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