Zero Escape: The Nonary Games (PS Vita) Review

By Albert Lichi 07.04.2017

Review for Zero Escape: The Nonary Games on PS Vita

The "Zero Escape" series began with a humble Nintendo DS game called 999 - or Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors. It came out during a time when the visual novel genre was beginning to gain ground in the West, and the timing couldn't be better since 999 was ultimately an extremely well received game in 2009. Unable to make much traction in the homeland, it was a substantial success in the West where it would get a much more ambitious sequel with Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward in 2012 for the Nintendo 3DS and the PlayStation Vita. The series gaining more popularity overseas, thanks to the deft writing, dense plot and intense scenarios, the trilogy was concluded in 2016 with Zero Time Dilemma, as well as the first two titles getting upgraded ports on various platforms. Zero Escape: The Nonary Games is an enhanced compilation that offers what is easily the best version of 999 and includes Virtue's Last Reward. Cubed3's number is up and now The Nonary Games will be either saved or sacrificed...

The main draw of Zero Escape: The Nonary Games is the enhanced port of Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors. The version of Virtue's Last Reward included here is the same PlayStation Vita version that was released in 2012. It is identical and was likely bundled in to give an enhanced port of a 2009 DS game more value. Curiously, Zero Time Dilemma is not included in this compilation.

The story in The Nonary Games is about a group of individuals who are not as they appear and must survive by playing a deadly game of sacrifice. Oftentimes the characters involved in the story must figure out how to escape rooms and bypass traps. Other times there will be moral choices that cause the story to branch out, leading to alternate scenarios and even different endings. It is difficult to discuss much of the goings on with the plot and characters, since a huge part of the appeal of these titles is the unravelling of the plot's mystery and the growth of the characters. It must be mentioned just how well written (and acted) all these characters are in both titles. There is a dedicated theming that the developers adhered to for pretty much every aspect in the game, and it's pretty astounding just how many layers there can be without missing anything.

The story has some elements seen in the other popular visual novel series, Danganronpa. "Whodunit" mysteries, creepy mascot figure on televisions, gruesome deaths, and subverted tropes are all things both series have in common, but where The Nonary Games stands out is how it is also a game about possibilities. Unlike Danganronpa, this is a story that branches out and has multiple outcomes based on the user's choices.

Screenshot for Zero Escape: The Nonary Games on PS Vita

The feature of various endings also is core to the theme of both 999 and Virtue's Last Reward, as well as the latest sequel, Zero Time Dilemma (again, not included in this compilation). The flow chart feature that was introduced in Virtue's Last Reward was such a stroke of narrative and gameplay genius it ultimately had to be implemented in 999. Not only did being able to skip chunks of redundant scenes make the game much more convenient to play, but it kept the story flowing much more smoothly.

Nine Persons, Nine Hours, Nine Doors, was originally a DS game, and in some areas it becomes obvious. There are some examples of really ugly low poly models that do not mesh well with the rest of this update. The fact it used to use two screens is mostly mitigated, but in some parts become more obvious when the display gets cluttered with information that was meant to be divided up. Virtue's Last Reward has not changed and still looks the same, which is slightly disappointing, since this was an opportunity to add some extra life into the 3D character models. This was originally a 3DS game, which means it has no excuse to not take advantage of the extra Vita hardware specs.

Zero Escape: The Nonary Games' version of 999 is the reason to buy this compilation. On PS Vita, it has touch screen interfacing to maintain its origins as a DS game. The effort put into this update is pretty substantial, as now it includes voice acting, with returning cast members from later games reprising their roles, updated art and animation, and most importantly: gameplay updates introduced in Virtue's Last Reward. Playing both games in the The Nonary Games back to back is a wonderful and gripping experience that fans of story-driven games should pick up.

Screenshot for Zero Escape: The Nonary Games on PS Vita

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

The Nonary Games is a collection of two examples of some of the best visual novels available. Expect a riveting mystery full of interesting and layered characters, and even some diabolical puzzles. Whilst Nine Persons, Nine Hours, Nine Doors is clearly the game that got the most attention for this compilation, it doesn't mean that Virtue's Last Reward is the lesser of the two... 999 just needed it more and it pays off beautifully.


Spike Chunsoft







C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

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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