If there’s one video game genre that’s about as obscure as they come it’s visual novels. For those who don’t know, visual novels are exactly what they say on the package: they are novels that have visual elements (character designs, backgrounds, voice acting, music, etc.) You need to be one crazy person to play this instead of a “real” video game or read a real book.
I am one of those crazy people.
In the visual novel circles, I’m considered a noob because the number of visual novels I’ve played can be counted on one hand. The few that I have played were quite enjoyable. That all changed when I played Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward.
Before I continue, I want to make two things clear. 1. I have played 9 Persons 9 Hours 9 Doors and enjoyed it immensely and 2. Since this blog is geared towards the literary persuasion, I am only going to touch upon the story. Thus, if you want to know about the puzzles, look elsewhere.
The story is about Sigma who wakes up to find himself in a strange room. The last thing he remembers is that he was starting his car outside his college when a white smoke knocked him out. A woman named Phi is also in the same room with him. After escaping the room, they find seven other people and are told by a computer program named Zero Jr. that they are in a game where each of them has to go through various doors and get the numbers on their watches to nine or higher to escape.
This entire plot, like the first game, is pretty much the plot to Saw 2. The difference between Saw two and this series is, well, everything. Better storytelling, characters, puzzles, pacing, setting and the characters aren’t a bunch of blithering idiots. I will defend 999 to my death and say that what Saw 2 tried and failed to do 999 did so much better.
What I won’t do is defend this game. The story has some great moments, but overall it wasn’t as interesting as 999. You see, Sigma and Junpei from the first game are pretty much the same character in terms of personality. This goes down to them both having impeccable memory, math skills and are perverted to a fault. Hell, they even share some story elements together like that whole multiple timelines thing.
That right there is this game’s major fault. The jumping back and forth through time, different outcomes are what gives some sci-fi readers headaches. Time travel is a major pain in people’s brains. Back to the Future may be about time travel, but they kept the multiple timelines thing to a minimum. Here it just gets way too confusing.
The characters also aren’t as interesting as 999. They do have personalities here, but at the end f the day the 999 characters just seem more memorable. Even Clover, who makes a reappearance in this game, has had her personality nerfed to something completely different.
I’m not saying VLR is a bad story. It has its moments, but overall it’s just not as interesting as the game makers make it out to be. This is more of a rental than anything else. There is a third game announced which hopefully answers some questions this game created. Especially after that horrific ending.