Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward, often abbreviated as VLR and known in Japan as Extreme Escape Adventure: Good People Die, is the sequel to the game Zero Escape: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors and it precedes Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma. It is the second entry of the Zero Escape series. The game was developed by Chunsoft.
The first versions of the game for Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita / PlayStation TV were published in Japan by Spike on February 16, 2012. It was published in North America by Aksys Games on October 23, 2012, and on the Nintendo eShop on August 22, 2013. It was published in Europe by Rising Star Games on November 23, 2012.
On March 24, 2017, Virtue's Last Reward was ported alongside a remaster of 999 into Zero Escape: The Nonary Games for PS4, Vita and PC. More details on this port is on The Nonary Games article.
Unlike its predecessor, Virtue's Last Reward features 3D character models and environments, with 22 endings total.
The game's genre is a mix of psychological horror, mystery, suspense, thriller, and science fiction, with slight elements of humor and comedy to fill in the gaps when the atmosphere isn't so dark. The gameplay is a mix of visual novel, escape-the-room and puzzle. The atmosphere of the game, in response to 999 criticisms, is less darker compared to 999.
The story follows Sigma Klim, who is abducted and placed in an empty facility along with eight others, his main partner being a mysterious girl named Phi. They are forced to participate in the Nonary Game: Ambidex Edition, a deadly game which involves needled bracelets filled with lethal poison, allying and betraying players, exploring the facility and solving escape-the-room puzzles in order to survive and escape, as well as figuring out why they were kidnapped and who Zero is.
- "Why do people... betray each other? If you can't trust anyone... then everyone should DIE."
- "You thought you'd defeated the Nonary Game, but now it's back, and more deadly than ever. It'll take cunning, skill, and more than a little luck to escape alive, but do you really have a choice?"
The Nonary Game: Ambidex Edition begins
On December 25th, 2028, a Californian college student, Sigma Klim, is kidnapped and awakens in an elevator with a girl named Phi, who seems to know him. Zero III, a sadistic talking rabbit AI (artificial intelligence), appears on a computer monitor in front of them and tells them they must escape the elevator or it will crash, killing them.
Upon doing so, the pair find themselves in an abandoned facility called Rhizome 9 alongside seven other people. Because all rooms contain cameras, the players are always under Zero III's constant surveillance. Zero also tells the group that one of them is Zero, adding to the player's distrust of each other.
The group is enrolled in a game known as the Nonary Game: Ambidex Edition, which relies on a system called "Bracelet Points" commonly referred to as BP, which are won or lost by cooperating with or betraying other players in a voting game called the AB Game. A player is allowed to leave the warehouse through the Number 9 Door only if they possess 9 or more BP; however, if a player's BP drops to 0, they are killed by a lethal injection via a bracelet containing tubocurarine chloride. In addition, if a player slips through the Number 9 Door without 9 BP, they will be penalized and killed via their bracelet. The players must explore the facility by passing through Chromatic Doors which correspond to the color of their bracelets in order to find key cards to activate the next AB Game. Once someone escapes through the Number 9 Door, it is shut forever.
- Main article: Virtue's Last Reward endings
As the story goes on, Sigma discovers the ability to jump backwards and forwards in time to live out different timelines to the one he originally chose. He uses this to gain codes and secrets from other timelines in an attempt to find an outcome where everyone can survive. Several revelations appear about the other players and even Sigma himself:
- Sigma discovers he has somehow obtained cybernetic arms which ooze white "blood", made of titanium alloy "bones", artificial biological tissue and artificial nerves.
- Tenmyouji is searching for Akane Kurashiki. It is revealed near the end that Tenmyouji is Junpei from Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors but 46 years older.
- Quark is Tenmyouji's adopted grandson.
- Luna is a GAULEM, a type of robot, programmed by Zero to monitor the game.
- Alice and Clover Field are both Special Office of Internal Security agents who have been searching for a cult named Free the Soul since the end of the Second Nonary Game. Alice was also the hitchhiker in the Nevada Desert at the end of 999 and she claims she was dressed in her clothing that day as part of as disguise, and claims she isn't All-ice.
- Dio is a member of Free the Soul and the Myrmidons, their military. Dio is a clone of Left, the brother of Brother, the cult's leader. Dio is on a mission to kill Akane Kurashiki and has planted four antimatter bombs in Rhizome 9. In some timelines, they explode and kill everyone.
- K has Sigma's face and hair beneath his mask.
Brother, Free the Soul and the Myrmidons
Brother was born into a poor family sometime in the 20th century. In Virtue's Last Reward, very little is known about his background, but supposedly, he didn't know his father and he lost his mother at a young age. The only family he had was his younger brother named Left.
Brother had a special power, described as being able to "touch the thoughts of other people and see into them" - mind resonance and the ability to see into the hearts of humans. These were esper abilities. Unfortunately, it left him constantly exposed to the negative corrupt side of humanity and all of humanity's worst aspects, such as thoughts of anger, greed, blame, hate, selfishness, inferiority complexes, superiority complexes, vanity, narcissism, superficiality, jealousy, envy, lust, materialism, attachment and enslavement to a monetary system, stupidity, blind adherence to authority instead of truth, humans constantly comparing themselves to others, herd mentality, lack of bravery and courage (cowardliness), racism, sexism, and so on. This fueled Brother's misanthropy and disgust of humanity.
