Zero Escape: The Nonary Games (PlayStation 4) Review

By William Lowery 04.10.2017

Review for Zero Escape: The Nonary Games on PlayStation 4

Face it, the last situation people want to find themselves in is captivity. Imagine waking up one day, there's a mysterious watch attached to your wrist, and there are eight other people who have the same device on them. Next, it turns out you are all being held captive by a mysterious figure that is doing this as part of a secret plan of his. Welcome to Zero Escape: The Nonary Games, a re-release of two point-and-click games that follow the exploits of nine individuals trying to find a way out of series of demented games hosted by an enigmatic person only known as Zero.

The first one, Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, was originally released in 2011 for the DS and it follows Junpei, a young man who finds himself trapped on an ocean liner with eight other individuals, including childhood friend June, a blind man nicknamed Snake, his sister Clover, and an elder man called Ace. They are being held captive by Zero, who has trapped them all on the ship with the intent of putting them through a series of trials called the Nonary Games. The only way to escape is to complete his games and seek out the door marked 9. The sequel, Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward, released in 2012, shifts the focus to a new cast of characters, plus some returning faces, as they find themselves caught up in another case of the Nonary Games.

Featuring complex plots and characters with ambiguous backgrounds, both games may have different settings and protagonists, yet they also share similar themes and concepts. Although the focus may be to escape the facilities they are being held in, there's a lot more going on in the story than expected. The first game deals with concepts like cause-and-effect of past and future events, while the sequel further explores this idea, adding in new material along the way. Both titles also delve into player choice. There are multiple endings, and which one the player receives depends on factors like choosing what numbered door to get through or whether to provide characters with certain items at various intervals in the game. The strong writing present in both titles keeps things engaging, as does the voice acting, which, while sometimes hammy and over-the-top, is solid.

Screenshot for Zero Escape: The Nonary Games on PlayStation 4

Of course, the defining theme of both games is escape. At various intervals throughout, the group of individuals will be split up into separate teams as they go through the different doors, hoping the way out is just around the corner. When they do enter, there is no return, but by solving the puzzles, they could be one step closer to freedom… or not. Indeed, the puzzle-solving is quite complicated and frequently challenging, while some are as simple as placing objects in the right spot, others can involve complex algorithms or finding key components that are locked away via a cryptic code. Although you are given hints as to what you're supposed to do, these puzzles are often left for the player to figure out on their own. It's not easy, but there's a great sense of satisfaction to be had when everything falls into place.

In 999, navigating one's surroundings is done with presses of the L1 and R1 buttons, and interacting with items is done with a press of the X button. However, since the sequel features fully 3D environments and character models, looking around the environment can be done with the analogue sticks, which makes gameplay more fluid.

Speaking of which, since both games were originally handheld releases, what enhancements have been added? Many of the changes are minor, but the biggest addition is voice acting for dialogue in 999, something that was not prevalent in the original Nintendo DS release. The only issue is that there is that the sound does have a grainy nature to it, which is odd, as Zero Escape doesn't have that quirk. Aesthetically, both games look nice, and the resolution has been bumped up for the PlayStation 4 release so that the games look competent on home consoles, but not particularly spectacular.

Screenshot for Zero Escape: The Nonary Games on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

There's a lot to like about Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors and Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward. Both games offer well-done plots with unique characters, and the escape room based gameplay is both difficult and enjoyable. At times, the pacing does drag out certain moments a bit too long, leading to lots of furious tapping of the X button to speed up dialogue as quick as possible, yet it's hard to want to skim over anything since crucial information might be missed. Still, this compilation is a great way for folks to catch up on what is arguably one of handheld's hidden gems.

Developer

Spike Chunsoft

Publisher

Aksys

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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