“Welcome to my center of operations, my desk. Go ahead and poke around.”
Every time I hear that welcome following the trademark mystery theme, I instantly light up because it means I’m about to play a Nancy Drew computer game.
The first of Her Interactive’s Nancy Drew Adventure PC games, “Secrets Can Kill,” came out in 1998. The company has consistently released the point-and-click games through the past 18 years, its latest being 2015’s “Sea of Darkness.”
Now, I didn’t start playing the games right away, I was only three years old when the first one came out. It wasn’t until I was about six or seven that my cousin, Nicole, first introduced me to the games. We played my first game, “Stay Tuned for Danger,” in her computer room, followed by “Message in a Haunted Mansion.” I’ve been an avid player ever since. Although my desire to play comes in spurts, I always come back to these virtual mysteries.
It may seem unusual that a 20-year-old man like myself still likes this series so much. To me, though, who wouldn’t want to escape reality for a few hours and immerse yourself in a computer game, especially when you’re solving mysteries?! I mean, in the games, you literally become Nancy Drew in a first-person adventure. You see the world through her shrewd, problem-solving amateur detective eyes, and I think that’s my favorite aspect of the game.
You could say I’ve been playing these games for 15 years, and it seems like the largest fan base consists of people my age and older because they too grew up with the games. So, why have I stuck with this incredibly fun series, and I why have I created a blog specifically dedicated to it? There are a plethora of reasons.
Stepping into someone else’s shoes and discovering a new world is always exciting. With Nancy Drew, you get to do that, but you’re instantly enthralled in solving a multi-layered mystery filled with unique plot lines, colorful suspects, and various puzzles. Every game starts out with Nancy narrating a letter describing the potential case that she sends home to her friends and family.
Then, you’re instantly thrown into a mystery that needs solving, and over the course of the game, you have to interview suspects, travel to different locations, use your tools and collect clues, and work puzzles of different types and difficulty. Eventually, new locations are discovered, plot twists usually occur, and the mystery unravels through deduction and wit. Plus, the variety of games is spectacular with all 32 mysteries ranging from haunted castles and amusement parks to murder and international crime theft.
One aspect of gameplay that I really enjoy is the fact that you can basically complete tasks in any order you want. There are no set guidelines for who you should talk to or call first, and puzzles can be completed at various times. Although, some actions have to be triggered by completing certain tasks and chatting with suspects. Also, a feature called “Second Chance” lets you literally die and start over without affecting the gameplay. (Some of the second chance scenes are hilarious, and it’s fun to replay them. Over and over.)
Speaking of replaying over and over, Nancy Drew games are anything but a one-and-done deal. For one, there are two levels of difficulty, junior detective and senior detective. Junior detective gameplay involves many more verbal cues from Nancy, a checklist, and easier puzzles. Senior detective puzzles are harder, there is no checklist, and less hints are available. And aside from the difficulty levels, it’s just fun to revisit a game after a while and re-introducing yourself to the puzzles. Plus, there’s almost always objects, locations, and character developments that you need encountered during the first go around.
I also like how educational the games are, whether intended or random. Nancy Drew games have taught me problem-solving skills and how to be extra critical about situations. The puzzles along with mystery story lines in general have taught me how to deduce, double check, and never leave a stone unturned.
Certain skills I’ve virtually acquired that I can relate to real life include pipe fitting, soldering circuit boards, interpreting codes, tending to ranch animals, traveling by metro, following arson protocol, and many more.
I’ve also learned many, many random facts throughout playing the games, including information on Mayan culture, cockney slang, the phonetic alphabet, Japanese culture, nautical slang terms, and Irish folklore. For example, I’ll always know that a ryokan is an ancient Japanese inn, and that cinnabar is made from Mercury and Sulfur. My family has been impressed by the random bits of knowledge I can spit out in a game of Trivial Pursuit, and I proudly thank Nancy Drew.
The running gags, familiar fictional items and brands, and recurring characters make these games even more fun. Whether you’re collecting sea shells, diffusing a bomb, or playing an in-game mini game like Scopa, there is always something fun and challenging to do.
That only briefly summarizes my love and passion for the series. I don’t want to over-exhaust this first blog post, but I’m very excited to start documenting my thoughts and experiences with the Nancy Drew games.
I plan on posting once or twice a week about topics like my favorite or least favorite games, characters, and puzzles, thoughts on a game I’m currently playing, synopses about what may have happened after a game or if a mystery had gone in a different direction, and much more. Hopefully my posts inspire you to not only to try out a game or replay one, but to also share your thoughts and experiences with me!
So, as Nancy would say, welcome to my center of operations…my blog! Go ahead and poke around.