So! The Room No. 9 demo is finally here. It’s more or less exactly what you’d expect if you’ve been keeping up with the game so far. Some things of note on the more technical side of things since ClockUp’s made a few nice quality-of-life adjustments to the engine and UI:
The settings screen now has a simple/compact settings option, laying out the most common things you’d want to change in a single screen.
You can still access the full/more detailed settings by unchecking the option in the top left. Most of the setting are pretty much the same as they were in No, Thank You!!! and most of ClockUp’s other recent titles. The main differences this time are the guro and scat display options (turning off grotesque imagery will turn off CGs for “gory” scenes––you’ll just get the background + sprites and the descriptive text––it works on the needle scene so the bar for “gore” is pretty low; and turning off scat is supposed to just remove it from CGs (kinda like the body hair toggle), but again it will not modify the text) and the simplified body hair settings. They’ve also added a handy volume adjustment popup to the on-screen menu, which I’m extremely grateful for because I’m one of those people who fiddles with the BGM volume a lot.
The text box has been updated to drop the black background in favor of “subtitle” style (idk what else to call it) which I can’t remember if they started using it in Fraternite or Maggot baits, but it’s another nice refinement to the presentation imo. The only downside is you can’t up the opacity of the textbox to quickly censor screenshots.
Another cute addition, they added panic screens like some of ClockUp’s male-oriented titles have:
Anyway, nothing too surprising, just further refinement of their existing system. I’m a big fan of it, personally. It’s very clean and easy to use, and it keeps most of the junk off the game screen.
The music is much more interesting than I was expecting. It’s like… I dunno how to describe it… spooky, jazzy, electronic stuff? Whatever it is, I like it.
I guess I should talk about the actual content of the demo, huh? Like I said at the top of the post, it’s pretty much what you’d expect if you’ve been keeping up with the promo material (or just read all the stuff on the website). Seiji and Daichi are best buds and they meet up to commiserate over some booze about Daichi getting dumped (again) right before going on a trip he’d planned for his girlfriend to Okinawa. Seiji suggests that they go together since Daichi already bought the tickets. They get kidnapped on their way out of the airport, etc. The demo covers only the very beginning of the game from the two of them deciding to go on the trip together through the second day of their confinement, plus a jump forward to the h-scene on day four.
Daichi’s a pretty silly character, but not as wacky as Haru, while Seiji is very reserved and quiet––definitely shares a lot of similarities with Ryu, but not nearly as prickly. They’re clearly good friends, but there’s a certain awkward distance that even Daichi doesn’t seem immediately cognizant of: for example, Seiji neglected to tell Daichi that his girlfriend dumped him too. You kind of get the impression that they’re the kind of friends who’ve known each other for a long time, but have sorta… not exactly fallen out of touch but they’re not as close as they were in the past––like they don’t see each other all that often anymore––and don’t quite realize it because there’s still that intimacy of friendship. Daichi also sorta idolizes Seiji. Even when he’s in his own head, he always sorta brushes it off as a joke, but I get the feeling there’s more to it than he wants to believe.
Another point of interest is that when they get into the room and discover the tablet explaining the experiment, they’re shown a series of video clips, presumably of past experiment participants, with warnings about following the rules. I was sort of surprised that they used several CGs on this segment. Definitely made it more effective. They also hear an escape attempt from one of the other rooms on their first day, which was an interesting development that I wasn’t expecting so early (I wonder if it was staged…).
We only get to see the beginnings of it in the demo, but the stress of the experiment is clearly building quickly, putting pressure on them from more angles than they had anticipated. While there might be some kind of twist (I did notice that Seiji was the one to suggest the two of them take the trip together––which Daichi interestingly remembers wrong––and he’s also the one who points out the bus from the airport when Daichi’s being a spaz, might not be anything though), I still get the feeling that there might not be a “twist” and the heart of the story is just going to be the twisted, psychological torture they’re being put through.
Also, while I know ClockUp routinely uses this stock set of backgrounds, the izakaya they go to appears to be the one right next to the entrance to sotanó, so I’m just going to assume this takes place in the same universe as NTY!!! unless otherwise indicated (I mean, the “organization” being behind the experiment would fit right in with what’s going on).
Anywho, the game hit gold master last week and should be releasing on time and I can’t wait to see what happens next.