If you haven’t played Aksys’s hit game on the Nintendo DS “999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors,” then you have been hiding under a rock and need to come out. Aksys recently came out with their sequel “Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward” for the 3DS and PS Vita. They have made some of the best puzzles I have ever seen in a video game in a long time. Not to mention that they’re actually enjoyable to figure out and get your mind working.
The game starts out with you, Sigma, waking up in an elevator with another woman named Phi. You have no idea what is going on, how you got there, or even how long you have been passed out. After having a short conversation with Phi you hear a voice coming from the elevator panel which also starts playing a video of a Bunny. This Bunny, Zero, can apparently talk which you soon learn that even though he has bad and good news to tell you Zero is hilarious till the very end. At first I thought he was this evil A.I. bunny and found him irritating but later every time he popped on the screen to say something I was laughing out loud. From his valley girl voice impression to all this bunny puns, you will enjoy his presence even though not always for the good of the characters.
Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward may be different for most people but once the story gets rolling you won’t want to put it down. The story has a lot of depth to it with over 30 hours of game play so you’ll never have a dull moment. In this game, nine strangers are once again kidnapped and forced to play a game of puzzle-solving in order to earn their freedom from a locked facility. Your character is forced to decide whether to “ally” with or “betray” their partner who is currently out of communication range and given the same choice. If you both pick “ally,” you both gain two points. A total of nine points is needed to escape the facility, so it seems logical to play nice and make sure everyone moves up. But, if you pick “betray,” you move up faster seeing as when you betray someone you score three points, while your partner loses two. If your points drop to zero, you die. You can tell what your points are with a watch your character is wearing. It tells you how many points you have and if you’re solo or partnered up with someone. This watch contains two needles that inject two different substances into your body in the event you do hit zero. This can get real interesting considering you’re playing a guessing game seeing who really is only for themselves.
One of the issues that fans faced in the original Nintendo DS game “999” was that you had to play through the story from beginning to end six different times to reach all of the endings. Now lets face it, no one really wants to go back and replay a game with the same exact puzzles for over 20 hours each time just to reach all the possible different endings. Luckily the publishers heard our cry for help and this issue has been resolved in Zero with the new “FLOW” system. This system lets you jump around back, forth and side-to-side throughout the entirety of the game whenever you like. You will never have to play through the same puzzles twice!
I recommend possibly purchasing and playing the original 999 before Zero Escape. The original has already been through seven different prints alone that where due to its unexpected popularity. Either way, if you pick up Zero Escape you won’t be entirely lost and won’t regret it. It will be one of the best story puzzle based handheld games you have played since Phoenix Wright secretly became a success years ago. So do yourself a favor and pick up Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward to get those puzzle skills going again.
RATING: 9.5 out of 10
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