Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward
|Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward|
North American box art, featuring the characters Phi (left), and Sigma (right).
|Genre(s)||Adventure game, Visual novel|
Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward (極限脱出ADV 善人シボウデス Kyokugen Dasshutsu Adobenchā: Zennin Shibō Desu?, lit. "Extreme Escape Adventure: Good People Die"), also known as simply Virtue's Last Reward in Europe and Australia, is a 2012 Japanese visual novel adventure video game developed by Chunsoft (later Spike Chunsoft) for the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita. It is the second game in the Zero Escape series, being a direct sequel to the first game, Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, created by the same staff including scenarist and director Kōtarō Uchikoshi and character designer Kinu Nishimura, and features 3D models and fully voiced novel segments.
The game was originally released in Japan on February 16, 2012. Aksys Games published the game in North America on October 23, 2012 whilst Rising Star Games published the game in Europe and Australia in November 2012. Unlike the Japanese and PAL versions, which only feature Japanese voice acting, the North American release also features an English dub.
Virtue's Last Reward is divided up into two different types of gameplay; Novel and Escape. In the Novel sections, the player progresses through the storyline, conversing with other non-playable characters. The Escape sections occur when the player, along with some other non playable characters, find themselves in a room from which they need to find the means of escape. To accomplish this, players will need to find various clues and solve various puzzles scattered about the environment. Players are able to pick up items and combine them to form new items necessary to solving a puzzle. In each escape scenario, players can find two different passwords that can be used to open a safe. One of these passwords gives players the key needed to escape from the room whilst the other grants access to a hidden folder, which is either gold or silver depending on the difficulty setting. If the player finds a puzzle too difficult, they may switch the puzzle's difficulty from Hard to Easy, where characters may offer more specific hints.
At various points in the game, the player will be asked to make multiple choice decisions which affect the course of the game, such as which puzzles the player faces and the fates of other characters. The most recurring aspect of this is the Ambidex Game, a prisoner's dilemma in which characters have to choose whether to 'ally' or 'betray' the character or team they were paired up against. The choices the characters make affect their Bracelet Points (BP); two teams who both choose 'ally' gain two points, two teams who both choose 'betray' neither earn or lose any points, and someone who chooses 'betray' when the other chooses 'ally' gains three points whilst the innocent one loses two points. Characters who gain nine points are able to escape whilst those who run out of BP are put to death. The game features 24 different endings based on the player's decisions. A Flow system lets players revisit any previously completed section, allowing them to choose a different route or reattempt a puzzle for a better score.
- Sigma (シグマ・クライム Shiguma?)
- The player character; a college student who is described as a "generally bright, young man" who acts a bit inappropriate at times, and is easily swayed by his emotions. He is unvoiced in the game, but is voiced by Kōsuke Toriumi in Japanese, and Troy Baker in English in the OVA.
- Phi (ファイ Fai?)
- A cold, intelligent young woman. She is voiced by Chiaki Omigawa in Japanese, and Karen Strassman in English.
- Dio (ディオ Dio?)
- A rude young man who dresses like a circus ringleader. He is voiced by Yoshimasa Hosoya in Japanese, and Liam O'Brien in English.
- Tenmyouji (天明寺 Tenmyouji?)
- A stubborn old man who doesn't trust the rest. He is voiced by Rokurō Naya in Japanese, and J. B. Blanc in English.
- Quark (クォーク Kwōku?)
- A childishly energetic and curious boy. He is voiced by Rie Kugimiya in Japanese, and Erin Fitzgerald in English.
- Luna (ルナ Runa?)
- A kind young woman who wishes for everyone to get out peacefully. She is voiced by Mamiko Noto in Japanese, and Laura Bailey in English.
- Clover (四葉 Yotsuba?)
- An unpredictable young woman who also participated in the Nonary Game in Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors. She is voiced by Yukari Tamura in Japanese, and Wendee Lee in English.
- Alice (アリス Arisu?)
