Prolific American author Edward Stratemeyer created Nancy Drew in 1930. Since then, the detective has appeared in five films, three TV shows, and 42 Nancy Drew Games.
Edward Stratemeyer published the first Nancy Drew in the year he died, 1930. Several ghostwriters under the collective pseudonym of Carolyn Keene have taken care of the saga since then.
These books have sold over 80 million copies and have about 45 translations into different languages. The cultural icon became a video game series in 1988 under the Washington-based studio Her Interactive.
The Nancy Drew Series
There’re 33 main Nancy Drew games, and one remaster. On top of that, there’s a shorter Nancy Drew Dossier series with two spin-offs, four handheld games, and two mobile games.
These games don’t adapt the books, rather, they take ideas, plotlines, and characters from the long-running book series. More importantly, the games follow Nancy Drew, a fictional teen amateur detective.
Lastly, the gameplay revolves around point-and-click mechanics in 2D or 3D environments to talk to suspects, solve puzzles, pick up clues, and ultimately solve the crime.
Let’s check each game to see what the series is all about:
Secrets Can Kill – 1998
Secrets Can Kill debuted in 1998 for Windows. The 2010 remaster is currently available for Windows and macOS.
The original game was a “whodonuit” experience. The term refers to “Who has done it?” It’s a plot-driven detective story where solving a series of puzzles resolves the crime. It’s based on the first book of the Nancy Drew Files series, which takes the character into a murder investigation.
Stay Tuned for Danger – 1999
The second entry debuted in 1999 for PC. It’s also first-person with a plot that happens in New York. Notably, the game improved the 2D graphics and takes the story from the eponymous book.
Message in a Haunted Mansion – 2000
The Haunted Mansion title debuted in 2000 for PC and Game Boy Advance. It follows the titular heroine on a San Francisco adventure. Both critics and fans praise the game and consider it the best in the series.
The plot is about helping Nancy’s friend Rose. She’s looking to settle into an antique Victorian mansion in the city. However, strange accidents are slowing down the house renovations. The player must figure out what’s happening in a series of puzzles and events.
Treasure in the Royal Tower – 2001
The fourth entry debuted in 2001 for Windows PC, and it packs an E/ESRB rating for its mild violent content. Moreover, the game added two difficulty levels to tweak puzzle challenges.
Players control the detective in the Wickford Castle Resort in Wisconsin. She must discover who vandalized the place. To that end, she talks to suspects, solves puzzles, and uncovers clues.
The Final Scene – 2001
The Final Scene debuted in 2001 for PC as well. It features Nancy Drew rushing to rescue her friend, Maya Nguyen, as she disappears during a trip to St. Louis.
As before, you play in the first person across several puzzles, hints, and suspects. There’re also two difficulty modes.
Secret of the Scarlet Hand – 2002
The Secret of the Hand debuted in 2002 for Windows. It came out with an E/ESRB rating as well.
Players control Nancy Drew on a new mystery and two difficulty levels. Loosely based on 1995’s The Secret of the Scarlet Hand book, the plot is about Nancy Drew finding a stolen Mayan piece from a museum.
Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake – 2002
The next entry debuted in 2002 for Windows and features similar mechanics as previous games.
The plot is inspired by two Nancy Drew books. The amateur detective is helping a friend solve the mystery of ghosts lurking at his lake house.
The Haunted Carousel – 2003
The Haunted Carousel debuted in 2003 for Windows, and it greatly improved the series’ graphics.
Its story happens in New Jersey’s Captain’s Cove Amusement Park. The amateur detective is investigating mysterious events in the area.
Danger on Deception Island – 2003
The ninth entry in the series debuted for Windows in 2003.
Its plot takes cues from the Whispers in the Fog book (1999). The story happens on Washington’s Deception Island during a whale-watching excursion. The detective investigates who vandalized her friend Katie’s boat.
