I wanted to try out something different this time, so here’s my opinion about the latest chapter of the Zero Escape series, and all the bonuses from Steam that eshop and Nintendo buyers don’t have!
First of all, here’s my personal opinion about this game (spoiler free!)
First of all, what is ZTD?
Let’s get this out of the way: no, you can’t play Zero Time Dilemma without having first played the first two games in the series, 999 and Virtue’s Last Reward. Well, you can if you really want to, but a lot of the references and character appearances will be lost on you. If you want to get the true Zero Escape experience, play the first two games. Trust me, it’s worth it.
Zero Time Dilemma is a puzzle game that will put you in control of different characters as you work your way through a series of locked room puzzles. If the first two games were any indication, the puzzles in this one will be pretty challenging, and will require you to make connections between clues and figure out the method to opening up that locked door. In these puzzle sequences, you’ll have to point and click at objects of interest and see if you can turn up any new clues. There are usually multiple steps you have to take in order to open the door, and the clues you get might not always be the right ones you need at that point in time. It’s up to you to make sense of these clues and make use of them at the right puzzles.
When you’re not solving puzzles, Zero Time Dilemma will play out like a regular visual novel. You’ll be treated to fully voiced cutscenes as the story unfolds, and sometimes, you’ll even get to make decisions that can change the course of the story. Similar to Virtue’s Last Reward, this game will feature a flowchart showing you exactly where the different events fit in, making it easier to make sense of the story.
Why would you care about it?
The most surprising thing about this is that the third and final entry of the trilogy, titled Zero Time Dilemma, almost didn’t get made. Back in 2014, series creator Kotaro Uchikoshi sent out a series of really upsetting tweets, talking about the state of the third game. In short, Zero Escape was in the red in Japan, and Uchikoshi simply couldn’t convince the higher-ups that making the third game would be a good business decision. He went on to say that he still had hope that the third game would be made someday, but continued to apologize to series fans for his “inadequacy.” It was pretty depressing.
After finding out about the true state of the series and how poorly it was doing sales-wise, fans rallied together in an effort to save the project. Most notably, the Facebook page Operation Bluebird was created, and it brought together fans of the series, encouraging them to share pictures of their game copies, as well as other series related merchandise. 999 had also received an Android and iOS port around that time, and that was what fans used to spread word of the series around. It was essentially a watered down version of 999 that gave you the full story without any of the puzzles. It was pretty cheap, and it was an easy recommendation to anyone who might be interested.
A little more than a year passed, and fans still didn’t have any news about the development of the third game. Then the summer of 2015 came around, and Uchikoshi surprised fans with the announcement of Zero Time Dilemma, the third game that everyone had been waiting for. After all the crazy support from fans, the rally to drum up support for the series, all the awesome music covers that fans made to show their love, the efforts made to encourage people to check out the mobile port of 999, and just the sheer act of advertising the game through word of mouth, the project finally became a reality. It was an incredible moment.
Considering the strength of the writing, storytelling mechanics, and even those blasted puzzle rooms, which are actually really difficult as hell, it’s definitely a relief to see the Zero Escape series getting a chance to close out its story neatly. Even if you happen to dislike anime and the anime aesthetic of the series is the one thing that’s been turning you away, Zero Escape is definitely worth your time as long as you like good stories. And let’s face it, who doesn’t like a good story?
If you’re planning to play, here’s the story so far:
BEWARE! This section contains spoilers and speculations!
If you’re planning on checking out 999 and Virtue’s Last Reward, feel free to skip this page entirely, as it’ll be full of spoilers from the first two games. Or, if you’re looking for a brief rundown of what’s going on in the story, this should give you some idea of the plot setup before the events of Zero Time Dilemma.
Since the events of 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors, Junpei has been trying to track down his childhood friend Akane, who was also revealed to be the culprit behind the second Nonary Game that we were a part of in 999. In Virtue’s Last Reward, we find out that Junpei essentially spent his entire life looking for her, and we see him appear as an old man with nothing to show for it. Virtue’s Last Reward also revealed the existence of the Radical-6 disease and how it wiped out the entire planet Earth in the year 2028.
The events of Virtue’s Last Reward took place in 2074, years after the Radical-6 outbreak. Phi, Sigma, and the other participants of the third Nonary Game had been kidnapped in 2028, and then frozen till 2074 when the game started. However, Sigma was different. He had his 2028 consciousness transported to the future, where his mind inhabited the body of his older self. Akane reveals herself at the end of the game, and tells them that the plan was to send the older consciousnesses of Phi and Sigma back to their younger selves in 2028 so that they could stop the virus outbreak. In the original timeline, Sigma sent his older consciousness back in time so that his younger self could begin working on the AB Project and the Nonary Game to prepare for that plan.
Now that the Nonary Game is complete, it is time for Phi and Sigma to jump back in time to their younger selves, and infiltrate the Mars facility to stop the Radical-6 outbreak.
In Zero Time Dilemma, we’ll likely be following the story of how Phi and Sigma attempt to stop the outbreak in 2028. However, we also see the appearance of a few familiar faces. A slightly older version of Junpei shows up, clearly hardened from the events of 999. A young version of Akane also makes an appearance, though her motives remain a mystery, as expected. But most interestingly, we’ll also get to see Diana. As fans of Virtue’s Last Reward will know, Diana is the woman that the android nurse Luna was modeled on. Diana also happens to be kind of responsible for the Radical-6 outbreak in the original timeline, so it should be interesting to see how she interacts with Phi and Sigma.
WALKTHROUGH + STEAM BONUSES DLC!
PREMIUM BOOKLET (both in ENG and JAP)
SOUNDTRACK (both in MP3 and FLAC)
You can download them from THIS LINK! (dropbox!)
BEWARE: the booklet contains some spoilers, it’s good to read it once finished playing the game!
And if you’re stuck with a puzzle, here’s the WALKTHROUGH, SPOILER FREE, OF EACH PUZZLE
And here are all the pics of the steam cards!:
I love the ZE series, and I hope you’ve enjoyed this kind of content also!