the artistry and psychology of gaming




Welcome to Gaming on the House; don’t look down and and mind your step! In this feature, we’ll be climbing the rooftops of the gaming industry to seek out worthwhile experiences that everyone can track down and play, and the best part is they’ll all be free! That’s right; FREE! Gratis. Comp’d. Unbound. Unrestricted. Zero-down. On the House!… we talk about free games here, is my point.

Many may be surprised at the breadth of ideation and innovation found in games when there’s no monetary commitment attached, offering a unique learning experience for players and developers alike. Taking together all the flash and browser games, freeware downloads from the independent scene, speed programming archives, free-to-play business modules, and even promotional re-releases from big name publishers, there’s a never ending supply of great games new and old waiting to be played, and it’s our goal to play them all!



Genre: Puzzle/Exploration
Link to Game:
Game Info: Released online by Noah Berkley in April 2015

Nine is an aesthetically pleasing Flash game available in browsers where you navigate a series of nine (oh, I get it) vertically inclined rooms to acquire keys and interact with your surroundings. It’s isometric; meaning it’s a 2D game with a 3D perspective that’s perhaps best completed with your keyboard held at a 45-degree angle. The physical puzzle aspect is relatively light, being fairly easy to acquire the four keys, however in the same way FEZ was not over with those golden cube shards, Nine still has some intrigue even after every door has been unlocked.


What I find fascinating about this game is how it retains its own mystery as the game goes along; a mystery not only for the additional scenes and objects that seem to play out in rooms you’ve already visited, but also the mystery of how it all seems to work. One of the locked doors leads to a treasure chest. The first time I visited this room the chest contained coins for the little prince to dive in. Every playthrough since, the chest opens to reveal a strange floating crystal. I’ve tried to recreate everything I thought I did in that first game, but I can’t get the coins back.

Similarly, the mysterious girl character that starts to appear in earlier rooms is not a 100% guarantee. I’ve only gotten her to appear in the library once; likewise for the room with the cat. The book that spawns by the lightpost is clearly triggered after a visit to the library, but the purpose of the book is mysterious by itself. For a game which rests on a player’s willingness to interact with the room objects they’ve been given, it was a good idea to include these extra behaviors as it makes the rooms enticing to revisit. It may be a game that’s only about 5 minutes in length, but it can still leave you feeling there’s more you might’ve missed!

One Comment

  1. I finally got the chance to play this; it’s such a delightful little game. I actually never got the crystal to occur, until I managed to finish the game with all 4 keys. The first time I finished with only 3, and when I went back, it was the coins again, but in the third playthrough, it was the crystal.

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