Title: Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma
Platform: Nintendo 3DS, PS Vita, Steam
Where to start talking about this game?
Nine people are once again trapped inside a testing facility. A masked man named Zero forced them to play the Decision Game. The characters are divided into three groups, each has their own area to explore. These people are trapped inside until they have at least 6 passes to open the door. Thing is, passes are only revealed when someone dies.
One of the things that were said in the early press releases is that there will be a less reading time which is to cater to a larger audience. But ZTD is on a tight budget. So most of the time, it feels like watching a poorly dubbed series since the sound and the audio doesn’t fit. The voices are seconds late. It is a bit jarring. It’s bad enough to watch the stiff animation. I played with the Japanese audio and thought that it might probably be better in English. Nope, same case. So much for having good voice actors. (Btw, I played the 3DS version.)
This is perhaps an unpopular opinion but I prefer reading more than just watching everything played out. They do manage to surprise me and made me think. Though it had little impact when it comes to the revelation. VLR’s twists shocked and haunted me more. ZTD not so much. My mind reels from so much time jumps and alternate histories, enough to confuse me. Now, that’s just my poor brain’s inability to process information dump. Probably.
The entire game is like a big cutscene. Half of it, you spend watching while the other half is spent on solving puzzles. The cutscenes force you to look at small scenes that happen in the background like a subtle change in shadow. ZTD relies more on foreshadowing. You have to pick up small details, subtle changes. It is clever, though.
I loved the ending. It has a tinge of melancholia, a good amount of thrill, but also oh-so-hopeful. While ZTD managed to answer most of the questions in VLR, there are still many other questions unanswered. I won’t post them here so as to avoid spoilers. But I may be disappointed with how they handle a certain character.
Instead of the usual Nonary Game, Zero Time Dilemma introduces the Decision Game. It might look as simple as choosing a side of a coin but the results are grave. It reminds me of those small decisions we make in real life. I don’t know about you, but there are moments when you can’t choose one over the other. Sometimes I wish save and load also works in real life. Because deep inside I know that any of the choices is going to have a huge impact in my life. Make it 10x more dangerous in ZTD. One wrong decision and you’ll either be killed or you’re the one doing the killing.
In the first two games of the series, you have to escape rooms by solving puzzles and finding pieces of information. Junpei or Sigma don’t have any choice but to escape. Meanwhile, in ZTD, the characters still solve puzzles in a room but not necessarily to find the key. Sometimes the door is open and they can freely leave. But, under whatever circumstances, they just can’t.
Zero Time Dilemma is one big puzzle. You play fragment per fragment that connects to another fragment from POV in another timeline… @_@ inducing. It’s confusing, I tell you. I had to start some fragments, trying to remember real hard what happened there before I moved in. Since the plotline of ZTD is divided into fragments, you’ll have no idea at which point of the game it happens, well at least not until you find another fragment that connects to it.
Team C – my fave team (first 3 from the left)
Carlos – leader of Team C. He appears to be the alpha-male type who you thought you’ll hate but turned out to be a sweet and caring guy. He’s a leader material, the big brother type and is especially helpful whenever Junpei and Akane bicker with each other.
Junpei – Junpei has gone to a lot of transition in this series. We have seen him in different phases of his life and this is my favorite yet. He is no longer the starry-eyed hero in 999, that’s for sure. He has grown cynical and skeptic of the world. His love-hate relationship with Akane is interesting to watch. So much that it made me ship them. I never found the charm of the JunpeixAkane pairing but ZTD turned me into a shipper.
Akane – For the most part of the series, I hated this girl. Who could have forgotten what she did in 999? But she grew, along with my opinion on her. She appears to be a damsel-in-distress bordering Mary Sue girl. Yet no one can fathom what and how she thinks. She has a strong mental fortitude beneath her frail appearance that allows her to go through her plan, no matter what sacrifices she’ll have to make.
Team D (middle 3)
Diana – The mystery regarding this team is probably the easiest to solve. All things considered, I dislike Diana. She is Miss Goody Two Shoes and I can live with that. But after the twist, I was =_= the entire time.
Sigma – Confession: Sigma is one of the many 2D crushes, boyfies, and hubbies that I have. He is one of my most awaited characters but he disappoints me. I very much preferred the bright, charismatic, and heroic young Sigma than the stern and sentimental old fogey. It’s like meeting someone you thought you knew.
Phi – FINALLY we can learn more about her. Though the more I learn the less enthusiastic I get. She is still witty and snarky and her conversations with Sigma is A++.
Q – Things get a little WTF around Q but he is an adorable kid with a creepy head. He is the sole reason I enjoy Team Q’s fragments.
Mira – UGH. I feel like anything I’ll say about her will spoil everyone so I’ll just shut up.
Erik – Another UGH. Why is he even here? He spends most of his time being stupid or lovesick. He’s like MIRAMIRAMIRAMIRAMIRAAAAAA for 90% of the game.
Did Zero Escape series end with a bang?
It sure did. If we are talking about the ending. When I think about it, the thrill and tragedies of the game are all out. This is the most tragic, most depressing, and most gruesome in the series. It makes VLR totally innocent and 999 an average. Let me warn you that you shouldn’t play this when you’re sad as this will make you experience despair more.