Room No. 9

Content warnings: This game is 18+ and intended for adults only. This game contains explicit depictions of sexual content, dubcon, violence, arm/hand mutilation, psychological torture, scatological imagery, internalized homophobia, and mentions of child abuse.

There is non-explicit (but prevalent) discussion of sexual content on this page. I do talk about major themes in the game, but don't give any specific spoilers regarding plot points or endings.

"Boy, I sure hope we have a great time in Okinawa, Seiji!"
Left: Seiji Azumi || Right: Daichi Kobayashi




As always, I have returned with a post about a horrific and upsetting visual novel that I discovered entirely on accident. This time, the subject in question is Room No. 9, a psychological horror BL game by the company Parade. I had never heard of Parade or any of their three games, of which Room No. 9 was the second released, and stumbled upon it accidentally when I saw it mentioned as a game 'similar to' sweet pool. Of course, I was immediately sucked in by this comparison, and after reading a review of it, it absolutely haunted me. For a solid two to three days it was the only thing that I could think about, and I finally caved and decided to play it. Do I regret that decision? I might, actually.

(pictured above: the hubris of man who has not yet seen the horrors)

Room No. 9 centers around the protagonist, Daichi Kobayashi, and his best friend, Seiji Azumi. The two are college students who have been friends since middle school, and the game begins when they meet up to go drinking to celebrate the end of Seiji's exams. Daichi laments a recent breakup with his newest girlfriend, and the two decide to take advantage of a resort reservation that Daichi had already made in advance. Thus, they head to Okinawa, ready to enjoy ten full days of fun and relaxation.

However, upon reaching Okinawa, their vacation plan screeches to a halt when they wake up in a hotel room with no recollection of how they arrived. There's a digital screen in place of their window, the exit door is tightly locked, and they are welcomed only by a cold and clinical television screen that details their participation in a 'behavioral study'.

Every day, for ten days, they will be given a choice between two tasks. If they complete a task successfully, they will be awarded ten points and their meals for the next day, and when they reach a total of 100 points, they are free to leave. Refusal to complete an assigned task by the end of the day means they will receive neither points nor food, and if their behavior is deemed too uncooperative or unruly, there will be swift punishment.

It quickly becomes apparent after the first few days that there is a pattern to these tasks: either Daichi must sexually debase Seiji, or Seiji must physically mutilate Daichi. The choice of which task to execute is left entirely up to the two men themselves, though from a gameplay standpoint, a large majority of the tasks are decided without player input. With each completed task, the severity of their next assignment is increased. The game follows the two best friends over the course of ten days as the moral quandries of their situation slowly overtake them.


Room No. 9 was an absolutely fascinating and deeply haunting story that affected me much, much more strongly than I ever could have anticipated. As somebody who finds the overlap and contrast between sex and violence one of the most interesting topics imaginable, I thought that this game would be a twistedly enjoyable trek through performative gore that I would play once, get freaked out by at the appropriate moments, and probably never play again. I could not have been more wrong.

I am a very sensitive person when it comes to media, in the fact that I react very strongly to it, but I genuinely played a solid 60% of this game with tears in my eyes. I got viscerally sick to my stomach multiple times and even contemplated not finishing it because it made me so upset. This wasn't due to the severity of the content itself - although the violent tasks did make me very uncomfortable with how realistic they felt - but because of the tone of the game itself and the way the tasks weighed so heavily on the characters. In fact, I was relieved whenever Daichi would be hurt, because he bounced back much quicker from pain than Seiji could from the sexual tasks.

Forced sexual content is usually something that I can handle fairly well in media, though more realistic depictions and certain aspects of it make it very hard for me to move past, but the way it was portrayed in this game made me physically ill. All of the tasks are, technically, consensual - Seiji and Daichi have lengthy conversations about what they're going to do, and they affirm multiple times that they are okay with it. But of course, they're not - how could they be okay with any part of this situation?

What makes it even more uncomfortable is that Daichi genuinely can handle being tortured physically, but we watch as Seiji, after each of his tasks, crumbles under the disgust of what is being done to him. However, Daichi and Seiji care about each other so much that instead of turning on each other under the pressure of their situation, they instead fight to be the victim. Daichi insists that he's used to being hurt because of how he was physically abused as a child, while Seiji argues that being sexually abused won't leave lasting scars on his body and that he can just ignore it if he tries hard enough. Each one of them makes a compelling, desperate argument that leaves the player at a loss for what the 'right' answer is - if there even is a right answer in a situation like this.

Regardless of who is being explicitly harmed on any given day, both Daichi and Seiji are suffering. For both of them, being the agressor is much more painful than being the victim. Both characters wrestle endlessly with this impossible dilemma - it would be so much easier if he hurt me, because I don't want to hurt him. But making him hurt me is already hurting him in a different way. The fact that the two of them prioritize each other makes every interaction feel hopeless, because instead of selfishly protecting themselves, both of them lose no matter what they choose to do. To further complicate matters, as the days go on, Daichi begins to realize that he may have some unresolved romantic and sexual feelings for Seiji.

Or does he? Has he always felt this way, or is his mind just trying to excuse the actions he's being forced to perform on his best friend? Is he enjoying this? Is he reacting to these events because he's attracted to Seiji, or because the idea of hurting somebody is exciting to him? If they weren't forced to do these things, would he still want to? For Daichi, whose friendship with Seiji is literally the most important thing in his life, these confusing and alarming feelings tear him apart as he struggles to repress anything that might get in the way of their friendship. All he wants most in the world is for him and Seiji to stay best friends, no matter what, and the idea of anything changing their relationship is horrifying to him. Can they remain friends? And can they even remain the same people they were before they stepped foot in this room?

There are six endings in the game, and a wealth of settings in the menu as well. There is a toggle for whether or not to show grotesque imagery, and a seperate toggle for... scatological imagery, which, yes, does show up near the end of the game. The tasks are all announced ahead of time so you can determine what the characters are about to do and prepare yourself for it. There is no toggle for sexual imagery in the uncensored version, thus all of the CGs are explicit and non-mosaic. In the advanced playstyle settings, you can turn on 'Easy Mode', which tells you which endings each choice leads to.

Playing this game absolutely put me through the wringer. I can't remember the last time that something hit me so viscerally and painfully, and I'm not even sure if I could articulate the exact reasons that it hurt me so much without digging into some very personal issues. I also don't think I would recommend it to anyone - not because it's lacking in quality, but because it affected me so much that I wouldn't want the same thing to happen to anyone else. I have still yet to parse through all of my feelings regarding this game. I can't even say for certain that I'm glad that I played it - but it is definitely fascinating, I can say that for sure. I have to take my hat off to the team behind it for making one of the most haunting pieces of media I've experienced in quite a while.

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