999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors

9 Overall Score
Story: 10/10
Gameplay: 8/10
Sound: 9/10

Engaging Premise | Unique Visual Style | Soundtrack suits the theme perfectly | Plot Twists Galore | Memorable Characters

Hard To Move Between Different Story Branches | Some Puzzles Are Predictable

The Nintendo DS, well known for it’s varied offerings of adventure games such as the Ace Attorney series, has had a legendary run with many critical successes that are, more or less, conventional in their design. Late in the system’s life cycle comes along a game that has convinced me that in today’s focus on high production values and large set piece events, that a game like 999 could come along and shock audiences with wide critical and financial success (So successful that a second print of the game and a sequel has been released). But many would wonder, “What does this adventure game have that other games of a similar nature don’t?”. Well, there’s a lot.


999 may simply have the best story in a DS game I have ever played, and could easily nominate to one of the best stories in a game, period. Without spoiling much, I would reveal that the story in 999 is about you playing as the protagonist, Junpei, a 21-year old college student who finds himself trapped with 8 other people in a sinking ship who must find theirway through the ship and escape before it finally sinks. With that story consensus in mind, a person would assume that the story is straightforward, I say far from it since there are such dramatic plot twists and the characters are varied and extremely likable. Additionally, the game is designed to be played multiple times in order to get the true ending, and I was shocked to see how the story in the different play-through’s that you go through are connected! I have never seen that in an adventure game and other tense events between the characters make it a thrilling experience that is unmatched by other adventure games. Put it simply, the story in this game is excellent.


With adventure games like these, it’s expected that a lot of your time will be taken reading text, this is fine as I would expect that the patient type would get a game like 999. There are moments where player interaction is key like choices at certain points in the  game that will dictate how the story goes forward. The game is centered around choosing different choices to see the different outcomes of the game. One gripe that I do have is that there’s no clear way in knowing what story path you are going through with your choices, but thankfully that has been remedied with an ingenious plot map in the sequel, Virtues Last Reward. In between these story segments are rooms where you must solve different puzzles in order to escape and go through with the story, most of these levels are varied and have very enjoyable puzzles but a a few left me scratching my head on how cryptic they were or left breezing through because of it’s ease. A second go through the game gives you the option to skip the text you already read, which is a smart addition and easily promotes the multiple play-through philosophy that this game is striving to achieve.


The sound in this game consists of simple sound effects for text scrolling and menus, and music that is expertly composed. The music in this game gives a dread filled mood to the game and helps to bring the player closer to the game with an immersive  atmosphere. There are  some tracks that easily gives me goosebumbs, which is why the composer in this case, Shinji Hosoe, is very deserving to be the composer on the second game in the series and hopefully stays the composer with the next installments to come.


The game adopts an anime art-style with its characters, but don’t fret, the anime look very surprisingly suits the mature theme of the game well and is a refreshing take on mature games’ art-style. There are detailed portraits of each character that look great, but the emotions on some of characters do not always necessarily match what the character is saying. The levels consist of pre-rendered backgrounds that sometimes lead to pixel hunting for items but for the most part do the job well. Some important set-pieces have custom art and overall, the visuals do it’s job very well.


To be fair, a few hitches in this game keeps it from being totally perfect, but It would be criminal not to appreciate the work that Chunsoft has done realizing this world and helping to create a series with an immersive experience and a second installment out already (which for the record, is excellent as well). 999 is easily the best DS game of 2010 and one of the best adventure games I have played in quite a while, and you would do yourself a massive injustice by not experiencing this masterpiece!

Image Sources:
999 Wikia


Author: Bob View all posts by

One Comment on "999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors"

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