The Secret of Shadow Ranch – 2004
The Secret of Shadow Ranch debuted in 2004 for Windows. As before, Nancy Drew interacts with clues, suspects, and puzzles to solve a new mystery.
This game is loosely based on the best-selling book of the franchise, The Secret at Shadow Ranch (1931). The story happens in the Shadow Ranch, in Arizona, during a vacation. On the first day, Nancy discovers the owners are gone, and she begins the quest to find them.
Curse of Blackmoor Manor – 2004
The 11th main entry debuted in 2004 for Windows.
The story follows Nancy as she researches her family history in a haunted mansion in England. It takes ideas from 1985’s The Bluebeard Room book.
Secret of the Old Clock – 2005
The Secret of the Old Clock debuted for Windows in 2005. The title commemorates the 75th anniversary of the character’s creation, and the plot takes inspiration from the first four books in the franchise.
The story has a 1930 scenario during the Great Depression. The setting is the fictional town of Titusville (Illinois), where Nancy finds a thread connecting its secrets.
Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon – 2005
The next entry debuted in 2005 for Windows. It delivers a new story based on the book Mystery Train (1990). It also introduces “The Hardy Boys,” a detective group from other Stratemeyer books.
The plot starts when the detectives invite Nancy Drew to join them on a train ride mystery.
Danger By Design – 2006
Danger by Design debuted in 2006. It’s loosely inspired by 1988’s Death by Design book.
The plot takes the amateur sleuth to Paris. She’s undercover as an assistant to a suspicious fashion designer.
The Creature of Kapu Cave – 2006
The next entry debuted in 2006 for PC. It’s closely based on the Mystery on Maui book (1998). The Hardy Boys are present here as the protagonist’s allies.
Nancy Drew travels to Hawai’i as a research assistant to entomologist Quigley Kim. Meanwhile, a scourge is destroying the local pineapple crops. You’re to investigate a secret research lab that’s tied to the accident.
Nancy Drew: The Deadly Secret of Olde World Park – 2007
This is the first Nancy Drew title for a handheld console. It debuted in 2007 for the Nintendo DS.
The game delivers third-person gameplay. Players can use the tactile screen for talking to people, finding clues, solving puzzles, and playing mini-games. The story comes through 15 chapters that pay homage to the book series.
White Wolf of Icicle Creek – 2007
The next entry debuted in 2007 for Windows. A year later, it premiered for the Nintendo Wii. That means it’s the first Nancy Drew game for consoles. Notably, the console version adds mini-games.
This game takes cues from the 2000 book The Mystery of the Mother Wolf. The adventure takes the heroine to Alberta, Canada, to investigate suspicious accidents at the Icicle Creek Lodge.
Legend of the Crystal Skull – 2007
Legend of the Crystal Skull debuted in 2007 for Windows and takes its events closely from the book The Mardy Gras Mystery (1998).
The plot follows Nancy Drew on vacation to New Orleans. She teams up with a friend to find a mythical artifact before it falls into the wrong hands.
Nancy Drew: The Mystery of the Clue Bender Society – 2008
The next Nintendo DS experience debuted in 2008. It’s also a third-person adventure where you can use the device’s mic to find clues.
The story follows Nancy as she enters a secret detective society and goes through a series of tests.
Lights, Camera, Curses! – 2008 (Dossier series)
The first entry of the Dossier series debuted in 2008 for Windows. It’s similar to the main entries, but its main mechanic is finding hidden objects in each room. Also, it includes mini-games
Nancy Drew is on the set of a movie. She’s undercover to investigate suspicious production accidents behind the scenes.
The Phantom of Venice – 2008
The next game debuted in 2008 for Windows. The plot is based on The Phantom of Venice book (1985).
Here, Nancy Drew works with the Italian Secret Police to find a thief in Venice.
The Haunting of Castle Malloy – 2008
Castle Malloy debuted in 2008 for PC. The plot is loosely based on The Bike Tour Mystery book (2002).
