SCARIEST NANCY DREW MOMENTS PART 2: THIS TIME IT’S PERSONAL
again taking credit from @wanderingthroughwickford for the original scary ND moments post, I have more to add from my original list!
In no particular order:
SAW - The Glowing Writing on Yumi’s Apartment Window
Not only is it reminiscent of early 2000s J-Horror at its finest, it’s also never explained in game. It must be Rentaro’s work, and based on the events leading up to that point it is indeed aimed at Yumi and not Nancy, but…why? Yumi’s already left the ryokan, why scare her more? Also, how was it done? Practical effects just like the hauntings in the ryokan I’m sure, but you do wonder anyway.
SAW - The sheer fucking emptiness of Kyoto
This is obviously a game production thing rather than a deliberate attempt at creepiness, but the sheer lack of people in the streets of Kyoto and the subway is kind of eerie. In a lot of Nancy Drew games, Nancy is in a remote location and therefore it makes sense for it to be pretty empty. In SAW we have the almost-deserted convention centre and the totally empty pachinko parlour. Sorry, but I’m getting a horrible Silent Hill vibe. DAN and VEN and also SPY have shades of this, but for some reason it’s especially uncanny in SAW.
SAW - The second bathroom
Yeahhhh. I mean of course this is the place where Nancy is attacked by the goddamn Sadako-bot, but even before that it’s a deeply unsettling place. I think it’s a combination of the extra-dark graphics., the exceptionally sinister music and the strange mist hovering over the old bath. Plus the eventual knowledge that Kasumi actually died there.This is a dark, loaded location.
SAW - The music
I did an appreciation post for the music of this game, and what it excels at is being scary. It’s threatening, creepy, sad, and at times takes direct inspiration from J-Horror cinema (I’m thinking in particular of the metal-grinding-on-metal track - don’t remember its name). One of the best ND soundtracks.
CUR - The Hooded Figure
There are many moments in CUR to discuss, and hopefully I will in future posts. But the thing that would have scared child!me the most, without a shadow of a doubt, is the black-hooded figure that appears as Nancy leaves her room in the night. Ten-year-old me was very. very scared of Dementors and would have pissed herself at that point in the game. The black-hooded figure is just such a great universal represntation of fear and of the unknown. The fact that it is walking away from Nancy rather than advancing on her is intriguing and horrifying; we cannot see its face, it is not trying to threaten Nancy outright, and yet it is still so very, very wrong. There’s also the fact that this mystery is somewhat unsolved: who was the figure? Was it Ethel playing along with Jane? It was too tall to be Jane herself
GTH - Savannah’s Story
You know the one I mean. Again, I read a lot of ghost stories (real and fictional) and this one is genuinely one of the most blood-chilling I’ve come across. It’s so short, so simple, so subtle and yet so dark. I love it.
CAP - The monster is in the castle
I enjoyed this game but didn’t find it too scary overall. What got me a little was when the game told you that the monster was loose somewhere. This is a personal horror preference of course, but one of the scariest tropes to me is “monster is somewhere, we don’t know where, but it’s near you” - a very primal fear. I think it was discussed quite well in the commentary for Coraline - you know the monster is nearby, possibly watching you, but you can’t know where and therefore you must exist in fear. It’s a relief knowing it’s not a real monster after all. Yikes.
DAN - that mouth sculpture thing
i fucking hate this fucking thing. i hate it
ICE - The Sauna Endgame
Y’know, the creepiness of this scene didn’t really dawn on me until I actually used a sauna for the first time quite recently. This is literally the worst way to die. It’s so goddamn hot in those things, you can almost feel your lungs constricting.The dry-heat is almost unbearable, the only thing getting you through the knowledge that you will leave soon and shower off. The idea of being trapped in this human-oven-brazen-bull-hell-box, unable to leave and begging for help, is too horrible to bear.
SEA - The Ice Caves
Now I’m partial to a good horror story set in a cave, so I’m willing to accept my attitude towards caves has been somewhat coloured by fear. Even so, the caves in SEA have an eerie, lonely quality that is rather unsettling. The constant night-time setting of the game adds an extra layer of unease to me - you know that even when you get out, there will be total darkness. I haven’t played this game recently so I don’t remember the music for this part very exactly, but if I recall correctly it is quite unsettling.
MHM - The servants’ staircase from the first floor to the ground floor
(I’m assuming these are servants’ stairs, based on my somewhat patchy knowledge of American Victorian houses)
I remember seeing a post about these stairs (don’t remember who by, sorry :() and I was relieved to see other people agreeing with how strange this staircase is. It’s not altogether uncommon for servants’ passages to be bare and plain compared to the rest of the house, but this is really the only area in the game that looks like this and as such it feels kinda off. Added to the constant high tension of the game, walking through this area is far more nerve-shredding than it has any right to be.
MHM - Charlie’s Bedroom
look we can all agree that MHM is a deeply creepy game and almost every part of it is nightmare-fuel inducing. Charlie’s room is pretty cool though - until you realise the double mirror trick, and therefore that he was probably watching you as you explored the basement after hours???? yikes
DOG - Night time, particularly the goddamn forest
building off the last one, and also on the CAP scary moment, it’s fairly reasonable to assume that Emily was observing Nancy at least once as she stumbled through the forest and explored the cabin’s grounds. even at night, in the dark. she must have been sitting around without a flashlight just… waiting? like a wild animal? can i get a “brrrrr”