Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma Released On PC

Say, do you like life-or-death decisions, puzzles, room escapes, and murderous scenarios which force you into all of the aforementioned? If so, do have a look at Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma [official site]. The third and final game in the horror trilogy started by Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors has launched on PC – only two days after the Vita and 3DS releases. Publishers Spike Chunsoft have been releasing more games rounds our way lately, such as Danganronpa, but a near-simultaneous launch is a rare treat. Well, as much as any horrific scenario can be a treat.

Nine people wake up trapped in a strange underground facility with weird black bracelets and told six of them must die if they’re to get the passwords they need to escape. They’re drugged, memory-wiped, and generally mucked around, then put through challenges and murdergames with awful decisions. Happy days! It’s split into ninety-minute sections but the memory loss means it’s not clear in which order events happen. Oh, and of course there are multiple endings.

Given the setup and the characters’ general surprise at all these murdergames, it’s hopefully not too much of a problem to come into this without playing the first two games – which aren’t yet on PC. Any 3DSfolk or Viteers out there have thoughts on that?

Developers Chime had help from Danganronpa porters Abstraction Games for the PC version, and it offers these options for prettiness (I know y’all go wild for options menus). As for languages, it looks saves are locked to either English or Japanese as their main language once you start, but you can still swap between English and Japanese voices on the fly.

Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma is £29.99/36,99€/$39.99 for Windows on Steam. Spike Chunsoft had planned to offer pre-order bonuses of a mini soundtrack and a virtual booklet of illustrations and design commentary but, er, it seems they didnt enable pre-ordering. So instead, they’ve made both of those free to folks who buy the game by July 8th.

Spike Chunsoft’s roguelikelike Mystery Chronicle: One Way Heroics will be their next PC release, coming to Steam this summer.

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  1. Vacuum Boogie says:

    I’ve played 999 on the DS and it was on point: a SAW-like experience with solid and fair puzzles, quirky characters and hints of gore. Didn’t have a chance to try the second game on my 3DS. I’m too busy with Pocket Card Jockey anyway. I might give this one a spin though if it’s anything like the original 999.

    • Ksempac says:

      If you liked 999,play the second chapter, Virtue’s Last Reward, it’s MUCH better on every point

    • Buggery says:

      Grab VLR and play it or the story will not make a lick of sense, I think. To be fair, even if you play VLR, the game will still not make a lick of sense. But you will probably have fun, anyway.

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    Aitrus says:

    That has DECISION GAME got to be the strangest trailer I’ve ever seen.

  3. yogibbear says:

    I’ve played the 2nd game in the series and it was FANTASTIC. Much deeper and more complex that it at first appears.

  4. Pich says:

    PLEASE if you can, play the first 2 games before this one, because it’s full of spoilers.

    • charink says:

      Could I start at the second game if I don’t have any means to play the first?

      • Crane says:

        If you have a PC, you have the means to play the first.
        DS emulation is pretty robust; that’s how I played it.

      • Ksempac says:

        Yes you could start with the 2nd, which is miles better (as interesting as the first one was, it has undeniable flaws).

        You will probably take a bit longer to understand what the hell is going on, but the game will tell you what you need to know when it’s time for that.

        Note : if you start with the second, you will probably never play the first after that:the story will be spoiled and the huge downgrade in user interface will probably kill any interest in the game. The only way to appreciate the first game and bears its flaws is by starting with it

        • Kitsunin says:

          The first game also includes some tedium to finish properly. It’s still great and if you like visual novels and/or room escape/puzzle games then *play it*, but if you’re iffy on them, you might prefer the superb impressions and writing the second game will give you, at the expense of not really being able to experience the excellent 999.

  5. Eight Rooks says:

    I played the “novel” version of 999, the first one, on iOS – which removes all the puzzles and just leaves the narrative and a few branching paths. It was awful. Some of the worst writing I’ve ever seen in a videogame – an idiotic plot, a complete lack of characterization, infuriatingly smug sub-Dan Brown pseudoscience and a truckload of anime cliches. It’s neat to see more developers making the jump to PC, but the acclaim that game gets baffles me. No puzzles, no matter how clever, could possibly turn that nonsense into anything approaching a good story.