The detective travels to Castle Malloy in Ireland, where she uncovers a mystery that involves a ghost.
The Hidden Staircase – 2008
2008’s The Hidden Staircase is about finding family relics in the Twin Elms. It debuted for Nintendo DS and includes tactics screen mechanics.
The plot is loosely based on the 1939 book of the same name. There’s also a Hidden Staircase 2019 movie on Amazon Prime.
Resorting to Danger – 2009 (Dossier series)
The second entry of the Dossier series debuted in 2009 for Windows.
Nancy Drew is undercover once again. She’s working as a general assistant at the Redondo, a resort where the famous and the rich enjoy privacy. Someone in the resort is planting bombs, and Nancy must find the culprit before someone gets hurt.
Ransom of the Seven Ships – 2009
Ransom of the Seven Ships debuted in 2009 for Windows. It’s no longer available, though, as the studio discontinued the game in August 2020.
The plot is about a vacation going wrong. Nancy Drew has to rescue her friends and solve a 300-year-old mystery.
Warnings at Waverly Academy – 2009
The 21st entry in the series debuted in 2009 for Windows. It’s loosely based on The Curse of the Black Cat book (2000).
Once again, Nancy goes undercover as a transfer student to the Waverly Academy for Girls. This is an elite school in New York, and she’s there to investigate the “Black Cat” criminal hiding among the upstate girls.
The Model Mysteries – 2010
The last Nintendo DS third-person Nancy Drew game debuted in 2010. It has 6 mini-games, 15 suspects, and 3 mysteries. As before, players use the tactile screen to interact with areas, clues, suspects, and witnesses.
Trail of the Twister – 2010
Trail of the Twister debuted in 2010 for Windows and macOS. The amateur detective comes back for a new set of suspects, puzzles, and clues.
Its plot is loosely based on The Mystery in Tornado Alley book (2000). Nancy is investigating a series of equipment meltdowns in Oklahoma. There, she uncovers a saboteur and battles against angry tornadoes.
Shadow at the Water’s Edge – 2010
The 23rd entry debuted for Windows and macOS X in 2010. Its plot loosely follows two Nancy Drew books.
Nancy Drew travels like an English teacher to Kyoto, Japan. In the Asian country, mysterious strangers lure her to the mystery of the Ryokan Hiei inn.
Nancy Drew Mobile Mystery: Shadow Ranch – 2011 (Mobile Game)
Shadow Ranch was a story-based visual gamebook for iOS. Players could choose their paths, solve puzzles, and unveil the mystery of the Shadow Ranch.
The Captive Curse – 2011
The Captive Curse debuted for Windows and macOS in 2011. The book “Captive Witness” (1981) inspires the plot.
The story presents a legendary monster terrorizing the residents of Castle Finster in Germany.
Alibi in Ashes – 2011
The next entry debuted in 2008 for Mac OSX and Windows. The point-and-click adventure loosely follows two Nancy Drew books.
Nancy Drew returns to her hometown (River Heights), just in time to see the town hall burning. She sets out to discover the culprit.
Tomb of the Lost Queen – 2012
Tomb of the Lost Queen debuted in 2012 as a loose adaptation of 1995’s Secrets of the Nile book. It debuted for Windows and Mac OSX.
60 years before the game, a sandstorm uncovered an ancient tomb outside Cairo, Egypt. Nancy Drew joins an archaeologist expedition to find the lost researchers who were studying the tomb.
The Deadly Device – 2012
The Deadly Device debuted in 2012 on Windows and Mac OSX. It’s loosely based on two books of the franchise.
Nancy Drew receives a mission to investigate the death of Niko Jovik, a theoretical physicist. He died electrocuted in a Colorado laboratory, and there seem to be no clues.
Ghost of Thornton Hall – 2013
The next main entry debuted for Windows and Mac OSX in 2013. It takes inspiration from Uncivil Acts, a 2005 Nancy Drew book.
