Messing with time is never an easy thing to understand.
Every second of the 35+ hours of game time I spent on Virtue’s Last Reward was definitely worth it. After all, how can you possibly go wrong with 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors’ sequel? This second installment to the Zero Escape series puts you into the shoes of Sigma, a college student who gets abducted by Zero and made to play the Nonary Game. Although the game play hasn’t changed much, Virtue has added quite a few bits and pieces to spice things up.
First on the list: Pairs and Solos. In 999, you only needed the correct number of bracelets to get into rooms, right? Virtue tries to complicate things a bit by grouping the nine players to Pairs and Solos with corresponding colors. Pairs, as the name implies, consists of two people. However, Pairs are considered as one entity—thus, they have the same destiny. The Pair and Solo colors are needed to open Chromatic Doors—your gateway to proceed to the story. For instance, if you plan to go into a Green door, and you are a Yellow Pair, then you need a Blue Solo. Simple color wheel.
Next, the Nonary Game is now vamped up as the Nonary Game: Ambidex Edition. Simply saying, after the customary escape puzzle, each group plays the AB Game. This added twist forces each color group (the Pair and the Solo) to go against each other in a game of trust. Whether the players choose “Ally” or “Betray”, a corresponding penalty is at hand, the worst of which is, well, death. Quite a sick game if you ask me. Not suitable for people with trust issues.
Rather than having you play through everything, Virtue has this flowchart which allows you to jump from one path to another and a nifty “Skip” option so you don’t need to read through the dialogues again. Well, the flowchart has more purpose than that but I’ll leave that for you to discover.
Of course, there’s also the mind-blowing story. If 999 played around with the morphogenetic field, Virtue plays around with the morphogenetic field in addition to space-time. Yes, space-time, parallel worlds and all those science fiction hoozahs. It’s like Steins;Gate—only much more confusing and expansive. Plus, Virtue upped the ante with a whopping 24 endings (didn’t actually count ‘em myself. The box said so), compared to the 6 endings 999 had. If that wasn’t enough, characters from 999 also make their appearances into this game, participating in the Nonary Game yet again (as if one nightmare wasn’t enough).
What to expect: plenty of plot twists. What not to expect: the usual gory end in 999. (I personally think 999 is more bloody since the penalty is…self-destruction. VLR, on the other hand, uses this muscle relaxant which makes your heart stop beating. I dunno.) If you don’t like puzzles and reading a lot—this is a visual novel, after all—then stay away. But if you love puzzle games, this one’s a must have especially if you played (and loved) 999. Plug this in and immerse yourself into the Nonary Game’s world. After all, there is zero escape.
Creds to the owners of the photos. This seems to be the PSVita version. But it’s basically the same with the 3DS version.