I've played Fire Emblem Awakening. I've played Ocarina of Time 3D. I've play Super Mario 3D Land. And I've Played Animal Crossing: New Leaf. They are all great games. However, this is the best 3DS game on the market.
What is Zero's Escape: Virtue's Last Reward? I guess you can say it's a story-driven, text-based "escape" game. It is the direct sequel to the off-the-radar 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Days. Having not played the original, this game was unknown to me. I love games that have solid gameplay. I also love games that have a excellent story. While there isn't much game in Zero's Escape, there is an mind-twisting story that will constantly keep you entertained and won't let you put your 3DS down.
999's story will be ruined if you do not play it first, so if you want to see how this all started; go buy this.
To start, the visuals in Zero's Escape are excellent. They are clean and all the characters look unique and superb on their own. Environments look very real and believable. While it may not be the level of the Last Of Us or Journey, the game sure looks great for this type of game.
The game is evolved around the Prisoner's Dilemma. What is this you may ask. Imagine 2 criminals getting arrested. Any police must decide how much jail time they both get.
"If neither of you spills the beans, you both get two years. If he clams up and you confess, you'll get one year and he'll do fifteen, but if you keep quiet and he gives it up, you'll do fifteen while he does one. So I bet you're thinking, 'Well, what if we both rat the other guy out?' Pretty simple, pal: You both get ten years."
Without giving much detail, Zero's Escape is a visual novel, with some "Escape The Room" puzzles. the game evolves around nine strangers who have been kidnapped and place in a facility to play the Nonary Game. There are 9 Players, you must get up to 9 Points, to escape out the 9 Door. Once somebody leaves that door, everyone else will be locked in there forever, and will eventually die. You as the protagonist must decide who to trust and who to not as you meet the other 8 players. These strangers range from a mysterious girl, to a child, to a man in armor, their personalities all vary which makes certain situations to the player difficult to choose a moral option. Now, escaping is on everyone's mind. Every player including you can escape at one, but willing to do that is a whole different story. Everyone can live, everyone can die, two could survive and the others will parish, it all depends on the choices you make; that's what makes this game so engrossing. The game is brutal and can make you pay for your choices. Now, let's go back to the Prisoner's Dilemma. You could both be better off trusting each other and both getting points, but what if you were to take a risk and gain more points by throwing him under the bus? But why should you care, they're only a stranger. But the other player may be thinking the exact same thing. If they betray you, you're screwed. The game throws in a new element that 999 didn't have, Ally or Betray. In it, your character is forced to decide whether to "ally" with or "betray" their partner, while the partner character is separated, out of communication range, and given the same choice
If you both Ally, you both gain 2 points.
If you Betray and they Ally, you gain 3 points while they lose 2; and vice-versa.
If you both pick Betray, nobody gains or loses any points.
And one more thing. If your points were to drop to zero. You die.
Escape puzzles are fine, but the real treat is the dialogue in between.
Every decision you make will effect the point tally, your relationships with other and if they're willing to trust you, and your own conscience. If you were a 3 points away from escaping but you were up against a child, would you betray them to save your own ass? What if he were to have only one point left? Would you be willing to KILL him to escape? Zero's Escape really screws with your mind and gets you to think on your feet. I won't go into anymore detail, you should just pick this game up.
The game has excellent voice acting, while there isn't any voice acting in the escape puzzles, all the dialogue between is lengthy and just a joy to listen to. The music and sound effects are good, but the voice acting is the huge star. Controls are also responsive as they should be with this type of game.
Zero's Escape is a pretty long experience, 30+ hours in this game and even more if you want to get all the files for backstory. There are a surprising amount of endings, with one "true" ending and most of them involves brutal death. Thankfully, Chunsoft put in the "FLOW" chart so when you get an ending, you can go back to a certain point instead of restarting all over again. There are moments of suspense, happiness, sadness, grief, pity, surprise, and is just an unforgettable experience that you can play over and over again and not get bored.
My review may seem a little hazy and brief, but I'm trying to explain the game without spoiling important plot points.
My recommendation; Buy.This.Game.Now.
+Excellent story, full of surprises.
+Amazing Voice Acting
+Great Visuals and Controls
+Addictive as hell
+Brutal and Mature
-Will cause you to lose sleep.