Nancy Drew: Curse of Blackmoor Manor


Genre:   Adventure

Developer & Publisher:    Her Interactive

Released:  2004

PC Requirements:   Windows 98/ME/2000/XP, Pentium II 450, 64MB RAM, 300MB free hard drive space, 16MB video card, Window compatible sound card, 12X CDROM, Keyboard, Mouse





by nickie

The misty darkness covered Nancy like a shroud as she approached the silent manor. The moaning of a wild thing disturbed from its sleep is whispering her name, and as she turns, out of the darkness appear demonic red eyes, so near and so full of menace. Nancy pounds on the manor door, which is opened by a tall, stern woman, who regards Nancy as an unwelcome guest. Nancy stammers her fear of the beast; they both look into the night and there is nothing there.

The latest gothic bodice ripper? No, you are entering the world of Nancy Drew and her adventure “Curse of Blackmoor Manor”, a departure into the esoteric, with a centuries old legacy of alchemy and guardian chimeras, werewolves and hidden treasure. Will this be a successful journey?


“As the moon rises upon thee, fear not, but draw upon the strength of absent friends”

In Nancy Drew’s eleventh episode, Nancy travels to an old manor in England at the behest of neighbors to check on the welfare of their daughter. The daughter, Linda, hides behind a covered canopy bed, and will not emerge;  it is clear that she is somewhat angrily resigned to some terrible fate. Nancy resolves to uncover the answer to this odd behavior, and to delve into the centuries old mysteries surrounding Blackmoor Manor and the Penvyllyn family.

There is an immediate bombardment of clues and visual delights in this game, from heraldic shields to old tombs of runes and secret ceremonies, from astrological puzzles to hidden passages guarded by stone gargoyles. Every character who Nancy encounters provides clues, and yet it is easy to ascertain that each has some hidden agenda.

The deliciousness of the adventure is that items to aid you on your quest are to be discovered in every nook and cranny, and secret doors are waiting to be found.

Nancy learns of the ancestor who was burned at the stake for witchcraft, the rumors of the wild beast of the moors, and gradually uncovers many stories of the somewhat eccentric manor dwellers in times past. But all is not in the past, as Nancy is awakened by eerie chanting in the night… 


“There are some doors that should never be opened”

There is something comfortable about the familiar refrain you hear when beginning a Nancy Drew game, like settling onto the sofa with a hot fudge sundae and a favorite movie just beginning. You anticipate no glitches, no hair pulling out over impossible puzzles, and a simple but interesting story. With the possible exception of The Scarlet Hand, the previous games appeared well targeted at the younger gamers, with practical exercises and topics geared to that age group. Interestingly, this game is a bold move in the direction of capturing the hearts of older gamers, for the subject matter is decidedly more mature, with the exploration of alchemy, lycanthropy, and various esoterica. I suspect that the younger gamers may not find this their favorite due to the added complexity of puzzles and the more mature subject matter, but at the same time, I think older gamers may be more entranced. Certainly I found it the most ambitious and the best Nancy Drew adventure to date.

The game is point and click, with the standard ability to do a partial panning. SKIP THE FOLLOWING UNDER GAMEPLAY IF YOU ARE LEERY OF ANY POSSIBLE SPOILERS.

As always, you may elect to play the game as a junior or senior detective. Playing as a junior detective allows you to have a helpful task list to check off as you complete various exercises, and the somewhat annoying parrot in residence to give you hints. When playing each status, I noted that one puzzle was already completed for the junior detective, and there is possibly some leeway on others.

Puzzles are generally simple, but may be time-consuming in some cases, such as a tile puzzle and a puzzle box. There is a maze of sorts, and a few timed tasks, but there is no cause for alarm – these are not difficult and simple observation and good note taking will simplify this. Yes, a pen and paper is a great advantage in playing this game! There are also various mini-games within the game in a guise of contents of a child’s toy box, which you must complete for a light source and for information. These are generally of the sort you might have played as a child, such as a memory game of pick out the pairs, and a variety of “go fish”. Also making a second appearance is a puzzle used in a previous game. In a separate location there is also a charming puzzle with a hero and the diabolical winds, where the characters take on human persona, and laugh with glee at victory and groan with defeat.

There is a wealth of foreshadowing each time you enter a new location, and the puzzles are well integrated into the story. The clues are numerous and cleverly constructed by the developers, and these little extra touches are what I appreciated so much. An example of this is a charming fairy tale book that is located in Nancy’s bedroom which tells a story that will assist in a much later puzzle.

You can go about solving these puzzles in a nonlinear fashion, although some are dependant on others or dialogue to take place before hotspots will appear. Some information can be obtained in different ways as well, from talking on the telephone to finding a note. A few scenes will require a certain time of night to be completed, but rather than idling in frustration, you can set the alarm clock for the appropriate time, and immediately access what you need to progress.

A departure from the previous games is that Nancy is unable to telephone her friends for hints, which is probably a practical idea what with transatlantic fees and all.  Nancy has the assistance of other individuals however, and the use of the world wide web, although her email is inaccessible.

The graphics are sophisticated, with a fine use of color, and their combination is a kaleidoscope of contrast. The art alone of the old books you come across in this game is a delight. There is so much to see and to touch in this game that you may well want to linger here and there.

The score is also wonderful, and I only wish that it had been used with more frequency. Ambient sounds are appropriate. Voice acting varies in quality. Did I mention that the parrot was annoying?

Although this adventure is much darker in nature than most of the previous Nancy Drew games, there are still moments of humor, generally gained through completing an action which the game tells you is risky, and then utilizing the second chance feature. There is a particular scene that had me laughing out loud, where Nancy annoys a carnivorous plant. OOPS!


I’ve not been a fan of Nancy Drew. I sneered at her perkiness, and daydreamed of her demise in nefarious fashion. But then a strange thing happened. I noted that each Nancy Drew adventure was better than the last in technical achievement, such as in the use of shadows. Nancy lost some of her chirpiness. The stories had more depth. The games installed and ran beautifully and reliably, without having to tweak them with the skill of a safecracker. So with the attitude of a proud parent, I now applaud the progression of this group of developers, the same individuals that have completed each and every one of the Nancy Drew games. As these developers develop more artistically, so does Nancy evolve.


The developers set this game in Essex, although it doesn’t have moors as described in the game. Why then? Because Essex has a history of witchcraft and women persecuted as witches, and burned at the stake. If you have further interest in this topic, you might check out your local library for the out of print books “Essex Witches” by Glyn Morgan, and “Witch-hunt : The great Essex witch scare of 1582” by Anthony Harris.


The minimum system requirements are as follows:

OS: Windows 98/Me/2000/XP


400 MHz Pentium


300 MB hard drive space

16- bit color graphics video card with at least 16 MB of VRAM


(I played on XP, Pentium IV, 64 Intel integrated graphics)

I encountered no problem installing, and no glitches whatsoever.

This is a point and click first person adventure game.

There are approximately 20-25 hours of game play.

The CD-ROM does have to be in the drive to play the game.

There is a maze, a tile puzzle, and timed challenges – all are not of the hair pulling variety and well integrated into the puzzle, as are all the puzzles in the game. Inventory and logic puzzles. If you only like games with Mensa style puzzles, this may not be for you.


“Blackmoor manor is indeed the sum of the hearts and minds of all who dwelt here. Welcome dear initiate! Here you will face many trials – but persevere! “

The best of the Nancy Drew adventures to date, and even if you don’t like the series, this is one you just might wish to try. A well written story, colorful graphics, and interesting puzzles make this a winner.

Grade: A


design copyright © 2004 GameBoomers Group

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