I’m a huge fan of Ever17, in fact I consider it one of the best pieces of fiction I’ve ever experienced and easily the perfect example of what the visual novel medium is truly capable of. It takes advantage of every aspect of it and in doing so does things that no book, movie, or other type of game is capable of, all while also just being amazing aside that. While I’d love to go on and on this isn’t a review of that masterpiece – I bring up E17 because the writer is the same in the Zero Escape games, including Virtue’s Last Reward. I was real interested in playing 999 and VLR because of that as well as how highly praised these are (unsurprisingly, most of that praise coming from people who never played E17) and never got a chance for a long time and finally I’ve gotten around to VLR on the PSVita.
The game has no setup and no lead-in to the story outside of 4 or 5 still images showing Sigma in his car then knocked out in some smoke, then the game begins with you trapped in a room with a cute teenage girl voiced by Omigawa “Honkers” Chiaki. An incredibly edge-tastic bunny appears on a screen and tells you shitty bunny puns that don’t even somewhat work and then goes full edgelord and pulls the “you’re gonna die lol” card. No setup, no reason to care, and the most retarded teenage-pandering idea of a “cute but evil creature with a sense of humor wat a tweest :^)”. This is your introduction to the game – one worse than that of the shitty Saw films and filled with cringe-worthy “humor” at every turn.
I’d love to say it gets better, but it really doesn’t. The story itself is just an incredibly shitty wannabe-Ever17 as if this writer is afraid to try absolutely anything else. I’d actually be okay with an E17 clone with some changes and such, but it tries being that while also being incredibly watered down and treats you like a fucking literal 5 year old. It reveals way too many of the twists-to-come early on, like right in the first fucking moments of meeting the rest of the characters (even more if you’ve played E17), showcases how derivative it is, and gets across how terrible the writing is this time around. The further you get into the game the more apparent the slight rewriting of Ever 17 becomes and eventually it ends up making you wonder why this ever came into existence at all.
Aside that, the cast is unlikable and the 3DS being involved as this is on both the Vita and that of course brought the Nintendo quality seal of approval – shitty character models and low-res textures on everything along with awful gameplay mechanics, unresponsive controls, and terrible animations. The characters all seem unappealing with the exception of Phi who is only less shit thanks to being nice to look at and listen to, especially when you compare her to a woman who has no top on at all aside a giant fucking gaudy as shit necklace covering her awkwardly disgusting megatits that seem to have stretch marks and some kind of skin problem all over them. Aside that you get just people filling the roles of the Ever17 cast – if you’ve played E17 you know what I mean for every goddamn member of this cast, if you haven’t then I’d rather not indirectly spoil some actual twists and such in that by explaining.
My two massive fucking issues with this though are the gameplay and the actual dialogue – not so much the overall story (as plainly unoriginal and shittily written as it is, still would be tolerable), the characters, or the lack of any hook for the player. Though the lacking story certainly makes the huge fucking flaws not even worth pushing through, not that you’d be able to. The “gameplay” problem is the horribly long animations that you have no way of skipping and that play every single time you do anything – which would be fine if you weren’t forced to do a lot of things over and over again and go in and out of rooms and such often. I even tried using a guide on a puzzle I did myself first just to see how much time I could cut down from how long it was taking me to figure things out from scratch and even knowing exactly what to do. It still was godawful due to the animations constantly forcing you to sit there upwards of 15 seconds for it to finish and then having to go right back and watch it again after getting this or that item. And oh god the dialogue. I would split them up but they tie in together into one massive problem that makes this game just intolerable and completely unplayable.
Hell, the first thing you do after getting out of the first room is listening for almost half an hour to these people wondering what “Pair” and “Solo” mean and why people who have “Pair” on their band happen to share the same color as one other who has the word Pair on theirs and also happened to start in the same room as that person. Yes. Pair and solo are concepts that take the game almost 30 minutes to explain to the player and it does so while pretending it’s the most incredibly complex concept in the world.
Let’s use an example that while I am making the specifics of up happens almost verbatim near constantly over and over again every time you find anything ‘new’ even if it’s irrelevant and only gets worse and worse as you get further. I will include no pictures because the game just has you staring at a wall anyway the majority of the time. Oh, I won’t include all the shitty “jokes” and puns that are fucking everywhere either. Also, keep in mind every new quoted line is an entirely different line in the game you have to press to move on to the next one and sometimes it spends a few seconds loading up a picture-in-picture of whoever is speaking. I didn’t feel like writing a goddamn script or screenplay so just imagine pressing x between every single line, even “…”.
You wait 15 seconds as the animation for a door opening plays. You wait 15 more seconds as you realize this was the wrong door and go back out, watching the animation yet again. You then find the right door and spend 15 seconds watching the animation again for this one. Here you and your group find a purple door and the game locks up for a few seconds before loading up the dialogue after a shitty 10 second animation to lock in on the door view.
“A purple door…” “Hey, what’s that?” “A door?” “Huh…a door?” “…” “…” “…” “The door’s purple.” “Hey, you’re right” “…looks like it’s purple” “Do you think its color matters?” “I haven’t seen any other purple doors” “Why is it purple?” “Any ideas?” “Hmm…” “…” “Purple…I think I remember something.” “You remembered something? About what?” “Something purple I think” “Purple, you mean like the door?” “Yeah, like this purple door.” “Well try to remember!” “I’m gonna try opening the door while you think about it” “…” “…” “The door won’t open” “Is it locked?” “I don’t know” “Let me try it” “It’s locked!” “You mean it won’t open?” “Yeah, the door won’t open” “Maybe it’s locked then…” “What do we do?” “Maybe we should look for a key?” “Wait, what’s this thing next to the door?” “Which door?” “The purple door” “There’s something next to it?” “Yeah, look!”