Brother realized humanity was being severely brainwashed and these contagious toxic thoughts were poisoning the morphogenetic field, like a cancerous consciousness. Human consciousness was literally trapped in hell. Brother realized this leads to sadness, sorrow, pain, suffering, chaos, war, bloodshed, death, violence, etc (impure thoughts lead to impure manifestations in reality, and impure manifestations in reality lead to impure thoughts, like a vicious cycle). He also realized this brainwashing dated back a long, long time - more than hundreds and thousands of years - since time immemorial, explaining the poor current state of humanity in his lifetime - all of the genocides, conflicts and World Wars and the like.
When Brother was 16, his beloved younger brother Left was found dead, his corpse covered in bruises. The police did a rushed and poor job of investigating, and quickly ruled that Left killed himself. Later, Brother found out that the killer paid the police a massive bribe to keep the truth hidden from the public, which made him unable to trust the corrupt police or any type of man-made "authority" after this such as police, law or government. Brother also realized that man-made authority is not synonymous to "truth" since the police did the opposite in regards to hiding Left's murder: hiding the truth.
Enraged from the revelation of another act of mankind being greedy and self-centered, especially at the loss of his brother Left, Brother soon found himself immersed in cold despair. Anger, hatred, rage and despair filled Brother, and for nine days and nine nights, he was consumed by his own pain, misery and sorrow.
On the morning of the tenth day, however, he had a divine revelation: Mankind was rife with base, carnal, animalistic, primitive desires, and needed to be purified so that a new world could come into being. Mankind was completely corrupted by greed and Brother was tasked to purify the human race, bringing a higher level of purer consciousness, and to create a new world without corruption. God had spoken to Brother and given him a mission, as well as gave Brother his esper abilities to fulfill this mission and change the world. Brother decided to dedicate his life to fulfill this mission.
When Brother was 26, he created Free the Soul to teach humanity the truth and show humanity the way to salvation. Free the Soul eventually amassed over 1,000,000 followers. His teachings were considered too profound for ordinary people to understand, but the core ideas of his doctrine were to separate one's self from worldliness, to destroy greed, and divorce the soul from the body in order to cleanse it.
Those who followed Brother's teachings with discipline and devotion would be reborn as a "new race", in an equal world with no war, conflict, poverty or starvation. They aim to do what they thought was needed to be done to bring them closer to the new world that Free the Soul promises. There were some people that might call them terrorists.
Once Free the Soul was established, Brother devoted his resources on researching human cloning, so that he could create the new species he foretold. He abducted a team of scientists that included Alice's father from a research facility in the United States and, a year later, managed to have them create the first ten human clones from Left's DNA. Those ten clones were the first generation of Myrmidons, and were all given the same name as Left to keep with his ideas for a perfect world.
Radical-6, a virus intended to kill all of humanity, has leaked into Rhizome 9. Radical-6 was a virus created by Free the Soul and unleashed by Brother in his grief at the death of the original Left. Several players in Rhizome 9 contract Radical-6 and kill themselves in several endings.
Sigma also shows symptoms of Radical-6 in the Security room on Luna's route when Phi appears to speak faster than Sigma can comprehend, however he feels no suicidal urges and seemingly recovers after resting for a bit.
Everyone possibly shows the suicide symptoms in Clover END, including Phi and ultimately Sigma. All participants except for Quark and possibly K (whose fate is unknown) die from suicide, using a scalpel in the infirmary to slash their throats and bodies open in order to free their souls from their fleshy bodies in order to purify their consciousnesses from this material world. Each player passes the scalpel from one player to another, slashing their throats and bodies open. Sigma eventually slashes his throat open and bleeds to death on the floor to free his soul in order to end this nightmarish hell.
Eventually, Sigma finds a timeline in which he uses his timeline-jumping ability to prevent any bombs from being detonated, as well as preventing any players from killing themselves. Sigma, Phi and Tenmyouji enter room Q.
Sigma sees a recorded hologram of Akane Kurashiki, who reveals the truth behind the Nonary Game: Ambidex Edition. The point of the Nonary Game, which was set up by Akane and Zero Sr., is for Sigma and Phi to transport their consciousnesses to the past. This is the AB Project: the Anima (soul/consciousness) Body Project.
AB Room: Past
Phi and Sigma jump back into the past, one hour before the start of the Nonary Game, to prevent Dio from killing Akane. By saving her, they altered the past, bringing a new future. Akane ties a key to Sigma around his ankle and tells him "tu fui, ego eris", just before he is forcibly pushed back into the future.
Phi END continued
Sigma and the group successfully escape through the Number Nine Door, leaving Dio handcuffed to a sink in the Infirmary. Upon leaving the facility, they find out from Tenmyouji that they were on the Moon and that the current date is January 25th, 2074. He also explains that Radical-6 caused 18 antimatter reactors to explode, which caused a nuclear winter. In other words,
- The date is actually January 25, 2074 and Rhizome 9 is a post-apocalyptic base on the Moon, one of 54 Rhizomes.
- On December 31, 2028, Radical-6 spread across Earth from Nevada, becoming a global pandemic. Bodies began to pile up in the millions and then billions as people mass suicided by any means, creating an extremely nauseating stench from all of the mountains of rotting corpses. The humans who were immune to the disease were locked in underground shelters. 2 billion people died directly from Radical-6.
