Total Score: 8.5/10
Director/Scenario Writer: Kotaro Uchikoshi
Soundtrack by: Shinji Hosoe
Platform: Nintendo DS (iOS- 999: The Novel)
Localization Team: Aksys
Rated: M (language, violence/gore, adult humor)
With the release of Game 3: Zero Time Dilemma (as of today, June 28, 2016), I’ve been replaying the Zero Escape series. We decided that I would review the games and though it will take me some time, I have every intention of reviewing ZTD. But first, we start with 999!
9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors follows the story of Junpei who wakes up behind the locked door of a large cruise liner after being kidnapped. Immediately the player, as Junpei, must seek their way out of the room to meet the other 8 cast members. Characters include Akane (code name: June) – Junpei’s childhood friend, Santa – a mysterious and cynical white haired boy, Clover and her blind brother, Snake, the exotically dressed but incredibly intelligent Lotus, the mysterious 9th man, quiet but serious Ace, and a large, somewhat doofy man – Seven. Everyone is forced to play the “Nonary Game,” to escape the sinking ship they have woken up on. To do this, they must find the number 9 door – but only 3-5 people can go through each numbered door…and the number must have the digital root of 9. (For instance: 18 = 1+8 = 9). This game has various interesting escape-the-room scenarios and intriguing novel portions where more and more of the story behind each game participant comes to life. Each new ending (there are 6 total) brings about a different ending and brings Junpei and others one step closer to the truth of why they were abducted in the first place. To experience the full game, it is recommended that all 6 endings be reached.
This game is not for the faint of heart as it puts the player in various situations where one must bear witness to horrifying crimes. 999 is a gruesome tale of horror, betrayal, love, luck, faith, and trust and of course – the truth.
While there is no vocal track for the characters, each character has their own ‘voice’ that shines through during the course of the game. The soundtrack for this game is absolutely gorgeous and truly sets the mood for each scenario in the game. Each character has their flaws and none of them are perfect. Some of the people you trust most may end up betraying you depending on your choices.
The art for 999 is especially beautiful -be it of characters or scenery. Character design is beautiful and unique and the art for special scenes is always something to behold.
Overall, the game is easy to navigate. When the game has been finished once, the player can skip most of the text they have read before. The game even tells you what choices you’ve made before. Some of the puzzles can be tricky and there were quite a few times (especially on math portions) where I had to search up a walkthrough. The only real problem I have with the game is the inability to skip puzzle rooms I’ve already done (they fix this in the second game).
As a standalone game, 999 is wonderful and can be played without going on through the rest of the trilogy but the ending does leave a bit to be desired if you’re greedy like me.
The writing of the game is clever and the localization is absolutely wonderful, staying true to the overall feeling of the Japanese version. The game has been hailed as one of the best visual novels to be translated in the States. As such, while the game was a commercial failure in Japan, it succeeded quite well in America.
This is by far one of my favorite game series (aside from Ace Attorney) and I can honestly recommend it for anyone looking for a dark and thrilling, choice-based visual novel.
“Have a nice tragedy!”
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