This final chapter brings the beloved Zero Escape trilogy to a gratifying end, featuring beautiful character moments, elaborate puzzles, and a mind-bending plot. Not many games will keep me glued to the screen like Zero Time Dilemma did.
+ Addition endings are vastly different+ Actually feels like a game+ Excellent use of atmosphere~ Fragments keep you guessing / give you an experience~ You have to redo certain puzzles / easy to not figure out- Cursor is too small; easy to miss puzzles- Default options are not optimal
Excellent game, the puzzles are balanced just right, and the storyline is original and quite deep (you'll often find yourself looking up stuff on Google that the characters talk about, like the Sleeping Beauty paradox, for example). Animation isn't great, but this really doesn't matter at all in this type of game. If you want a mix between a story-driven game and a puzzle game, and you like Japanese sci-fi, then go for it. Excellent music too.
Both on its own and as a piece of the cumulative ZE puzzle, this easily has the best narrative I’ve seen in a game so far this year and should go down as one of the all-time greatest stories told through the medium.
A fantastically outrageous conclusion to a remarkable story, albeit one that doesn't quote recapture the highs of Virtue's Last Reward. Don't even contemplate playing until you've finished VLR. [Sept 2016, p.104]
There are some inconsistent puzzles, a lot of spoilers on major plot points of the two previous entries and the 3D graphics are at best forgettable, but Zero Escape Zero Time Dilemma excels at what the fanbase wanted: telling a gripping story in an original and brilliant way. Not to be missed if you loved the first couple of episodes, which you should absolutely play before this one.
Honestly this game is a 10/10 i have been a fan of the series since 999. All i have to say is this game is amazing and i highly recommend it to anyone. The story, the puzzles, the despair inducing emotions it makes you go through. It is a great experience and the creator deserves nothing but praise for this masterpiece. I'm happy to be part of a fan base that pushed so hard to help this man get his work out. Please support the team at zero escape by picking up this game!!
Among the 3 zero escapes games, this is probably the weakest of the bunch and that's saying a lot considering 999, the first in the series, had nearly nothing tied to VLR and ZTD besides the characters and few other mentions, had many simple puzzles, no voice acting and so forth.
This game basically fails on 3 levels: characters and story, gameplay, and technicalities.
The 9 characters are now split in to 3 fixated groups of 3, which already causes a bit of an issue: in both 999 and VLR the 9 people would be mixed depending on the occasion and this caused different story bits to open, giving more development time. In here it's not the same and it's a problem when certain characters are simply not engaging:
Q Team is one of the worst of the 3: Mira and Eric are probably two of the worst because not only Mira is "not **** enough" when she needs to, she also has a twist that doesn't feel fitting and feels out of place, while Eric looks like he needs a chill pill or something. Q is alright, although he always acts like a scared dog for some reason.
C Team is fine for the most part, with Carlos being one of the best of the new characters, while Akane and Junpei got worse: Akane is just too weakly and silly, almost like a silly anime character - EVEN THOUGH she has a crush on Junpei ever since school - and Junpei, a very likable character from 999 (and I'm not going to say much more) is now a broken mess of a character who acts tough, angry, depressed, and so forth. He gave us an explanation as to why he's like this but it doesn't feel natural and, obviously, it's not likable. I have played depressed characters before and they still tried to be relatable: Junpei is just annoying.
And D team is alright for the most part: Phi comes back in her constant haughtiness, Sigma now has a voice actor and he's pretty good and smart (if you played VLR you know why) and Diana is relatable and decent enough, even after her backstory explained.
Beyond the cast being debatable, few other issues mine the experience however and they're hard to ignore: for example, the dialogue cutscenes are not only too many but also BADLY paced and always have tiny breaks between dialogues that always slow the gameplay, which wasn't an issue in the previous games. Infact this also causes the graphics to show off their ugliness and how cheap the animation are, which isn't worse than VLR BUT they got away thanks to being a semi-visual novel game, which animation was to a minimum but had better drawings and pacing. More to that later.
The game also doesn't have a linear plot, instead of making you play several scenes separated from each other and only later they'll be matched to be one storyline split into several paths. It's an interesting approach but still feels not as immediate than VLR, which was still a lot better, and 999 which only had the issue of forcing you to constantly restart the game in order to get all endings. On top of that several twists felt...weird, like the transporter, the snail and the reveal of Zero - which is so odd I can't say it was genius or just silly.
Overall the story is just okay, but definitely a stepback from the previous games and, on top of that, this game does require having played the first 2 games - or at the very least the second - to know what really happens in here, as there are tons of references to the previous games.
The gameplay is decent enough: the puzzles are much simpler to learn than VLR and not as easy than 999 - which were jokes - and there's no hard mode in this game, which helps a bit and makes the game flow better. **** game is also a bit shorter and the actual puzzle rooms are fewer, with about 13 puzzles to play (instead of the 21 in VLR) and not requiring a lot of writing either. Most of the remaining puzzles are either typing down stuff from other timelines, like numbers or names (the 3way stand-off has a freaking funny ending if you type "his" name) and other details.
But overall, it's okay, no complains.