- "Pretty soon the bodies started to pile up. Some people would take a dive off a building or shoot themselves in the head. You know, the classics. But for some it was poison, or fire, or asphyxiation, or the noose... Plenty of people jumped in front of trains or cars. One pilot on a passenger airline drove his plane into the ground. Most forms of transportation ground to a halt pretty fast. That meant food couldn't get distributed, and thousands of people who weren't even infected died from starvation. Everywhere you went there were just... piles of corpses, covered in flies and rats and crows. I don't know what Hell's like, but I imagine it's a lot like that."
- — Tenmyouji on the Radical-6 outbreak
- On April 13, 2029, humanity planned to eradicate the virus by blowing up 18 antimatter plants simultaneously, an event known as the Antimatter Plant Explosions. The explosion was about 180,000 times as powerful as the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima. However, in doing so, the dust fallout blotted out the sun, killing millions of lives including plants and animals. The human population on Earth severely decreased, ending the Radical-6 pandemic. Eventually, life on Earth recovered around 2036, with plants growing back and livestock, which weren't already killed repopulating once again. There are still visible after effects though, such as the Earth appearing red from space, due to the ash preventing blue and green light from escaping, since their wavelengths are too short, allowing only red light to pass through. This makes Earth look red from outer space. The Earth also became a wasteland. After the pandemic and plant explosions, 6 billion died from the total disaster.
- "You ever heard of a nuclear winter? Well, that's basically what we got. The explosion threw a ton of crap up into the stratosphere, where it joined up with smoke and ash from all the fires. It blotted out the sun for seven years. Plants withered, and animals died by the millions. The few humans who were left banded together to survive. They were rough times."
- — Tenmyouji on the Antimatter Plant Explosions
Sigma leads everyone to the B. Garden, where he unlocks the grave after remember the key tied to his ankle and seeing "tu fui, ego eris" on it. A treatment pod appears, presumably holding Akane. However, it must defrost for a while before it can be opened. While they wait, K explains about everyone's importance in the Nonary Game. When K finishes, the pod opens, revealing a Sigma clone. Everyone is confused who he is, saying that they've never seen anyone like him before. Sigma tries to get everyone to stop playing around, but no one seems to be joking. Panicking, Sigma finds a small pond in the garden and looks at his reflection. Shocked, Sigma discovers his 22-year old mind in an older version of himself.
Suddenly, K sheds his armor showing that, in this timeline, K was actually Akane. Akane explains that this was all a part of the AB Plan and that his current young mind switched places with his older mind. Akane explains that Sigma was there to develop his time jumping abilities along with Phi. From this, it is revealed:
- Zero Sr., the old man who appeared to Sigma in a hologram to give him instructions, is actually Sigma's future self.
- Sigma is actually in the body of Zero Sr., as the time-jumping allows two different versions of a person to swap their consciousnesses across time and alternate dimensions.
- The point of the Nonary Game, which was set up by Akane and Zero Sr., is for the older Sigma to go back before the outbreak of Radical-6 in 2028 (the point Sigma was captured from), and try to prevent Free the Soul and the Myrmidons from causing the outbreak at the Mars Mission Test Site in Nevada. This is the AB Project: the Anima (soul/consciousness) Body Project.
- K, whose true name is Kyle Klim, is Sigma's cloned son, who Sigma can jump into if his body is destroyed, but Akane has been borrowing his armor and posing as him during the Nonary Game during the cyan door routes (the armor was used to prevent his bones from developing weakly, due to him growing up on the Moon and the weak gravity, where the game actually takes place).
With his training complete, Akane tells Sigma that it is his time to return to his past body. Akane then proceeds to attack Phi with the knife she recovered earlier from Dio. Sigma throws himself in front of Phi to protect her and is seemingly stabbed, but Akane merely hits him with the handle of the blade. Regardless, Sigma's and Phi's minds return to the past to April 13th, 2029, the day of the antimatter plant explosions.
End or Beginning?
Sigma arrives in the past in Akane's headquarters on April 13, 2029. The building also contains three treatment pods, containing the frozen bodies of Clover, Alice, and Phi. Outside, Sigma hears terrified screaming and the wailing of sirens.
A TV turns on, a news report is running on it. A distressed and suicidal news reporter talks about the destruction caused by Radical-6, hopes for a day when the virus will disappear from Earth, and shoots herself in the head with a gun.
A 22-year-old Akane walks in, wearing her Zero mask and a Free the Soul robe. She tells Sigma that they are in her headquarters on April 13, 2029, and are about to leave to go to Rhizome 9 tomorrow and that a Moon shuttle has already been prepared for him, Alice, Clover, and Phi.
Akane tells Sigma that the Nonary Game: Ambidex Edition is about to be set up, and that she attacked him in order to stress him out and cause him to time jump; she knows this because her own esper powers allow her to see the future. She also explains the purpose of the game and how Sigma has to spend the next 45 years mastering genetic engineering and AI programming to make the AB Project work. She also tells him that he will create Kyle, Luna, Lagomorph, the Chromatic Doors, the bracelets, and all aspects of the Nonary Game: Ambidex Edition in order to succeed.
