The 7 Best Nancy Drew Games and Why

Best Nancy Drew Games

Nancy Drew seems like one of those franchises that are destined for immortality. Even longtime fans of the franchise may be surprised to learn that Nancy Drew is quickly approaching 100 years old, with the first appearance of the fictional amateur sleuth occurring in 1930. With almost 50 games stretched over multiple platforms and decades, there’s a lot to sort through when it comes to choosing the best Nancy drew games to play — but we did it anyway.

Down below is our hand-picked list of the most enjoyable mysteries to solve as one of the most iconic and empowering female protagonists of all time.

Treasure in the Royal Tower

  • Released: 2001
  • Developer: Her Interactive
  • Platform: Windows
  • Price: $9.99

Treasure in the Royal Tower is one of the creepier games you’ll find in the Nancy Drew lineup. The game did extraordinarily well upon release back in 2001, eventually selling over half a million copies, and is regarded by many long time fans of the franchise as one of the best games overall.

Treasure in the Royal Tower follows our titular amateur detective to the Wickford Castle Ski Resort in Wisconsin, where she finds herself subsequently snowed in and at the center of a number of bizarre, paranormal occurrences.

Players must take control of Nancy as she works to unravel the mystery hiding in a locked away portion of the castle that stretches all the way back to Marie Antoinette herself. It’s one of the oldest games in the franchise, but continues to be one of the universally most loved and is a must-play for all fans of Nancy Drew.

Buy Treasure in the Royal Tower: Steam | Her Interactive

Secret of Shadow Ranch

  • Released: 2004
  • Developer: Her Interactive
  • Platform: Windows
  • Price: $9.99

The Secret of Shadow Ranch is one of the longer games Nancy Drew Games — something that works in its favor more than against it. The game is one of the more commercially successful titles in the lineups, selling a few hundred thousand copies in the first two years of its release.

Secret of Shadow Ranch takes place at the not-at-all suspiciously named Shadow Ranch in Arizona in the wake of numerous supernatural events and a string of especially bad luck for those working there. There are two storylines spread across two separate timelines for players to solve alongside many puzzles and the usual array of infotaining side-objectives to dive into.

Players will not only investigate the deep history of the Ranch and its relationship with a long dead Wild West outlaw, but learn the ins and outs of dude ranching and survival skills in the intriguing desert environment. All in all, Secret of Shadow Ranch is an extensive adventure for Nancy Drew fans of all sorts to sink their teeth into and sports one of the most interesting narratives of the series.

Buy Secret of Shadow Ranch: Steam | Her Interactive

Danger on Deception Island

  • Released: 2003
  • Developer: Her Interactive
  • Platform: Windows
  • Price: $6.99 – $9.99

While there are some mixed opinions about certain aspects of Danger on Deception Island what lands it on this list is its critically praised ending. While the side chores can sometimes feel more like busywork than in other games, the small seaside town atmosphere is captured almost perfectly and helps create an immersive, compelling narrative centered around the fate of a recently orphaned orca whale.

Though there are less Puzzles than in other Nancy Drew games, those of  Danger on Deception Island are a lot of fun and the infotainment aspect of the game is well displayed. Any fans looking to stray from the more dreary locales of many of the other Nancy Drew adventures will be pleased with the surprising shift in tone and atmosphere.

Buy Danger on Deception Island: Steam | Her Interactive

Shadow at the Water’s Edge

  • Released: 2010
  • Developer: Her Interactive
  • Platform: Windows, macOS
  • Price: $6.99 – $19.99

Considered the single scariest Nancy Drew game ever, Shadow at the Water’s Edge makes some bold moves for the long-standing franchise. The game follows Drew and her two companions, George and Bess, as they travel to Japan following the events of the previous game in the franchise.

What starts out as a fun vacation at a traditional, family-run Japanese ryoku Quickly becomes a chilling mystery as supernatural events begin to drive guests out of the inn until eventually only Nancy, her two friends, and the enigmatic resident family remain.

