Everybunny Should Play Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward

By Spencer . October 24, 2012 . 5:10pm

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"Have a nice trap," Zero III said while explaining the rules of Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward’s Nonary game. They seemed simple enough. You start with 3 BP (Bracelet Points) and need 9 BP to escape the facility you and eight other unfortunate souls are sealed in. Oh, and if your BP drops below zero you die.

 

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Virtue’s Last Reward creates a tense atmosphere starting with the very first puzzle. Sigma (read: you) and a stern girl who clearly knows more about the situation than she lets on are trapped in an elevator. You need to crack open a safe and Spike Chunsoft left cryptic clues like a poster of octogenarians and babies as help. Great. Solving puzzles in Virtue’s Last Reward involves gathering items, combining them, and a little trial and error. The other characters you’re with drops subtle hints, but if you really get suck you can switch to easy mode which practically spells out what you need to do next. What’s interesting is every puzzle actually has two solutions. One moves the game forward and the other ambiguous answer rewards players with background information that supplements the story.

 

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And the story… wow. Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward hooked me into playing just one more chapter and then another until I fell asleep with my Vita. I *had* to see what happens to Luna, a kind nurse, and the fate of Quark, a kid who got caught into the Nonary Game. Virtue’s Last Reward tactfully weaves in philosophical talking points like Schrodinger’s Cat and interacting with thinking machines. I thought humans would ride on the shoulders of giant robots into the sunset, but man Virtue’s Last Reward made me think otherwise. Aksys should get a gold star for their superb localization work. All of the characters have personality to them even Zero III, the talking rabbit AI, who taunts his (or her?) prisoners with rabbit puns. Sigma’s misguided attempts at flirting are funny too. These lighthearted moments balance out Virtue’s Last Reward since the story is fairly dark.

 

Being trapped with strangers in a life or death game is already unnerving. Zero III ups the ante by telling the unwilling players Zero is among them plus you have the opportunity to betray each other in the Ambidex game. Remember those 9 BP you need to escape? After each puzzle you and a teammate go into an isolated booth while another partner goes into their own booth. Inside you have to decide whether to ally or betray the other person. Here are the possibilities:

 

Both parties choose ally – everyone gets +2 BP and stays best friends.

If one party choose ally and the other picks betray – the betraying jerk(s) gains + 3 BP while the ally group loses 2BP.

Both parties choose betray – everyone gains +0 BP and Zero will say why bother playing. Well, it’s not like you have a choice.

 

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Can you trust a stranger with your life? As Phi would say, the safest thing to do is betray because you won’t lose any BP, but can you be so heartless? The Ambidex game sprouts the seeds of mistrust Zero planted.

 

I’m the kind of player that likes to see both outcomes and I like how Virtue’s Last Reward lets you do that right away without having to reload your game. The flow chart option lets you hop (those rabbit puns are burned into my brain…) around the story and see "what if" you chose ally instead of betray. Jerk. I enjoyed leaping back and forth through Virtue’s Last Reward’s arcs, but you can also go through one story branch at a time. You will need to play through the Nonary game multiple times to see the whole story. Each path delves into the background and motivation for one or two characters.

 

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If the premise sounds like Nine Hours, Nine Doors, Nine Persons you are correct. Virtue’s Last Reward is the second game in the series. The difference between the two games is Virtue’s Last Reward is larger in scope with more story branches. I’d have to play through 999 again to be sure, but I think I got to know more about the characters in Virtue’s Last Reward than the previous game. You’ll meet a masked man with no memory, a grumpy old guy who seems awfully close to Quark, a returning character from 999, and an exotic woman who left her shirt home. I guess Zero kidnapped Alice while she was changing? Phi, the girl Sigma wakes up with, is the brains of the group. She calculates every possibility acting purely on logic rather than emotion like Sigma. It’s an interesting shift from June, the female lead in 999, who was sort of like a damsel in distress archetype.

 

If you’re thinking about playing Virtue’s Last Reward (and you really should!) you have to play Nine Hours, Nine Doors, Nine Persons first. The Zero Escape games are connected and Virtue’s Last Reward’s story would have flown over my head if I skipped 999. Also, Nine Hours, Nine Doors, Nine Persons has one of the most memorable video game plot twists ever. Virtue’s Last Reward has it’s share of revelations too and I think fans of the Zero Escape series are in for a treat – or trap depending on how you look at it.


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  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.leonardi.56 Robert Leonardi

    sounds like an interesting and intense puzzle game, can’t wait till it ships to my house along with the watch XD

  • Budgiecat

    Actually, people should play 999 first so they get a good understanding of this pseudo sequel. Maybe PSN should release 999 to Vita as a DD….

    • AlexanderPappas

      You’re right from what I’ve heard this game is a full on sequel and is not as good as a stand alone game if you don’t already know 999′s story. People really should play 999 first, and from what I’ve played of VLR do far I’m obliged to agree.

  • Lance Buxley

    Chunsoft made a good effort with the Vita version of this. It’s full res 960×544 with 4xMSAA, combine that with the display’s higher than normal ppi and it looks almost bullshot quality, in realtime. Which is how all of these PSP-PS2 detail games should look on Vita. Really at 60fps.

