A Review of Nancy Drew: The Haunting of Castle Malloy

Matt Barton's picture

Her Interactive's Nancy Drew: The Haunting of Castle Malloy, is the 19th game in what is undoubtedly the longest-running adventure game series in history. The games have all been outstanding, and even the weakest were better than many a competitor. The Haunting of Castle Malloy is probably the most challenging of the entire series, with about three times as many puzzles as the previous games. Although my wife and I were able to complete the game without consulting outside hints, it took us several days and a few late-nights to get through it. Overall, I give this game a hearty recommendation, and if you haven't played any of the past games, this might be the one that gets you hooked.

Wrecked at the Castle!: The game's opening reminds me of the classic horror game Uninvited.Wrecked at the Castle!: The game's opening reminds me of the classic horror game Uninvited.This latest installment has Nancy traveling to Ireland to attend her friend Kyler's wedding. Kyler is rather eccentric, and her and her fiancé Matt have decided to get married in the family's ancient, ruined castle. Unfortunately for Kyler, Matt disappears before the wedding, and Kyler thinks he's just playing a bad joke. Matt's friend Kit, however, thinks he got cold feet and scrammed, whereas the old Irish caretaker of the castle, Donal, is convinced he was taken by fairies. Meanwhile, an eerie banshee has been making appearances around the castle, lending some credence to Donal's theory. Naturally, Nancy's job is to find out what happened to Matt, a quest that will soon have her learning all about the old castle's former occupants as well as a healthy dose of Irish history and culture. Donal is particularly amusing; it was fun hearing his rants about "Sasanachs" and his vilification of all things English.

Donal: This old, suspicious Irishman hates everything English.Donal: This old, suspicious Irishman hates everything English.This game has everything I love about the Nancy Drew series--a good mystery, fun characters, an intriguing setting, scads of puzzles, and the "edutainment" factor. When you walk away from this game, you'll have learned a lot about Ireland, especially the country's rich mystical heritage and musical styles.

The production values are great as always, with good graphics and a marvelous Celtic-themed soundtrack that I enjoyed immensely. The voice acting is top-notch, and the writing is great. The castle and surrounding grounds are pretty spooky, but of course there's no gore or violence here to concern parents.

Gnomes: I enjoyed this garden gnome puzzle--the gnomes must be rotated according to another clue.Gnomes: I enjoyed this garden gnome puzzle--the gnomes must be rotated according to another clue.What really stands out, though, is the huge number and variety of puzzles. This game is a puzzle-lover's dream; I lost count of them after awhile. What's good is that if you get stuck on one, there are probably other puzzles you can work on in the meantime. Many of these are old-fashioned logic puzzles, such as placing dinner guests around a table or dolls in a doll house based on a set of rules. There are also visual puzzles of the sliding/rotating type, translation puzzles (binary or Celtic alphabets), timed matching puzzles, inventory-based puzzles, and even a musical sequence inspired by the likes of Guitar Hero. Naturally, some puzzles are more fun than others (I particularly disliked a tangled wire puzzle), but there is really something here for everyone. What's better is that most of the puzzles are related and tied into the story, so you don't get the feeling that you're just doing puzzles as busywork.

Dinner Party Puzzle: This puzzle is quite challenging, but easy enough if you use the process of elimination.Dinner Party Puzzle: This puzzle is quite challenging, but easy enough if you use the process of elimination.It's obvious that Her Interactive has lavished their attention on this game, and what really makes it outstanding are all the little touches. For instance, what seems like a routine assignment (gather up and sheer sheep) is hilarious--the machine doesn't just sheer the sheep, it gives them wacky 'doos! Have you ever seen a punk-rock sheep? Perhaps the only really out-of-place segment was a sequence that had Nancy mixing drinks at a bar. However, the game made it clear that this is an, er, fruit juice and root beer only bar. I thought it was a bit cheesy, but I guess Her Interactive was worried that parents might balk if Nancy was making actual mixed rinks and pouring pints of Guinness.

Overall, The Haunting of Castle Malloy is a terrific game and embodies all the best elements of the series and ranks among its best. I definitely recommend it to all fans of the series, but more generally to anyone who loves a good adventure game. 5/5 stars!


Joined: 10/25/2006
If you like "puzzle-adventures"...

The Professor Layton series may be something for you:

The first game in the series apparently has the most coverage as it has been translated from Japanese:

I haven't played them myself (yet) but the Nintendo DS seems to be a very good mobile platform for this genre.
Awesome art direction, BTW!

take care,

Rowdy Rob
Rowdy Rob's picture
Joined: 09/04/2006

I'm curious if this game is a distant relative of Myst? From your description, and from the images included in your review, we seem far removed from the old "verb - noun" text adventures in this game, and more like a graphics/puzzle-based "Myst" game. Which is cool for me; the "Myst" games made me think I was supposed to be smoking something to get the full experience, but the basic gameplay concept behind it might have worked for me if the premise was more approachable.

ND sounds much more approachable, though; well worth a try in the near future (after I finish my obsession with "Baldur's Gate I & II").

qoj hpmoj o+ 6uo73q 3Jv 3svq jnoh 77V

Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
Joined: 01/16/2006
Nancy Drew is definitely

Nancy Drew is definitely like Myst as far as navigation goes, though in this one you get to free roam a bit (first on foot and then with a jet pack!) I actually prefer that setup for first-person adventure games; the FPS-style can tend to get hard to deal with when you really need to focus closely on things. I like to think the developer chooses perspectives carefully to help guide you towards what you should be paying attention to. Myst V: End of Ages actually let you choose what setup you wanted; full FPS, semi-fps, or classic. It was great!

The ND games are the opposite of Myst, though, when it comes to knowing what to do. Myst was big about dumping you in a world with no clue; you had to basically start from scratch with no direction. The ND games (and most modern ones) guide you along. There's no question that they're more approachable than an old school Myst-style game like Rhem or Riddle of the Sphinx II.


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.