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About the product
- Excellence in Narrative Puzzles - Kotaro Uchikoshi is back with diabolic new puzzles and fully animated story sections that push boundaries of interactive storytelling!
- Meet Our New Contestants - New comers and familiar faces round out a robust cast of characters. Find out who will live and who will die in this epic clash of wills
- Beautiful HD PS4 Graphical Experience - Zero Time Dilemma has been beautifully remastered with impressive new HD Along with both English and Japanese voice over options to flesh out the narrative
- Vast Branching Paths - Multiple endings and non linear story mechanics will keep you coming back for more!
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Choice is your only method of salvation and your only means of escape. How much of your humanity will you sacrifice to earn your freedom? As a new age of ruin looms large on the horizon, you must make impossible decisions and weather unimaginable consequences as you straddle the line between absolution and damnation. Plan your escape.
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The Zero Escape series are games that involve two components working in tandem. The games are all visual novels, so they feature a heavy focus on story. Zero Time Dilemma changed the "novel" component to voiced cutscenes. During the visual novel segments, the player makes choices which impact upon the story. The catch is that the games permit the player to revisit choices at key moments and make the alternative selection(s), which results in branching timelines. The branching timelines play into the story, though delving into how and why is deep into spoiler territory.
The other component of the Zero Escape games is a series of escape rooms. Characters are placed in locked rooms and tasked with finding clues that will eventually lead to the key. My initial playthrough of the three games in the series was on the DS/3DS. While the graphics and sounds and general presentation are better on the PS4 versions, I still tend to prefer the stylus-based touchscreen mechanics for puzzle solving in the escape rooms. The PS4 controller works without issue, of course, but the Zero Escape games always felt right at home on the DS family of systems because of the touch screen implementation.
Zero Time Dilemma was released in June of 2016 on Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita. The PS4 port cleans up some of the textures (which, on Vita, already looked pretty good anyway). From what I have experienced, there are not any significant changes to the game from the handheld version besides a mild visual upgrade.
In Zero Time Dilemma, much like 999 and Virtue's Last Reward, a group of individuals find themselves locked up in an unfamiliar location by an individual going by the name Zero. People have compared this series to the Saw franchise, and the comparison is pretty apt. In the games, Zero often speaks to the characters, presenting them with choices and explaining the consequences of those choices every step of the way. The story is dark and gripping. It can also get a little convoluted--the sort of thing that, upon completion, seems to prompt many players to go online to find further reading or discussion.
Because this is the finale of a trilogy of visual novels, it should go without saying that if you find any of this interesting, play The Nonary Games first. The first game, 999, is not entirely essential to understanding Zero Time Dilemma (though I don't recommend skipping it, as it's very good). However, Virtue's Last Reward is very much essential. If you haven't played Virtue's Last Reward, Zero Time Dilemma is not the place to start. Characters from 999 and Virtue's Last Reward return in this game alongside new characters, and while the story is complicated no matter what, it can be unwieldy without the foundation from the games in The Nonary Games.
The one thing that I felt was a missed opportunity with this game involves the ending. The way this game ends has been the subject of debate online since players first finished it and began discussing it. There are epilogues, but they only do a little to bolster the ending. The way the game ends should not dissuade players from checking out this series. However, if you finish the game and feel unsatisfied, you are not alone.
I really do not care for the graphical presentation of this game compared to its predecessors. 999 and Virtue's Last Reward had a distinctly anime style to them. The bright colors looked great, and helped to emphasize the dark and gritty events transpiring throughout the story. By contrast, Zero Time Dilemma, much like its box art, is a game of browns and grays. While the returning characters' designs still look okay, the anime approach of the prior two games really looked much better. As a result, the trilogy lacks a cohesive style.
The PS4 version is a step up from the 3DS and Vita versions of Zero Time Dilemma, but make no mistake, this is a port of a handheld game. The story is the main focus, alongside the escape rooms, so the visuals do not really detract much from those core elements. However, by comparison, this game just does not look as good unfortunately.
The audio here is phenomenal. Everything is voiced, and the voice acting is generally excellent. Both the English and Japanese voices are present, so you can pick your preferred way to experience the game. The script is well-written, and it is easy to become engrossed in the game. The soundtrack is the real standout. Shinji Hosoe's score is incredible, and if you've played The Nonary Games, you'll quickly recognize some of the remixed themes from prior games here. It's an excellent soundtrack that always supports the overall mood of the games.
The Zero Escape games are truly wonderful experiences. Zero Time Dilemma is the weakest of the bunch in my opinion, but it's still a strong entry in the series. I would urge anyone who is interested in visual novels to give this series a try. As I mentioned earlier, Zero Time Dilemma should not be your first game in the series, so you really have to start with The Nonary Games. If you played those and were waiting for the conclusion, do not hesitate to pick it up. Minor complaints aside, this is a very worthwhile trilogy of games and I highly recommend Zero Time Dilemma.