REVIEW: 9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Share this page

We are proudly a Play-Asia Partner


Ads support the website by covering server and domain costs. We're just a group of gamers here, like you, doing what we love to do: playing video games and bringing y'all niche goodness. So, if you like what we do and want to help us out, make an exception by turning off AdBlock for our website. In return, we promise to keep intrusive ads, such as pop-ups, off oprainfall. Thanks, everyone!


9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors

“Le Box Art”

9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors is a visual novel published by Aksys Games available on Nintendo DS. As a visual novel, the game is heavily story centered and has quite a gripping and intriguing plot. Expect to lose sleep if you enjoy mystery and who-done-it style narratives. The story centers around 9 different people, all connected in some mysterious way; these people have been kidnapped by an individual wearing a gas mask. They wake up and find themselves trapped on a slowly sinking ship wearing a peculiar watch which bears a single digit unique to them. They have been captured by Zero, who forces them to take part in a game not entirely different to something found in the Saw franchise. If they break Zero’s rules, a miniature bomb will go off…in their stomachs.

In order to escape, they must find numbered doors with the one marked 9 as their ultimate goal. The story is broken up into multiple parts, each requiring a separate play through in order to view. Once you play through the game at least once, the game allows you to skip any text you’ve already read and grays out choices you’ve already made. This mechanic allows players to reach the other endings without worry over taking the same path twice. You are unable however to skip puzzles that you’ve already beaten. This means if you want to jump right into the story or a puzzle you’ve never seen before, you will need to complete them again.  The story itself is quite well written with interesting characters driving the plot, such as Clover, who becomes a very interesting and sympathetic character, depending on which path you take.

Unfortunately, the characters do suffer from some clichés:  Lotus for example is the token buxom beauty blessed by nature and Junpei is the naïve yet good natured and likeable protagonist. The characters do grow on you and you’ll probably find a favorite among them. I personally liked Santa who comes across as the anti-hero type. There is no voice acting in this game but that can be a blessing in disguise. For a game that relies on its story and characters, a terrible voice actor could be enough to ruin the whole experience.

a small sample of the narrative.

There are many twists and turns throughout this novel, with a shocking- if somewhat slightly convoluted- true ending. In order to get the true ending you have to jump through a hoop or two that the game doesn’t tell you about. Aksys games (through their website) have allowed fans to send questions to the developers regarding aspects of the plot they didn’t understand. Because this game isn’t very new, however, the deadline to do so has passed. It’s quite likely that your question has been asked by someone else though; once you complete the true ending it is recommended to visit the website (listed as a source) and see if your questions have been answered. This helps fills in any plot holes that you might find or questions you might have. While it’s difficult to find any story without some holes, the plot of 999 is very satisfying and will keep you engaged well enough to reach its conclusion.


Why…ARE you here, Junpei?!?

In order to pass through  numbered doors which lead to the exit, the 9 people need to work together and create a digital root that equals the number on the door with their watches. The digital root is the sum of all the numbers involved. An example would be 5+7=12, 1+2=3. So if a door has the number 3 on it, the people with the 5 and 7 watches will be able to enter. The digital root is also an important part of gameplay, and the game does provide a calculator.

Once the party is passed through the door they become trapped in a room. They must than find and use various tools to help them escape. The gameplay portion of the visual novel is highly reminiscent of the ‘escape the room’ flash games found on the internet. In 999 you can click just about any item you come across, however only items useful to your endeavor will be added to your inventory. There are no red hearings in the game. There is no pixel hunting as items you click on are fairly easy to see.

 Most puzzles require combining other items together to create a new item or clue that will solve your problem. You may need to fill a vase with water to put out a fire to get another item, for example. The solution to most puzzles is not mind numbingly obscure or embarrassingly easy though. It’s quite fulfilling to solve a puzzle in the game. If you are unable to finish a puzzle and want to continue the story, though, it may be slightly aggravating because the story is the main focus.

