Zero Escape: The Nonary Games Review

Zero Escape: The Nonary Games is available on both PS4 and PS Vita. It is also available separately on PC. The Nonary Games includes both the first and second games in the Zero Escape series. The first game in the series is Zero Escape: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors (also known as 999). The second game is Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward (also known as VLR). Both of these games were well-received when they were first released, and they still stand up to the test of time.

For those of you that haven’t heard of the series before, they are locked room mystery games in the style of a visual novel.  In a Saw-esque scenario, you’re taking part in a deadly game in which your life and the lives of others are on the line.  A mysterious antagonist has captured you and other people, and the only way to get out is to complete various locked room puzzles.  You also uncover more of the mystery as you play along.

As with any game re-release, you’d expect there to be improvements made, to make buying the game again worthwhile. The main improvements have been made to Zero Escape: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors.  The game has been fully remastered from the original version, with HD graphics.  The game looks nicer, which is very beneficial, as the original DS graphics would not look great on a TV screen for the PS4 version.

999 now also includes full voice acting.  This makes a huge difference, as the game has a lot of text.  The game is part visual novel, part adventure game, as such the story is very text heavy. The voice acting is available in both Japanese and English, with both being equally good options. The quality of the voice acting is superb, and it makes listening along to the story a real treat.  With so much to read a lack of voice acting can get boring, so this is a great inclusion for the game.

Both games have multiple different endings.  One great improvement to 999 is the addition of a flowchart.  This is something that was available in Virtue’s Last Reward, which really helps you to manage all of the different endings.  It makes it easier to see which route you are going down, and quicker to find your way to each ending.  This is a huge improvement to 999, and makes multiple playthroughs and that much more inviting.

Unlike 999, Virtue’s Last Reward has not been changed much.  However, the game didn’t need much work done to it. In fact, the main changes to 999 were to bring the game up to the quality of Virtue’s Last Reward, which already included voice acting and the flowchart, as well as much better graphics due to the time it was released.

Both games have very colourful casts of characters.  As you’d expect of a mystery game, you learn more about them as the game progresses.  Along with the need to survive, the characters are the other main driving force of the game.  The fate of the other characters is often up to you as the player character.  The other characters range from irritating to interesting, but you’ll find yourself surprised by their developments as the story continues.

You’ll find yourself drawn into the mysteries as they unravel in both games, with truly intriguing storylines as well as complex puzzles.  As well as the characters being interesting, the overarching story is very well written, creating drama and tension, and often surprising you with the outcome.

The puzzles are often difficult, but not so hard that you want to throw your console or control across the room.  Anyone who enjoys a good locked room game will love this series, as well as anyone who enjoys a challenging puzzle.  The way the puzzles are crafted is very clever, and you’ll probably find yourself having light bulb moments throughout, when you suddenly work out what to do next.

The third part of the Zero Escape series, called Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma, is available now. It is unfortunate that Zero Escape: The Nonary Games was not released as a trilogy with Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma.  It seems strange to have the first two games in the series without the most recent one, especially as Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma is not already available on the PS4 (though is available on the PS Vita).

If you haven’t played any of the Zero Escape games before, this is a great introduction to the series.  Even if you have, the remaster of 999 is well worth your time and money.  The games are great examples of both mystery games and visual novels.  The locked room sub-genre of puzzle games is greatly bolstered by having this series as part of it.  The only way to improve Zero Escape: The Nonary Games would be to have the third game included.

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@bonusstage.co.uk.

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