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Zero Escape - Virtue's Last Reward


Yobo Ahoy
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I know this has been out for 6 months already but as it's on PS+ at the moment (EDIT: Not as of 8th May it ain't) it's getting some sporadic discussion across various threads and I reckon it needs a topic of its own. (I have searched but can't find anything.)

For those who don't know what it is, gameplay description nicked from Wikipedia below:

There are two main types of gameplay in Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward. As a visual novel, the game primarily involves interacting with non-player characters and making choices that alter the outcome of the story. The player is given the additional responsibility of choosing whether to betray a character, or to cooperate with them.[11] If both characters choose to cooperate, they both gain BP. However, if one character betrays another, the character being betrayed loses points while the traitor gains a greater amount of points. If both characters choose to betray, no points are gained or lost. (This is a slight variation of the prisoner's dilemma, a classic problem in game theory.) The plot and ending of the game will vary depending on whether the player chooses to betray or cooperate with other characters. The game offers a timeline function that allows the player to travel to select points in which he or she can make different choices and replay puzzle sequences, the timeline function is also integral to the story overall.

The game also contains various puzzles, in which the player interacts with the environment in order to escape from a room. Solving puzzles can drastically alter the environment of a room. If the player fails a puzzle too many times, the characters in the room with them will offer hints on how to complete it, eventually revealing the solution to the puzzle. However, the game also introduces a slightly harder difficulty to the game in which during puzzles, the non-player characters will not give hints.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero_Escape:_Virtue's_Last_Reward



I'm on my third escape at the moment and I'm really struggling to make sense of the game in my head. I know I'm enjoying it, and I'm very involved in the story and characters now, but it's just like nothing I've played before. In some ways it reminds me of Phoenix Wright (first-person dialogue, reams of text, investigating scenes) but with a lot more logic required. Unfortunately, that's not really my strong point but I'm going to persevere nonetheless.

Also, on a related note - is 999 on DS any good? Worth tracking down after I've finished this?

Anyway, the main point of this is - if you have a Vita and PS+, download this now. (EDIT: Not free anymore. Buy it instead.)

post-3388-0-54499700-1366281542.jpg

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I haven't played it, but I'm assuming it's broadly similar to 999, if you're skipping the novel parts then you might as well give up now. It's an interactive novel, so it would be like playing FIFA because you like the bit where you choose what shirts your guys wear but hate the parts where you play football.

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The novel sections are the bit you're supposed to be enjoying. At least, that's how it was with 999. I was a little skip happy at the start but as I approached the end of the game it probably could have thrown two full hours of text at me and I wouldn't have even noticed.

It handled second (and beyond) playthroughs well too, by fastforwarding through the text but automatically stopping at new stuff or choices. Nice touch. I felt that the puzzles were alright, in a kinda odd Crimson Room kinda way since you just click around the place and there's nothing terribly tricky to actually solve, but they were secondary to the story. I'd normally be against that, but I still thought the game was great.

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Finished this a couple of months ago and it's probably in my all-time top ten, I utterly loved it. It's incredibly hard to talk about without spoiling something, even something as simple as how the structure of the game works is a nice surpise when you see it happening, so I won't.

If you're skipping novel bits you should probably give up now. As well as the majority of the delight of this game being the story (after a slow start), there's a lot of stuff in there that you need to know in order to progress later.

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You can save at any point however there's a nasty bug in both versions which occurs if you save in one particular puzzle room. The best workaround is to only save in the novel parts - that's always safe.

If you're in a puzzle room you can back out of it through the UI at any time and save there although you will lose your progress in that room or just put your console to sleep.

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I have been saving in puzzle rooms with no apparent problems. I would caveat the 'must read the novel' talk by saying that I largely ignored it early on and enjoyed it fine. As time has passed I have become interested in the characters more and am stopping to read a lot of it. I still think that it could do better at skipping story that you have already read. It sounds like 999 had it so I'm not sure what changed with vlr.

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I have been saving in puzzle rooms with no apparent problems. I would caveat the 'must read the novel' talk by saying that I largely ignored it early on and enjoyed it fine. As time has passed I have become interested in the characters more and am stopping to read a lot of it. I still think that it could do better at skipping story that you have already read. It sounds like 999 had it so I'm not sure what changed with vlr.

You can skip text you've already read and it stops automatically at new text, just like in 999. Generally you shouldn't be though, as to get the final ending of everything, you really need to pay attention and use the notes pages, let alone the story itself is the main 'point'.