The graphics are all two dimensional outside the ability to look at items up close in 3D. In some instances the game tells you something rather than shows it to you. The first death in the game is told in shockingly horrific detail. This lets your imagination conjure the grizzly scene itself. Some things within the game would have benefited from stronger hardware; such as flowing water that when viewed in game appears to be frozen solid. The music is atmospheric and does a great job of relaying emotion to the player.  If you’re a person who enjoys a game fullest due to its story and doesn’t mind a few annoyances, such as the qualifications to view the true ending, then you would do well to get this game.

Review Score

For more reading about 999:

  • Colman Bell

    I’m really looking forward to the sequel (although they should have stuck with “Good People Die” as the title), but the full 3D animation and voice acting scares me. I like just reading through the game. I don’t want someone else to do it for me.

    • Kai

      Hopefully, it will get a European/Australian release. I don’t want to buy an American 3DS just to play this one game, although if it comes to that, I probably will!

    • yea, keep an eye on the voice acting. It would be wise to have an option to turn off the voices but keep everything on.

    • Yeah, that is a good option.  Also having Japanese voices as an option is good too.  Bad voice acting can really hurt a good game.  

  • Kai

    This is easily the best game I’ve played on the DS, and, quite possibly, any platform. One of my favourite aspects is the audio, and it’s something I always pay attention to whilst playing a video game. Understandably, you haven’t gone into much detail on this area of the game, so I’ll give a little more here for any fellow soundtrack-nuts.

    999’s music was composed by Shinji Hosoe, who is well-known for his high-tempo, electronic pieces. He’s incorporated some of that into this title, but there are also some beautiful piano pieces which kick in during some of the most moving parts of the game. As this review mentions, the music works incredibly well within the game and I found myself reacting to certain tracks each time they started. Outside of the game, the soundtrack remains very listenable. This is mainly due to the breakbeat nature of a lot of the tracks. Hosoe takes these interesting beats, and then adds piano hooks, layers of atmospheric synths and a host of other artificial sounds to create some very complex arrangements. There is a lot going on in this score, and it sounds great through headphones.

    I mentioned earlier that the soundtrack remains listenable outside of the game. This is true for all but one track, which I simply cannot bring myself to listen to. For obvious reasons, I can’t go into much detail as to why this is the case, but to put it rather crudely, this track plays during the most fucked-up bits of the game. I don’t want to be reminded of them, thank you.

    I realise that for most people, music is not a particularly important part of a video game, but it played such a key role in my emotional attachment to this game, that I felt it deserved to have a little more text dedicated to it. This is a good review, and the only other thing that is worth mentioning is the “text skipping” feature is not instantaneous, and you will have to hold down the right D-pad button for several minutes before you get to the next choice or puzzle.

    I only completed it a few months ago, but 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors already feels like it will become one of those rare games I feel truly fortunate to have played. It’s up there with Majora’s Mask and is as close to perfect a game can come.

    • Glad you enjoyed the review, its my first as brand new staff. Having answerd rainfalls recent call to arms. 

      I have some difficulty reviewing something as emotional as music, hard to say if its “good” or not. I mostly ask myself:Does this music fit the theme of the game? Relay proper emotion regarding context? If so it gets a pass for me. And I agree whole heatedly on MM. If a 3ds version comes out I want to review it aswell. 

  • I loved this game, and I’m glad it’s getting a sequel.  I’m also lucky I managed to get such a good deal on it when I did; for a while it was really hard to find.  Definitely pre-ordering the next one.

    The story was fantastic, and the Q&A on the website was a nice touch that made me feel the makers really did put their hearts and souls into this.  I’m glad I got to experience this one.

    • Indeed, the sequel has me so hyped. I just hope when they pick the VA who dub it in English, they are very careful.

  • Ah, this is definitely a favorite of mine, and I really can’t wait for the sequel. The plot twists in each ending are phenomenal enough to overwhelm the flaws. It’s definitely a 5/5 for me.

    Also, the guy who wrote 999 and Zero Escape, Kotaro Uchikoshi, also wrote this really, really good VN called Ever17 that came out way back in 2005. (Another 5/5.) That’s also one case for voice acting in a VN (it’s really good), but Hirameki was able to keep the Japanese VA and not dub it. Hopefully, Aksys will do the same with Zero Escape – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    • aksys in a quite funny press release, stated that jap. voice acting will be available.