In 2010, Aksys Games localized Chunsoft’s 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors to critical and fan praise. Gamers where captivated by the story of nine people being kidnapped and forced to play a game to escape a ship before it sinks. Being a visual novel, not too much emphasis was placed on the game, even though the puzzles were wonderfully done. The real draw of 999 was the characters, their motives, and why they were on that ship. It was a game of life and death, and even though they are suspicious of each other, they had to work together to escape this deadly game with their lives. Everything added together, and 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors went on to become the sleeper hit of 2010.
Much to everyone’s excitement, Aksys Games said they will be publishing Chunsoft’s spiritual successor, Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward. Rising Star Games has said they will be bringing the title to Europe, and they will be using Aksys Game’s localized script. Luckily for European gamers, you do not have to play 999 in order to understand the story, but you may miss out on some of the references it makes to its predecessor.
Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Fortune sees nine people kidnapped and taken to an abandoned warehouse. Once they awaken and meet up with each other, they learn they are taking part in a game of life or death. Each of them wears a bracelet that not only identifies which number they are, but keeps track of their score. Once a person reaches nine points of more, they will be able to leave the warehouse. However, if you have zero, then you will die.
The mechanics of Zero Escape, and it’s theme, is that over helping others and betrayal. If you and another person helps each other, you both will gain two points. On the other hand, if some one wants to ally with you and you betray them, you will gain will take a point from them, netting yourself three. The person you betray will be down a point, and you could potential kill them because of this. You must be wary of the same happening to you as well. Since each person needs nine points to survive, they will do anything to gain those points.
Since the staff that worked on 999 is working on Zero Escape, the writing is expected to be top notch. Each character will have their own motivation, their own personality quirks, and they will evolve over the course of the game. This is what will make playing the game difficult. Each character will have their own personality, so will you be willing to betray them, and potentially kill them? Or will you betray them, risking revenge being taken upon you? Who will you trust and ally with? Who is lying to you? And most importantly, who is the mastermind behind this cruel game? The story will be filled with mystery, intrigue, twists, and betrayal.
The actual gameplay will revolve around solving puzzles. If you are not an expert puzzle solver, you should not fear, the other characters will over hints to the solutions. Remember, their lives are at stake too, so this ‘camaraderie’ of sorts adds to the urgency of what is at stake.
Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward is set to release for the Nintendo 3DS and the Playstation Vita in North America on October 23, 2012 and in Europe on November 16, 2012. The game launch at the beginning of the year in Japan, and has it was met with much great critical reception. Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward has the makings of a fantastic game, and may go on to be portable game of the year. Only time will tell, and it’s release can not come any sooner.