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on September 14, 2015
This is one of the most unique experiences I ever had with a videogame.

Before I say anything else, note that this is a visual novel, meaning it'll have too much dialogue and focus mainly on the story, you'll be spending more time reading and following the story than actually playing, it's similar to reading a book but with puzzles inside.

That being said, even if it doesn't sound interesting to you, I highly recommend this game, at least as a new experience for you.

This game has very good story telling, although it does get boring sometimes, and you can't skip or adjust the speed of the text unless you're replaying the game to get another one of the six endings, however, rest assured as you can save the game any time you want, so you don't have to force yourself to read anymore when you want to take a break.

As for the game play, you basically solve puzzles and investigate, as the game is all about 9 people trapped in a huge ship, have to solve puzzles in order to pass through the 9 numbered doors, within 9 hours (9 hours, 9 doors, 9 persons), the puzzles are pretty smart and require too much concentration, and of course the game gives you enough hints and explains everything to you.

Also, there are six endings to this game, as in every play through you can decide on which doors you want to go through, and you have to finish the game at least twice to get the real ending, which is not an issue since the "True ending" is pretty much connected to the "Safe ending" and has different plot and puzzles.

Last but not least, the entire mystery of the game is genius, some things are left unexplained at the end, but the ending is still satisfying.

Again, I highly recommend this game for anyone who likes to experience something new.
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on April 17, 2016
Part Danganronpa, part SAW films. Suspenseful, eerie, mysterious, and more. I've never played a game like this before, though there could be a large library of games out there in this genre for all I know. I recently got sucked into this title as a result of Nintendo's big Spring sale currently underway, which included a heavy discount on this games sequel (Zero Escape). Reviews for that game a incredible in spite of the title receiving much publicity and select fanfare. The same could be said for this title as well. Upon reading reviews for Zero Escape, I was informed that playing this title wasn't necessary, but was highly recommended based on its own merits. After much hype, I bought in. Totally worth it.

For me it was a unique gaming experience. Very engaging. This game is quite a few years old by now, but here I am loving it on my 3ds in 2016. I just beat it earlier today and got the bad ending & now I absolutely must go back to experience the other 5. The bad news is that my ending solved no mysteries or saw the game to a conclusion, but I will keep playing til I get my answers!

If you like puzzles and enjoy death games this title is a no brainier.
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on September 20, 2016
When I bought this game, it was already a little older, but wanted to play the series in its entirety. I unknowingly played the sequel first. It being older, I didn't have high expectations. But it turned out to be great regardless. the animation wasn't even bad just older. The puzzles were still fantastic, as is known for the series, and the storyline, writing, plot, etc. is out of this world. I was very impressed. I HIGHLY suggest playing the series in its entirety. It is well worth it. Virtues Last Reward follows this one, and is concluded by Zero Time Dilemma. My only, absolutely, only complaint is that you do have to repeat some puzzles and the time line is a little difficult. They have "fixed" this in the following two games. But with the internet being accessible, if I got hung up, or just didn't feel like remembering everything I had already done, there are great walk throughs out there.
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on October 23, 2014
I read an article on a gaming website that pointed me towards this game, I had a few extra dollars to spend so I said sure why not. I fell in love with the game almost instantly. I love the way it hooked me from the beginning with the mystery and intrigue surrounding the main character and those around him. The puzzles are stimulating, you do feel a great sense of accomplishment when you figure them out and solve them, and when you do it quickly...you almost feel like a genius, but there is always another challenge ahead. The multiple endings storylines is great...I've never really been of fan of exploring multiple endings...but here in order to get the "best" ending, you have to play through the story multiple times making different decisions and it never really feels like a chore. There are some far fetched concepts thrown around the storyline, but I guess thats part of what hooked me. It's a definitely an entertaining game.
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on July 17, 2013
This is one of the few games for the Nintendo DS that is rated Mature...and for good reason this story is a dark as it is gripping. Following the lines of games before it such as Hotel Dusk and Trace Memory, this game is perfect for any DS owner over the age of 17; the story is intricate and fascinating and the game play is simple and well designed. The game gives you plenty of clues to be able to solve all the puzzles so if you're not a big puzzle gamer then you'll be able to manage your way through, but it's also complicated enough the puzzle fans will enjoy the gameplay.

