9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors (999) is developed by Chunsoft games, and part of the Zero Escape series. With a name like 999, there is so little telling what the game is about, it’s how I was drawn into it’s mystery. It’s another game that I haven’t heard much press on, and I wanted to know what the game was all about. After playing it, I couldn’t wait to jump right back in. Here’s a review of this fantastic tale of 999.
999 is a narrative game mixed with a puzzle game. The game focuses on telling a story as opposed to making confusing controls or extremely detailed graphics. As opposed to other narrative games like Heavy Rain, 999 is closer to a virtual “choose your own adventure” book. Players are cast as the role of Junpei, just the average joe character who gets chosen, along with 8 others, to play the Nonary Game. None of the characters know why they were chosen or where to go, but they know what they have to do: escape. All of the characters have to work together in order to survive, all while figuring out the mystery of their captor, Zero, and the dangerous Nonary Game.
This simple game is mostly story. Players read the story as it goes along, hearing the dialogue and thoughts of each of the characters. There are some choices that players make throughout the story, changing what players see, hear, and explore. In some rooms, players will start the escape mode. This mode forces players to look around, finding clues to escape the room they are trapped in. By putting the clues together, a key will be revealed.
With such a strong focus on story and character development, there was also no lack of attention to art in the game. The stylized illustration of the characters is a nice contrast to the normally dark and creepy setting that the characters are trapped in. With the first person look on the game (normally in the eyes of Junpei), players get sucked into the game and feel like they’re also trapped with everyone else.
There isn’t much to audio. Minus the occasional music in the background, there isn’t much audio in the game. Characters are not voiced. As text for each character is shown on the screen, the tone behind the text changes depending on which character is talking. Otherwise, audio is mostly for atmosphere and nothing more.
999 is a fantastic game. There is a wonderful story, very pleasing graphics, and good gameplay to keep the game simple yet fun. There is also a decent replay value to the game, as there are multiple endings. One playthrough is maybe 6-8 hours. Other plays will be less, as the game makes it easier for you to skip through dialogue you have already seen. If you want a good story, look no where else than this game.
Score: 9.5 / 10
Publisher: Chunsoft Games Developer: Aksys Games
Release Date: November 16, 2010
Platforms: Nintendo DS
Price: $20 Rating: ESRB: M
Offline Players: Single Player