After that, his consciousness would go back to December 25, 2028, so he and Phi can help her investigate the Mars Mission Test Site and stop Radical-6 from ever spreading out. She says that it is up to Sigma and Phi to prevent the outbreak of Radical-6, which originated at the Mars Mission Test Site, and save humanity.
Sigma also discovers that between Christmas 2028 and New Year's Eve, he lost his arms and his right eye in order to save a woman from the facility where Radical-6 first was reported, which was apparently full of traps. As a result, his arms were replaced by bionic ones and he is currently missing his right eye. Sigma looks at his arms with no ABT (artificial biological tissue) and realizes he's wearing an eyepatch.
As Akane's explanation concludes, a slow rumble shakes Akane's headquarters. The nuclear reactors explode, killing millions of humans and animals. Outside, Sigma sees a huge mushroom cloud enveloping the city and wonders if he can prevent the outbreak of Radical-6 and vows to himself that he will stop Radical-6, no matter what.
Another Time END
This extra epilogue is obtained by getting all Secret Archives. Every escape room has a blue file password that when entered into the safe, gives a gold file (on HARD difficulty) or a silver file (on EASY difficulty). Obtaining a gold file gives you all the secret archives for that room, while the silver file only gives you half of them.
It has been revealed that this ending is non-canon. Uchikoshi originally ended the story just with "End or Beginning", but due to an earthquake that happened during the Japanese voice recording sessions, he was opposed to the idea of ending the story just there. So he wrote and added in Another Time, which was not voiced in Japan, and is not canonical to the storyline. Another Time is considered metafiction.
Sometime after Kyle Klim's body was thawed out from about 36 hours of cold sleep, ?'s consciousness wakes up in his body in the Infirmary. In the same room is Luna, who refers to him as Kyle. Unsure why he was being called Kyle, Luna tells ? that because he only just woke up in that timeline, it's natural that some of his memories would be missing. ? gets up from the bed, and goes over to the mirror in the Infirmary. After cleaning it, he sees his reflection, and recognizes the face he's looking at as that of Kyle Klim.
? then asks if he is Kyle Klim, or Doctor Sigma Klim's clone. Luna, shocked that he isn't suffering from amnesia, asks ? how he even knows who he is. ? then begins to reflect on Kyle's life, from growing up in Rhizome 9, and participating in the Nonary Game, where he was known as "K". ? states that while he knows everything about Kyle, he didn't feel that he really was Kyle. He then asks Luna what day it is, who tells him that it's currently January 27, 2074, about five hours after he thawed out (which to the participants of the game, would have only seemed like just over two hours). ? asks Luna why he's in the Infirmary. She says that the 67 year old Sigma carried him there from the Treatment Pod he was asleep in. ? then turns to look at Dio, who is still unconscious and handcuffed to the sink. Luna says that she has been giving Dio more Soporil every time he looks like he's about to wake up. ? goes to check on the other participants.
He heads off to the Pressure Exchange Chamber to see Tenmyouji and Quark, who were about to head back to Earth. ? asks them why they would return to a devastated planet when they could stay in Rhizome 9. Tenmyouji tells him that it's because they can't wait for Sigma to change the past, since it won't change the timeline they're currently in, only create another one. Tenmyouji tells him a story about 100 bikers heading on a 10,000 mile journey, and that when they hit a junction, they can turn northeast or northwest, and a man Tenmyouji calls "S", decides to head northwest, after a mile, a semi truck hits them, killing 90 of them, but 10 survive and head down the highway. Then "S", has his consciousness travel through time back to the junction, and remembering everything, he decides to head northeast saving the 100 bikers. Tenmyouji states that that is what ? is thinking, but he states that while it is a good outcome for the 100 bikers, the timeline in which 10 bikers survive remains, which Quark elaborates as being 9, due to "S" having his consciousness transferred. Tenmyouji states that not all things that happened were bad. He states that they lived full lives, referencing the current timeline in which most people died. ? finishes his conversation with Tenmyouji and Quark and heads for the Treatment Center.
At the Treatment Center, ? talks with Clover and Alice. Alice says that, in the end, the two of them were just pawns in the AB Project. The two of them then point out that while Sigma and Phi can jump back to December 25, 2028 after changing history, they cannot, and are stuck in 2074, and that just like Tenmyouji, will remain there even if Sigma changes history. Clover states that they will never see their families again. Upset with the fact that their only option was to either remain in Rhizome 9, or return to a devastated Earth 45 years after their own time, they talked to Akane, who told them that there is one way they can get back to their own time. ? theorizes, based on how Sigma and Phi's jumps worked, that even if they do go back, that their minds still get thrown back to 2074. Alice says that, while he's right, Akane's method would involve sending their bodies back, not just their minds. ? is baffled, saying that doing so would cause a paradox, and asks how they could have two Clovers and two Alices in the same time period. The girls tell him that Akane also said there was a way around the outcome that ? mentioned. ? asks how Akane plans to do that, to which Clover and Alice respond "Schrödinger's Cat".
? then heads to the Director's Office to find Phi. He asks her where Doctor Klim is, only to be told that the older Sigma went to rest for a while, since he felt tired. Phi says that Sigma told her to start up the hologram projector in the office for when ? got there. She turns it on, and a hologram of the doctor appears, with a message to ?. The message says that there are likely a number of things weighing on ?'s mind, but since the message was pre recorded, he can't answer any questions, but that Phi would be able to answer anything that anyone was curious about, to "anyone other than Kyle".