It's a quality little story, I was really quite engrossed after a few 'rounds', genuinely shocked by some stuff and thinking about what a certain even tmight mean later and so on. I'll admit to having to cheat on a couple of the puzzles but weirdly only for the 'normal' safe combination, I'd always seem to unlock the secret code first.

Arguably not much of a 'game' per se but it's better than if those puzzles were just on their own and as I said before it's brilliantly 'gamey' in regards to what it does with the medium, it's simply not something that could really work in a film or a book.

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The epic "novel" sections are killing it for me. 30 mins of mashing the skip button, to do a few puzzles (good as they are). I'm not engaged just yet, but will give it a little longer...

This is the problem I had with 999. I think the genre just isn't for me, I generally don't like games where I rarely or barely interact, no matter how good the story is supposed to be (and seriously, what videogame stories are really all that good). I need more to get my teeth into.

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Also, on a related note - is 999 on DS any good? Worth tracking down after I've finished this?

It's basically a similar setup but more basic in some aspects. Going into after VLR, you'll know roughly what to expect (especially if you've been reading the secret files) but it's still a great ride. Personally, I feel it does the main antagonist better than VLR but that's just me.

I still think that it could do better at skipping story that you have already read. It sounds like 999 had it so I'm not sure what changed with vlr.

999 was arguabley worse off than VLR. It completely missed out the flow diagram so when starting again after an ending or a game over, you had to go from the beginning all over again which included doing all the puzzles again.

The biggest criminal aspect of VLR though would probably be the travel diagrams where you just sit and watch a dot move and doors open.

Personally, I'm with TAR: I love both of these games. Easily up there in my top ten. The last, secret node in VLR is particularly mindblowing.

For those that have completed the game, there's a neat little Q&A on the main site which explains some of the choices in the game. Please note it contains MAJOR SPOILERS FOR BOTH GAMES so read at your own risk.

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You can skip text you've already read and it stops automatically at new text, just like in 999. Generally you shouldn't be though, as to get the final ending of everything, you really need to pay attention and use the notes pages, let alone the story itself is the main 'point'.

It's a quality little story, I was really quite engrossed after a few 'rounds', genuinely shocked by some stuff and thinking about what a certain even tmight mean later and so on. I'll admit to having to cheat on a couple of the puzzles but weirdly only for the 'normal' safe combination, I'd always seem to unlock the secret code first.

Arguably not much of a 'game' per se but it's better than if those puzzles were just on their own and as I said before it's brilliantly 'gamey' in regards to what it does with the medium, it's simply not something that could really work in a film or a book.

How do you skip then? I haven't seen an option yet.

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Gotta be honest, I'm now roughly 9 hours into VLR and it doesn't yet seem to be a patch on 999. The setting, the pacing, even the characters and their unlikely names - they all seem a bit mundane compared to the explosive revelations of the first couple of hours of 999. It's early days and I'm enjoying it, but it's taking its bloody time in getting going.

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Gotta be honest, I'm now roughly 9 hours into VLR and it doesn't yet seem to be a patch on 999. The setting, the pacing, even the characters and their unlikely names - they all seem a bit mundane compared to the explosive revelations of the first couple of hours of 999. It's early days and I'm enjoying it, but it's taking its bloody time in getting going.

The characters in VLR tend to wear their colours on their sleeves in the majority in that you know who to be on the look out for. In 999, mostly everyone tended to be fairly standard until the revelations started beginning. I would say that it's probably a slower start and it takes a few game overs/endings to see where they're going but it really does turn out to be fantastic. The ambidex games, while seemingly contrived at first are actually a great addition to it.

How do you skip then? I haven't seen an option yet.

In the bottom right corner where it has the stop icon, hit it a couple of times from Stop to Auto then Skip.

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I think it's these 'To Be Continued...' which are throwing me. In 999 you'd get an ending and that was that. I played for a couple more hours last night and there are some really clever bits in there. Still no idea what's going on though, looking forward to the KERBLAMMO moment!

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Is there a way to speed up the text? I can't remember exactly what bothered me about it (does it make a noise?) but I only managed a couple of minute of playtime before I deleted it. I'm assuming the skip button is something different as I actually want to read it... I think.

I tried 999 but had similar problems, I was hoping the Vita sequel would be better polished but it still has an horrific UI and slow text (or something).

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