I thoroughly enjoyed 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors for its addictive blend of strategy, horror, and mystery elements, but it’s a process attempting to get others to want to play it. It can be difficult, especially to those outside of a more hardcore audience. While I find it engaging and am more than happy to engage in its sadistic puzzles, casual players are not. How do you attract them to such a fantastic license, then? You turn the game into a visual novel and make it available via iOS!
999: The Novel is a brilliant alternative to the age-old solution to games that feel too niche to bring to a wider audience. It’s a streamlined version of an inventive game that doffs the need for convoluted gameplay and instead presents the same order of events and chilling twists that makes the game accessible to anyone. In short, it’s awesome.
Hop into the shoes of Junpei, a college student who’s abducted one day by a bizarre masked man named Zero, then taken to an abandoned ship and imprisoned there with eight other people, all who are eventually subjected to a series of murderous games and puzzles that all too often result in death. The prisoners are encouraged to betray each other. It’s like a gruesome game ripped straight from the pages of Saw, incorporating horror elements with excellent writing that’ll have you on the edge of your seat nearly every second of the game.
Except in this iteration, the puzzles and logic have been stripped out of the final product and instead replaced with comic book-styled narrative and plot development, allowing players who just want to experience the story to do so without any muss or fuss. Surprisingly, even without the many puzzles and conundrums of the original game, it’s still just as engaging, if a bit confusing when it comes to the protagonists’ actually solving the puzzles, which is glossed over by a quick bit of text. These areas can be a bit clunky, but work well if you just want to dig in without any real sort of commitment.
You won’t really interact with the story beyond choosing doors to determine which one of the six endings you’ll be left with, but you’re still left with the sense that you’ve experienced the meat of the game without having to devote time and attention to the same brand of deduction the prisoners have gone through.
If you wanted to get into 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors upon its initial release but didn’t have the time or energy, 999: The Novel is a formidable alternative that you’ll want to look into. It’s fast-paced, colorful, and chock-full of inventive writing – and with that being such a scarcity in games these days, you’ll want to eat that up whenever you can find it.