I’ve had an itch that hasn’t been scratched since the day I finished Hotel Dusk on the Nintendo DS. That game introduced me to a genre that I never knew existed and got me playing awesome series like Phoenix Wright and Professor Layton, but they didn’t quite fill the void. Compounded by the sad news that the sequel to Hotel Dusk “Last Window” will probably never come to the US, I had pretty much given up hope on getting an experience like that again. Then I came across “999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors” developed by Chunsoft and published by Aksys Games. After spending more than a few hours in the game I can safely say that this is exactly what I was looking for.
999 (as I will refer to it henceforth) is a Visual Novel that relies heavily on exploration, puzzle solving and conversational dialog to tell it’s story. The basic premise is this: You wake up locked in a strange room with no memory of how you got there. You are presented with the challenge of finding your way out by following a series of clues hidden throughout the room. Once you escape you find that you are part of something larger than you initially realized.
Many of the game’s puzzles are numeric in nature (given the title of the game that should come as no surprise) but there is still a good variety. You’ll often find yourself combining items you find to alter them and use them in unconventional ways.
The game’s art style is your standard anime fare with a wide range colorful characters that you’ll meet along the way. The music, composed by Shinji Hosoe, adds an additional layer of suspense and creepy ambiance. I just got my mitts on a copy of the OST and I’m jamming out to it while I write.
So, if you’re a fan of Hotel Dusk and you’ve been waiting for a game with a similar narrative and experience, look no further. Pick up a copy 999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors today and dust off your thinking cap. You’re gonna need it.
Update 1/24: I’ve now completed 3 of the 6 endings for the game. I won’t reveal anything about them other than to say it’s amazing how your choices change the outcome each time. My first play-through took me roughly 6-8 hours. Each one since then has gone faster because you can skip through any cutscenes you’ve already watched. I’m working on getting the ‘real’ ending tonight.