Nancy Drew: Shadow at the Water's Edge

Game review by
Erin Bell, Common Sense Media
Nancy Drew: Shadow at the Water's Edge Game Poster Image
Learn about Japan while solving a puzzling mystery.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 7 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Stands out for positive role models.

Positive Messages

The game encourages players to be observant and think logically to solve puzzles.

Positive Role Models

Articulate, smart and curious, Nancy is a positive female role model. She is motivated by an inherent desire to problem-solve and help people, even though she's supposed to be relaxing at the Inn.

Ease of Play

Players can choose to play as Senior or Junior Detective, the latter being less challenging with a task list to keep players on track as to what they need to do next. No matter which mode is selected, though, puzzles are tough and can't be skipped.


The Inn is said to be haunted, which results in some scary moments like when a ghostly female figure charges directly at the player from a first-person perspective and breaks a mirror in the sauna room. There is also one scene of a character almost drowning in a pond and gasping for air afterwards.


From the main menu, players can click on a Scrapbook that contains summaries of the first 22 Nancy Drew games by Her Interactive - by there are no links to outside websites or prompts to purchase the games.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Nancy Drew: Shadow at the Water's Edge is an adventure mystery starring teenage sleuth Nancy Drew that is set in Japan. The game offers two modes of difficulty, but even the lesser one contains some pretty challenging brainteasers that can't be skipped. The story revolves around a haunted Japanese Inn and contains some scary moments, but it also exposes players to various facets of Japanese culture, including calligraphy, rock gardens, and sudoku. The game is aimed at players aged 10 and older, but slightly younger players might enjoy playing with some support from mom or dad.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byirockwhee January 6, 2011

Too scary to be rated 10+, disturbing images

I am 19 and thought the images of the ghost girlk were way too scary. I like my nanayc drew games because they are generally light and fun and im playing it at... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written bybeccylucy March 5, 2014

Love to play

My sisters and I LOVE to play Nancy Drew games together, so we are constantly getting many different points of view on a game, and this game, for me, is defiant... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byFarmgirl2221 August 31, 2012

GAH! Oh, its just the leading screen...

SCARY!!! OH! Wait, just the tv... Awesome game, too...

What's it about?

In NANCY DREW: SHADOW AT THE WATER'S EDGE, the 23rd point-and-click adventure game in Her Interactive's long-running series, teenage detective Nancy Drew travels to Japan to teach English but finds herself staying at an inn that seems to be haunted. The mystery proves too intriguing for Nancy to ignore, and she goes about interviewing the employees of the family-run Inn and the surrounding city, diving into Japanese culture, and solving challenging mini-game puzzles.

Is it any good?

Shadows at Water's Edge is one of the less linear entries in the Nancy Drew series. Nancy is free to wander around the Inn and beyond (via a subway system), but she'll miss certain events that only happen at specific times unless she sets her alarm. The exotic and beautiful Japanese setting adds a breath of fresh air to the series, allowing players plenty of opportunities to immerse themselves in Japanese culture and learn a thing or two. Like past Drew games, the puzzles can get quite challenging and can't be skipped which might result in some frustration. A skip option for the dialogue might have been nice as well, since some of the characters tend to talk quite slowly. Overall, though, Shadow at Water's Edge has all the ingredients of another worthy entry to the well-respected series.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what they learned about Japanese culture by playing this game. Did they try to make the origami paper sculpture shown in the diagram? Or draw the Japanese characters featured in Nancy's origami lesson? Would they ever try to create a rock garden in the Japanese style?

  • Families can also discuss the presence of ghosts in the game. Why do so many different cultures believe in ghosts? Do you think all ghosts are scary?

Game details

  • Platforms: Mac, Windows
  • Price: $19.99
  • Available online? Not available online
  • Developer: Her Interactive
  • Release date: October 19, 2010
  • Genre: Adventure
  • ESRB rating: E10+ for Mild Violence
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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