Saturday, May 6, 2017

Zero Escape: The Nonary Games Thoughts part1 - 9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors

lmao guess who distracted herself from studying for finals
999 is about a group of 9 individuals kidnapped by Zero and forced to gamble their lives in the Nonary Game in order to escape a ship that will sink in 9 hours. On their wrists is a numbered bracelet that carries a detonator, and the only way to get rid of them is to escape or to die. Originally for DS, Steam recently released a remastered version and bundle of the first two games. On the website there's an Answers tab that I would recommend reading once you've finished the game. It has some interesting stuff and also helps to tie up any loose ends!


THIS GAME WAS SO GOOD WHY DID I NOT PLAY IT EARLIER?!?! I remember when this came out for DS (lol wow that's old) and i just kept putting off buying... and putting off... Eventually I picked up the PC ver and just... wow. I am so mindblown, especially on the True End holy cow. 999 is so captivating and I never wanted to stop playing ( ´ ∀ ` )

Things that are new in the remastered version are newer graphics, English voice acting, and a flow chart. The English voice acting was cheesy in the beginning, but towards the climax it was 👌👌. Something I didn't actually realize until later is that it has the JP voices too! The cast is amazing so don't miss out. I'll need to replay a bit of it sometime with the jp cast

I feel so sorry for those playing the DS version without a flowchart because it is a LIFESAVER. It lets you know what ending you're going towards and lets you skip around in the game, meaning you don't have to start over at the very beginning each time. Seeing the flowchart for the true end unlock once you were on that end was exciting as well heh.

Pressing the up arrow or scrolling up with your mouse allows you to access the backlog. You can also read the game in Novel Mode (like a normal visual novel, mostly dialogue only) or in Adventure Mode (text across the whole screen, also describes a character's actions). The only exception is when the game forces you into a specific view.

Note: Save all your endings on one save slot or else you'll have to redo them onto one save slot in order to unlock the true end. Don't be me lmao

☆ Puzzles & Escape ☆
I'm not the best at puzzle solving and I survived! Really the only times I had a problem was when I thought I investigated something enough but didn't, or knew what I had to do but not the item lmao.

took me forever to realize I technically had a mirror with me the whole time
It was a bit tedious to have to do redo some puzzles (especially when I accidentally wrote over my save with 5 endings and had to start again with the save that had 3 endings.. haha...), but overall I really enjoyed them. Some were a bit obvious and others took some thought.

I joked with my friend how anxiety-inducing it would be if you actually had to run around finding the deactivation device after entering each room, but I'm actually glad that wasn't a thing. I'm also glad every entered room was never a dead end (even if it may seem so at times) and that you weren't timed for each room. I feel like that would've distracted from the puzzle solving, and not having a timer per room really helped to immerse myself in the game.

☆ Music & Graphics ☆
The music was so eery at times and the doors opened so ominously that I had to remind myself this wasn't some jump scare horror game. www And honestly the bgm is just great! There wasn't a single soundtrack that sounded out of place for the mood. One of the bgms that really ingrained itself in my memory is when you're about to get a bad end |D

The sprites move and blink! I was a little surprised considering it originally came out on ds in 2009. I'm not sure if that was in the original or is part of the hd changes.

☆ Endings ☆
Lmao don't ask me how, but apparently I got the Safe/Letter end on my first run-through..... And really that's supposed to be something you do towards the end. 😂 So I made a new save and went to a different end

Regarding anticlimatic-ness/plot relevance to game spoilers, I'd probably recommend this order: Knife End > Axe End > Submarine End > Coffin End  > Safe/Letter End > True End (Spoiler: Aka June End)

The coffin end ends right before stuff you see in the Safe and True End so it's torture when it stops I know but just do it. Knife ending was kinda.... eh.... Axe ending I wasn't really expecting, but it turns out different in another route. Submarine introduced a lot of backstory & gave me lots of questions and feels lol. And then the final reveal of everything was amazing.

Depending on the ending, it was interesting how some said "Bad End", "To be continued..." or "The End... Or Is It?" ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

<<Spoiler Rambles>>
This game's not new but yknow just in case

This game suddenly turned way more Sci-fi than I was expecting it to. The game talks a lot about the point of the first Nonary Game experiment - the morphogenetic fields. The true end really utilizes that along with some time-traveling (kinda) stuff. 

At first I found myself a little annoyed with Akane/June. Most characters seemed to undergo a change (for better or for worst) but she seemed almost stagnant at times. Furthermore, she was always getting fevers and fainting towards the end of routes. Since her role didn't appear to be as important as others, I thought the romance between her and Junpei - childhood friends that separated for a while - to be a little forced. What I really should've been asking myself was "Why did Akane always get a fever?"