After the message ends, ? asks Phi what that last part meant. Phi not knowing the answer, asks ? if he has any other questions. ? then asks Phi the simple question, "Who are you?" Phi responds with the statement she gave Sigma when he first asked her that. ? tells her not to dodge the question, and then goes on to explain his line of thinking: After Akane attacked her with a knife, her consciousness jumped back to April 13, 2029, two days after she was put into cold sleep. Being in cold sleep, she would not have regained consciousness, but she would still be inhabiting the body in the treatment pod, where she would spend the next 45 years. When she was thawed out and carried into the AB Room, her consciousness would have then swapped places with a version of her from December 25, 2028, who would wake up in the AB Room. In 2028, she would have met the 67 year old Sigma in his 22 year old body, and they would infiltrate the Mars Mission Test Site. The failure at the test site would lead her to go to Akane's hideout four months later, where she would then be put into cold sleep. Then, she would swap places with the version of her that was just attacked by Akane. So for that Phi, three and a half months would have passed since she got attacked in the garden, which happened five hours prior.
Phi tells ? that everything he said was correct, however, she calls herself an "unknown variable", or an "x-factor" in this entire situation, and that it took her those three and a half months to understand this. ? states that while she had time to understand it, he still doesn't, and asks her to explain. Phi gives ? an explanation that goes over his head. Instead of trying to understand what she was saying, ? asks Phi a different question: what happened at the Mars Mission Test Site on December 31, 2028, how did Sigma lost his right eye and both of his arms, and why Radical-6 was even there in the first place. Phi says that she can't answer that, as doing so would change history. She says that there is still a timeline where the virus never escapes, but that it will disappear if she answers ?'s question, as he's about to go back to the past. ? says that he doesn't even have that ability, to which Phi asks him how he even knows things he shouldn't if he is unable to to jump between timelines, since Kyle only just woke up hours before.
Pondering Phi's point, ? heads back to the B. Garden to ask Akane for an explanation. She tells him that while he is in Kyle Klim's body, his consciousness is not Kyle's. ? asks her that, if he isn't Kyle, where the real Kyle's consciousness went. Akane says that Kyle, in a way, went back to December 25, 2028 with Sigma. She goes on to explain that while Kyle was created as Sigma's "spare", his consciousness was also important to Akane and Sigma's end goal. This mission would span from December 25 to December 31, with the purpose of preventing the spread of Radical-6. ? points out Kyle did not exist in 2028, and thus would not have a body to enter, unless he uses ?'s own body. Akane affirms this claim.
? then asks what's going to happen to him, and if he will have to spend the rest of his life in Rhizome 9 in a body that isn't even his. Akane tells ? that this is not the case, as he can travel freely through time and space, as he is an "uncontrolled variable" in the project, and so the rules of the world don't apply to him. ? is about to say he doesn't understand, but Akane tells him not to "try to play dumb", and that she knows what he is. She tells ? that he is about to go back into the past and save the world, and that Phi and Sigma will need his help, and that this will be the only way he will get the answer of what happened in the last week of 2028. This is the implication that ? is actually the player, and that the Mars Mission Test Site simulation will take place during that week.
|Sigma Klim||The protagonist of the game, Sigma is an ordinary college student who has been abducted and thrown into the Nonary Game. Sigma is a generally bright, honest young man, although he can be a little inappropriate at times. He’s easily swayed by his emotions, which makes him a poor choice for a game about trust and betrayal.|
|Her cold intelligence comes across in her curt speech and no-nonsense attitude.|
|A focused and powerful woman. The reason behind her dislike for shirts is unknown.|
|A kind and quietly intelligent young woman. She speaks softly, and always advocates for the most peaceful, optimistic solution.|
|A mysterious man with a singular sense of style. His comments are often insensitive or downright mean, although whether this comes from intentional malice or simple ignorance is unclear.|
|A sweet and cheerful boy. His childlike curiosity and boundless energy hide an exceptionally clever and analytical mind.|
|A stubborn, grumpy old man. He seems to have no patience and less trust for anyone in the group.|
|A slightly unpredictable young woman. Apparently, this isn't her first rodeo.|
|A mysterious man in a suit of what appears to be armor. His face is hidden by a mask, and no one knows his name or his age - not even him.|
|An artificial intelligence that has been tasked with making sure the Nonary Game runs smoothly.|
The gameplay is divided into two parts:
- The puzzle part is when the player must solve the escape-the-room puzzles that are blocking their way in order to progress through the game. There are 16 escape rooms in total and the order in which the player encounters them depends on their choices during the Chromatic Doors and AB Game. Each escape room has a safe and two passwords for it: an escape password and another password to unlock a secret file.
- NOTE: Both escape passwords and secret file passwords are completely randomly generated for every player (specifically, per save file). However, the solution to obtain the password remains the same (ignoring the concepts of randomized puzzles such as the Hit/Blow password in the Treatment Center and multiple methods to obtain the solution such as the AB Game in Room Q).
- The visual novel part in which the player can talk to the other Nonary Game: Ambidex Edition participants and make decisions that affect the story of the game. Sigma or the other players may die depending on what Chromatic Doors, AB Game choices and dialogue choices the player makes.
