The RPS Advent Calendar, Dec 15th


There’s more than one type of Christmas card and more than one way to deck the halls.

It’s Zero Escape: The Nonary Games!

Katharine: Arguably the greatest visual novels of all time (sorry, Danganronpa fans), Zero Escape: The Nonary Games is actually two games in one, bringing the excellent 999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors and Virtue’s Last Reward to PC for the first time. Instead of asking players to simply click through reams of (admittedly excellent) text, the strength of both games comes from their ingenious escape room puzzles and clever branching storylines that build in the idea of a traditional ‘game over’ scenario right into its overarching narrative.

To go into detail about each game’s story would be stepping into huge spoiler territory, so let’s just say this. In each game, you’re one of nine people who have been kidnapped and placed in the mysterious Nonary Game – the first is aboard a strange replica of the Titanic, while the second appears to be in some kind of underground research facility. Each contestant also has a wrist watch that can instantly kill them if they disobey the rules, and the only way to get out alive is for everyone to work together in order to solve the myriad puzzle rooms that await. The only problem is that one of you is also the Nonary Game’s main architect Zero, causing tensions to run high as everyone tries to figure out who in the group put them here and why.

The escape rooms come thick and fast, providing a serious work-out for your brain as you delve deeper into each one’s deadly game of trust and betrayal, and the way the game forces you to work together with certain characters ensures you build up a rounded picture of everyone’s motivations and suspicions. The characters are all beautifully realised thanks in no small part to some surprisingly decent voice-acting, and there are twists galore that keep you guessing right to the end. Yes, it might look a bit ropey by today’s standards (these were originally DS and 3DS games, after all), but what’s a few low-res textures when the rest of it is such a rich, succulent treat?

Head back to the calendar to open the door to another of 2017’s best games.


  1. nattydee says:

    Wow! Was not expecting to see Zero Escape make the list, let alone so high up. I picked this up after watching some people streaming it this year – I’ve only made it through 999 so far but I’ve greatly enjoyed the relatively subdued format, the expansive voice acting and the many twists and turns.

    • TheAngriestHobo says:

      I think the addition of Katharine to the staff means that you’ll see a lot more visual novel coverage on RPS in general. Kind of like how MOBA coverage lived and died with Pip’s presence in the treehouse.

  2. Rack says:

    Still haven’t got round to 999 (I got Virtues Last Reward through PSplus) but VLR is brilliant.

  3. malkav11 says:

    I do wish that Zero Time Dilemma, the third and final game in the trilogy, had had a bit more budget and time, since in certain ways it ends up being a bit of a let down next to the near perfection of the formula that Virtue’s Last Reward presented. But it’s great that they finally brought the first two games to PC, and the three together make a hell of an experience.

  4. bill says:

    *hmm… it’s a visual novel and those usually have dodgy anime art… but maybe this will be ok*
    (goes to steam)
    *oh, booby lady in belly-dancing(?!) bikini, pink haired schoolgirl, pink haired girl in a fluffy bikini – oh well, it was worth a shot*

  5. Ragnar says:

    Really surprised to see these in the list, but I totally suppot them.

    I loved 999 when I first played it years ago, and the PC version fixed my biggest complaint.

    I just finished Virtue’s Last Reward, and that was even more enjoyable. The voice acting was fantastic, and the voice actor for Zero Jr is my favorite part of the game.

    I can’t wait to play Zero Time Dilemma.