The Nonary Games: Final Thoughts on 999

So, I managed to get all of the endings in “Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors”, which effectively completes the game. Since this re-release is recent and I’ll be talking about the story — and what it might mean for the sequel — I’ll start talking about it below the fold:

The flow chart — and the ability to hop from thread to thread — was incredibly useful. Once you’ve cleared a room, there’s little reason to do it again, as you’ll likely remember the solutions, but different conversations happen once you’ve cleared certain paths, tying into the underlying theme that what happens in other timelines impacts this one. So you have to replay certain parts of the escape rooms in order to get those conversations in order to unlock paths that will let you get to a different ending. You need two paths unlocked: first the “Safe” path, and then finally the “True” path to get to the true ending, where everything is revealed. It isn’t explained all that well in-game — at least, not outside the help files — but the Flow not only shows you where those events are, and not only shows you whether you’ve cleared them or not, it also lets you skip directly to the event itself without having to go through the rest of the escape room or the conversations in the novel part to get there. Which is nice, because both can be pretty long.

The puzzles can be a bit obscure at times, but for the most part are pretty reasonable, except for the last one that has pieces from all of the other rooms to build at least slightly different puzzles, but they’re a bit annoying. Mostly because at that point you are almost certain to know that you are at the true ending and probably just want to get through the room to finally find out what’s going on, but also partly because the puzzles aren’t really novel, but can be tricky if you don’t remember the things you’ve seen elsewhere in the room. I ended up using a guide to get through this, mostly because I really just wanted to get to the end of the story.

The story itself is fairly good. The purported romance between Junpei and June is handled reasonably well, and the characters are interesting if some of them, at times, are handled poorly. Clover, for example, is way too psychotic in the other endings, and as a character who goes forward into the other games she became both a character that I like and a character that I strongly dislike. And Ace is not built up enough as the main villain for that to really work, although that’s done partly out of necessity to avoid spoiling the plot too early. But other than that the characters very much do their jobs in the game, as they give you someone to talk to and interact with, and to care, even a little bit, about whether they live or die.

The big final twist is interesting. June has been coming down with “fevers” throughout the entire game, and is an old childhood friend of Junpei’s. During the game, it is revealed that something like 10 years before there was another Nonary Game played, this time with children, separated into two areas — a ship and a desert facility. June and Santa participated, and Santa is revealed to be involved in running this game. It is also revealed that June died during that game. While it might seem that this one is simply about revenge, it turns out that the main purpose is to save June’s life, which is why she is, in fact, Zero. Her younger self can transmit to Junpei, and so when that younger self is locked into the incinerator as it starts up — which is how she died — and in the future Junpei and the others are locked in that same incinerator she calls up Junpei — and thus, the player — to solve the last puzzle that will let her escape, which would save her life. You do so, and the game lampshades that this sort of breach of causation — if Santa saw her body, for example, then would that change — is horribly confusing, but you get a happy ending anyway. And the fevers, then, seem to be not her having a fever, but actually getting hot in the past from the incinerator.

This also raises some questions for Virtue’s Last Reward, which I’ve already started playing. If June was Zero in the first game, who is Zero in this one? Is she that old lady who was killed that I found on Luna’s path? It seems likely, but then she’s still involved in the game. What is the purpose of this game? If she isn’t Zero in this one, who is? And where is Junpei? Is he the enigmatic K? I hope that these questions will be answered satisfactorily in Virtue’s Last Reward.

The game has a lot of conversation and novel sections, some of which go on for quite a while. In general, they’re interesting, but can drag on a lot, especially at the end. If overdone, they can really impact the enjoyment of the game, especially if you are at the end and just want everything explained. But, overall, the game was interesting and the mix of visual novel storytelling with escape room gameplay worked pretty well.

We’ll see how well the expanded Virtue’s Last Reward does.

One Response to “The Nonary Games: Final Thoughts on 999”

  1. Most Personally Memorable/Favourite Games (41 – 50) | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] “The Nonary Games” in general because I liked the idea of an escape room video game.  “Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors” was the first game in the series, and so the first one that I played.  It mixes visual novel style […]

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