- A powerful and focused woman who for some reason dislikes wearing shirts, instead choosing to cover her chest with a necklace. She is voiced by Atsuko Tanaka in Japanese, and Tara Platt in English.
- K (K Kei?)
- A person who suffers from retrograde amnesia wearing a full-body, irremovable suit of armor with a voice changer; his identity is unknown to all characters. He is voiced by Daisuke Ono in Japanese, and Travis Willingham in English.
- Zero III (ゼロ3世 Zero san-sei?)
- An artificial intelligence who appears in the form of a CGI rabbit, responsible for running the Nonary Game. It is nicknamed "Zero Jr." by the characters to differentiate it from its creator. It is voiced by Tarako in Japanese, and Cindy Robinson in English.
Like its predecessor 999, the story in Virtue's Last Reward is presented through numerous cutscenes. The action and dialogue between characters is shown from the perspective of the player character Sigma. The game opens in the year 2029, one year after the events in 999, in which Sigma is shown being ambushed and incapacitated by an unknown person in a gas mask using an inhalational anaesthetic. Sigma later awakens in an elevator with a girl named Phi, who seems to know him. Zero III, a talking rabbit, appears on a computer monitor in front of them and tells them they must escape the elevator; the pair find themselves in an abandoned warehouse alongside seven other people. Their goal is to escape the building through a large iron door with a number nine painted on it. However, they find themselves enrolled in a game known as the Nonary Game: Ambidex Edition, which relies on a system called "Bracelet Points" ("BP"), which are won by cooperating with or betraying other players. A player is allowed to open the door and leave the warehouse if only they possess nine or more BP, which can only be done once; however, if a player's BP reaches zero, they are killed by a lethal injection of tubocurarine chloride.
As the story goes on, Sigma discovers the ability to jump backwards and forwards in time to live out different timelines to the one he originally chose. He uses this to gain codes and secrets from other timelines in an attempt to find an outcome where everyone can survive. Several revelations appear about the other players; Tenmyouji is Junpei from 999, and Quark is his adopted grandson; Alice and Clover are both Department of Defense agents who have been searching for a cult named Free the Soul since the end of the first game, Luna is a GAULEM, a type of robot, and Dio is a member of Free the Soul, a clone of Left, the brother of Brother, the cult's leader. This last revelation leads to Sigma discovering that Dio has planted bombs in the facility and the world has been devastated by the detonation of antimatter reactors in an attempt to eradicate the virus Radical-6, unleashed by Brother in his grief at the death of the original Left. Several characters also contract Radical-6 and kill themselves in several endings, but Sigma uses his ability to avoid any bombs being detonated and anyone committing suicide.
In the Q Room (an Escape sequence), Sigma sees a hologram of Akane Kurashiki, who reveals the truth behind the Nonary Game. Zero Sr., the old man who continuously appears to the player to give them instructions, is actually Sigma's future self. Sigma is actually in the body of Zero Sr. in the year 2074, as the time-jumping allows two different versions of a person to swap their consciousnesses across time and alternate dimensions. The point of the Nonary Game, which was set up by Akane and Zero Sr., for the older Sigma to go back before the outbreak of Radical-6 (the point Sigma was captured from), and try to prevent Free the Soul, and the Myrmidons, their military arm, from causing the outbreak. K is also revealed to be Sigma's cloned son, who Sigma can jump into if his body is destroyed, but Akane has been borrowing his armor and posing as him during the Nonary Game (the armor was used to prevent his bones from developing weakly, due to him growing up on the Moon, where the game actually takes place). Akane then attacks Phi and Sigma, causing them both to time-jump; Sigma arrives in the past, where Akane tells him that the Nonary Game is about to be set up, and that she attacked him in order to stress him out and cause him to time-jump; she knows this because her own Esper powers allow her to see the future. Phi's identity, current position in time, and involvement in another attempt to contain Radical-6 are left unknown to the player, with Uchikoshi promising that the third game will explain this.
