Zero Time Dilemma Review —What A TWEES…Nah That’s Too Obvious

I honestly think this game was trying to out-Shyamalan the man himself.

  • I’ve heard mixed things about the third installment of the Zero Escape series long before I even played the first one. Nothing too specific, but one of my friends who’s a huge fan of it has stated that he thought the story and ending were a load of horseshit. Another one who thought Danganronpa 3 was pretty good – and let’s not forget that installment also got a bit of a split reaction amongst fans – thought it was a disappointing. None of my other friends who’s played these games have even touched the thing to the best of my knowledge. And if they have, they didn’t really bother to talk about it.
  • Still, I don’t have as much investment in this series as them, so I have more room for fair judgment when it comes to the finale of this thing. Not a clean room as I thought the idea to set the final installment just before the world-ending disaster and the switch to a more Telltale-style of animation was kinda dumb, but I’ve been at this blogging thing long enough to accept new things if there’s unexpected good on the horizon, so I wasn’t deterred in the slightest when it came to playing the thing beyond the usual “when am I going to do that?”
  • Besides, I thought the rule of video game trilogies is that the third one is where the creators get cocky and things go downhill. Does that hold true for the finale of Zero Escape? Well read on and find out.

…and to fix this room upright so I wouldn’t keep sliding off this chair I’m sitting

  • It turns out that while it does take place only a year after 999 timeline-wise, canonically Zero Time Dilemma takes place after VLR. Or to be more specific, the part of VLR after Sigma and Phi jump back in time to the point before the world went to shit in order to prevent the apocalypse from happening. However, a new Zero isn’t going to have any of that, and throws them and seven other characters into a new Nonary game where the stakes are high and the time-traveling is still as convoluted as ever.
  • In fact, you get to the end credits within like ten minutes of gameplay, partly to setup a time-related twist later on, but mostly to just fuck with the player. After that, you choose another route and end up going down the true game where every time you inch one step closer to the truth, you get five more mysteries laid out in front of you.
  • First, let’s talk about presentation. Every single shot is a dutch angle due to the fact that the game is seen through the perspective of the security cameras in the building. Apparently this is supposed to be a big twist later on, but it was completely obvious due to how omnipresent Zero and his crow mask are in a “Big Brother” sort of way. Why wouldn’t we be watching this game through security cameras?
  • The animation is kinda crap and doesn’t sync with the hit-and-miss English dub properly, but I find it a lot more preferable to watch the characters with no player input rather than cramp my finger continuously pressing a button so I can read the next paragraph. And to be fair, the animation in VLR was pretty shit too, so it’s not like anything’s really changed there.

Got to admit, Phi with glasses is pretty cute

  • Characters are pretty hit-and-miss this go-around. The returning characters from VLR and half the new ones are fine, but the other half of the latter category and the returning characters from 999 are insufferable. Junpei sorta has a justification for why he’s a total douche, but that doesn’t make me a fan of it, especially when he does some truly dick-ish things. But to be fair, when your love interest is Akane – who is so fucking stupid this go-around – I guess I’d be a dick too.
  • But the majority of my hate goes to Eric, whose backstory and rare sympathetic moments can’t redeem the scenes where he acts like a Leeroy Jenkins-style douche, which pretty much happen 90% of the time he’s on-screen. However, that’s nothing compared to his girlfriend Mira, who you’ll find out early on is a serial killer, and a very unsubtle one on top of that. I mean she couldn’t have picked a better time and place to fuck things up? How is it that someone as cartoonishly evil as Genocider Jill from Danganronpa has more common sense than her?
  • Because of how easy it is to look up the answers on these sort of adventure games, the Zero Time Dilemma developers decided to add a mechanic where you’re forced to do the same scenario multiple times until you get the desired outcome. It’s a little frustrating when this happens because of how random it is along with you can’t really determine what’s a scenario you need to play again and what’s a scenario you need to go a different route to get through, but that’s somewhat alleviated by how the third try will always ALWAYS work out in your favor in those situations.
  • You’ll also still have to write down names and passwords that you learn on the memo screen so that you can input them in later, but those moments I freely admit to using the online walkthrough for whenever they showed up. Which admittedly caused me to skip chunks of the game in the process because I was under the impression certain routes are only available after you’ve learned the passwords in-game and it turns out that wasn’t true. But if that meant having to sit through less of Eric’s douchiness, then I have no reason to feel regret.

I bet no matter what timeline you’re in, if Komaeda was the one in the situation, he’d survive every time

  • Gameplay on the whole is pretty fun once it appears. Not much to it obviously because it’s just a point-and-click game, but the new “Fragment” method of storytelling adds some much needed flavor to the whole mess. As for the puzzles, some of them border on the unfair and repetitive, but overall they’re solvable if you know what you’re looking for.
  • The plot on the other hand is a lot less fun to follow. Between half the characters being annoying along with Zero Escape’s usual method of halting progression in order to explain scientific concepts whilst constantly swinging mysteries in your face every time you think you’re getting somewhere, it feels like a case of too many cooks stirring the pot.
  • Events can get very railroad-y at times, sometimes to unbelievable degrees. Too many characters end up going yandere over the dumbest of reasons with the absolute nadir being when Eric is entrusted with a shotgun that we clearly see only has like five or six bullets in it, yet he uses no less than ten shots in one of the bad endings. Also, there’s a character named Sean who everyone else never refers to by name until after the main bad guy is revealed, even though they clearly knew what his name was ahead of time. You’re seriously expecting me to believe that no one calls said character “Sean” until ten seconds after a big plot twist? How contrived is that?
  • Also, I really hate how the games forces you to get the bad endings in order to get the good endings. That should never be a requirement in anything, especially when I’m playing the game. It should be obvious that I’ve never been crazy about the whole multiple choice gameplay whether it be one of those godawful morality systems in stuff like Infamous and Undertale, nor do I care about the large number of endings in Heavy Rain. And the reason why is because with few exceptions (ex. my favorite ending in SMT: Nocturne is the one where you become Satan’s follower) I hate sitting through anything but the good ending because they mostly involve seeing my player character act like a dick – mostly in illogical ways I can’t relate to.

My god this character sucked. And not just blood.

  • On the whole, Zero Time Dilemma’s gameplay is fine for the most part, but you can’t base an entire game on that sort of point-and-click without a good story. And while the story is well put-together on a technical level, the actual story being told is either lame or doesn’t appeal to my interests depending on how you interpret it. I don’t really care how several of the major elements were just dropped completely, especially not Radical-6 because “fuck mysterious viruses”. However, my god the reasoning for why the world was left to Darwin was stupid as hell.
  • But what really kills it for me is the last-minute introduction of superpowers and moral dilemmas that fit in so badly with the Zero Escape universe to the point it comes off as last-minute fanfiction on the level of Scrappy Doo in the live-action Scooby Doo movie. It’s not like the scientific explanations for the time travel shit were all that believable or engaging in of itself, so adding in more convolutions of that level just made it hard to stay grounded in what was going on.
  • Even if that finale was planned ahead of time it wouldn’t have made sense, because when it comes to logistics v.s. coherency, it’s better to lean towards the latter. And that finale was about as ill-fitting on a conceptual level as a frog moving in with a bunch of snakes.

Minor Quips

  • Also, I’d be very wary of the mysterious participant who is both blind, deaf, and mute if I was thrown into one of these games.
  • Not gonna watch Split until it’s on DVD. I tried The Visit in theaters and that was a mistake.

3 responses to “Zero Time Dilemma Review —What A TWEES…Nah That’s Too Obvious

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