The Zero Escape Series is composed of two games as right now: 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors which is for Nintendo DS, and Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward for the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita. The final game in the trilogy was recently confirmed to be for Nintendo 3DS, and PlayStation Vita and the running title for now is Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma. Both games were published by Aksys Games, and developed by Kotaro Uchikoshi (Spike Chunsoft). 999 was released December 10, 2009 and Virtue’s Last Reward was released February 16, 2012 While I am a big stickler to no spoilers to not ruin the experience for anyone, I’m going to go into as much detail about this amazing series that more people should know about.
All games have been rated M for Mature, and for good reason. These games are the sci-fi genre at their goriest. These games have some dark themes, as well as a lot of blood and gore. If you are not into mature themed games, I think you should stop reading now. The back of the first game says rated M because of “blood, drug reference, strong language, suggestive themes, (and) violence” and I feel like that says everything about these games in terms of mature themes. These should not be played by anyone who cannot handle these types of themes.
Gore and creepiness aside, these games have an in depth sci-fi story. It’s hard to explain this story without spoiling anything, so I think as far as I can go without ruining it all for everyone is something along the lines of a sci-fi book meets a horror movie. In both games, for different reasons, 9 people wake up locked inside some type of sealed facility, with no way out. Some type of ‘leader’, gives directions telling them that the watches on their wrists have either a mechanism to set off a bomb in their stomach for the first game, or two types of drugs (Soporil, an anesthetic and then Tubocurarine, a muscle relaxer which stops the respiratory system) in the Ambidex Nonary Game.
The Nonary games are the games that the nine participants have to partake in, in order to escape from the facility with their lives. In the first game, the Nonary game is surrounded around digital roots, in the Ambidex edition is focused around color mixing but still has a complex digital root system within it as well. The game has so many twists and turns, that it would take forever for me to explain it here.
There’s psychological-styled fears, a virus that caused over millions of people to kill themselves, time travel, people who can communicate through morphogenetic fields known as Espers, robots, bombs, crazy radical groups and even more. The story alone is worth playing these games. The final game, has been said to answer all the questions the series has proposed and is strongly hinted to be the final game.
The crazy story aside, this game is a visual novel game. Visual novel games often have puzzle portions, and this game is one of them. There are the puzzles to get into the rooms, as well as the puzzles to either escape the room or solve the puzzle in the room to figure out more about what is going on in this world. The puzzles are sometimes tough to crack, but not tough in the sense of making me want to quit playing. I have gotten frustrated, but I’ve always wanted to continue the game no matter what.
There are multiple endings in each game, and thankfully the second game made it easy to get all of them. There are sections to click that bring you to certain choices and allow you to replay the game from there. 999 makes that a little more annoying as you have to replay the entire game, but both allow you to skip through dialogue choices. I have completed Virtue’s Last Reward 100%, and completed about 3/4ths of 999, only quitting because it got tedious to replay the game the amount of times necessary.
The music in this game is immersive, and adds to the world of this game. The graphics fit the systems that they are on, and make sense for the genre of visual novel. I know I’m not saying much about these portions, or at least as much as I usually do. But, that is a good thing. The visuals and sound weren’t distracting, and they fit so well into the world that I didn’t ‘notice’ them in a certain sense. I was so engrossed in the world that the visuals and sounds just added to the atmosphere for me. The graphics are obviously better in the second, but the graphics in the first one are still good to look at, even now with it being a few years outdated.
I played both games on the Nintendo systems, and for the original the choice to have it on the DS made sense. The fact that it had the two screens was even lampshaded in the game itself. I have heard that for Virtue’s Last Reward has a lot of bugs in the 3DS version, but I didn’t run into any while I was playing. My boyfriend however, who played the same copy in his own 3DS, ran into a bug that glitched him out of about an hours worth of play. I recommend picking up the Vita version, because I have heard it plays better. I picked up the 3DS for continuity’s sake, but I will be getting the newer one for Vita.
Something that technically doesn’t have to do with the game, but is extremely important is something that is known as Operation Bluebird. Operation Bluebird is a facebook page that was a fan campaign to make Zero Escape 3 happen. We obviously succeeded, as the game was recently announced much to our happiness. But, the reason I bring it up is because it shows how much of a community we have surrounding this game.
There are over 14K people who have liked the page, and there are discussions everywhere for those of us who love the series and want to talk to others who know about this game. Amazon has put up a preorder for the third game, and it has already sold out three times. The community behind this game is wonderful and accepting, and makes it even more of a fun lesser known series to be into.
I could honestly say that the Zero Escape series is one of my favorite game series of all time. The story is something that is hard to be discussed without ruining things, but trust me when I say it is one of the best sci-fi horror games of this generation. The music, the graphics, the puzzles and everything just add to this wonderful story. The games are long, but are worth the time to get into. The new game is in development, so now is the perfect time to get caught up on the older games so you can understand the story in the final installment.