In an interview, when asked about what the hardest thing about editing Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward was, Ben Bateman, the editor for the game's English localization, mentioned the lack of time, but there were also a few translation issues. Since Uchikoshi had written the game with the English language audience in mind, there were not too many plot related translation problems, but a few jokes did not translate well, or at all, and had to be changed for the localization.
In addition to that, there were two characters in the game who "talked like animals" in the Japanese version of the game: There is Zero III who adds "-usa" to the end of its sentences, which is the first half of "usagi" (the Japanese word for "rabbit"); and Sigma who adds "-nya" (the Japanese onomatopoeia for the sound cats make) to the end of his sentences whenever he's talking about cats. Bateman solved this by writing rabbit and cat themed puns.
For voice casting, the studio sent the localization team a list of people they thought might fit the roles, along with short reels for each actor, and the producer chose one for each role. Once the actors had been chosen, Bateman wrote the voice direction, which were short blurbs the voice actors saw next to the line they were supposed to say, so they would know how to perform it.
Original video animation
A 13 minutes promotional original video animation that recounts the beginning of the game and goes over each of its characters, was made by Gonzo. Aksys Games released an English dubbed version of the OVA.
|1.||"Virtue's Last Reward ~Orchestra~"||2:54|
|15.||"Blue Bird Lamentation"||3:14|
|16.||"Virtue's Last Reward ~Piano~"||2:53|
The game was very well received, especially its story. Praise was also directed at the characters, plot, unexpected twists, and improved interface over its predecessor. Noteworthy awards include GameSpot's 2012 Handheld Game of the Year award, IGN's Best 3DS/DS Story of 2012, and RPGFan's Best Story and Best Graphic Adventure of 2012. Other nominations include the 2012 Game of the Year for both Gamespot and Kotaku, and Best Narrative at the Game Developers Choice Award.
Kōtarō Uchikoshi revealed in an interview with Nintendo Power that a sequel to Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward was in development. It will be the last in the series, forming a trilogy, and will take place between the two previous games. Junpei and Dio will return for it, and the story will follow the mysteries of the Radical-6 virus and Phi. In the Nonary game featured in it, nine characters will be divided in three places.
In 2013, Uchikoshi said on his Twitter account that he would like to bring some news regarding Zero Escape 3 before the end of the year, but that there were some obstacles that had to be overcome first. As nothing was announced in 2013, he replied to inquiries from fans in January 2014 that "there are many matters that we must consider. When they settle down, I'll tell you something about it", and apologized for the wait.
On February 13, 2014, Uchikoshi revealed that Zero Escape 3 had been put on hold indefinitely, as the first two games had not sold well enough in Japan for the third game to be considered likely to be profitable. He said that he has not lost hope, though, and suggested that if one of his future games sells well, it could drum up interest for the Zero Escape series in Japan. He also said that he has examined crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, but that "the idea is not quite persuasive enough", and that he is currently seeking out opportunities with investors and executives. On February 17, 2014, he posted an update on his Twitter account, saying that "various matters are now under consideration", and once again apologized for the wait.
As a response to the news of the game's indefinite hiatus, Operation Bluebird, a campaign to raise awareness of the series and support the development of Zero Escape 3, was made, and received attention from video game news outlets.
- Gantayat, Anoop (2011). "999 Successor Dated". Andriasang. Retrieved 2011-11-04.
- Yip, Spencer (2012). "Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward Escapes To North America This October". Siliconera. Retrieved 2012-06-10.
- "極限脱出ADV 善人シボウデス". 名作・良作まとめ @ ウィキ (in Japanese). @wiki. Retrieved January 30, 2013.
- Kyokugen Dasshutsu Adobenchā means "Limit Escape Adventure". Zennin Shibō Desu is an untranslatable pun: Zennin means "good people", Shibō may be read as "wish" (志望?) and Desu, as the polite copula (です?); however, Shibō is also a homonym for a Japanese word for death (死亡?) and Desu, for the Japanese pronunciation of the English word.
