Subject: Thoth reviews: Virtue's Last Reward
Posted on: 2020-09-04 23:30:12 UTC

Virtue's Last Reward is the second game in the Zero Escape series and the sequel to 999. It's generally regarded to be a massive step forward from its predecessor. Which it is. It's also regarded by a minority to be a lesser game than 999. This is probably also true.

The problems with Virtue's Last Reward present themselves before the... ahem, Virtues do. The whole game has a much less varied and interesting visual design compared to 999, with a lot of the setting being a bland warehouse, which is... much less distinctive than 999's replica of the Titanic. The stylish 2D character portraits from 999 have been replaced with 3D models of a questionable quality. Rather than being presided over by a creepy distorted voice and some written instructions, this game is administered by a rabbit AI that's basically a dollar-store knockoff of Monokuma from Danganronpa and is... really annoying and out of place, given the generally more serious tone of Zero Escape. And the puzzles have suffered as well: they're frequently hard in a way that's unsatisyfing or just not very fun. There is no shame in looking up answers if you're stumped on some of these.

But there's also a lot of good here. The character writing is solid as ever—heck, I'd say it's better than it was in 999. Tenmyoji and Quark are standouts, but there aren't any characters here that feel ancillary, or who are underdeveloped (like Lotus in 999...). This new Nonary Game is built on iterated Prisoner's Dillema, which means there are now new and exciting reasons for characters to be suspicious of one another and betray each other. The plot's expanded in scope pretty dramatically, for better or worse, but it all sets the stage for the trademark Zero Escape Twist Ending that turns everything on its head. And no matter how much of it you saw coming, believe me. You don't have it all figured out. Additionally, the higher level design in this game is all about pushing the conceit of 999's twist to its logical conclusion: the FLOW screen is now an integral part of the game, and while I don't want to say too much... well, it's pretty great. If you've ever played No One Has To Die, you might have some idea of what's going on...

This all converges on an ending that's completely insane and arguably a bit of a mess, built on the Zero Escape standard mix of philosophy, pseudoscience, and weird ideas about real science. But I, at least, found it satisfying. Ish. Even if it did end on a cliffhanger that leads into an unsatisfying and inadequate third game...

But if you liked 999 at all, play Virtue's Last Reward. For all its flaws, it's still excellent.

Reply Return to messages