    • Ksempac says:

      Well i didn’t know the iOS version was different but here are my thoughts on the matter.

      First, the second game in the serie is miles better than the first.

      999 had obvious flaws in both story and user interface. However, 999 came out when escape rooms where all the craze, and it’s to my knowledge the first game that tried to make something more out of that genre of games. You have a reason to escape and the back and forth between the puzzle gameplay and the story telling made for a nice rhythm in the game.

      I don’t know how the iOS version plays, but i suspect that, if you only get the story, the flaws of the game would be more obvious. Escape sequences where a break from reading too much, but also a time to reflect on what you knew so far and what you thought was happening.

      I don’t know exactly what you didn’t like in the first game, but the second one improves on every aspect. The UI was much more useable, the game didn’t force you to replay sections you have already done, and the story was much deeper, and much more focused. In 999,there were lots of dialog on things that were supposed to be red herrings, but felt more like random blabbering. In Virtue’s Last Reward you don’t get that, the story is way more purposeful and is way bigger. That being said, it’s still set in the same universe has the first game so some of the concepts do carry over (I’m being intentional vague to not spoil people who haven’t played either game).

    • Kitsunin says:

      Didn’t try the novel version (iOS only…so…) but I do disagree. I don’t see smugness in the story. It’s presented as sci-fi and not fantasy, that is to say it attempts to present its magic as a part of reality rather than just saying “it’s magic from an alternate version of our world guys”. I will say I can’t imagine the story’s twists worked particularly well in the form of a pure visual novel.

      But the way you mention anime cliches, whether or not it’s true, the familiarity of that opinion pretty much renders your impression irrelevant to the majority of open-minded folks.

      • Eight Rooks says:

        The pseudoscience is absolute BS, has been discredited as BS by pretty much any reputable expert out there, and yet the game has multiple speeches where a character will first say “I’ll bet you’ve never heard of this incredible thing”; then “Oh, come on, it’s not true, what are you, stupid?”; then “…ah, but what if it was?” and on and on. That’s not intelligent writing in any sense of the word. It’s a child trying to convince people they’re smart. It’s exactly the same as Dan Brown trying to pass the Rosicrucians off as fact, for example, only 999 doesn’t even have the guts to say “Yes, in this fictional universe, this is self-evidently 100% true. Cool, huh?”. It wants to have its cake and eat it in the worst possible way.

        It’s also really badly written, with a shockingly poor command of the English language for a professional product – this has nothing to do with my not liking the narrative, I’ve read stories I disliked more that were written much more competently. And it can’t let anything go unspoken, to a much greater extent than even the most tiresome JRPG – you can see that right from the start, where you get gems like (only slightly paraphrased) “He noticed a person out of the corner of his eye. No, it was three people. There were three people on the stairs to the left, and four people on the stairs to the right. That meant there were seven people” – give me a break.

        I accept that it was trying to jazz up a popular craze with higher production values than usual, but that’s no excuse. God, I could fill pages about how bad it is. Saying “…but but but you insulted anime! That must mean you’re a judgemental asshole!” (and that is essentially what you were driving at, let’s not be coy) just smacks of kneejerk reflexes to me; I’ve played and enjoyed countless games that were far more stereotypically Japanese. I know mediocre character designs, story beats thrown in for the lulz (like the ridiculous axe ending) and wide-eyed technobabble used to give a sense of significance without having to earn it when I see them.

        • Kitsunin says:

          The pseudoscience is BS. Yes. As is the pseudoscience in Star Trek. Anybody take points away from that show because of it? But it does prattle on about it a bit, when I think back. I wonder if I would like 999 as much if I went back to it? Most of the actual above-average-ness of its story did wait until the two “true” endings to finally show itself. That and the room escape bits which are really some of the best room escape puzzles out there.