There's a lot of replay value in the game. With six different endings that require a bit of trial and error to get, there is plenty of fun to be had. In fact you need to complete the game at least twice to get the "true ending" Each storyline also gives you a little more insight into the overall story making each replay all the more interesting (don't worry you can fast forward through all the dialogue you've all ready read).

Admittedly the game is a lot more text than gameplay, while it's marketed as an puzzle game, it is definitely more visual novel than puzzle, which might make the game less fun for those that don't like to read a lot. But the story was so intense and gripping that I could hardly put the game down.

The downside is that you do have to suspend your belief a lot in the story (Apparently the Titanic was cursed by a mummy that was on board frozen by something called Ice-9...which is ice that only melts at 96 degrees) and that you can only have one save file.

All in all, this is a game completely worth every penny.
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on April 25, 2013
I just unlocked my fourth of the six endings, and I'm trying to convince myself to do chores instead of continuing to play. I think my efforts to convince myself of this will be in vain.

I have never been one for story lines in games, but this one is not only necessary but incredibly interesting. The characters have intertwined relationships that slowly reveal themselves through game play.

As other reviewers have mentioned, with each play-through, you do have to go through every conversation again. Even with fast-forwarding, I find this at least a little bit annoying. However, it's completely worth it. I keep thinking that each play-through will reveal very little more than the previous, but I have always been wrong so far. I've only played 5 times so far, but I would still call that excellent replay value (which was obviously the intention).

It's pretty obvious that they put way more into the budget of the story and general programming than images/animation, but the former are so good that it does not matter even the slightest that there are just a few sprites per character.

My advice is to take very detailed notes with each run-through. Note whom you take with you, which path you take, how you respond to people's questions, etc. Most definitely note which doors you go through and solutions to puzzles as well. Draw out maps of each level, and write where you find each key and key card as well as where you have to go to use each.

Every run has been an absolute blast. The music gets your heart racing, and comments the other characters make get the gears turning about the story's background. They're often funny in their wit as well.

I most definitely agree with others that this game is in no way for children, which honestly makes it a great go-to game for adults like me who love the DS (because so much is geared to a younger audience with the DS). If you are easily offended by curse words, gory descriptions, and the occasional highly suggestive comment, this game is certainly not for you. For the rest, you need to make this the next game on your list and prepare to be hooked.
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on March 4, 2013
I am a 24 year old male. I never got bought the Nintendo DS because Nintendo usually caters to younger crowds with titles like Mario, Animal Crossing, etc. Sure, those games are fun, but by going with a Nintendo console, you are usually limiting to non M-rated games - its hard to find games on Nintendo consoles that cater to my demographic.

However.... its been a long time since a game appealed to me this much.

That being said, the themes in The Zero Escape series are much darker than most M-rated games offered anywhere on any console. The maturity of this game goes far beyond the Shin Megami Tensei series. Many of the endings will leave you haunted for some time and are absolutely unforgettable - Something akin to Lucy ripping apart the group of bullies in Elfen Lied, or the various plot threads in 'When they Cry'. The intelligent themes are on par with the anime series 'Steins; Gate'. I'm actually very surprised this game did not gain popularity in Japan. That being said, it was a bit more successful in America.

I noticed there were some good titles coming out for the Nintendo 3DS (Fire Emblem: Awakening, Monster Hunter, RE: Revelations, Some Shin Megami Tensei games), so I picked up a 3DS XL. I noticed that one of the more popular games was Hero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward. I read a little about it and found it interesting. I realized that 999 was the first in the series. I wasn't sure at first about playing a game from the previous generation. I also don't tend to like the 'find your way out of the room' sort of games. My opinion of them in the past was that they were boring. But you don't really play this game for those puzzles...

You play it for the story, which is incredible. I am so glad that I decided to pick this up. It is so different, intelligent, immersive, and haunting. It doesn't take long. 15 minutes into the game you will be addicted as the story starts out fairly fast paced. The character wakes up on a boat that is sinking and needs to escape. As the story progresses you find other people and begin to understand what is going on with the group of people.

The follow up game is also fairly great. Its a completely different experience and is just as good. Maybe not as haunting, but definitely as addicting. I suggest you pick them both up and give them a try, starting with 999. You will be happy that you didn't pass up this wonderful gem of a game.
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on November 29, 2012
This was my first experience with a visual novel/puzzle game and I am very much impressed. First I'll start with the "bad",

1. If it takes a few tries to get a puzzle and you keep going back to get more hints, you're forced to re-read the slow, scrolling dialog explaining the instructions... each time.

