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06 July 2011

9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors [DS]

Plot Synopsis: 10/10
The game starts with Junpei waking up disoriented and locked in a room on board a large boat, when the room begins filling with water, forcing him to find a way to unlock the door in order to escape. When he does, he finds 8 other people who awoke in a similar situation. From there, the 9 have to work together in order to survive being locked on board what appears to be a sinking ship. How they got there and why they are there is a mystery that needs to be solved along the way.
I'll give the plot a 10 out of 10. It's not often you see a relatively original storyline with a sense of real urgency.

Game Play: 7/10
At it's core, 999 is a point-and-click, search for clues, interact with your surroundings type of game along similar lines as the Myst series and Trace Memory. Unfortunately, it is also VERY text heavy, which disrupts the action and the urgent pace of the game. It tends to feel a bit jarring, at times. Though, I suppose that can also make the player sympathetic toward the disorientation that Junpei is feeling. I don't know. I'm giving the developers the benefit of the doubt, here.
The game play gets a 7 out of 10. You point and click to find things, then you solve puzzles to proceed. Nothing new, and nothing that needs too much improvement. Not that the developers seem to have tried...

Graphics: 7/10
Typical generic animé style visuals. On the plus side, everything is easy to read, and you typically know exactly what you're looking at. I just can't help but feel, though, that animé style visuals are extremely overdone, and other styles could have been used to greater effect, given the nature of the game.
The graphics get a 7 out of 10. They're decent and clear, but boring.

Audio: 5/10
There is no voice acting, in this game, which I will count as a blessing, given the relatively disappointing production of the game. The music is rather disappointingly generic and unimpressive techno-inspired background noise. The only thing I will say in the music's defense is that it is typically fairly fast-paced, lending to the sense of urgency in the majority of the game. The occasional sound effects are accurate, for what they depict, but a bit loud and jarring compared to the music.
I have to give the audio a 5 out of 10. The music was disappointingly bland, and the sound effects weren't balanced, volume-wise, with the music.

Overall Score: 7.25/10
I was actually somewhat disappointed by this game. The concept was really impressive, but it seems like that's where the risk-taking stopped. The music was bland and unappealing. The visuals followed a style that runs far too rampant in the gaming industry and has almost become a cliché of itself now. I expected better of Aksys.

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