          Anywho, I suppose you’re right, most novels are better written, but most visual novels are worse. That…shouldn’t really forgive it, but in my mind it kinda does. The transition in the second game to more of a dialogue focus (and in this third game to being 100% prose-less) did it a heck of a lot of good. I’d go so far as to say the voice acting in both latter games is excellent too.

          The anime bit is just, I suppose, an easy way to put your opinion into a category I see a lot of, especially here. Not really a legitimate criticism to make on my part.

          • malkav11 says:

            For what it’s worth, there’s less of the pseudoscience in Virtue’s Last Reward and it’s altogether a substantially better game. 999 has some really cool reveals towards the end, though, making me glad I sat through the first bits.

    • mgardner says:

      It is worth watching a play through of 999 on YouTube before starting game #2. I watched one from someone who read all the words as they appeared, which actually worked really well.

    • Calmodulator says:

      I can definitely see someone hating a novelized version of the games. I don’t remember the details of the first couple of games, but playing this third one right now, I keep getting reminded of how bad some parts of the script could be. The characters tend to go into monologues about scientific-sounding topics that are actually mostly nonsense. Sometimes you would come across a book, game, or movie where the creator almost “lectures” you about metaphysical BS in order to sound profound, and this series borders on that (or it may already have one foot in). The stiff animations make some sad scenes quite funny, and it’s sometimes melodramatic to the max (anime, I guess?).

      That being said, the puzzles are great, and I’m a sucker for murder mysteries. The stories (all three) are presented in such a way that I’ve had a lot of fun piecing them together. The twists aren’t half bad either, but your mileage may vary. All in all, I like the series despite all the flaws. The puzzle aspects, whether actual escape puzzles or the stories themselves being puzzles, are great.

  6. int says:

    Zero Escape: The Japanese way of saying No Escape.

  7. Nevik says:

    I am playing it at the moment. Having played the previous two games multiple times, I quite like this game as well, even though it has its flaws, e.g. too few facial expressions and sometimes awkward animations.
    If you liked 999 and VLR definately give it a try.

  8. Ksempac says:

    Oh my god the last chapter is finally out? I’m definitely getting that on my 3ds.

    I appreciated 999 for what it tried to do, despite its obvious flaws.

    I LOVED Virtue’s Last Reward which is a phenomenal game.

    Gonna grab the last chapter tonight then.

  9. Kitsunin says:

    I love the way the story is presented in this game. After the second game I was sure they’d reached the end of their ability to make game mechanics and novel-style stories intertwine, and were just going to continue the story.

    Instead, the new story/gameplay (if you can call it that as the “gameplay” I’m referring to is just navigating the story) gimmick is absolutely brilliant and only explored a teeny bit by a few more experimental films.

  10. Zankman says:

    I saw that one female character had large and exposed breasts so that triggered me, thus leading me to the conclusion that this game is garbage.

    The fact that I am completely averse of playing puzzle and horror (in this case, more like SAW-esque torture) games has nothing to do with it, I swear.

    • Kitsunin says:

      Surprisingly, with the odd number of characters in this game, women actually outnumber men 5 to 4. Each game in the series has had one less male character and one more female.

      Looks like SJWs are ruining games again!

  11. Louis Mayall says:

    This goes on my list of ‘game names that are just nonsensical collections of nouns next to ‘Horizon: Zero Dawn’and ‘Soul Calibur’ (what the hell is a calibur?). Anyone got any others?

  12. malkav11 says:

    I wish I’d known it was coming out on PC when it was first announced that it was even happening (the previous two games didn’t sell well enough to make the third a certainty). As it is, I got in a preorder of the limited edition Vita version with a replica watch (for the same price – I don’t care enough about tchotchkes like that to pay extra) and they sold out so fast that I am reluctant to abandon that order to reorder elsewhere. Even though Amazon has still yet to tell me when my game is even going to ship, much less the watch. They’ve just given me a $10 credit and avoided any mention of ship dates.

    • malkav11 says:

      Hooray, I’m only going to get it over a bloody week late. And I had to spend 20 minutes talking to customer service to get it that soon – they were going to leave me on 2 day shipping despite being egregiously behind AND shipping new orders ahead of preorders.

