Have You Played… 9:05?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

The phone rings.

Oh, no — how long have you been asleep? Sure, it was a tough night, but… This is bad. This is very bad.

The phone rings.

9:05 [official site] is a text adventure about being late for work. When you finish playing it, you’ll almost definitely tell the next person you meet to play it immediately, even if that person is a stranger at a bus stop.

If you have played 9:05, you can join my club. It’s a club where we meet up and smile about 9:05 and then tell everyone that they just have to go and play it because we don’t want to spoil it for them. And if they say “but you’ve already spoiled it by implying that there’s something more interesting going on than a man being late for work”, we kick them out, lock the door and then fret about accidentally spoiling a very clever thing.

But we haven’t spoiled it. Not really. It is a game about being late for work and the punchlines are in the preposterous detail of the world, and the finicky nature of the inputs needed to get through the morning. It’s the kind of joke you can’t really spoil, if it is a joke at all.

Seriously – if you’re still here and not a member of the club, go and play the damn game. It’s free and it’s a great entry point into the rest of author Adam Cadre’s interactive fiction, as well as the wider world of textual pleasures.

38 Comments

  1. savagegreywolf says:

    inb4 someone in the comments spoils the game

  2. Ross Angus says:

    Hmm. This post seems to have taken down the 9:05 site. I’ll have a wee look later.

  3. AshEnke says:

    I just tried to play it, but I really have trouble playing games with the verb/noun framework.

    A lot of actions that would really make sense are not recognized. After a few minutes on it, 50 unrecognized queries and the few that work are the simple “look” and “go south” and no idea what words to use to advance in the story, it’s litteraly unplayable for me.

    • wldmr says:

      What have you tried? The nouns are given to you in the descriptions, and the verbs are those that, well, make sense (sorry). I’ll get you started: You may want to pick up the phone, or take a shower. Or not.

      (I mean, I understand your frustration in principle. But this is really nothing too esoteric.)

    • TheManfromAntarctica says:

      Had the same problem, tried taking a shower, even once I drop the watch it still tells me I’d better drop all my possessions first. Too much effort guessing what verb/noun the game wants from me. Lost interest in this game once I found out I didn’t have the choice to run to work naked (or in soiled clothing) and see what happened. I doubt I will talk about this game to anyone.

    • adamcadre says:

      As it happens, my current project is to finish up the tutorial that I backburnered a few years back. I hope that it clarifies how to make headway in these games with a minimum of frustration. Look for it soon!

    • JimmyG says:

      “Drop all” works. It’s not that hard. Just don’t go into tilt when a few commands aren’t recognized.

  4. Premium User Badge

    johannsebastianbach says:

    Took me half an hour to get through the game.
    Seriously, how can you guys play text adventures? It drives me crazy! And quite takes away the fun from the – admittedly clever – story twist.

    Pro Tip: You have to “drop soiled clothing” before you can do just about anything else. Even though the game never tells you so.

    • billyphuz says:

      I think the game presupposes that you’ve played IF games before, and the fiddlyness of the specific noun/verb combos, and the order in which you must do everything, satirizes this a bit.

      • adamcadre says:

        That’s right – my other IF pieces have friendlier parsers and will automatically open doors for you and whatnot, but this one requires every last detail be attended to in order to capture the feeling of being late for work and stumbling around while frantically trying to get ready (stuffing both legs down the same pant leg, dropping your keys while trying to put them in your pocket, etc.)

  5. Crane says:

    I found the central twist to be mundane and predictable. Perhaps I had an advantage because I’d played some of Cadre’s work previously, so I was looking out for something, but the stilted language used in all the descriptions as a result of trying to combine the classic second-person narration with the need to avoid specifying ownership of certain things was a dead giveaway.
    “Cleaner clothing can be found in the dresser,” for example.

    • adamcadre says:

      Based on the feedback I’ve received over the past 15+ years, both from individual players and from people who’ve presented 9:05 to large groups in classrooms or at conventions, I’d estimate that it works for about 90-95% of the people who play it. But that percentage plummets among people who play it “against the grain” – e.g., people who ignore the urgency of getting to work on time and try every single command they can think of in every room, or those who avoid going to work at all just out of contrariness, or those who carefully scrutinize the nuances of every sentence right off the bat.

      • Scurra says:

        Yeah, I was one of those people too however many years ago it was. But it didn’t actually end up spoiling anything for me because I could appreciate what it was trying to do – and it made me laugh out loud, which is all too rare with games. (So I guess I’m in the small percentage of the small percentage. I can be happy with that…)

      • Vesuvius says:

        While I was trying to figure out what happened the night before (I’d seen comments about how dirty I was / what a rough night it’d been) I looked in a place in the room that gave away the ending totally.

