# Game Name - 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors
# Publisher - Aksys Games
# Developer - Chunsoft
# Platform - Nintendo DS
# Genre - Visual Novel, Graphic Adventure
Visual Novels or Digital Novels already has a thriving market in Japan, but this genre is quite unknown yet in rest of the world specially the west. Usually many good visual novels never get a English language port because of almost absence of any market. But yet somehow Aksys Games decided to port this gem. First of all I wanna thank them for the courageous move, otherwise people like me who doesn't know Japanese at all would have missed such an experience.
Visual Novels are actually like reading a virtual book where you get occasional choices which effect the outcome of the story or you get some puzzles to solve to progress through the game. Actually to be honest this is my first experience to be ever playing such a game. I stalled it for a bit but I am glad I finally played this. Now lets get to scoring by category.
Story - 10
As story is the main part of such a game as this I'll score it first. To be honest story is the main driving force of the game. It starts with you as Junpei who suddenly wakes up in a locked room in a ship which is starting to get flooded and you have to solve a puzzle to get out. After your initial escape you meet the rest of the 8 characters and learn about the game you are locked in. I am not gonna spoil anything so I'll just say the story is quite descriptive and as you get ahead in the game by opening doors by solving puzzles and the story unveils slowly and eventually you get more and more interested and can not but get multiple endings ( this game has a total of 6 endings and almost all of them has some new info on the total story) to learn the whole of the story and the back story's of the characters. The twist and turns of the plot are almost like a well done thriller novel and they will surely thrill you. The writing of the story is so good that despite various repetitive sections of game play on trying to get the total story you will still want to know what happens next.
Gameplay - 8
The game is composed of some choices and a lot of puzzles in terms of gameplay. there are quite a lot of different variety of puzzles and most are fun. Although I would have liked a real time limit for the puzzles, then the suspense would have been more fun for me. All in all, gameplay is quite good for a visual novel but as you get to re-play for different endings you may sometimes get a bit bored by having to solve the same puzzles again and again.
Graphics - 9
As for such a game the graphics are really appropriate. The character designs are quite good and between the seemingly endless text the background changes are appropriate too. Developers just used nicely drawn animated sprites and didn't try to force 3D stuff on a simple but elegant experience which was quite fine by me.
My main disappointment with this game is there is no good songs or music that I can recall from this game. Yeah there were some sounds to imply suspense and in case of the opening of doors but as a whole its just meh for me. In fact most of the time after about half of the game I played this with songs playing on my pc with the sound muted on the game. Wish the developers would have given at least half as much dedication to the soundtrack, as much as they had given to the story.
Control - 9
I had no problem with the controls on the other hand. It was almost flawless, you can play with the buttons or with the touch screen and before the puzzle everything is nicely explained, I genuinely couldn't have asked for more in this regard.
Replayabilty - Yes
With 6 different endings and more and more plot unraveling with each one replay value for this game is very very high.
Overall - 9
At the end, I would like to say this game is a gem for its genre and probably the best visual novel for DS. People who like visual novels, a good story, or reading a good book owe it to themselves to give this game a try. And if you own a DS and thinking what game to buy next but still haven't played this game please do yourself a favor and go and get this. I promise you won't regret it.
You can learn more about the game on their site - http://www.aksysgames.com/999/
or you can always use wikipedia.
If you want more reviews about this game I will suggest checking out the one on rpgfan, its top notch - http://www.rpgfan.com/reviews/9_Hours_9_Persons_9_Doors/index.html