Zero Time Dilemma Review – Live or die is a matter of choice
Zero Time Dilemma, known by Japanese friends as Zero Escape, is an adventure video game, in the broadest possible sense of the term, developed by Chime which will arrive on the portable consoles PlayStation Vita (the version we have dealt with) and Nintendo 3DS, released in Europe by Aksys Games, next June 28th.
The title is the third chapter belonging to the series “Zero Escape“, after Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors And Virtue’s Last Reward, released in 2009 and 2012 respectively.
The title, whose development was started in 2012, then suffered a severe setback dictated by the commercial failure of the series in Japanese territory. Later brought back to life thanks to “Operation Bluebird” and strongly desired by fans, the game has set itself the goal of answering the questions left open by its predecessors.
Many dilemmas, little time
2028, Nevada desert. The game begins with the nine protagonists of this chapter locked up, in groups of three, in as many cells; held captive by an individual disguised as a plague doctor who identifies with the name of Zero.
The masked man immediately tells the nine unfortunates that he wants to play a game with them. Holding a coin, he proposes a toss of the same with two possible consequences. If the boys guess the visible face when the coin hits the ground, they will be free to go, otherwise they will be prey to his game, which plans to lock them up in an air-raid shelter and, by asking them various “questions”, free them only when two thirds of them are dead. Why exactly two thirds? Because in order to unlock the door of the air-raid shelter between them and freedom, the game’s protagonists will need six passwords, each of which can only be obtained upon the death of one of the prisoners.
Brace yourselves and make your choice, if you are lucky you will guess and after having fallen asleep and erased the memory of our nine “heroes”, Zero will let them go and you can enjoy the credits.
That’s all? Of course not!
In case you make a mistake, you will be subjected to the game of Zero and you will be able to experience the events of the three groups of children putting yourself in the shoes of the designated group leaders, Carlos in Team C, Q in Team Q and Diana in Team D, and jumping, thanks to a simple game management interface, from one decision to another, from one timeline to the alternative, between the various groups trapped in three different areas of the shelter.
After the toss of the coin, in case you make a mistake, the boys will be put in front of a vote. They will have to choose which team to eliminate, in the true sense of the word, from the game, and then continue in this “adventure”.
The decision intervals will consist of 19 minutes in which we will be able to listen to the arguments of the protagonists before making the coveted choice that Zero will force us to make from time to time. Each of our decisions will lead us to temporal consequences that we can analyze, as mentioned above, from a special management panel from which we can jump from one time fragment to another (by virtue of our choices, numerous time lines will be created), in search of all the information and combinations necessary to finally reach getting the best possible ending to the story of Zero Time Dilemma.
The game, both in the creation of the pieces of the temporal puzzle that makes up the plot, and in the plot itself, is well made and enjoyable, although some of the choices that we will find ourselves having to make appear a little too forced for the evolution of history.
Despite the advent of the new chapter, among the protagonists of this episode we will find old acquaintances (Akane, Junpei, Sigma, and Phi), present in Zero Escape, who will help fans of the series to better contextualize certain dialogues that the other characters will do hard to understand. However, this should not be a deterrent to the enjoyment of the title for newcomers to the series, as the game is perfectly playable and enjoyable even by those who have never got their hands on one of the previous works in the series.
Technically speaking, the environments of the new chapter of the series created by Kotaro Uchikoshi are well made and the graphics are sufficiently cured, although the developers could have put a greater care and detail in the realization, at least, of the protagonists. The characters created by Rui Tomono appear too often static and poorly animated, as well as characterized by a quite small number of facial expressions and animations that, taking into account that the aforementioned expressions should better convey the idea of the state of mind of the protagonists of the game and their emotional disturbance by virtue of specific conversations or choices, it not just breaks the drama and the atmosphere that instead beautiful music by Shinji Hosoe they strive to always keep them on excellent levels. The models of the characters are generally well made and very colorful, as if to break the gloom dictated by the situation and the environments that surround them.
If we want to find a defect, we can mention it the excessive prolixity of the protagonists of history, which are often lost in minutes and minutes of explanation, enunciating a concept that often could have emerged in a less convoluted way, saving avoidable waste of time for the player and consumption of battery on the console.
Zero Time Dilemma is an excellent title that will give you many hours (about 20) of intriguing stories and suspense, making you feel the most disparate emotions as you discover the seven main endings in the game. The title will surely conquer the fans of the series and has the credentials to capture the attention of those who have never played a title in the Zero Escape series and are not even familiar with the concept of visual novel.
Beautiful audio and beautiful graphics, flying over the facial expressions of the protagonists. However, the frequent ranting of the characters present within this new chapter of the Zero Escape series could discourage players who are not overly akin to this kind of gameplay.