11/8 – Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward

Hello and welcome! My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day.

I’ve always been a strong believer that video games can tell unique stories that no other medium can handle. Whether it’s the investment a player feels in the character they’re controlling, the addition of side quests that can flesh out the world, or simply the ability to allow the player to change the story, there are so many unique aspects to gaming. Despite this though, few games tell a story that truly could not be captured in other mediums. Today’s game is one of the exceptions. Today’s game is Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward, originally released on the 3DS and Playstation Vita in 2012.

Virtue’s Last Reward is the second game in the Zero Escape series, after our 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors. I won’t have any spoilers for the game in this discussion but if you’d like to hear about that game first, that February 22nd episode is available on videogameoftheday.com in our archives.

Virtue’s Last Reward starts off with a similar premise to the original game. Nine people have been abducted and placed in a new Nonary Game where they must win the game or die. However, the rules have changed since 999. Everyone has a bracelet around their wrist initially showing the number 3. At certain points throughout their escape, each player is put in a prisoner’s dilemna situation where they must choose to either Ally or Betray another member of the game. If both player’s choose Ally, they each get two points. If they each choose Betray, their points remain unaffected. If one player chooses Betray and the other chooses Ally though, the Traitor will gain three points while the betrayed will lose two points. At 9 points, a player can leave the Nonary Game but at 0, they will die.

It’s initially not clear how Virtue’s Last Reward is connected to 999. No context is given to this Nonary Game but one of the characters from 999 seems to return in Virtue’s Last Reward. I have to stay vague about the details to avoid spoilers for either game but determining what has happened in the time since 999 is a large part of Virtue’s Last Reward. Like the first game, Virtue’s Last Reward is mostly a visual novel with a few point and click adventure game sequences thrown in to allow the player to solve puzzles, find clues to their situation and talk freely with the other players. Unlike the first game, Virtue’s Last Reward uses 3D models for all of the characters rather than the 2D portraits of 999 and contains full voice over for all characters. Players can also access a flow chart of events to quickly jump between different timelines, which made seeing the alternate timelines much easier than in 999.

Virtue’s Last Reward received very high critical reviews but sold quite poorly globally. The extremely complex story required knowledge of the first game to understand and 999 hadn’t sold particularly well outside of Japan to begin with. This put the ending of the trilogy in jeopardy for some time but after a successful fan campaign, Virtue’s Last Reward did eventually receive a sequel in 2018 called Zero Time Dilemma that concludes the Zero Escape series.

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