2. Since you're on a small DS screen (I actually play on an XL and still had this problem), you can often click the wrong item and then have to read through the dialog about the item.

3. Some dialog seemed unnecessary, and I don't mean story progression wise. Without any spoilers, one example of something that started to annoy me was characters asking at almost every door if everyone is ready for it to be opened... then you have to wait for all characters to agree. It's like jeez, just go through the door already!

4. Degree of some of the puzzles. Some were so easy I was thinking why did they even make this part a puzzle? Then others were quite difficult and for a while I could only stare at the screen wondering "Wtf am I supposed to do?". Anyone who claims all the puzzles in the game are too easy obviously hasn't done every puzzle behind every door. However, this isn't a big issue because in the entire game I only came across 3-4 puzzled that gave me trouble.

Interestingly enough, all those "problems" become irrelevant after your first couple playthroughs. After you play once, you can almost instantly scroll through text you've already seen. If it gets to a part you've never read, scrolling will automatically stop. Considering I've played through the game multiple times to get all endings, this was much appreciated. Moving on to characters, I loved them all! <3 They all have distinctive personalities and after a few go arounds while getting deeper in the story, I felt like I was really getting attached to them. Possibly a /SPOILER, but I'm not ashamed to say I cried during the "true ending". After a lot of trial and error, it was the last ending I got and so deserving of the tears. \SPOILER. As for the plot... I was so unprepared for the twists and turns in it, all I can say is simply a great story.

I don't recommend this game if you don't like reading, I think people should keep in mind it's generally a visual novel. If you're prepared to do some reading, and like the idea of some puzzles along the way I highly recommend this game. Once you get started it's VERY addictive and hard to put down. It's absolutely one of the best of its type and I feel quite spoiled after having enjoyed it. Now I'm just waiting for them to fix the bug in it's 3DS sequel so I can get that next : )
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on September 23, 2014
I never thought that I was a visual novel kind of person. I love reading, and I love manga, and I love video games, so it seems like it would be a no-brainer. But picking up this game... I was blown away. This is brilliantly written, and all of the characters feel fleshed out, and very real. The story is revealed perfectly, with you not knowing everything until getting the best ending. This does require a few playthroughs, but thankfully you can skip the dialogue, as it doesn't change with each playthrough, and it automatically stops skipping when you get to content you haven't seen before. You still need to re-do the puzzles, but it's not too bad. It also skips really fast, which is nice. Unless you follow a guide, you're not going to get the best ending the first time through unless you're extremely lucky... Plus, you should experience everything the game has to offer.

There aren't any voices, instead when characters speak you get different sounds when the text appears on the screen, different for each person. The music and sounds are pretty good, not going to win any awards but still better than decent. The art style is anime-ish, but still very pretty on the DS screen. The actual gameplay, the puzzles, are fairly inventive. It does deal a little bit with math, but just a little, and the game explains everything to you. The story is really everything. It really gets you hooked right at the beginning, and you truly want to find out how everything happens.

The best part? The story doesn't end here. They released a sequel, Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward for 3DS and PSVita, and it's been announced that it's the second in a trilogy.
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on August 19, 2013
The game builds up the usual horror tropes, like the death that demonstrates the rules of the game and the gradual revelation of why these characters are placed in the deathtrap. Although the game has lots of lighthearted humor, the bad endings maintain the horror elements of the game. But then you get the REAL ending and traditional storytelling goes out the window. Completing the game left me dumbfounded and intrigued. The real ending introduces lots of questions that are not explicitly answered, but the implied answers consider a more unsettling insanity in the game's antagonists.
That confusion does not deter me from enjoying the game though, since the protagonist is down-to-earth and almost whimsically dismisses the surrealism that comes his way. I really liked that when at the end and introducing the hard-to-explain, the game pretty much says "Whatever, here's some inconsequential side conversation." The lack of seriousness makes the game feel freshly unique. Otherwise, if you want to stick with horror, just watch the bad endings.
The puzzle solving is easy point-and-clicking and introduces some interesting math problems. It might require some pen and paper, but each puzzle is confined to your current room, so solving puzzles is not hectic. My main problem with the game are the walls of text. Yes, I expected it, but I also thought there would be text speed options in a customization menu. (I also deducted points for the 4 crests puzzle near the end of the game. Why don't the numbers match?)
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