Written by Twisted Ideas
Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward borderline what I would consider a bargain bin game. Chances are that you can only buy this digitally and the price is fair but more expensive than the rest of the games I’ve written up so far but this is something great. This is the sequel to 999, 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors. I’ve chosen the second volume of this visual novel series because 999 isn’t available digitally and probably even harder to find in stores.
Publisher: Aksys Games
Platforms: 3DS, PS Vita
What is it?
Virtue’s Last Reward finds Sigma and 8 strangers abducted and trapped in a mysterious facility. They are forced to play something called the Nonory game. The game splits the group into different parts of the facility to solve puzzles and look for clues. Afterward they have to play a voting game to earn enough points to escape. Failure to comply with the game’s rules results in lethal injection via a bracelet fixed to their arms.
Virtue’s Last Reward is primarily a visual novel so it’s dialogue heavy. The story gets broken up by puzzle rooms which provides gameplay, character development and context for the events of the game. The puzzle rooms aren’t too difficult other than the optional hard mode puzzles. They challenge your observation, deduction, arithmetic and your problem solving abilities. There are points of the story where you have to make choices. You choice will dictate the path the story will take. Later on in the game you will reach story locks which requires you to play through other parts of the game making different choices.
Those who have played 999 will be slightly ahead of the story but only slightly. There are direct connections between 999 and VLR but in the grand scheme of things it won’t affect your enjoyment of this game. The significance of 999 will be explained when you reach the game’s final revelations.
What makes Viture’s Last Reward so great is how the story is structured. The mechanic of choosing different story lines is a bigger part of the game than you might first thing and what a first seems like a simple mystery turns out to be much deeper. The story deals with psychology, science fiction and quantum theory. It’s presented in a way that’s approachable without being pretentious. There’s not much sub-text and the game’s revelations are complex but clear and understandable.
The game has a few flaws. Going back to previous parts of the game ensures that conversations will repeat. Any dialogue you’ve heard before can be fast-forwarded but there will be a lot of long scenes of exposition and slightly alter conversations on the same topic. Then the game feels the need to show you moving through every room of the facility. After the end of the game you might have seen an hour of just opening and closing doors. The controls could use some work. You have to find a balance between buttons and the touch screen because neither is adaquete on its own. Also the Vita’s touch screen sucks for precise presses or writing. You may over look places you can examine because of bad camera angles and your fingers being too big and touching another area.
Why should you get it?
Virtue’s Last Reward is a game for someone who’s looking for a great story and willing to sit and read it. The puzzles are great and help motivate people through the game. There are points where you might even have to take out a pen and paper to help figure them out. Again I recommend VLR because it’s easier to obtain than 999 but if you’re able to get your hands on both then get them. The third volume is on definite hiatus but there have been whispers that gives me hope that it will come out.