9-Nine: Episode 3 continues the events that were set in motion during the first two episodes. Once again, it opens with a recap of what happened before, but we strongly suggest that players who are interested in the series start from the first episode. The recap has enough information to cover the basics, but it’s more entertaining to play Episode 3 after getting to know the characters better during Episode 1 and 2.
Fans who have been sticking with the series from the start will know that the protagonist, Kakeru Niimi, and his group of friends are still on the trail of a killer with special powers. In the previous episode, they ran into Rig Veda, another group of Artifact wielders who are using their powers for evil instead of good. One of the members of Rig Veda is Haruka Kosaka, who just so happens to be the heroine of this episode.
As with the previous entries in the series, Episode 3 continues with the storyline but disregards the romances that Kakeru had with the other girls. Instead, he becomes closer and spends more time with Haruka despite the fact that they are seemingly on opposite sides. Haruka isn’t quite the goofball that Sora is, which means there’s a little less humorous banter this time around. However, the game still has plenty of lighthearted moments as well as funny scenes. Nevertheless, it is also one of the darker entries in the series so far and there were a few scenes that caught us completely by surprise. Suffice to say that Kakeru and his friends finally realize just how high the stakes are and what they are truly up against.
Episode 3 takes its time with the story and most of the game focuses on Kakeru trying to infiltrate Rig Veda and having to deal with some of the startling discoveries he makes. Unlike the choices in Episode 2, this episode returns to a more kinetic novel style. This isn’t an issue, though, as the storyline is very gripping and we finally get to learn more about Kakeru’s powers and see him in action. Haruku also wields an interesting artifact and while the other girls play lesser roles this time, they do make plenty of appearances. The game has a lot of action and drama in the first half, but towards the end, the romance aspect takes more of a central stage. It’s also here where the players who opt to install the free 18+ DLC available on Denpasoft will see the biggest difference. The DLC restores the animated erotic sex scenes, CGs with nudity as well as the nude sprites that were removed from the Steam version of the game. These still feature mosaic censoring but are still quite explicit.
The overall art style of Episode 3 is still beautiful thanks to the efforts of Izumi Tsubasu and all the characters are beautifully detailed and very expressive. Since the game still uses the same setting as the previous episodes a lot of the old locations feature again, but there are a couple of new ones too. The same goes for the music, which once again features a mixture of old and new tracks. The quality of the Japanese voice acting remains good too and players can even choose whether or not Kakeru is voiced. Finally, the user interface is identical to the previous episodes and works as well as always.
9-Nine is a series that continues to shine brighter with each episode and we were once again hooked throughout the game. Although this episode is a little less controversial than the last one, Haruku is not quite as pure and innocent as she appears, at least when played with the DLC. However, the romance between her and Kakeru doesn’t feel rushed and takes a back seat during most of the story. It’s still a very linear experience, even more so than Episode 2, but that doesn’t make the story any less engrossing. Overall, returning players will love Episode 3, but we strongly recommend that new players start at Episode 1 to get the most out of the series.
- OS: Windows 7/8/8.1/10
- Processor: Core 2 Duo (Core i3 or higher recommended)
- Memory: 4 GB RAM
- Graphics: 1280 x 720
- DirectX: Version 9.0c
- Storage: 3 GB available space