeance plot, likelihood is Nancy has not seen the last of Anja.
#25 Alibi in Ashes
- Late in the game, when Nancy is finally freed from jail, she's talking with George in her house..and someone throws a rock through her patio door, completely shattering it. There's a nasty note attached. There are two layers of Fridge Horror here: not only could Nancy or George have been seriously hurt, some of the citizens of River Heights—which for twenty-five games has been viewed as the picture of an ideal American small town—are willing to hurt the girl detective who they've loved for so long.
- In nearly every other game (Ransom of the Seven Ships being the only exception, as the villain is an old enemy), the culprit has been one of the various people Nancy meets when she stumbles onto a mystery. Sometimes they're mean, sometimes they pretend to be nice, but even when they try to harm her, it's only because she's in the way of their achieving their (criminal) goals. But in Alibi, the one behind it all committed a potentially fatal case of arson—because that person hates Nancy that much. During the game's Motive Rant, the villain outright says that the whole point of the crime was to either kill or discredit the girl detective. There's something horrifying about a person with that much hatred.
- Building on the above, this is probably the most grounded game in the series (and notably, it comes right in the middle of a stretch of games that focus on the supernatural). The suspects are all complex and realistic; the mystery is about an extremely recent crime as opposed to an ancient legend or possible haunting; and it all takes place in a realistic American town as opposed to an exotic location. So the fear is more subtle—it's about how horrible your own neighbors can be, and how there are people in the world who will stop at nothing to destroy their rivals, even if it means lying, cheating, or other criminal activities.
#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 fretYou can still attend the sameWe'll let you share with CharlotteA gown of coal and glowing flameAnd as the last song is playedAnd night sneaks in the window panesWe'll huddle together in the wallsForgetting 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Not only that, but at the end of the game Thanos escaped prosecutions using his Mafia connections, and while he's more of a Psycho for Hire and likely wouldn't be out for vengeance, the fact that one of the most menacing and brutal villains in the series is out on the loose does not bode well for anyone.