Zanki Zero: Last Beginning is a game filled with flawed people. The group of clones we are helping survive after apocalypse, the corporation behind the cloning experiment, and the antagonists we encounter all have their issues. It makes sense, given how it can feel like Danganronpa, in some regards, and the fact that humans as a whole are flawed. But where Zanki Zero: Last Beginning helps stand out is with its character development. Each person in the party has an opportunity to be the star of a chapter, which leads to us better understanding why everyone is on Garage Island, how their sin relates to them, and how they grow from their experiences in the game.
An important thing to note is Zanki Zero: Last Beginning‘s structure. Pretty much everyone gets a chance to have a chapter entirely dedicated to them, so we can learn more about their thoughts on what is happening, find out about their past, and get a better idea of the role they played in both the past and the present. In the demo and first stage, we start with Haruto. Then, we move on to Zen, Minamo, Yuma, and other members of the party. It is a process that works rather well. Especially since these characters have varying shades of morality. I’m not going to get into any spoilers here, given the age of the game, but we can form some vague impressions from the first few hours and two or three stages. Haruto starts out a very hesitant person, though he ends up becoming a leader and is a generally good person. Minamo is incredibly upstanding and 100% lawful. Zen is, frankly, a bit of a bully and a jerk at the outset. He’s an agent of chaos.
Everyone has a sin associated with them. (Which thankfully isn’t a spoiler, since it was something revealed ahead of launch.) Knowing which sin each person is tied to can help you start to look for elements of their lives and personalities that shaped them. As a refresher, Haruto’s is sloth, Mamoru’s is greed (though you would be forgiven for mistaking it for lust), Minamo’s is pride, Rinko’s is lust, Ryo’s is envy, Sachika’s is original sin, Yuma’s is gluttony, and Zen’s is wrath. Each one of these altered the characters’ lives. It led to various situations they found themselves in. Now, as clones, they have chances to overcome what held them back in the past.
In the case of Haruto, you can see his hesitance in accepting his role as leader of the group. There’s a sense of uncertainty he overcomes as he goes through his first full chapter and learns more about his life and the current situation. With Zen, we have someone who can, well, be a jerk. He is so obstinate that he ends up with a dungeon situation we don’t see repeated with any other character. But after going through his chapter, he too comes to an understanding. There is a softening that means his ways aren’t totally changed. For Minamo, we get to better understand her sense of determination and justice, and her own morals and worldview may be challenged in her section. People get these moments, and we see how it shaped them.
Even with the twists that come, these sins and backgrounds end up feeling very appropriate. A big part of that is due to each person having time where we see everything through their eyes. The masks people might wear in other people’s chapters drop when they are the star. We get to see past bravado, insecurities, and lies. A character people might think is a coward in one chapter can have hidden depths, heart, and talents in their own. Someone who seems innocent could be mysterious. I was quite surprised when I was finally able to step into the shoes of a character I had liked for much of the story, only to see what their real intentions and personality was like. The shift in perspectives allow us to see who they really are, both for better and worse.
Each character gets quite a bit of time devoted to them in Zanki Zero: Last Beginning. We get to see important moments from their lives in dungeons. We get to step into their shoes for different stages of the game. We have an idea of possible sins connected to each of them, then get to see how those could have shaped them and they could overcome them in these segments. While not everyone may experience the same sort of growth and development, we do get to learn a lot about everyone and how their new normal shapes who they are.
Zanki Zero: Last Beginning is available on the PlayStation 4 and PC in North America and Europe, and there is also a demo that unlocks an item pack for the full game. The game is also available on the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita in Japan.