- "極限脱出ADV 善人シボウデス". Spike Chunsoft (in Japanese). Spike Chunsoft. 2012. Retrieved January 30, 2013.
対応ハード: Nintendō 3DS/PlayStation Vita […] ジャンル: 極限脱出アドベンチャー […] 発売予定日: 2012年2月16日 […] CERO: C […] 販売・開発: Chunsoft
- Nutt, Christian (January 11, 2013). "The Storytelling Secrets of Virtue's Last Reward". Gamasutra. UBM Tech. p. 1.
[…] Kōtarō Uchikoshi, the game's director, […]
- "Virtue's Last Reward". Rising Star Games. Rising Star Games. 2012. Retrieved January 30, 2013.
Visual elements masterfully rendered in 3D and featuring original Japanese voice with English subtitles […] UK release – 23rd November 2012 […] Australia to follow shortly after UK release […] Germany and Italy release – February 2013
- Gantayat, Anoop (2011-08-24). "ChunSoft Developing 999 Successor for PlayStation Vita and 3DS". Andriasang. Retrieved 2011-11-04.
The new game […] actually isn't a sequel to 999, but it is being developed by the same staff. Kōtarō Uchikoshi is handling scenario and direction, with Kinu Nishimura doing character designs. Both had similar roles on 999.
- Hou, Laura (2011). "Extreme Escape Adventure: Good People Die Had Many, Many Different Titles". Siliconera. Retrieved 2011-11-04.
- Yip, Spencer (2011). "How The "Game" In Extreme Escape Adventure Works". Siliconera. Retrieved 2011-11-04.
- Thomas, Lucas (2011). "Good People Will Die in 999's Sequel". IGN. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved 2011-11-05.
- Gantayat, Anoop (2011). "First Look: Team 999's New Vita/3DS Adventure". Andriasang. Retrieved 2011-11-04.
- Bateman, Ben. "Interview 3: Zero In". Aksys Games. pp. 1–8. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
- "Kyokugen Dasshutsu ADV Zennin Shibou Desu Soundtrack". SRIN-1094. VGMdb.net. Retrieved March 22, 2014.
- "Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward for 3DS". GameRankings. CBS Interactive. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
- "Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward for PlayStation Vita". GameRankings. CBS Interactive. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
- "Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward Critic Reviews for 3DS". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
- "Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward Critic Reviews for Playstation Vita". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
- Mackey, Bob (October 24, 2013). "Zero Escape Review: Choose Your Own Misadventure". 1UP.com. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
- "Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward review". Edge Online. December 4, 2012. Retrieved March 22, 2015.
- Patterson, Eric L. (October 23, 2012). "The Reward of Genre Diversity". Electronic Gaming Monthly. EGM Media. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
- Romano, Sal (February 7, 2012). "Famitsu Review Scores: Issue 1210". Gematsu. Gematsu. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
- Wallace, Kimberly (October 23, 2013). "Building Upon A Graphic Adventure Legacy". Game Informer. GameStop Corporation. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
- Wallace, Kimberly (October 23, 2013). "Building Upon A Graphic Adventure Legacy". Game Informer. GameStop Corporation. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
- Kemps, Heidi (October 25, 2012). "Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward Review". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
- Thomas, Lucas M. (October 23, 2012). "Ally, or Betray?". IGN. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
- "Handheld Game of the Year: The Winner". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. December 4, 2012. Retrieved March 22, 2015.
- "Best 3DS/DS Story - Best of 2012". IGN. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved March 22, 2015.
- Heemsbergen, Derek. "RPGFan Feature - Game of the Year 2012: Best Story". RPGFan.com. Retrieved March 22, 2015.
- Meyerink, Stephen. "RPGFan Feature - Game of the Year 2012: Best Graphic Adventure". RPGFan.com. Retrieved March 22, 2015.
- Winegarner, Tyler (25 December 2012). "Game of the Year 2012". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 10 May 2015.
- Hoffman, Chris (September 2012). "Betrayal is a Virtue". Nintendo Power (282).