The player can enable "auto advance text" mode and simply relax and listen to the voice acting, rather than click through hundreds and thousands of text boxes like in the Nintendo DS version of 999. A new Memo function allows the player to write anything they want such as passwords. A FLOW Chart allows the player to see how alternate choices unfold. Unfortunately, the calculator from 999 does not return, meaning the player should have another calculator during escape rooms.
There are 22 endings in total, including:
- 9 character endings which focus specifically on Sigma's relationship with one of the players and even Sigma himself in one ending. To receive a character ending, Sigma must usually stay close to that particular player and follow their requests and orders.
- 11 bad endings which are game overs.
- 2 endings after the true ending called "End or Beginning?" and "Another Time"
The player's decisions will widely affect which ending is received, and who lives and who dies in the Nonary Game. Only one ending is the true ending.
|Escape room details|
With a total of 7, Phi goes through the most escape rooms with Sigma. Alice, Clover and Luna, at 5 each, are all tied for second place. Tenmyouji is in third place with 4. Quark goes through two, but he is incapacitated during the treatment center. K and Dio are both tied for only one each.
The soundtrack for the game was composed by Shinji Hosoe.
Many Virtue's Last Reward songs are also remixed for Zero Time Dilemma.
Disc One (Escape Side)
- Virtue's Last Reward ~Orchestra~ - Plays in ending.
- Ambidexterity - Plays during AB Games and in the Elevator.
- Lounge - Plays in Lounge.
- Dispensary - Plays in Infirmary.
- Cabin - Plays in Crew Quarters.
- GAULEM - Plays in GAULEM Bay.
- Recreation - Plays in Rec Room.
- Pantry - Plays in Pantry.
- Decompression - Plays in PEC.
- Biology - Plays in Laboratory.
- Treatment - Plays in Treatment Center.
- Biotope - Plays in B. Garden.
- Data - Plays in Archives.
- Annihilation - Plays in Control Room.
- Monitor - Plays in Security.
- Director - Plays in Director's Office.
- Q - Plays in Q.
Disc Two (Novel Side)
- Sinisterness - Plays during uncomfortable scenes.
- Placidity - Plays when characters move through rooms.
- Eeriness - Plays during scenes, often when a player is betrayed.
- Strain - Plays during tense scenes, especially after an announcement.
- Consternation - Plays during scenes.
- Desperation - Plays during scenes.
- Anxiousness - Plays during scenes.
- Portentousness - Plays during scenes.
- GLTM-KM506 - Plays when meeting G-OLM.
- Confession - Plays during melancholy scenes, often when a player reveals a sad backstory.
- Clarification - Plays during scenes, especially when information is revealed.
- Sublimity - Plays during scenes.
- Divulgation - Plays during scenes.
- Demise - Plays during game overs.
- Blue Bird Lamentation - Plays during sad and emotional scenes.
- Virtue's Last Reward ~Piano~ - Plays during endings.
The game was very well received, especially its story and unexpected plot twists. Praise was also directed at the characters and the improved interface over its predecessor.
One criticism is that some conversations repeat themselves, although repeated conversations can be auto fast-forwarded and will resume at normal speed when new conversations occur.
Some criticism was directed at the story's supernatural elements. While 999, for the most part, was grounded in reality (with the exception of sending a Sudoku solution 9 years to the past), many fans feel that Virtue's Last Reward jumps the shark with the amount of supernatural and science-fiction elements added such as:
- Timeline jumping between multiple histories
- Attacking someone with a knife can send their consciousness back 45 years
- Treatment Pods with almost perfect cryopreservation technology which exist by 2028
- A virus that can reduce the processing speed and physical speed of a human by the exact same amount for all people
- A character (Brother) can read people's thoughts and their minds
- Extremely realistic AI (Luna and Zero III)
- No one explicitly commenting on Sigma's appearance or bionic eye, although they drop hints about his age, Sigma doesn't question them. Throughout the entire game, Sigma doesn't look in a reflective surface like the pond in the garden. He doesn't notice his longer hair length either. Although even if Sigma did realize it early on, it wouldn't change the situation the players are trapped on - it's used for shock value and a plot twist.
- When asked how Sigma doesn't feel his robotic eye, Ben Bateman (localizer) hypothesized that his mechanical arms were programmed to not feel the response of the fake eye, so he feels a real eye. Uchikoshi agreed to this.
The 3DS version has 3D support, and better English lip sync. The 3D has three layers: text and HUD is at the forefront, characters are in the middle (although they resemble flat sprites), and the environments are completely 3D with full depth perception. The top screen can also be used to display files during the minigames, as well as the memo function. However, it has slightly compressed audio, only one save file, and a possible glitch (see below).
The Vita version has superior graphical and audio quality, higher frame rate, as well as trophies. However, it also features worse English lip-sync for some unknown reason. When Luna says "elevators" in the beginning of the game, for example, her mouth is closed the entire time. Soon after this example, Tenmyouji says "Yep", but his mouth also remains closed. This is likely due to the English dub still having the lip-sync of the Japanese dub. The Vita version also has three save files instead of one. The player can also write on the archives. The Vita version has one annoyance if played on a real Vita: the Vita's screen auto-dims after 1 minute of no input from the player and there's no way to disable auto-dim, meaning that it's essentially impossible to watch the game's hours of cutscenes in auto-advance mode at full Vita brightness - this doesn't apply if the Vita version is played on PlayStation TV.
