Tuesday, March 11, 2014

999: it's like a novel

I've reached the end of the story, but I've not reached the end of the game.  Let's rewind a bit.

999 (with a full subtitle of 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors) is an adventure game, with the core gameplay being based around exploration and puzzle solving to escape rooms.  However, there's not a huge amount of exploration available to the player - instead, the main character (Junpei) explores the ship along with his new-found acquaintances, and the player is informed of this through reams of text.  At times, this is almost like a non-interactive version of an interactive novel ... a novel, then.

What surprised me was how well the text is written.  It could pass for a professional story, with appropriate descriptive language and varied vocabulary.  There are a few occasions where the wording felt slightly off, but each character had their own voice and mannerisms, which led to an accomplished narration.  It's sad that this should be a surprise, but there are precious few games with as much attention paid to their script.

So, having reached the end of the story, I've completed the game, surely?  No.  One of the limited interactive elements of the game is the choice of which doors to go through at three key points in the game.  I ended the last game with Junpei being stabbed in the back, and have since restarted.  Annoyingly, while I can skip through the text, I still need to solve the puzzles again in areas that I've been through before.  But each playthrough should give more information about the characters, and I understand there are six potential endings.  I'm not sure I'll collect them all, but the game is significantly quicker to play the second time around, so I'll see what else I find.

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