  • Quinton Cunningham

    Got mine today with my watch! I powered through 999′s true ending last night (I got the coffin on my first playthrough, like an idiot) and I was totally blown away by it all. By the sound of it, VLR is gonna be even better, which is no easy task.

    • Barrylocke89

      If anything, getting the Coffin ending on your first playthrough made you a smarty pants!

      …You just didn’t get any content to show for it. But don’t feel bad, it was my first ending too.

  • benhofb

    This game is like 24 Carrots…. Rabbit Puns…. VLR has looots of em. I had to go 20 something miles to get my hands on the vita version. Seriously every gamestop in my immediate area didn’t bother to order it “because it is a dying genre that is very ‘niche’”. Dummies. Now I know to preorder Zero Escape: Vol 3 whenever that comes out. 

    • Quinton Cunningham

      If anything, I think the VN market is expanding. I for one got into it this year thanks to KS (and I’m certainly not alone here) and I’ve bought many games just to support those who bring them over. 999, Hakuoki, Fate/Extra, Higurashi, Go Go Nippon, and Analogue to name a few.

    • DiosFancifulRomp

      Hah, my Gamestop didn’t even bother unpacking them. Went yesterday and the guy flat up said they’d been there two days and there wasn’t a reason to open the boxes until then. Pre-order next time for sure.

  • LunarKnite

    This game has been my most anticipated game this year because of how amazing 999 was. From what I’ve read, it doesn’t look to disappoint. Can’t wait to get it tomorrow in the mail.

  • http://www.siliconera.com Jenni

    Fantastic game. Easily one of the best things on my Vita. I’m so glad Aksys brought it to us.

  • Roubjon

     The game should be arriving in the mail by Friday.  I’m looking forward to it, because it seems that it delivers to a level even beyond 999.  Should be great.

  • http://www.fogalchemist.com/ caleb1993

    Just ordered 999 to prepare for this. Will definitely be picking this up for my Vita once I get one. Looks and sounds so good!

  • http://www.twitch.tv/jpnags Jason Naglic

    Thanks for the Su-Spencer-ful preview :D

  • scratchbach

    Having to force myself to stop playing to do homework… It wasn’t easy.
    As soon as I’m done though, I’m heading back in. Sleep is no longer important to me.

  • http://epiclyamazing.wordpress.com/ AzureNova

    Definitely getting this! =^_^=

  • DiosFancifulRomp

    Started it today, definitely a great game, even though visual novels aren’t exactly my thing. Looks awesome on the Vita, would be nice if they ported the first over.

  • PreyMantis

    SKIP! I don’t want to read any of that, it might contain some spoilers. DX
    I’ll be getting this game this weekend and will probably have another sleepless nights just like 999…

  • http://www.facebook.com/oliver.shawn Shawn Michael

    Well soo long to the money i’ve been saving for an Ipad 3. I’m buying this on saturday.

  • ಠ_ಠ

    TOMORROW CAN’T COME COON ENOUGH

    HNNNNNNNNNNNG

  • Barrylocke89

    Yknow what. I think it’s time. I’ve been spending most of my check every pay period for my school bills but I think it is time. I’m going to see if theres any good 3DS deals this Black Friday/Christmas season, and then I’m PICKING UP THIS GAME. Who needs sleep. Who needs sanity. Who needs studying! (ok that last one is actually kind of important).

    I need more Zero Escape Action.

  • natchu96

    I need a quick excuse to buy this. Any suggestions? :D

    • Mrgrgr and Unacceptable World

      This game is great!!!^_^

      • natchu96

         I get that ^_^

    • Blaze Townsend

      There’s a girl that’s topless? lol

      • natchu96

        She’s a defrosted formerly-cryogenically-frozen ancient egyptian, so she somewhat has an excuse. Yet, from the demo, she knows more about Schrodinger’s cat than our college student protagonist does.

    • http://Gematsu.com/ Bruno Silva

       It’s the sequel to one of the greatest games to ever be released on the Nintendo DS, and perhaps one of the greatest adventure games of all time actually.

      (And yes, I’ve been playing adventure games ever since the late 80′s/early 90′s, so that’s saying a lot).

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dylan-Ng/100000854638739 Dylan Ng

    Welp…. after bears its bunny turn to be the next pun king?? 

  • http://www.segalization.com/ Kuronoa

    Planning on getting the 3DS version soon it slipped my mind and had to wait for the money.
    Vita seems to be the more popular one probably due to importing and general graphics lovers.  If cheap when I get a Vita I”ll double dip.

    • Quinton Cunningham

      I’m probably gonna do the same thing for the easy platinum and the fact that certain scenes are static images in the 3DS, but are movies (or are rendered in-game) in the Vita.

  • Ayaka

    Oh boy!
    It’s been a while since I felt this excited for a sequel about something I did like a lot before it. Known and popular series like Disgaea, Layton and so on are a bit of a different merchandise, since they can already count many titles with great development, background for characters etc: games which are a little more niche like Zero Escape really have the right to shine, and I hope it does!

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