      • SirBryghtside says:

        I ‘got it’ before the reveal – the door lock being broken was pretty much when I went beyond any doubt – but I’d lay a lot of that just on the way it was presented in this article, making me expect some sort of big twist, and therefore looking for clues the whole way through. Still, I thought it was excellent, and probably will end up recommending this to all the people at my next bus stop :)

  6. karachokarl says:

    >take wallet
    Taken.

    >take keys
    Taken.

    >take phone
    It isn’t ringing anymore.

    I can take the keys, the wallet, but for whatever reason it refuses to pocket my phone :|

    • Ayslia says:

      The game was released in 2000. :) I was four, but as I understand it, landline phones were still common at the time?

      • Seldon says:

        Yeah. If you look at the phone it also tells you it’s something like 20 years old, so definitely a landline.

      • adamcadre says:

        Heh – I’ve had the same phone since 1989, so it would never occur to me even today, let alone in 1999 when I wrote this thing, that “phone” all by itself could possibly mean “cell phone”.

        • alms says:

          I am pretty used to landlines Adam, and briefly had the same doubt (somehow I must’ve missed the remark about it being 20 yo). I’d say, if anything, the problem stems from recent games all defaulting to mobile phones, unless set in a far enough past.

  7. Ayslia says:

    “you’ll almost definitely tell the next person you meet to play it immediately, even if that person is a stranger at a bus stop” Haha, I think at this point I’ve actually done this to about 10 people? At least. From total strangers to fairly close friends; from gamers to people who think games are all just Call of Duty clones. I have to say watching people’s reactions to the twist is almost more satisfying than playing the game myself.

    Also, SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER, but after you’ve finished the game once, do restart the game and look underneath the bed.

  8. Seldon says:

    Hah! That was delightful, thank you.

  9. Ibed says:

    I am now a member of the club. It is a good club. Thanks, Adam.

  10. adamcadre says:

    Thanks for the writeup! While 9:05 is and will remain available for free on my site, it just so happens that a few days ago it was released as an iOS app with some extra bells and whistles. You can check it out here if you’re into that sort of thing.

  11. Rikard Peterson says:

    I second the recommendation 100%. This is a game that worked completely for me when I played it. (Which was some years ago now, but I’ll remember it forever.)

    Interesting to see comments from people here who gave up on it out of frustration. I remember the game as quite easy, even though I am pretty much rubbish at playing games. But I did have some experience with these kinds of games before. This game probably gains from not being your first text adventure, so that you just can play along and never really get stuck. My first was The Augmented Fourth, which remains a favourite, so I’ll add that recommendation too. (It’s a different style of game, as it’s a very funny comedy, but it’s the same parser interface.)

  12. Michael Fogg says:

    This has not sold me on IF. I wake up, go to the bathroom.
    >> Brush teeth
    Noun error
    >> Wash face
    Noun error
    >> Look in mirror
    Noun error

    • Adam Cadre says:

      Right – if you don’t see a toothbrush explicitly mentioned, that’s a strong indication that brushing your teeth is not implemented. That’s a convention that should definitely be explained in the tutorial I mentioned above, so thanks for pointing it out.

  13. Jason Moyer says:

    Turn on light, take dressing gown, look in pocket, take analgesic.

    • GCU Speak Softly says:

      This was the first set of commands I typed into 9:05, just in case, like.

  14. theobjectlesson says:

    When I first discovered text adventures many years ago, I found the apparent freedom rather paralyzing, with that blank prompt inviting me to try anything I could think of. Then I tried 9:05, and it was very linear; it told me exactly what I needed to accomplish in order to advance. It was also quite short, and so before long I had actually finished a text adventure! I’ve been enjoying them ever since then, and I owe it to this game. Thanks Adam Cadre.

    • Adam Cadre says:

      You’re welcome, and thanks for your note – 9:05 was not originally intended as an “introduction to IF” piece, but I’m very glad that it’s served that purpose for so many people over the years.

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    Bluerps says:

    I don’t play that much IF, but I played this one a couple of years ago and I remember that I enjoyed it a lot.

  16. malkav11 says:

    It’s a simple concept, beautifully executed. If you like 9:05, definitely check out Adam’s other games. Photopia and Shrapnel were particularly memorable for me. (Varicella and Lock and Key were puzzlier and thus kind of stymied me until a kindly Something Awful goon Let’s Played them, but they’re really good puzzles.)

  17. rickenbacker says:

    I have, and it’s very good. I highly recommend Shrapnel to anyone who likes this game.