The Nancy Drew PC games were a big part of my life for years. From the time I discovered them around 2000 until 2015, two games were released each year, one in the winter and one in the summer. Since then, only one game has been released, but I am hopeful that there will be more. And until then, I can replay the thirty+ existing games whenever the mood strikes.
If you too would like to (re)play these wonderfully detailed and educational Nancy Drew games, you can play them in order, or you can switch things up by playing seasonally – the games aren’t so closely connected that I’ll get too confused d ‘this way, I promise. The company behind the games, Her Interactive, encourages this to some extent by making “winter” and “summer” game packs available for purchase. I didn’t look at these packs before making my selections, instead choosing to rank the games as I thought best. And I’ve also added categories for spring and fall, so now you can keep playing all year round!
Some of the selections were obvious—the one where you’re snowed in in a castle-turned-ski resort is clearly winter—while others I ranked based on vibes rather than objective evidence. Feel free to arrange the order of play according to your taste, perception and memory, if you like. The only thing that matters is that you have fun!
The secret of the old clock
Not only is it a symbolic spring, since this game is based on Nancy’s early adventures, but it takes place on a very nice sunny day. Perfect for miniature golf!
In the US, tornado season is generally March through June, so this is definitely a spring game.
The enchanted carousel
I used to go to Disney World in May, so this amusement park-centric game makes me think of spring.
Labyrinth of lies
The myth of Hades and Persephone takes center stage (literally!) in this game, set in a Greek museum. Since spring is traditionally when Persephone returns with her mother Demeter, this is the season this game makes me think of.
The Phantom of Venice
I guess Venice is nice to visit in the spring. And one of the songs playing in the background as you walk around the city is Vivaldi’s “Spring”. The four seasons.
Hazard by design
This one is in the Spring section for the very silly reason that it’s set in Paris, and the first thing I think of when I think of Paris is a line from an old song: “The last time I saw Paris, its trees were dressed for spring…”
Legend of the Crystal Skull
We have an exact date for when this New Orleans-based game will take place: May 31st. Technically spring, but it would also be a good choice for summer!
The Secret of Shadow Ranch
Brave triple-digit temperatures to catch a saboteur and his ghostly horse, and pick vegetables for the ranch’s discerning cook. (Seriously, put in too many underripe veggies and it’s over).
The Haunting of Castle Malloy
One of your tasks in this game is to collect flowers for a friend’s wedding bouquet. Most of these flowers bloom in late spring or during the summer, making this game set in a half-destroyed Irish castle a likely or definite summer game.
The rescue of the seven ships
What better way to spend the summer than sailing and swimming in the Bahamas?! Of course, the fact that your best friend is gone is kind of heartbreaking…
The shattered locket
I’ll be honest and say that this is the only Nancy Drew game I didn’t really like. BUT it has a nice summery feel to it as you wander around New Zealand as a reality show contestant.
The Kapu Cave Creature
You and the Hardy Boys roam the jungles and beaches of Hawai’i collecting shells, fishing and identifying local insects and plants. Oh, and something about a legendary monster and a dying pineapple crop?
Secret of the Scarlet Hand
The focus on the ancient Mayans, who lived in tropical climates, led me to put this one in the summer category.
Shadow at the water’s edge
He spends his summer vacation teaching English to Japanese kids…and you’re SUPER haunted by a ghost at the ryokan you’re staying at. (Voice actors’ accents may be the scariest of all…)
Ghost of Thornton Hall
During a steamy night in the Deep South, Nancy uncovers dangerous family secrets, including exactly the kinds of secrets you’d expect a powerful Southern family to have.
Danger on the island of deception
Summer is the perfect time to help a lost killer whale off the coast of Washington State! You can also go kayaking and learn about whales at a whale museum.
Alibi in ashes
In this game, Nancy spends most of her time in jail, so her friends have to do the research (and eat a lot of ice cream) in her hometown of River Heights.
The silent spy
Spend a summer in Scotland, where Nancy discovers deadly secrets about her late mother and dives into the world of espionage!
Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake
The trees are all green in this one, but somehow the rustic cabin you stay in gives me a fall feeling.
Be aware of danger
The TV season traditionally starts in the fall, so that’s where I put this game, in which Nancy investigates death threats made to a selfish soap opera star.
The Final Scene
You spend the entire game inside a ruined theater, searching for a kidnapped friend. Something about the once grand and broken old place gives me fall vibes.
The Captive Curse
Everyone in this game, including Nancy, is dressed like it’s Oktoberfest (which is a September, vielen Dank!), so this one belongs here. While you can wander through some spooky woods, most of the time you’ll find yourself in an old German castle in search of a monster with a necklace fetish.
Curse of Blackmoor Manor
This one reminds me vaguely The Hound of the Baskervilles — Creepy English mansion, ghostly beasts, etc. — and since this book was set in October, this game should be as well.
For more Nancy Drew goodness, check out this Stratemeyer Syndicate story or take this quiz to find out which Nancy Drew pal you are!