This is non spoiler-free hands on, I make sure to write without spoiling the story of three Zero Escape games. Zero Time Dilemma is an adventure video game developed by Chime. It was released for Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita in June 2016, by Spike Chunsoft in Japan and Aksys Games in North America and Europe. There was a Steam version too. The Director and story still handled by Kotaro Uchikoshi. Right now, I’m playing in Nintendo 3DS system.
December 31, 2028. Nevada desert. Nine people have been living and performing experiments for the past five days in the Dcom facility. On the sixth day, they discover they are trapped in confinement rooms, an unfamiliar black bracelet strapped to their left wrists. A mysterious figure in a mask appears before them, demanding that they play the “Decision Game.” “The lives of you, me, and the human race hang in the balance.” Transported to a shelter underground, they are divided into 3 teams and left in separate wards. Which team will manage to stay alive…? The fate of all mankind rests on their decision!
If you familiar with this opening scene, means you already played the other Zero Escape series. Nine people abducted and forced to play a game in order to escape. The other two games, 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors and Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward, the nine characters played a deathly Nonary game but in Zero Time Dilemma you have to choose how and who can escape this Decision game. Nine people divided into three teams and we will see the story in each team how they struggle to search a way out.
When you play first Decision game, you have to choose one team to proceed the story. Each team has Fragment Select that you can choose and each fragment has Fragment Flowchart. There a Fragment that has quest to escape room but there also only cinematic scene. When you finish one Fragment, another Fragment will show up and it could be another team’s Fragment. Sometimes a Fragment couldn’t finish because you must see another cinematic scene in the other party. How it unlocked could be random because all Fragment didn’t has exact timeline. You will understand when you finish all story, though.
Zero Time Dilemma (ZTD) has different style than previously games. This game has gone full 3D for cinematic scene. It still have heavy-text dialogue with fully voice, of course. I didn’t enjoy this cinematic scene at first. I enjoyed 999 and VLR Visual novel style, especially VLR one. The problem with this 3D style is the animation sometimes failed to describe the story’s emotions. I saw the characters cried and angry but because the stiff animation, I didn’t get the feeling at all. They did something little detail like tears and blood, even for me the blood spreading everywhere is too much. And you should pay attention when Mira move, maybe some of you would enjoy it.
The music didn’t help to make me feel the story’s emotion either. Even my favorite track from VLR “Blue Bird Lamentation” played over and over again but sometimes it didn’t fit in the story. Many old track played in this game and it has new tracks too. Unfortunately, no single new tracks interest me. I have no problem with dub voice, it’s great like in VLR. But the sound quality is a bit poor although I set the character volume in setting at MAX, especially Zero’s voice. If I didn’t read the text I wouldn’t know whatever he was talking about.
Even I didn’t enjoy the poor animation and music didn’t make me stop playing this game. What make this game great are the puzzle to get out from the room. The puzzle still had the same point-and-click style. You can move camera everywhere to see anything in 3D. Search every items and hints in the room to make the door open. The puzzles are really fun to solve. Sometime I got stuck, but it just I didn’t search every corner in the room. You can see the characters dialogue when we clicked anything, sometimes it’s fun to watch.
In 999 and VLR, when we solve the room puzzle the door will simply open, but in this game we have to play the Decision game instead. That time you have to make the characters choose ‘something’ in order to open the door. When you made a right choice it will open the door but maybe you will face the bad end and if you back to make another choice it will make another result but still the bad end. The result was random. Believe me, it’s totally random. Sometimes you have to play decision game 3 times to make another result.
There are many different kind of Decision game, sometime we have to solve a puzzle. The puzzle has one answer but if you play that game again, the answer could be different. Unlike escape room that has always same answer, in the Decision Game, the puzzle’s answer are random. It’s no use if you write down the answer when you solve that puzzle again. If you know how to solve the puzzle it won’t become a problem. There are a decision to put a name too, it could any name as long as it was the characters in this game. And the game will have different responses and dialogues whoever name we chose. It interesting to randomly put any name to see what they will response.
This game didn’t have some grand final puzzle like in 999 and VLR. It such a shame because the final puzzle in previous Zero Escape always make me thrill. Because focus in this game is to make a decision, the final part of this game is to decide whether we chose to see true end or bad end. This game is very short too. I finish this game only about 20 hours playing. It didn’t have much content in File Menu too. I remember how I had to read all those files when I finished VLR. It feels like when I watched cinematic scene everything become very quick. Honestly, I prefer read the dialogue box especially when the characters talking about heavy stuff.
This third Zero Escape series explained some major plot point that left hanging in VLR. But not ALL mysteries answered, though. It’s not really problem for me because i’m used to it. Sequel always gave us answer and more question in the same time. This game still gave us some super plot twist that really surprise me. When I know the truth about big mysteries in Zero Escape, the game come to an end. It was short but it’s really fun to play.