A few years ago, I discovered escape-the-room Flash games and was hooked instantly. Shorter and more compact than your typical point-and-click adventure, escape-the-room games such as Crimson Room are a great way to kill time on a lazy Sunday. It has been my dearest wish that someone would one day bring such games to a handheld.
A couple months back, I came across a Flash demo for an upcoming DS title called Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, or simply 999. The object of the game is to find a way out of a sinking ship by working through a series of escape-the-room puzzles. Was this the answer to my prayers?
I soon learned that 999 was being billed as a visual novel, so the focus on storytelling would be far greater than I had initially anticipated. I don't recall ever playing a visual novel before, but I doubted one would be able to disrupt my firm stance against the ever-increasing story bloat found in modern videogames. My anticipation gave way to wariness, and I could only hope that the escape segments would be able to carry the rest of the game.
Today, I stand before you a changed man. This one title has made me reevaluate the effectiveness of story-driven games for the better.... read more