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Game Info:

9-nine-: Episode 1
Developed by: PALETTE
Published by: Sekai Project
Release date: January 31, 2019
Available on: Windows
Genre: Visual novel
Number of players: Single-player
ESRB Rating: Not rated
Price: $19.99

Thank you Sekai Project for sending us this game to review!

9-nine-: Episode 1 takes place in the town of Shiromitsugawa which has many students in its population. It’s a quiet town that wants to become a tourist attraction but instead is known for the flopped anime it produced called “Mobius Ring, the Cycle of Reincarnation.” Despite the poor writing, there are still some diehard fans that attend an annual festival at the shrine where much of the folklore originates.

Even though he has never seen the anime, the main character, Kakeru Niimi, decides to check out the 2nd annual festival and gets to witness his classmate and love interest, Miyako Kujo, in a revealing cosplay outfit. Her performance is cut short as an earthquake rattles the shrine and breaks one of its coveted relics. Apparently, this relic was responsible for sealing away powerful artifacts which are now in this universe and a couple of them fall in the hands of evil users. Coincidentally, this is the very same plot of the failed anime and there’s a handful of students who notice and discuss these events on a revitalized website forum.

9-nine-: Episode 1
Highlights:

Strong Points: Interesting story; likable characters; great artwork; good (Japanese) voice acting
Weak Points: Getting an unavoidable bad ending is rather odd
Moral Warnings: Language (d*mn, *ss, sh*t) and blaspheming; skimpy outfits; sexual jokes and references; references other gods; mystical artifacts the bestow potentially harmful powers

Though he’s not sure of his power, Kakeru Niimi is told that he’s a "user" or the owner of a powerful relic. He’s not alone and makes friends with other users in an attempt to catch a powerful user who has been turning some of the students into stone. Until he figures out his own abilities, Kakeru Niimi helps others refine their powers so they can take down this challenging foe. One wrong move and they could be petrified. Unfortunately, witnessing one of your friends dying is unavoidable on your first playthrough.

On your next playthrough you will get to make a few decisions that can lead to the true ending and a relationship with Miyako Kujo. To save time, you can fast-forward through the text or skip to the next decision. The game will automatically slowdown the text if there is new dialogue to be read.

The story is pretty interesting and the dialogue is funny at times though it’s often riddled with language and blaspheming. There are some sexual jokes and references as well. There is talk about the two lovebirds making out; it’s also alluded to that they have become intimate towards the end of the game. Thankfully, nothing is seen in that regard. At least not in the Steam version.

9-nine-: Episode 1
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 88%
Gameplay - 17/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 47%
Violence - 4/10
Language - 1/10
Sexual Content - 3.5/10
Occult/Supernatural - 5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

With the power-giving relics there is a fair amount of mysticism. Not surprisingly, the town’s shrine is a focal point of this visual novel’s story. Parallel universes are mentioned and I’m curious how that aspect will play out in future episodes.

The background music is pleasant to listen to and fits the mood of the game perfectly. Though I don’t understand much of it, the Japanese voice acting is well done. The artwork is exceptional and the backgrounds are nicely detailed with vivid colors.

If you don’t mind the mysticism, language, and sexual references, 9-nine-: Episode 1 is worth checking out. Since I played some of this game offline I don’t know my true game time but there’s probably about ten hours or so. The asking price is a reasonable $19.99 and I look forward to future installments!

About the Author

Cheryl Gress

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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