Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma

Just when you think Spike Chunsoft can't get more twisted

  • Developer: Spike Chunsoft
  • Platforms: PSVita, PS4, PC

I admit, I'm not usually a fan of the kind of genres that involve a group of people turning on each other. That's probably why you're not likely to see me play things like Until Dawn.

However, I like puzzles, and that is a major part of Zero Time Dilemma and its predecessor, Virtue's Last Reward.

If you haven't played Zero Escape before, here's a gist of the first two games, 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors (referred to from here on as 999) and Virtue's Last Reward. Naturally, this video spoils the plot of these two games.

For fans of the first two games, four characters make a return, Akane and Junpei from 999, and Sigma and Phi from Virtue's Last Reward. All I'll say about the game's plot is that it serves to tie together the two games so far, after all, there's a large gap to fill in.

We have the Vita version here, and graphically, it's not stellar, most notably in panning shots during the game's many cutscenes. The style seems to show distinct black lines on 3D character models, almost seeming to be an attempt of in between 999 and VLR. These ripple during the game's many cutscenes having a panning shot, frame drops occasionally happen as well, no doubt due to it being a downscaled version of the home console counterpart. I find this rather hard on the eyes sometimes.

That said, many elements of VLR remain, most notably the branching timeline navigation. Unlike VLR, however, it features what is called 'fragments' with one, maybe two branches within it focusing on a single event or puzzle.

Decisions are very much a theme of the game as well, as is isolation, with the 9 characters being isolated in three 'wards' in a bomb shelter. The team leaders are new characters. Diana, who will ring bells with players of VLR, is paired with Phi and Sigma. Carlos, an American fireman, is paired with Akane and Junpei. The remaining three are new characters, Q, a boy with amnesia, Eric, a sales clerk, and Mira, Eric's love interest. It is in these decisions, not unlike the Prisoner's Dilemma of VLR, that lead to differing timelines, not all of them having a distinct ending as much as the dreaded 'game over'.

It's hard to say much without bordering spoiler territory, as the plot and the puzzles are intricately tied together. All I can say for now is, even though I shudder at the thought of what some of the people go through, after all, many of the timelines that do not procure one of the endings have some information that will lead the way. What I will conclude with is this, the puzzles will challenge you, and if the last stories of the franchise had you going, this game will tie the loose ends and quite possibly end a twisted but incredible franchise with a bang.


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