comment by Pimgd
· score: 3 (3 votes) · LW
I've been playing the 3rd release in the Zero Escape series, Zero Time Dilemma (3DS release June 28, PC release June 29). It's a mix of VN and "escape the room" in terms of genres.
In Zero Time Dilemma, 9 people are stuck in a simulated space ship, to test the effects of people flying to mars. Because the projected flight path puts the sun between the earth and mars, there will have to be radio silence for a few days. Several hours before the radio silence is lifted, the group is forced to participate in a game by an entity called 'Zero'. Each player has to wear (or rather, wakes up wearing) a bracelet, which functions as a watch and as an injector of sleeping & amnesia drugs.
Zero has a fascination with branching of time - near the start of the game he tells a story about a runner. She runs through the park every morning. At a particular branch, she usually always goes right. However, one day, she goes left. On the left path, she comes across an old man who she sees often when running in the mornings. The old man asks her "hey, this is different from your usual route. Why did you go left?" The woman answers "because there was a snail."
Later that day, police finds the woman dead in the bushes of the left path. "Isn't it curious, how one snail can affect a life so much?"
Zero forces the players to participate in "Decision Games". The players are told that...
- There is only one way out, and that's through the big door with the X
- You need at least 6 X-passes to open the big door
- When the door is opened, it opens for 30 seconds - afterwards, it doesn't open anymore, EVER
- An X-pass will be revealed to the group if a person dies.
In other words... 6 people must die.
The players are split up into 3 teams of 3 members each (for maximum tribalism?) and then are told of their first decision game - a screen turns on, showing the names of the other teams. Each team is to vote which other team should be executed. If a team has 2 or more votes, it is executed. If a team does not vote, it gains 2 votes against it.
So the game starts off with a version of prisoners dilemma. Through plot an option (A votes for B, B votes for C, C votes for A) is suggested and passed along a side channel, turning it into a true problem rather than a random guess.
Pretty much every "Decision Game" is a cruel game of ethics - where failure is met with death, and success with continued survival.
The game is cut up into 90 minute segments - after these 90 minutes are up, players are put to sleep and have their memory wiped. It's sad that none of the players seems to try and game this gimmick (not that I've seen yet, but I'm only at 20% completion or so) by writing stuff on their hands or something. But what makes this interesting is that the game plays out in time-fragments, some on one timeline, some on another.
I've pretty much been on an adrenaline high whilst playing this game - whilst you should play the earlier releases in the series if you want to connect all the plot threads (and there are a LOT), you could get away without playing them. There's enough exposition to explain plot points covered in the earlier releases, although it sometimes feels like a noodle incident ("I've seen this before, it's just like that one time with the rabbits").
If you're still unsure, I'd recommend downloading an DS emulator and a rom for 9 hours 9 persons 9 doors - it's the first release in the series and has similar gameplay, although without the traveling to story fragments.
To me, it's an interesting game where my ethics are put to the test - it's easy to say "shut up and multiply", it's another to be faced with the choice for real.
comment by Pimgd
· score: 0 (0 votes) · LW
Now that I've finished the game I can say that it's quite a blast - far more situations commonly discussed on LW are featured. I can't really say any more for the risk of spoiling a game which relies so much on story... My total playtime clocked in at 25 hours.
I have to say that the most annoying part of the game was that the sound kept cutting out; I frequently (I think a total of 50-100 times) had to go to the options menu and tap the BGM volume to get the background music to play again. More annoyingly, voices would sometimes also cut out, and the game doesn't continue until the line has been spoken, so it's required to enter the options menu and tap the voice volume to fix things. I think I had to tap the voice volume about 20 times in total. This did detract from my experience, but I still think the 37 euros I spent on it were worth it for the 24 hours of play.
The puzzles were of decent difficulty; I only googled for help once, and that turned out to be me just plain forgetting about an item.