Review by ChronoCactaur
"Sequel To The Only Good Visual Novel Game"
Virtue's Last Reward is the sequel to Nine Persons, Nine Hours, Nine Doors on the Nintendo DS, which was a "visual novel" video game, which acts as something of a happy medium between books and interactive mediums such as, well, video games. It was a success and beloved by many for being engaging in its deep, albeit somewhat convoluted storyline, and had replay value due to the multitude of endings possible to achieve. Virtue's Last Reward takes everything introduced in the DS game and amplifies it tenfold: There are now over 20 endings to achieve, both good and bad, the game focuses on nine characters throughout the story instead of just eight, and even the gameplay feels more refined and polished; Unfortunately that means that, yes, the storyline is also quite a bit more convoluted... but really, that's what makes the story so interesting.
Gameplay is structured much the same way as the 999, in that you go through "novel" sections and "puzzle rooms", of which there are 16 in all. During the novel sections, certain decisions you make will determine the flow, and eventually the ending, of the story. Unlike 999, there is an "Ally/Betray" system that lets you choose whether to ally with a certain character or to betray them. Should you be unhappy with your decision/ending, you can use the new flowchart system to "jump" back to any point in the story, and such a technique is essential to obtain all of the endings, and eventually the true ending of the game. Puzzle sections have the player trying to solve a sequence of puzzles of all types to obtain two safe codes, one of which enables the player to escape, while the other unlocks some secret files that add to the backstory of the game.
And... that's really all there is to the game. While it seems simple enough, the real fun of a visual novel game is to view all of the endings as well as trying to comprehend the storyline. Puzzle rooms are somewhat replayable, but most people play the game for the novel sections. Puzzle rooms do little more than substantiate this as a video game. One last important detail to mention is that you should only save your game during novel sections, because there is a bug that occurs in both the 3DS and Vita versions where if you save your game in a puzzle room, your save could get corrupted. There is also lag with certain puzzles that can result in the game crashing, but it's a rare occurence. For the record, I managed to play through the entire game(Which can take 40 hours or more) without a single crash.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/15/12
Game Release: Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward (US, 10/23/12)
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