The True End just blew my mind in so many ways. Akane is Zero, or more precisely "I'm not really Zero. Not Yet. ...Zero is my future. In 9 years, I will be [Zero]." Santa being Aoi - aka Akane's brother - was something I started to catch on to during the flashback scenes, but it was still an "oh shit" reveal moment. Furthermore, June's and Santa's numbers were never actually 6 and 3: They were actually 9 and 0, hence why Santa was always in a group with with her.

Akane living in 2 realities at once was just- woah. Σ(・口・) In the past as a 12 year old, she's communicating with future Junpei and seeing glimpses of the future/second Nonary Game that she will organize 9 years later. This is also a clever reasoning on why you experience multiple game endings: Because Akane has seen the "river" of all those alternate universes, and only one ending will allow her to survive the incinerator. It also explains why in other ends she gets feverish and faints: the body of her younger self from 9 years ago is heating in the incinerator and her future self is approaching a reality where she cannot exist. Interestingly enough in the Safe ending, Zero tells Junpei that it's not you (Junpei) that has lost, but me (Zero). Also, because Akane has seen the alternate/parallel universes, that's how she knows the secret code and message revealed in the Safe route and is able to transmit that to Junpei!

can you hear me screaming
There was one thing I didn't really understand though. Akane described her ability to see the other futures as a river: she can only see the knowledge of the various futures, but it can never flow backwards. While young Akane was solving the final puzzle, it would make sense if she was only able to see the solution through future Junpei's eyes (and thus leave him the note for him to find when he's solving it in his timeline). Furthermore, young Akane is revealed to be a Transmitter that was mistakenly placed with a group of Receivers on the Gigantic, and it's implied Junpei can be a receiver through Akane. Yet, why can young Akane and future Junpei actually communicate with each other, thus sending information back and forth, even though the "river" only "flows" one way??? I guess it kinda works out if he's not "sending" anything but rather just aware she can see and hear him, but it's still a little confusing lmao.

It was just really interesting overall how Akane - with Santa/Aoi as her assistant - designed the second Nonary Game as both revenge and more importantly a way to save Akane. ( •̀ω•́ )

The discrepancies in memories between Santa, Seven, and Snake were interesting too. In other ends, Santa talks about a sister that has died, though this is most likely a cover-up to hide June's identity and hope they're approaching the reality where she'll survive. Seven and Snake however experienced the universe where Akane died and Santa cried by her remains. Yet in another reality, Akane connects with future Junpei and sees a future reality where she can live. By solving the puzzle in her reality, her future self has to wait for the puzzle to be solved in that timeline and can exist, unless Junpei (who young Akane is viewing the future as) goes down a path that doesn't ensure her survival. So if he doesn't solve the puzzle in the second Nonary Game, young Akane can't see his solution in order to win the first Nonary Game. And then since Akane can see the different reality branches and is dependent on whether Junpei survives or fails, it would make sense that Seven has trouble with his memories, because he's remembering an outcome even though Akane's outcome hasn't been set in stone yet.
(Idk if this is making any sense, there are analyses out there that can explain all this better LOL)

One thing I read and am slightly bummed about not being able to experience was the use of the DS' dual screens. From what I read, the dialogue takes place on the top screen (first person) while narration takes place on the bottom (third person). Nothing crazy right? But then during the incinerator scene, Junpei's reality is on top while Akane's is on the bottom, hinting that maybe she was narrating the whole time. An interesting thought: What if this whole time Junpei was able to solve the puzzles because Akane was sending him the solutions? Junpei noticed in the True End that he wasn't surprised to find out about the people who created the first Nonary Game. But if Akane was transmitting to him this whole time, it makes sense why he's not surprised. And then a really cool thing: with the final puzzle, you need to turn the DS 180 degrees, now making Akane on top and Junpei on the bottom, thus showing that it's Junpei's knowledge helping young Akane, rather than the other way around! That is so clever and it's a shame it can't be utilized on other platforms. Sure the constant screen switch gets the idea across, but it's not just the same yknow?

this was really clever; too bad no dual-screen
Overall, pretty much all questions related to the story were answered. Seeing "Alice" on the side of the road threw me in for a loop, but I think that's just meant to be a fun jab for the player lol.

I'd also like to send out a special shout out for the final door in the incinerator being a lowercase q and the explanation behind it

<<End Spoilers>>

I just- I love this game so much. I have so many feels _(┐「ε:)_

There's so much to this game I can't talk about it all, but I would def recommend it to others! It has great replay value and is so worth it to reach the True End. (*•̀ᴗ•́*)و ̑̑

Now onto Virtue's Last Reward! Hopefully it'll be just as great, if not even better~ ✨

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