Warning: If you are not a fan of heavy sci-fi setting, pseudo science theories, psychologic horror, blood, gore, complex story plots, cut scenes made for 3DS, and puzzles, then this review and this game is not for you.
If that list tickles your fancy, then read on, ya weirdo!
I just finished a little diddle called Zero Time Dilemma, a visual novel– well actually it’s not. It’s a story heavy game with cut scenes, puzzles, choices, and story branches. The idea is to play out a fragment of each story in random order, until it all comes together in a spectacular ending. The idea may sound crazy, but if you’re familiar with complex sci-fi storytelling, then this won’t be too much of a hassle.
Published by Aksys games and written by Shinji Hosoe, and developed by Spike Chunsoft Co. The great powerhouse responsible for Danganronpa, the first five Dragon Quest games, J Star, and the upcoming Jump Force. This company has the reputation for handling anime in video game form like no other.
Shinji Hosoe is the man behind the Nonary Game series, to which Zero Time Dilemma (ZTD) comes from his cranium. It’s the third and final game in the series, but chronologically it is the second. The story usually stars nine characters all caught in a game for survival. The goal of each game is using the complexity of human interaction and danger, to serve great purposes involving timeline reconstruction and awakening psychic powers.
Yeah, so now we’re going to get into the weird stuff.
When you start the game you find nine people stuck in three cells, all separated in three teams. Four of the characters are from the first and second game, so there is a small requirement of having their knowledge beforehand. However, I feel you can play the game without having to. As it is, there are five new characters that Nonary veterans won’t know. So backstories come plenty. But there are moments that you can appreciate more if you play them before. The judgment and decision ultimately fall on you, ya dig?
The nine characters need to escape by finding six key codes. The only problem is key codes are linked to the nine characters, and only are revealed when one dies. As a result, six must die, and three may live. And throughout the story, there are MANY ways for people to die, some subtle and others very gruesomely.
The greatest portion of the game is cut scene after cut scene. It’s honestly an odd way to go about a finale to a series, but a lot had to happen. What I mean is, an apocalyptic event happens that can be prevented in this game. Three of the nine characters are aware of this before they entered this game willingly. They plan to stop it, but even they are unaware of how to accomplish it.
So in speaking of gameplay, when you do have control, you’re always in an escape room. The goal is to find puzzle pieces to solve bigger puzzle pieces to solve the big puzzle.
Pretty much an escape room.
The graphics are nothing to gawk at, but they’re not an eye sore either. I played the PS4 version, and I could clearly see this was a handheld game. The experience was casual in terms of hand eye coordination, but heavy in the feels.
So what was all this for? And is the ending worth twenty hours of cut scenes, blood splatter, and escape rooms?
Oh, you bet!!!!
You find that the villain actually forces all nine characters into the trouble of developing psychic powers in order to jump through parallel timelines. Zero, (our big baddie) only made the plan to kill two billion people so a terrorist wouldn’t kill eight billion people. But thanks to timeline jumping, our heroes prevent Zero from winning, and Zero convinces them to find the terrorist and prevent them from winning.
In case it sounds too simple for you, let me explain this one point: your whole focus for two games is to find this Zero guy. There never was any awareness or care for the terrorist guy who still goes unnamed.
And the best part? At the end, our heroes jump to the timeline where Zero did nothing. And he’s a free man! A safe man. He gets away, and also is kind of a hero for making the nine super powered and purpose driven! It’s amazing!
And if you don’t take my word for it, I implore you please, please play it for yourself. You will not be disappointed.
I give the game a 9.5 out of 10. It’s nearly perfect, but I feel as if the cut scenes could have been animated, hand drawn.