The heart of Zero Time Dilemma and the entire Zero Escape series is the narrative. Siliconera attended a presentation where Kotaro Uchikoshi demoed the game. Warning spoilers ahead!
While other Zero Escape games were heavy on reading, Zero Time Dilemma is less of a visual novel and done in the Telltale’s adventure games. All of the event scenes are cinematic and Uchikoshi’s demo started with Sigma strapped in a chair with a revolver by his head. As seen in the above key art with Diana behind him, that’s the same scene from the demo. Phi is trapped in an incinerator and Zero asks the trio to play a gut wrenching game of Russian Roulette.
In three minutes, the incinerator will turn on and Phi will die. The door can only be opened by the sound of a revolver which means Diana would have to shoot Sigma. The revolver only has three bullets in it so there’s a chance Sigma could survive. Sigma pleads with Diana to pull the trigger. He says the choice is easy, if Diana doesn’t pull a trigger he will live, but there is 100% chance Phi will die. If she pulls the trigger there is a 100% chance Phi will live, but only a 50% chance he will die. Phi pleaded with Diana to not pull the trigger and consider her feelings as a survivor. After both sides state their case, you playing as Diana have 10 seconds to either shoot Sigma or not.
Before Uchikoshi made a choice he said he doesn’t even know what will happen next. Zero Time Dilemma has a random factor where you could see Sigma live or you could see him get shot. It’s possible to replay this scene a second or third time and still only see the same result.
Zero Time Dilemma’s story is presented in small episodes or fragments from different points in time. The Floating Fragment system menu shows a handful of episodes with a preview image and players pick which story fragment looks interesting. After you complete a fragment and see an event its point in the story is revealed in a flowchart, which is similar to the flowchart in Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward. You may start out seeing a scene where a character dies and won’t know what happened until you find a fragment before the event much later on.
You can also replay fragments and Zero Time Dilemmna gives players an option to fast forward through cinematics just in case you want to make a different choice.
You may have noticed the characters in Zero Time Dilemma are wearing bracelets again. These bracelets inject a drug into the nine unlucky Dilemma Game participants which erases their memories and this explains why the characters themselves don’t recall any events before the current fragment.
Zero Time Dilemma has escape the room puzzles too and these are touch based like Virtue’s Last Reward. Phi and Diana had to work together to escape a room in one scene. Players could switch between characters in this puzzle and each character had their own inventory.
We’ll have more about Zero Time Dilemma including an interview with director Kotaro Uchikoshi soon.
Zero Time Dilemma will release in North America and Europe in summer 2016 for PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS, and later for PC.