Nukezilla Review: Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward (Vita)
Let me preface this review by stating: if you have yet to play 999 on the DS, and are thinking of playing Virtue’s Last Reward, I highly recommend playing through 999 first (it’s awesome!). It should go without saying that Virtue’s Last Reward spoils most of the mysteries of 999. However, while Virtue’s Last Reward‘s story is designed to stand on its own for newcomers to the series, the game is filled with plot twists and revelations that are sweeter and hit harder for those familiar with intricacies from 999 outside of what Virtue’s Last Reward provides as backstory.
Whether you take my advice or not, Virtue’s Last Reward still remains a game that will suck you in early and refuse to let go – despite being full of rabbit and cat puns. The game is designed in the same vein as 999: it’s a visual novel (with full voice acting this time around) interspersed with sixteen escape-the-room puzzles. Players take on the role of Sigma, one of nine unwilling players of the new Nonary Game – a numbers-oriented game based this time around the prisoner’s dilemma, wherein each player can choose to either ally with or betray other players and gain (or lose) points accordingly, all in attempt to gain nine points and escape the mysterious facility. Each choice branches off new potentials as to how the game will ultimately play out, providing a new story experience with each subsequent playthrough. While 999 had seven endings, Virtue’s Last Reward boasts twenty-two, nearly all of which need to be witnessed in order to fully comprehend the story being told.
To those who fear a game primarily consisting of long blocks of text, worry not: the cast of Virtue’s Last Reward is varied enough to keep things interesting, due in no small part to their own secrets to be uncovered secondary to the Nonary Game. What is the cause of K’s amnesia, and why does the mysterious Phi seem to know more than she lets on? Why is Tenmyoji so militantly protective of young Quark, and what connection binds Alice and Clover together? Perhaps most importantly: are any of them allied with the sinister game-master Zero, or worse: could any of them be Zero himself – or herself?
If you held a gun to my head – or forced me to play the Nonary Game – I honestly couldn’t say whether 999 or Virtue’s Last Reward was the better game. Each had their flaws – easily overlooked by the sheer amount of strengths – but each game has a few distinct strengths that push one ahead of the other. 999 had a well-paced, tight horror-based script – but could have used a major overhaul in its design to facilitate replays. Virtue’s Last Reward pushed a much more cerebral, sci-fi based concept at the sacrifice of looser scripting. However, I can without hesitation highly recommend both – both are unique, utterly engaging, and stick with you long after each story ends.
This review is day sixteen of the December 2012 Nukestravaganza