And last, but not least, the game has very bad animation and the graphics aren't totally bad thanks to the celshading, which doesn't totally hurt the eye, but like i said earlier in VLR and 999 the games were set as visual novels, making the graphics not stand out and instead stylized as 3d anime - and the first game was totally 2D instead. In here it's shot like a cinematic game - which has a reason to be like this - and it's hard to follow due to the slow pacing.
I could say more but really, if this wasn't the final chapter of the Zero Escape series (at least I hope so!) I would definitely rate it lower but it was already a miracle we got this game and finally got closure: I can highly recommend it if you need to see the ending but if you didn't, get the first 2 games and get to them first, and THEN play this one.
It's not the best, but you just don't look a gift horse in the mouth, right?
The game overall structure (random story parts), weaker puzzles than the previous games and the unsatisfying ending makes this game less enjoyable that it's predecessor. You MUST have played Virtue's last reward before playing this because if you don't, you will be lost as hell in the story.
Among the 3 zero escapes games, this is probably the weakest of the bunch and that's saying a lot considering 999, the first in the series, had nearly nothing tied to VLR and ZTD besides the characters and few other mentions
ZTD is the finale of the Zero Escape series which consists of Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors (999) and Virtue's Last Reward (VLR)
The only people that need to play ZTD are the fans who made it worth making, but unfortunately for them, instead of a beautiful endpiece to what was potentially one of the most intriguing video game trilogies out there, fans are treated to ... well, I guess something like a McD's apple pie; you enjoy it somewhat, but it's never satisfying, you feel like crap afterwards, and you always know that it'll never be as good as the real thing.
Sure, the minds behind the amazing 999 and VLR prequels have returned for this third and final entry in the Zero Escape series, but whether budget or burnout was the main factor, the end result is a lackluster finale to a series that most-definitely deserved better. The joy of the series has never been its gameplay, really, but how it uses the medium to unravel a complex narrative. The Zero Escape series and indeed Zero Time Dilemma are essentially visual novels that hinge on player choices and feature room-escape puzzles. In 999, the story is so expertly crafted to bring you to its mind-blowing conclusion. The twists and turns of the original game were so well-done that we hardly minded some of the more glaring issues like having to re-solve the rooms to see the different endings. In VLR, the prose is less heavy-handed and you're stuck with your choices like in 999, but rather than have you go back and replay all the rooms to see the other branches of the story, it introduced the game flowchart which at first blush seemed only to exist in order to address complaints from 999... until you realize it's much more than that, and it is pure genius! There's also that nice little twist where the memos you write degrade over time just like short-term memory.
Which brings us to ZTD, in which fans hope all of the questions they have will get answered. They don't. To be fair, a lot of gaps will be filled in, but it's done in such a ridiculous and disjointed way that by the end of it all, you might find yourself not really caring anymore. Again, new players need not look at this at all until they have played the first two games, or at the very least, VLR. So dependent on its prequels is ZTD that anyone jumping in at this point will be totally lost, which makes it a wonder why over 60% of the game is spent re-establishing stuff we learned in VLR. The recap is boring for fans and will make no sense to newbies.
Onto brass tacks. ZTD is instantly familiar to fans of the series. Once again, you will be making choices and escaping rooms. Familiar characters return and a few new faces debut, but they are so un-noteworthy that I didn't even know Mira's name until well into the final wrap-up. The twists are here as well, but I doubt any one of them could be considered mind-blowing. Gone is all of the prose and the game plays out in cutscenes with terrific-looking cel-shaded models that, in contrast, appear to be animated by high school kids still learning how to point and move the camera. Rather than show any complex movements, the camera will cut away to a wall or the ceiling in order to obviously re-pose the characters. When you do see them move, it's laughable - even the short character loops of VLR were done better than this. But that's not why you came - if we wanted pretty, we'd never have jumped into Zero Escape in the first place. It's all about the story, so what of it?
Fans of the series are used to slow burn, but the unraveling of the yarn here is S-L-O-W slow, and as I said above, most of it is going to be redundant re-treading for fans returning to see the conclusion and will be completely lost on anyone who hasn't at least played VLR. Rather than going through one entire playthrough as in previous games, ZTD is instead presented in disjointed segments that can be explored in any order provided you have unlocked them. Meticulous players might want to look at the global flowchart (accessible right off the bat) to try and make sense of things, but ZTD doesn't really play out that way. The characters are once again trapped in a shelter and made to escape rooms and make decisions, but every time they're done, the new Zero (the bad guy) knocks them out, erases their memories, and they start again somewhere else. Players will need to fill in the gaps and make sense of this disjointed storytelling, but it's not done nearly as well as in the prequels. My personal experience had me trying this until I slowly began to feel a disconnect as the game plodded on and told me nothing of use. The mystery isn't nearly as intriguing this time and really, YMMV on the payoff. As for the rooms, there's no files to find, and no math to do. They're all easy to navigate and solve. It all feels phoned in without any of the love.
ZTD is only for fans who want to see the conclusion, but they should keep expectations nice and low. Like for a McD's apple pie.
SummaryChoice is your only method of salvation and your only method of escape. How much of your humanity will you sacrifice to gain your freedom? As a new age of ruin looms large on the horizon, you have to make impossible decisions and weather unimaginable consequences as you straddle the line between absolution and damnation.