Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward

released on Feb 16, 2012

The second game in the Zero Escape series.
Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward is a mystery/thriller visual novel. It is story focused with multiple endings that use player choices and puzzle rooms to progress.

Additions to the game include an 'auto-advance text' mode, so players can listen to the voice acting without clicking through dialog, a memo function that allows players to note anything they feel is useful, and a flow chart that shows how alternate choices unfold. The in-game calculator has been removed.

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I think it's a great game, the way you hop along timelines to solve problems in other timelines. The puzzles are quite difficult, but satisfying. My only real gripe is the way it looks, I really wish they hadn't used the static 3D models for the characters as it really dates the game. I guess I also wish that they had developed Phi as a character more, and in general the character writing isn't as strong as 9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors. But the game has its own strengths too as I feel that the gameplay is a lot more fair and engaging than 999 at times.
Rating: [86]

I don't like this game. The 999 formula but a big bruh moment.

This review contains spoilers

So close. This game was so close to perfection.
So to the obvious out of the way; the models look absolutely awful, especially Clover. I really just wish they kept the art style of 999. There’s only really one other complaint I have aside from generic anime BS, but we’ll get to that later.
As it goes, this game is one of the most interesting narrative experiences I have ever had. I cannot state how much I adore the branching paths this game offers and how each one reveals a different mystery. What’s better yet is that each path can be experienced in largely any order. What I love about this is that it results in every player experiencing the story in a completely different order and solving mysteries at completely different points. For example I first got Tenmyouji’s ending. So this ending reveals information like what Zero looks like, Tenmyouji’s relation to Akane and the fact that Tenmyouji knew who Zero was the whole time. I then had this information stored in my mind for the rest of the game, trying to piece together information. But what’s amazing about this is that if I simply chose a different path I would be storing completely different knowledge. If anyone were to play this game for the first time, I would undoubtedly nudge them towards the Dio ending for the first time. That ending particularly revolves so much seemingly random information that it’s incredibly fun to just try and figure out how it relates to anything else in the game.
Moving away from the story, the gameplay is really well done. I felt with 999 that the puzzles were well made, however not necessarily too hard. VLR however is a whole other story. I found many rooms fairly challenging and this wasn’t because they were poorly designed (except that fucking dice puzzle) but instead because they were expertly made. The game does however tend to leave you in the dark with clues, meaning that you’ll be scratching your head for a long time with puzzles. However this is ignoring the difficulty options. Having an optional easy mode that reveals clues for you is a great feature that I wished carried over into ZTD. It allowed those who wanted as complex puzzles as possible to experience that with no hints. But also allows those who simply want to find a solution to finish quickly. A particular stand out between the puzzles is the GAULEM Bay. This room is easily my favourite in the series for a multitude of reasons and anyone who plays this game will see why.
Now we finally get to what ruined the game. The ending. Look I can tolerate bad endings, however when they ruin everything thus far I cannot ignore it. Sigma being an old man the entire time makes no sense at all. This reveals relies on the fact that conveniently nobody seems to mention the fact that you look like an old man. Sure is lucky that Sigma never even scratched his face an realised that he has wrinkles. Sure is lucky that Sigma never saw his reflection despite interacting with reflective surfaces numerous times. And it sure is damn fucking lucky that Sigma never noticed that HE IS MISSING AN EYE. How do you not notice you’re missing an eye almost immediately?
All in all, VLR is undeniably a post-modern masterpiece when it comes to its structure. Hell, I never even mentioned stuff like Schrödinger’s Cat and its role in the timelines. If you play this game, you do it purely for the unique structure and maybe because you enjoy puzzles. But be prepared for the literal worst ending to any game I have ever played.

VLR has great characters and voice-acting, some really good puzzles mixed with others that made me feel like a complete idiot, and a pretty good story that makes a good use of the medium (although a certain plot point is worse the more you realistically think about it).
Just wish that you didn't have to sit through the same exact unskippable dialogue in almost every route just because a character or two have mildly different line deliveries, along with all the door transitions.

Haven’t gone back to this game for months & you know what I just…kinda don’t want to.
999 was excellent. This game is just ugly as hell & nowhere near as interesting I’m afraid.
Sorry Uchikoshi but I think this one will remain unfinished.