HeR Interactive, founded in 1995 in the state of Washington after buying out a parent company, had a claim to fame from the Nancy Drew video game series. The company was able to release about two games a year on average (32 entries total) through 2015 when game production ceased after the Nancy Drew Mystery Sea of Darkness.
Nancy Drew games have always been puzzle-heavy point-and-click adventures featuring an independent intelligent woman of the same namesake. Based on characters from the books by Carolyn Keene, these adventures have also been exciting and family-friendly. Each game contains any number of enigmas to overcome and usually has educative elements teaching kids about shorthand, tornado patterns, Braille, horticulture, mythology, astrology, and more.
HeR Interactive was able to obtain and hang onto a loyal crowd of fans by producing a collection of games at a steady rate. The company did not do well with adapting to mobile platforms, newer operating systems, or the many other technological advances in gaming from the 2000s to present and appears to be in decline since 2015.
Some blame the change of leadership (CEOs as follows: Megan Gaiser for 12 years to 2011, Stuart Moulder 2011-2014, and Penny Milliken 2014- Present), others the more tight-lipped approach of the new PR department. Still, others seem to be hurt by the apparent lack of transparency from the company during the last few years.
For example, the company initially announced a new game for 2015, Midnight in Salem. This was delayed until spring 2019 as the company faced a number of undisclosed difficulties. In the last month of spring 2019 the company released a letter that the game would be pushed back to November 2019 with preorders available as early as October 1, 2019.
Three days ago, the company released another notice and yet another delay stating that the release date will now be December 3, 2019; this notice was given on the day of the preorders themselves. Now preorders are available October 15th. See below the most recent announcement letter from Penny Milliken:
Dear Nancy Drew Fans,
We wanted you to be the first to know that our game, Nancy Drew: Midnight in Salem will now release on Tuesday, December 3rd and pre-orders will begin on Tuesday, October 15th.
During our internal and external testing of Nancy Drew: Midnight in Salem, we received tremendous feedback on the game. But to fully evaluate these valuable fan insights and implement any changes, we have decided to delay the release of the new title by two weeks.
We value the trust our fans place in us and you are always our top priority. We want to thank you for your patience and understanding. In the meantime, please enjoy today’s teaser and further reveals this week.
Penny Milliken, CEO
PS: We always love hearing from our fans, so please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts or questions with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In case this entire story feels too hopeless, fear not! HeR Interactive released a teaser trailer of the new game which touts features that had never been used in previous Nancy Drew games- namely an open world and a free-roaming first-person viewpoint. Check it out here!
If the game releases on some modern platforms like Steam, Epic Games Store, or GOG, there may be hope for a comeback for this old school company by reaching a broader audience. The trailer did a fantastic job creating atmosphere and excitement, especially when compared to any prior game from HeR Interactive (even if the snippets shown were minor). If you expect state of the art graphics, you might not want to get your hopes up, but if you love a good mystery, puzzles, and thriller elements, this game is definitely for you! Will it turn the tide for HeR Interactive or flop flat? Only time will tell. Happy Sleuthing all, and best of luck!
P.S. For fans of Stranger Things Season 3, this is exactly the sort of adventure that the newspaper coalition made fun of Nancy for pursuing—literally referencing the Nancy Drew books.