The European (PAL) 3DS version, as well as the original European Vita version, lack English voices and only contain the Japanese dub for unknown reasons. All versions of Zero Escape: The Nonary Games for PC, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita remedy this. For more information on The Nonary Games port, visit its article.
3DS save corruption
The 3DS version has saving bugs that can erase the entire save file, and these bugs usually occur if a player saves in the Crew Quarters or the Pressure Exchange Chamber during their escape room segments. Because of this, it is highly recommended NOT to save during ANY escape rooms in general - instead, try saving before they begin. Escape rooms shouldn't take more than an hour or two, anyway, and if the player is stuck, they can always use an escape room guide on this wiki.
Aksys did an investigation and apparently, the chances are dependent on whether or not certain conditions are met. They found evidence to suggest that playing the game for a lengthy, continuous amount of time increases the probability of this save corruption occurring.
Digital versions from Nintendo's eShop have been reported to be slightly less glitchy, but digital players should still be aware of this.
There are several occasions on which different names or terms are used in the original Japanese, although they usually make little difference to the gameplay:
|List of English/Japanese variants|
In the Japanese version, rather than using puns, Zero appends "...usa" to the end of some sentences (short for usagi, rabbit). This means that Zero's speech, and his voice acting, sound somewhat more serious in the Japanese version than in the English one. Similarly, Japanese Sigma's "cat" problems differ from those of English-language Sigma. In the Japanese game, Sigma ends his sentences with "-nya," the Japanese equivalent to "meow." In the English localization, he makes cat related puns like "What is it meowt?"
When Clover is attempting to seduce Sigma into voting Betray, she says "I'll listen to anything you say." It may seem odd that Sigma falls for this since she promised only to listen, not to do anything. The reason is that this is a literal translation of iu koto o nandemo kiite ageru, a Japanese phrase that has the meaning of "do anything you say" in a sexual sense, but does actually literally mean "listen to anything you say". Since there is no similar phrase in English, they used the literal translation and made Sigma look more naive than he's meant to be.
A short 12 minute anime was released for the game as a promotional. It briefly introduces the characters and very brusquely retells the introduction of the game. The story is Sigma being kidnapped, awakening in the elevator with Phi, meeting the other players, and being led into the Ambidex Game. It ends with Sigma pondering whether to pick Betray or Ally against his opponent.
All of the characters retain their original voices. Additionally, Troy Baker, who voices ? (Kyle Klim unmasked) in the game, voices Sigma in the anime, despite him being unvoiced in the game.
The anime is considered non-canon because of several inconsistencies with the game's events:
- In the anime, Sigma is abducted when the car he is driving is rammed into and then cornered by a pair of cars; following this, Zero kidnaps him. In the game, Sigma is kidnapped by Zero while unsuccessfully trying to start his sabotaged car. It is unknown who was driving the other car in the anime (as Zero was alone when capturing Sigma in the game); it can be presumed to be a member of Crash Keys, possibly Aoi Kurashiki, although why Aoi would put himself in danger instead of paying a stunt performer is unknown.
- A minor difference is that when Sigma and Phi escape the Elevator, the first five players they see are all located next to the AB Rooms, rather than clustered around the Number 9 Door in the game.
- More of a plot hole than an inconsistency: Alice says "Somebody named Zero has gathered all of us here to play the Nonary Game... whatever the hell that is", which implies Alice has no idea of Zero and the Nonary Game. However, after 999, Alice took Clover and the group in for questioning at SOIS, and Alice would've learned about Zero and the Nonary Game. She may have failed to recall the connection, or perhaps she was feigning ignorance.
- In the anime, the players are given 10 minutes to vote in the AB Room, whereas in the game, they must go through the Chromatic Doors and solve the escape rooms first, and have up until the 45 minutes after the first AB Room is opened. This is because the nature of the AB Game is simplified and not elaborated on in in the anime.
- Zero III doesn't tell the players that their bracelets contain lethal injections.
- One scene shows 8 AB Rooms, whereas there should only be 6 of them.
- Many ceiling shots are shown, but all of them are lacking an important crane which moves the AB Rooms after the players enter the Chromatic Doors. Additionally, given the scenery of the warehouse in the game, the ceiling is far lower in the anime.
- Sigma says that if a player allies an opponent who chooses betray, the betrayer will gain 2 points, whereas in the game, the betrayer will gain 3 points (the system Sigma explains would be pointless if true because there would then be virtually no reason to pick betray). However, this is only an error in the English dub of the anime.
- In the anime, Sigma has a physical appearance and voice matching his 22-year-old self but this contradicts what happens in-game. Due to the fact that the Sigma played as during the game is his 22-year-old consciousness infused into his 67-year-old self, Sigma should have both a mechanical eye and an old man's voice (this is why no shots of his face outside the flashback are seen in the game, and why he is unvoiced).
- The game is usually between 30-50 hours long, 40 being the average. Several factors influence this, including reading speed, time spent on solving puzzles, and whether the player gets all, some or any bad endings.
- There was a promotional game released prior to the game in Japan, involving slapping or groping Clover's breasts as quickly as possible to "open the door". The third and last stage is intended to be almost impossible without an autoclicker, but if it is completed, Clover's bra will fall off and her face will be K's.
