The first game that got me really interested in video games was none other than Message in a Haunted Mansion, one of the all-time best point-and-click mystery Nancy Drew games by Her Interactive; I had it for both my Game Boy Advance and on PC. After revealing the person behind the “hauntings” and beating the game, I would save up my allowance for trips to Target to look for another game in the series to keep playing.
For those unaware, the Nancy Drew games follow the titular detective in the present-day as she travels around solving mysteries. I loved the challenging puzzles, different cultures, and colorful characters that made up each of the games. Through Nancy Drew, I got to explore a ship in Iceland, travel to Greece and enter Hell with Persephone, and go back to the 1930s and learn the secret of an old clock. Because of this, I have been faithfully playing all of the games in the series for almost twenty years.
The most recent title in the series that was revealed, Midnight in Salem, is the 33rd game in the series. According to the description of the game, Nancy has been invited to investigate the house of Judge John Hathorne, an inquisitor of the Salem witch trials, as it was planned to become a tourist attraction. However, the house catches fire, and a young child is rescued from being locked in the library within the house during the time of the blaze. All he remembers is a “vile ghostly woman” watching him with burning eyes. As a result, the police have arrested a woman named Mei Parris and basically accuse her of witchcraft; Nancy must investigate and learn the truth. You can take a look at the teaser trailer that was released for the game below:
Looks interesting, right? Well, that was released back in 2015, and we’ve heard nothing on the game since. Seriously. Her Interactive, the game’s developer, shared a letter a while ago stating that the delay is due to a change in the game’s engine, but we’ve had no other information about it at all. Nothing about the story, characters, or anything except for another letter back in December that shared a possible release date of Spring 2019.
Recently, Her Interactive posted a survey on their Facebook page asking fans what they want to celebrate the studio’s twentieth anniversary. A lot of people, including myself, responded by asking just for the new game. This got me thinking about what I do want to see in the new game, so here is my list of five things that I would want to see in Midnight in Salem when it is finally released.
1. Bring Back Lani Minella
Lani Minella is a very talented voice actress who has been in a ton of games you’ve probably played like Mass Effect 3, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and she will soon be in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Before these games, she has been the iconic voice of Nancy Drew since the first game, Secrets Can Kill. The problem is that somebody else is voicing Nancy in Midnight in Salem, as heard in the teaser.
I do get that she sounds much older than an eighteen-year-old girl, and some have expressed that they would like Nancy to sound younger, but after all this time, it would be comforting to hear the same Nancy that I grew up with. It’s going to be very strange to hear someone else repeat “It’s locked!” every time I try to open a locked door.
2. Really Utilize the Salem Witch Trials
Most of my favorite Nancy Drew games have been centered around historical figures like Marie Antoinette and Harry Houdini; historical figures are often intertwined with the puzzles and clues that Nancy uncovers. There are many fascinating people involved with the Salem witch trials, including the girls who were the initial accusers and Tituba, a slave who was the first person accused of witchcraft.
I really hope that the Salem witch trials in Midnight in Salem aren’t just a backdrop to the game, but actively integral to its plot. The parallel between past and present with women who don’t fit the norm being accused of witchcraft would definitely be an opportunity for rich storytelling.
3. Stay True to the Series’ Roots
At its core, Nancy Drew is a point-and-click series with many, many puzzles. In their letter to the series’ fans this past December, Her Interactive made a statement about developing the games for tablets and consoles, but also mentioned VR and evaluating new trends in the industry. While I can definitely see players being able to further explore the game’s setting with VR, I really hope that they stick with what fans of the series know and love.
But with Midnight in Salem being in development for so long…who knows. Maybe we’ll get Nancy Drew: Battle Royale.
But seriously: to make very drastic changes this late in the series would definitely alienate some fans. In the same vein, the variety of puzzles and their varying degrees of difficulty throughout the games are overall satisfying, but there are a few that I would like to avoid, such as puzzles dealing with mazes, trying to pour chemicals in complete darkness, and extremely difficult board games.
4. Focus on the Characters and Bring Back Old Favorites
With so many games in the series, there have been many suspects; there have been some standouts, but some followed very similar tropes, so I would definitely like to see some dynamic characters after all this time. In the past, the series has also brought back characters from different games to be somehow involved in a variety of ways, even if it’s just a phone contact.
In Midnight in Salem, the person calling for Nancy’s help is Deirdre Shannon, a suspect from a previous game called Alibi in Ashes and a phone contact in The Deadly Device. I would say that her relationship with Nancy has grown from jealousy and hate to begrudging respect. I don’t know the extent of her role in this game, but her character development is something that could be explored. Regardless, there are some other previous characters that could also make an interesting addition to the game, based on what we know so far.
The first is Professor Beatrice Hodgekiss, an eccentric woman who Nancy interacts with through multiple games. She begins by helping in Treasure in the Royal Tower with her knowledge of Marie Antoinette and French history. She changes her focus to Egypt later in Tomb of the Lost Queen, so she could easily turn her gaze on the Salem witch trials. Her knowledge of whatever topic she discusses with Nancy is always a big help in the games, and she could easily fit in as a phone contact again in Midnight in Salem, even if she never remembers who Nancy actually is.
Savannah Woodham is another character I’d like to have involved again. She was first introduced in Shadow at the Water’s Edge when Nancy contacts her about the supposed ghost at the ryokan she is staying at; later, Savannah invites Nancy to investigate in Ghost of Thornton Hall. Only her voice is heard in both games, and I found her to sound a bit like Nancy Grace. She is Southern, hilarious, and her knowledge of ghosts would be perfect to try and figure out who the “vile ghostly woman” is that is detailed in the game’s description.
The final character I’d like to see return is Harper Thornton from Ghost of Thornton Hall. She’s another eccentric woman who likes to hang out in old cellars and crypts; she is also known to read books while sitting on a headstone with her name engraved on it and leave Nancy “ghost notes.” In addition, she speaks cryptically and loves the macabre, so she would fit perfectly with the tone that has been set so far for Midnight in Salem. I don’t know what her role would be, but I would love to interact with Harper again.
5. Reveal Nancy’s Appearance
This one is a bit of a throwaway, but since the beginning of the series, Nancy is never actually seen physically. I know it’s because the games’ developers want players to immerse themselves as Nancy in the game, but after 33 games, it’d be great to finally see her face.
In different games she is obscured in some way, even being seen dancing in a catsuit in Venice, Italy. What we do know about her appearance is that she has red hair, and she likes to wear mom jeans and shirts with horses on them. Seriously, it’s kind of a running joke.
So as small as it may seem, if we finally saw what Nancy looks like, then that would definitely be the cherry on top of the sundae when Midnight in Salem is released, for me anyway.
And there you have it: the five things I want to see when Midnight in Salem is finally released. I do realize that it’s a slim chance that I would get all of these things in one game, but there’s always the game after that. The Nancy Drew series holds a special place in my heart, so here’s hoping that we get some news on the next game very soon.
Any Nancy Drew fans; let us know what you would like to see in the newest game in the comments below.