Title: 9-nine-:Episode 2
Release Date: August 17, 2019
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Sekai Project
Genre: Visual Novel
After having played 9-nine-:Episode 1, which I ended up enjoying, I was curious to find out more about its mysteries and the game’s culprit. Despite the first episode not having revealed anything story-wise at all, 9-nine-:Episode 2 does focus more on its storyline which was a nice surprise for me. Although I am sure many people might hesitate because 9-nine-:Episode 2 is about Sora, which happens to be the main protagonist, Kakeru’s, little sister, it doesn’t focus solely on its romance, and in all honesty, there are way weirder stories to come out of Japan than being close to a sibling.
You can find the all-ages version on Steam, with a free 18+ patch or the full 18+ game available at Denpasoft. Although each episode functions as an independent story, it is highly recommended to have played 9-nine-:Episode 1 beforehand to be able to understand the full story, as this episode follows the story at the beginning of episode 1, but only summaries the happenings of key events. That being said, it is also possible to just play any episode of a girl you like, without being completely confused about its story. Thus, you should be careful reading this review as it contains spoilers regarding episode 1.
9-nine-:Episode 2 takes place in the same setting as Episode 1 with the difference being that the heroine of this episode is Sora Niimi. Although Episode 2 begins similarly to its predecessor, Kakeru makes an important choice that branches off the story, simply by letting Sora stay over. With this decision, he happens to find out about an organization called Rig Vega which seems to contain evil users. The opposite of this organization is Valhalla Society and so Kakeru and Sora end up trying to save the world while these two forces fight against each other.
If I had to give Sora a fitting short description, it would be “Mrs. Sunshine” as she is the most cheerful girl out of all four we know so far. Despite already knowing her from Episode 1, I still found the dialogue between Takeru and Sora incredibly funny and it was impossible for me to not smirk while reading as both of them argue with each other. Their relationship begins as something I would call a typical siblings relationship, although that changes during the story. Something I noticed in Episode 2 is that the character development is excellent and I’m positive that by the end, anyone would be able to understand the character’s feelings for each other and how complicated those feelings might be at times. While this is true to some extent, Kakeru can change the girl he ends up with simply by letting his little sister staying over.
When the choice popped up, I was confused at first, because I expected it to be in the same style as the Episode 1, which didn’t have a single choice during your first playthrough, but Kakeru was able to fix his mistakes when starting the story over. Although you technically don’t have a choice because all three answers would lead to Sora staying over and changing Kakeru’s fate. I realized later that this choice was there so it would be clear to the reader that Kakeru was able to change the story with a decision that might seem small at first. I found this message wonderful as little things might have a severe butterfly effect even though it might leave the reader confused.
That being said, I enjoyed that the mysteries of the series slowly getting revealed during this episode, which was the only thing that slightly disappointed me with Episode 1. Episode 1 focused on romance too much and it felt like the developer forgot that there was a murder story going on, which left us back with a somewhat open and unsatisfying end. Although I can relate to some not enjoying episodic games, I have to admit, the 9-nine series’ story branches are well executed so that each story is independent, but still makes sense, although Episode 2 will leave you wanting more because not everything is revealed here.
I have to admit, at first, it felt very off that Kakeru wasn’t together with Miyako after reading Episode 1, I had the feeling that the two of them were just a set item. Luckily, my impression changed after advancing a little bit more in the game and I found Kakeru and his little sister make just as nice of a team. After playing, it can feel like a dating sim with the option of dating different girls, although the 9-nine series stands out since both episodes are entirely different from each other save for the same cast of characters. With Episode 2, we get even more insights to the other female characters, while Episode 1 mainly focuses on Miyako and Kakeru.
Similar to Episode 1, the artwork and CGs are gorgeous. There are a lot of varieties as well as cute chibi CGs you can’t help but adore, but sadly, the only notable animation here is when Sophitia pops up. While playing this game, everything felt nostalgic which I loved, since it used the same soundtrack, artwork, and voice acting all of which are of high quality. A big plus here is that you can choose your desired font as well as have multiple languages displayed for learning purposes.
While I already had a general idea of 9-nine-:Episode 2’s quality, I was surprised at how well they managed to tell the same story. Being a fan of science-fiction, I enjoyed the messaging of the branching path and how small changes can have a different outcome. 9-nine-:Episode 2 focuses on romance as well as character development and I appreciated the balance of the two throughout the game.
It’s easy to see the improvements in this series and I am looking forward to being able to experience more of the 9-nine series. Hopefully, it will keep up this unique approach to storytelling. If you are looking for a high-quality visual novel with a good and interesting story along with romantic elements, you’re very likely looking for the 9-nine series.
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