- Several concepts that did not make it in the final game are:
- Dissipative system — A dissipative system is a thermodynamically open system which is operating out of, and often far from, thermodynamic equilibrium in an environment with which it exchanges energy and matter.
- Monty Hall problem — Suppose you're on a game show, and you're given the choice of three doors: Behind one door is a car; behind the others, goats. You pick a door, say No. 1, and the host, who knows what's behind the doors, opens another door, say No. 3, which has a goat. The host says to you, "Do you want to pick door No. 2?" Is it to your advantage to switch your choice?
- The Monty Hall problem appears in Zero Time Dilemma in the Control room.
- Gödel's incompleteness theorems — Gödel's incompleteness theorems are two theorems of mathematical logic that demonstrate the inherent limitations of any formal axiomatic system of a certain expressive power.
- Toxoplasmosis — Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease caused by Toxoplasma gondii. Infections with toxoplasmosis usually cause no symptoms in adult humans. It is possible that this concept would be introduced with the idea of Radical-6.
- Toxoplasmosis is mentioned in Zero Time Dilemma by Akane after Carlos chooses to press a button and claims his hand felt like it moved on its own. Akane suggests toxoplasmosis was responsible.
- Folie à deux — Folie à deux, or shared psychosis, is a psychiatric syndrome in which symptoms of a delusional belief and hallucinations are transmitted from one individual to another.
- Capgras delusion — The Capgras delusion is a disorder in which a person holds a delusion that a friend, spouse, parent, or other close family member (or pet) has been replaced by an identical-looking impostor. This would probably be used somehow with Sigma and his clone Kyle.
- Fregoli delusion — The Fregoli delusion, or the delusion of doubles, is a rare disorder in which a person holds a delusional belief that different people are in fact a single person who changes appearance or is in disguise.
- Sally–Anne test — The Sally–Anne test is a psychological test, used in developmental psychology to measure a person's social cognitive ability to attribute false beliefs to others.
- Project MKUltra — Project MKUltra, sometimes referred to as the CIA's mind control program, was the code name given to an illegal program of experiments on human subjects, designed and undertaken by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Experiments on humans were intended to identify and develop drugs and procedures to be used in interrogations and torture, in order to weaken the individual to force confessions through mind control.
- The meaning of Virtue's Last Reward can be interpreted as:
- "Virtue is its own reward" — You do good not because you expect to get something in return for it, but because it's good.
- "Gone to his last reward" — A slightly more pleasant way of saying "He's dead."
- The only reward for virtue is death — If you try to do good and be morally right, you will die. This is reflected in the fact that choosing "Ally" in the AB Game puts you at risk for being betrayed.
- Being virtuous will, ultimately (“at last”) be rewarding. "Phi END" and "End or Beginning?" could be viewed as "virtue's last reward".
- The game had multiple titles for consideration before, including "Good People Die", "Betrayal x Just Barely", "Want to be Saved? Then Die", "Sigma Control", "Lost Escape", "Contagious Distrust", "Escargo", "Human-mode Killer", "Nine Mice Bite the Cat", "Die by the Sword", "Deliberate Betrayal", "Just Death", and "Sigma and Phi and Tenmyouji and Quark and Alice and Clover and Dio and Luna and K are All Trapped in Weird Place! Oh No!".
- The Japanese title, "Good People Die", can be interpreted as both "These good people are going to die" or "I want to be/become a good person." In other words, "I want to be a good person, even if it means I will die as a result".
- Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc contains a few references to Virtue's Last Reward. One of the trophies in the game is "Despair's Last Reward". Sayaka Maizono mentions being an esper. Both games are also about a group of people forced to play a deadly game with a talking animal. Its sequel, Danganronpa 2, has a trophy called "Hope's Last Reward".
- Most characters in Virtue's Last Reward were voiced by voice actors who worked on the Persona series. Troy Baker (?) voiced Kanji Tatsumi; Liam O'Brien (Dio) voiced Akihiko Sanada; Tara Platt (Alice) voiced Mitsuru Kirijo; Laura Bailey (Luna) voiced Rise Kujikawa; Erin Fitzgerald (Quark) voiced Chie Satonaka; Karen Strassman (Phi) voiced Nanako and Aigis; and J.B. Blanc (Tenmyouji) voiced Dojima.
- Addressing complaints regarding how the game had a much lighter atmosphere and tone compared to its predecessor, Uchikoshi says that his executives told him to make the game less scary because they believed that 999 had driven potential sales away due to its tense atmosphere and descriptions of gore. Furthermore, Uchikoshi states that he was unhappy with the change. It is unknown what tone Uchi had intended for there to be.
- Virtue's Last Reward was the final game released by Chunsoft prior to their merger with Spike, which was completed two months after the game's release in Japan. International releases of Virtue's Last Reward are attributed to the post-merger Spike Chunsoft.
- Official promotional art depicts Phi, Luna and Clover in swimsuits. This also compliments the Crew Quarters poster.
- Website (English)
- Website (Japanese)
- Zero Escape: The Nonary Games on Steam (PC)
- Virtue's Last Reward on PlayStation Store
- Virtue's Last Reward demo on PlayStation Store
- Virtue's Last Reward on Nintendo eShop