  13. neonshadow says:

    In my opinion it is mandatory to play the first two games before this one. You will have no idea what is going on if you don’t. If you are PC only it is strongly hinted that the other games will be coming to Steam as well soon, so wait for those and play them first.

  14. Nick says:

    Enjoying it a lot on 3DS, but god damn the character animations are fucking awful.

  15. Chillicothe says:

    “Given the setup and the characters’ general surprise at all these murdergames, it’s hopefully not too much of a problem to come into this without playing the first two games – which aren’t yet on PC. Any 3DSfolk or Viteers out there have thoughts on that?”

    Don’t. You need Uchikoshi’s special brand of brain-liquifying in the first two so he can use it against you here for more brain-liquifying.

    Seriously, this stuff is art. They are the Ur-Visual Novel that gets the genre out of the gravity well of doomed lovers, harem scarem, and turgid exposition.

  16. rmsgrey says:

    My opinion: the gameplay in this one isn’t as good as VLR purely on the mechanical level (more on that later), but the plot holds up. The 3D scenes (rather than popping up 2D character sprites against a fixed background to show who’s talking) for the narrative sections are different rather than better – you get more action in the scenes, but the camera spends its whole time carefully avoiding anything that would require actual work to animate, so you don’t get that much more, and the low-grade 3D models look less like a deliberate style choice, and more like cheap 3D models.

    Overall, I’d say it’s not as good as VLR (though better than 999).

    For people who haven’t played either previous game, there’s a lot of backstory that you’ll miss, but there’s a lot of exposition that covers the key points. The main issue with playing them out of order is that there are plot spoilers for the earlier games, though there’s also plenty of twists not revealed (and one or two bits of foreshadowing that still fail to be cleared up).

    More on those mechanical issues: the touch-screen controls are less responsive than in VLR – taps don’t always tap, and swipes sometimes tap instead. The main mechanical issue though is the significantly increased memory load – VLR frequently has you needing to combine two screens of information to solve a puzzle, with one screen of information in the form of a “file” entry in the “archive” you can consult at any time, and the other displayed as part of whatever puzzle it is you’re solving. In VLR, you can pull up a screen from the archive and it’ll stay displayed while you solve a puzzle rather than reverting to a (generally unhelpful) default view of part of the room. In ZTD, you can either see the puzzle you’re working on, or a screen from the archives, with a minimum of two button presses to switch between the two. Both games do include a “memo” function – letting you draw handwritten notes – in VLR, the memo screen comes up overlaying the current view, so you can take notes on whatever you can currently see; in ZTD, you have the memo screen and you have the default view of part of the room which invariably doesn’t contain the details you’re looking for.

    There are several of these moments, where you have to memorise a diagram, press a couple of buttons to either bring up the memo screen, or switch to some other part of the puzzle, and either copy out the diagram from memory, or remember the diagram well enough to work out how the clues on screen apply to it – and then remember the eventual solution long enough to switch to the data entry device (on the far side of the room from the clues which, unlike in VLR, you can neither have the characters remember, nor take a copy with you in the archives) and enter it. The problems this causes could all be solved simply enough by using a pen and paper (or, on PC, having another window open for note taking) but for the portable version of the game, requiring additional devices in order to take notes kinda defeats the purpose of a portable gaming device…

    I have a pretty good memory – I managed the puzzle that requires you to memorise a 10 digit string of numbers on one screen, use a clue to turn it into a second 10 digit string (several seconds of navigation later), and then use that second string to tell you how to solve the actual puzzle (again, with several seconds of actually navigating the game world to get to the input device) – but I had to admit defeat on the puzzle that requires you to assemble a 14-character string by reading short strings of characters from 4 different locations and combining them with sets of numbers in 4 more locations that tell you which order they should be in to unscramble the anagram – trivial if you could actually see more than one of the 9 screens involved (8 clues and the screen where you enter the answer) at once; next to impossible if you can’t copy things down somewhere…

  17. Scrofa says:

    Absolutely loved 999, but I don’t have 3DS to play Virtue’s Last Reward, so I dunno if I should play this.