9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors is a point and click adventure game released for the Nintendo DS in November 2010 (2009 in JP). Initially, it had a limited printing but due to it's popularity Aksys decided re-released the game with new cover art. After playing through the game, I can see why it is quite popular.
9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors is mostly a story driven experience. As you play through it, 70 percent of the time will be you experiencing the captivating plot by reading the text on screen. The other 30 perecent you will be engaging in point and click puzzles required to move on to the next areas.
Initially, I wasn't a fan of all the reading with so little gameplay. That quickly changed once you escape your first room and discover that you are now a part of the Nonary Game.
Your character wakes up in a small locked room with only a hazy memory of how he got there. He remembered being drugged by an unknown person wearing a mask similar to those seen in my favorite anime film, Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade. After escaping the room, you meet up with 8 other characters. You begin to hear a voice over the loudspeaker announcing that you are part of a game called the Nonary game. The voice you hear calls himself Zero. He explains that each person (9 total) has a wrist watch type device on their left wrist, each with a number (1-9).
Zero continues to explain that in order to escape the sinking ship they are on, they must reach a door marked with a 9 within 9 hours. He continues to explain that in order to enter numbered rooms, they must form groups of 3 to 5 people. Access to the rooms is only granted to those with a combination of wrist watch numbers, the digital root, matching the number on the door.
Everyone realizes the dire situation they are in when one character experiences a brutal punishment for disobeying a rule. It became quite clear what the punishment for losing the game was: Death.
As you play through 9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors, you will begin to learn more about each character as you partner up and move through this Nonary game. Since there are many number combinations that will result in a digital root matching the numbers on the doors, you are given many choices on which doors you would like to enter. Depending on which doors you choose, you will partner with different characters, resulting in very different experiences throughout the game. These choices are not trivial decisions and can result in any one of the characters dying.
For this reason, you will likely play through this game more than once. You can experience six different endings, some of which result in any or all characters dying. In order to get the "True Ending", you are required to complete the game more than once. This may sound like a bad thing, but as you play through the game a second time, you are able to skip scenes you have already completed, so as you replay the game, you begin to understand exactly what is happening throughout the entire experience. The "True Ending" is definitely worth playing through a few times to experience the full details of the mystery behind 9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors.
I was very impressed with the creativity and depth of this game. I would easily put this game on par with my other favorite Nintendo DS games like the Professor Layton series and The World Ends With You. For a game taking approximately 9 hours to beat (probably 20 to completion), it packed an amazing story, excellent character development, and some serious suspense which will keep you wanting to play more. I will likely be running out fairly soon to grab myself a copy of the sequel Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward.