2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Once you start, it's impossible to put down!,
This review is from: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors (Video Game)
I'm a big fan of mystery and adventure games like Phoenix Wright and the Professor Layton series, and have to say even stacked against these, this has turned out to be truly one of the best written games I've ever played. I say "game" but it's more akin to a "visual novel" with puzzle mini-games.
To get an idea of what's in store, just imagine if Lost was written or directed by Wes Craven, or you mashed up Saw with a Choose Your Own Adventure book, but in actuality that is only the tip of the iceberg for this game. You play as Junpei, a normal college student who, for no apparent reason, finds himself trapped with 8 strangers, on a ship that is about to sink and forced to play a twisted life or death game called "The Nonary Game". In order to escape, you must solve puzzles (involving maths or logic for example) within the locked rooms of the ship.
At first glance, the characters may appear to be simple animé stereotypes - a large mountain man, an eye candy woman in an exotic dancer outfit, and a pink haired schoolgirl type, but as you play more and more to discover the mystery, you begin to uncover their personalities and they really do seem believable and like real people. I grew to care for them as if they were my friends.
How you react to certain characters genuinely affects the story if you, for example, go through a different door or team up with other people.
The graphics in the game may seem basic with not much actual animation of characters (though each of them is very well drawn) but there is much more detail in the background so they work well, and much of the games' tension and atmosphere is accomplished through the use of text and sound. The soundtrack is fantastic, with (among other things) splendid creepy moments achieved with simple piano cues. Whatever you do, try not to play this at night.
I was really moved (I won't spoil anything for you, but in fact at some points I was crying) and also piqued by genuine fear in other places. The descriptions in this game are very detailed and graphic with some strong language so, with good reason the game has a US Mature rating (and would probably get at least a 15 rating in the UK). I'm not a prude but the imagery (for example of a dead body) and what it feels like, is so on the button I often felt queasy. The salty language used by some of the group and their reactions, seemed realistic to me however, given the terrifying situation these characters were in.
Also, if you don't like reading this may not be the game for you, as there is a great amount of text and I mean a LOT. But it's so well written and localised sometimes I thought it could make good material for a movie or actual paper novel. What we have here is not just amazing "game" writing but material that deserves to be compared with other media in my opinion.
Despite the darkness there is also humour and some jokes in this game which was genuinely funny and some things your companions say made me laugh too. The writing does a superb job of conveying how the characters feel, at times highlighting their sense of dread, confusion and helplessness and we are at one with them, so often you too will be thinking to yourself "What are we doing here?! Just what the hell is going on?!"
The game also excels for me because you really need to complete it multiple times in order to learn more and truly understand everything in the story. When I had completed it once I couldn't wait to start it again. This makes the game have excellent replay value.
But with this comes a drawback (unfortunately), which is that I sometimes found it annoying having to play through the puzzles that I'd already done before when replaying, even if I can speed through the text. This also had the effect of making the urgency in the game (which is very well done otherwise) feel uneven at times.
The puzzle mechanic is wrapped up with some pretty complex ideas (for starters, actual historical events, scientific theory) in a genuinely moving and engrossing story that blew my mind. Seriously, few games if ever have made me think as deeply as this about the overall mythology and enigma of the events taking place, and what I've been involved in. In fact it's not just a game, but an experience. One which I was honestly pleased to have had, but was also very upset when it was finally over.
I loved it so much, I didn't want it to end.
I really would recommend this game to any lovers of mysteries. Its' incredible, compelling storyline, often challenging puzzles, humour, many scenes of emotion and pathos, and profound characters make it a treat to play. I really hope more games like this will be released on the DS and other systems.