The camera spends 10 seconds to zoom in to an already huge panel that says LOCKED next to the door.
“What do you think this is?” “Is it some kind of sign?” “What does it mean?” “Hmm…L-O-C-K-E…” “…D” “Locked.” “Does this mean the door is locked?” “Hmm, that might be it but there’s no way to be sure.” “I think this panel might have something to do with the locked door” “You mean the purple door that seems to be locked?” “Yeah, the purple locked door” “Wait, what’s this on the wall?”
You try to zoom back out from the panel but accidentally click just high enough that it thinks you meant to push the panel again. A “shorter” version of the dialogue repeats.
“What do you think about this?” “Maybe a sign, right?” “I think we decided it has to do with the locked door” “Yes, the purple one.” “I wonder if it’s still locked” “It is, we checked a moment ago” “We need to figure out what this panel means and how to make it open the door.” “Yes, we need to open the locked purple door by somehow solving the puzzle of this panel.”
You manage to zoom out this time, watching the 10 second animation, and use the horrible camera (before realizing L/R work as well) to turn the camera jerkily left to some nonsensical writing.
“What’s this?” “It doesn’t make sense.” “…” “I don’t get it” “This looks like nonsense to me” “Ha, amateurs, I know what this is.” “You know what this is?” “Of course I know what this is.” “Really? You know what this is?” “Yes, I figured it out” “Wow, how did you do that?” “It’s an anagram.” “An Anna Gram?” “No, an anagram” “What’s that?” (This question was literally asked in the game) “You take the letters and rearrange them” “How do you mean?” (And then in typical fashion of this writer…) “An anagram is a type of word play, the result of rearranging the letters of a word or phrase to produce a new word or phrase, using all the original letters exactly once; for example, the word anagram can be rearranged into nag-a-ram. Someone who creates anagrams may be called an anagrammatist. The original word or phrase is known as the subject of the anagram. Anagrams are often used as a form of mnemonic device as well. Any word or phrase that exactly reproduces the letters in another order is an anagram. However, the goal of serious or skilled anagrammatists is to produce anagrams that in some way reflect or comment on the subject. Such an anagram may be a synonym or antonym of its subject, a parody, a criticism, or praise; e.g. William Shakespeare = I am a weakish speller. Another example is “silent” which can be rearranged to “listen”. The two can be used in the phrase, “Think about it, SILENT and LISTEN are spelled with the same letters”. To mean the quieter you become, the more you can hear.“ “I see, so this is an anagram.” “Yes.” “How do we figure out what it says?” “We have to take the letters and rearrange them” “Ah! I get it! We have to jumble up what it says and change the order!” “Yes.”
The screen gets a black tint and presents you with Sigma’s inner thoughts as he makes a mental checklist so that you the player will not miss any important information.
1. There is a door.
2. This door is purple.
3. This purple door appears to be locked.
4. The panel next to the door has the letters “LOCKED” on it, but we cannot figure out what this means yet.
5. The wall near the locked purple door with the mysterious panel on it has something called an anagram.
6. An anagram is some type of word play where you take a word or phrase and move around the letters, Phi says she’s good at them.
7. We need to figure out the anagram.
8. If we figure out the anagram we may be able to get through the locked purple door or figure out the mystery of the panel.
He gives himself a few words about how tough this will be and how they can do this before the game goes back to dialogue and out of his thoughts.
“Hmm, so if we take what’s written and change it around we might figure something out” “I think you’re right, we should try figuring out this anagram!” “Yes, then maybe we can open the locked door” “Which door?” “The purple door” “Is it locked? Maybe it’s just jammed shut” “Could be…” “…” “We need to solve this it might help us” “Okay, let’s solve this anagram, maybe it will help get us through the purple door!”
I said this is an example, but this is literally what happens constantly and I don’t mean “often”. You almost never actually progress even a fucking sentence no matter what the content or context of it is until this happens in one way or another for fucking thirty minutes every time you finally reach a new goddamn sentence or thought. It’s less mystery and more “experiencing life if you and everyone around you had severe mental deficiencies”. The only people who could possibly like this are fucking retarded and if you do you’re a retard and your opinion is shit. Fuck this game and fuck how 90% of it is literally identical to Ever17, even the goddamn ending, only WAY fucking stupider here. It’s like someone played the game, wrote a goddamn fanfic version, and published it falsely as the same writer. Even if you’ve never played E17 this is just an unplayable fat fucking turd and even a child would feel offended at how truly stupid it thinks you must be that it requires itself to delve so deeply into the pool of repeating what was just said 300 times in the same exact words before describing why red isn’t the same as fucking green. It’s so bad it literally made me angry.
This trash heap is fucking incredible in the worst possible way and genuinely blows my fucking mind – in that way this does manage to accomplish the same thing Ever17 did, only through a far different method.
“On February 13, 2014, Uchikoshi revealed that Zero Escape 3 had been put on hold indefinitely, as the first two games had not sold well enough in Japan for the third game to be considered likely to be profitable.”