While there is some division over the game’s increased number of puzzles, its exotic location, modern vibe, an interesting exploration of Japanese culture. and heightened horror elements make Shadow at the Water’s Edge a very interesting departure from the standard Nancy Drew formula.

Buy Shadow at the Water’s Edge: Steam | Her Interactive

Curse of Blackmoor Manor

  • Released: 2004
  • Developer:  Her Interactive
  • Platform: Windows
  • Price: $6.99 – $9.99

Generally thought to be one of the hardest Nancy Drew games, Curse of Blackmoor Manor will likely have you taking notes and memorizing a surprising breadth of info related to the occult, alchemy, and heraldry in order to solve the game’s gripping mystery. Some may find the puzzles a little extra challenging in comparison to other games in the series while others might appreciate increased difficulty and emphasis on Nancy Drew’s signature infotainment element.

The game follows Drew as she goes to visit her friend’s daughter, Linda Penvellyn, At her place of residence in a 14th century English castle. Things quickly begin to take a turn towards the spooky as Linda is struck with a mysterious affliction that has her hiding behind a curtain for a majority of the game while supernatural events begin to haunt the castle walls.

While not as scary as Shadow at the Water’s Edge, Curse of Blackmoor Manor is a notch scarier than your typical Nancy Drew game. Older, returning fans of the franchise might enjoy the upped difficulty of the game as well as fans of point-and-click puzzle adventure games like Myst or The Room.

Buy Curse of Blackmoor Manor: Steam | Her Interactive

Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon

  • Released: 2005
  • Developer:  Her Interactive
  • Platform: Windows
  • Price: $6.99 – $9.99

Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon is one of the more universally loved Nancy Drew games in the entire series and features a crossover with the Hardy boys to boot. Unlike some of the later games in the franchise, Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon does little to mess with the solid gold formula that makes the series so appealing.

When prominent socialite Lori Girard invites some of the world’s most renowned detectives to solve the mystery of the missing Jake Hurley and the titular train, things quickly take a turn for the mysterious when Girard herself goes missing. We’re left with nothing but Drew, her wits, and a colorful cast of characters to solve the thrilling and suspenseful narrative.

The puzzles in the game are well-balanced and fans have praised the smooth gameplay and crisp dialogue. Nancy Drew fans would do well to play Secret of Shadow Ranch first as there is a recurring character who they will recognize from Drew’s previous western frontier adventure.

Buy Curse of Blackmoor Manor: Steam | Her Interactive

Ghost of Thornton Hall

  • Released: 2005
  • Developer:  Her Interactive
  • Platform: Windows
  • Price: $5.99 – $19.99

The most modern of the games on this list, Ghost of Thornton Hall manages to update the graphics of the Nancy Drew franchise without losing its signature style. Longtime fans of the series have praised the slightly more complex narrative depth of ghost of Thornton Hall as well as the surprising end to the chilling tale.

The plot begins when bride-to-be Jesselyn Thornton goes missing at the abandoned manor off the coast of Georgia and Drew is recruited by friends and coworkers to help solve her disappearance. The game makes good use of the southern ghost story motif and features a variety of well-balanced puzzles for players to enjoy.

One of the things that sets it apart from previous games and the franchise is the deeper exploration of themes like mental illness, marriage, and familial troubles. Fans of Nancy Drew who find many of the classic games a little dated for their taste would be more inclined to explore the Ghost of Thornton Hall.


That’s our list for the best Nancy Drew games for you to dive into, but there’s plenty more great Nancy Drew games to explore once you’re done with them. If we’re missing your favorite amateur sleuth adventure, be sure to let us know in a comment below!

Posted by
Will

Will Heydecker is a writer, screenwriter and illustrator who still likes dragons. As part of his bitter war against adulthood, he likes to distill art, gaming, technology, and entertainment info into digestible topics people actually enjoy reading.

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