The plot happens in Georgia during a pre-wedding celebration. The bride, Jessalyn, disappears, and her friends and family summon Nancy Drew so she can find her.
The Silent Spy – 2013
The Silent Spy debuted in 2013 for Windows and Mac OSX. It’s loosely based on The Clue of the Whistling Bagpipes book (1964).
A decade ago, Nancy’s mother Agent Kate Drew went on a mission to neutralize a biochemical gun in Scotland. She died after completing the task. Now, Nancy sets out to discover the truth about her mother’s demise.
The Shattered Medallion – 2014
The next game debuted in 2014 for Windows and Mac OSX. 2007’s Real Fake book slightly inspires its events.
The plot follows Nancy and a friend on a reality show. The friend gets injured, and she must investigate the incident.
Labyrinth of Lies – 2014
Labyrinth of Lies debuted for Mac OSX and Windows in 2014. It’s based on 1981’s The Greek Symbol Mystery.
The events have Nancy Drew finding the missing items from a museum.
Sea of Darkness – 2015
Sea of Darkness debuted in 2015 for Windows and Mac OSX. Particularly, it’s the last game featuring Lani Minella as the voice of the titular character. It’s also the last to use Her Interactive’s game engine.
The plot happens on the Heerlijkheid ship. The captain disappeared, and detective Nancy Drew must find him.
Nancy Drew Codes and Clues – 2016 (mobile game)
The 2016 Nancy Drew mobile game is an educational app. It teaches kids about writing, math, and coding through mini-games that spark their interest. It’s available for Android and iOS.
Midnight in Salem – 2019
The latest game in the series debuted in 2019 for Windows and macOS. It introduced the ability to play with a controller as well as a mouse. It also uses the Unity game engine, so the graphics and performance are quite different from previous games.
Its plot happens in Salem, where a series of crimes created a dangerous environment. Nancy Drew must interrogate the suspects, search for clues, engage in 3D puzzles, and explore multiple sites within Salem to find the criminal.
Every Nancy Drew Game in Chronological Order
- Secrets Can Kill – 1998
- Stay Tuned for Danger – 1999
- Message in a Haunted Mansion – 2000
- Treasure in the Royal Tower – 2001
- The Final Scene – 2001
- Secret of the Scarlet Hand – 2002
- Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake – 2002
- The Haunted Carousel – 2003
- Danger on Deception Island – 2003
- The Secret of Shadow Ranch – 2004
- Curse of Blackmoor Manor – 2004
- Secret of the Old Clock – 2005
- Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon – 2005
- Danger By Design – 2006
- The Creature of Kapu Cave – 2006
- Nancy Drew: The Deadly Secret of Olde World Park – 2007 (Nintendo DS)
- White Wolf of Icicle Creek – 2007
- Legend of the Crystal Skull – 2007
- Nancy Drew: The Mystery of the Clue Bender Society – 2008 (Nintendo DS)
- Lights, Camera, Curses! – 2008 (Dossier series)
- The Phantom of Venice – 2008
- The Haunting of Castle Malloy – 2008
- The Hidden Staircase – 2008 (Nintendo DS)
- Resorting to Danger – 2009 (Dossier series)
- Ransom of the Seven Ships – 2009
- Warnings at Waverly Academy – 2009
- The Model Mysteries – 2010 (Nintendo DS)
- Trail of the Twister – 2010
- Secrets Can Kill Remastered – 2010
- Shadow at the Water’s Edge – 2010
- Nancy Drew Mobile Mystery: Shadow Ranch – 2011 (mobile game)
- The Captive Curse – 2011
- Alibi in Ashes – 2011
- Tomb of the Lost Queen – 2012
- The Deadly Device – 2012
- Ghost of Thornton Hall – 2013
- The Silent Spy – 2013
- The Shattered Medallion – 2014
- Labyrinth of Lies – 2014
- Sea of Darkness – 2015
- Nancy Drew: Codes & Clues – 2016 (mobile game)
- Midnight in Salem – 2019