Zero Time Dilemma is the final game in the Zero Escape trilogy. It was released on the PS Vita and Nintendo 3DS last year and then later made its way to PC. After the release of Zero Escape: The Nonary Games, Aksys Games has now finally released the last game in the Zero Escape Trilogy for the PS4. Since this is the last game in the Zero Escape series with important story and key plot points explained from the past games, it is highly recommend to play the previous games before attempting this one, because it can retroactively spoil the story of the whole series.
Zero Time Dilemma features a completely new location and a cast of characters with a mixture of old and new faces. However if you have never played the series before, you won’t be able to recognize these recurring characters or what they had to deal with in the past, which makes the story lose some of its charm. Despite this, the game is still a fun visual novel that attempts to sell the audience with its mysterious plot and a set of cleverly designed puzzles that will require you to critically analyze each and every piece of information that you have in order to reach a solution.
The story centers on 9 different characters with their own mysterious past who are captured by a person named Zero. Zero should be familiar to those who have played any of the previous games in the series and he appears to return here again. Since Zero is just a person behind a mask, the player is initially clueless on his identity util much later in the game, so this sets the basic story premise nicely. Zero asks the group of characters to participate in a game of life and death and gives them a coin toss to decide their fate. Depending on your choice here in the story, you can either end up outside and escape the prison thus ending the game, or you can fail the coin toss and get captured by Zero leading to the start of the game. Choices like these are presented throughout the story and there are multiple outcomes for each choice with the decision being tied to the choices made by the three teams in the game.
As I said earlier, there are 9 characters in total and they are divided in a group of 3. They are each given a team leader and assigned a team name. The rest of the game goes through the story from the perspective of each individual team and while this idea might sound cool on the surface, it also results in some repetition in the actual game which ends up hurting the pace of the story. Thankfully the story missions are supplemented by the inclusion of escape room puzzles. These are without a doubt, the highlight of the game as they require you to carefully solve clever puzzles and unlock secrets buried deep within each level.
If you have never played any of the Zero Escape games, you might have a harder time trying to understand the mechanics even though the game tries its best to explain them. For the story, you will have the option to use a flowchart like structure for the multiple choices and branching paths. You can easily go to any path in the story using the flowchart given by the game, and then you can continue from there and pick a different decision to advance the story in a completely new direction. This makes it extremely easy to work your way through the story without having to repeat the same objective or decision multiple times. You will be able to fast forward through cutscenes with the press of a single button which also helps during these sequences.
Most of the story is presented in full animated cutscenes and while they look nice offering some crisp visuals coming off from the likes of the PS Vita and Nintendo 3DS, they also suffer from lack of proper animation resulting in some rather stiff movements made by the characters during scenes with a lot of action. However to the credit of the developers, the main character models all look rather nice and appear to be well detailed although some of the textures do show their age with low quality assets when you get a closeup of certain items. This can be excused since the game was originally designed for portable handhelds so the asset quality is also lower, however since this PS4 release is out after close to one year of the original release, it would have been great if the developers could have atleast made some assets in higher quality.
Zero Time Dilemma is a lengthy game that also offers a great replay value with its branching story paths. It is made easier to navigate thanks to the flowchart provided by the game. The PS4 port is currently the best way to play the game as it polishes the visuals with improved shading on the main character models. The performance so far has also been rock solid during the cutscenes so they appear to run a little faster than the PS Vita version. Of course, I have never played the PC version of the game so I can’t compare the PS4 to the PC, however the official comparison video by Aksys Games does reveal the improvement to visuals between the PC and PS4.
Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Zero Time Dilemma[a] is an adventure video game developed by Chime. It was released for Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita in June 2016, by Spike Chunsoft in Japan and Aksys Games in North America and Europe. A Microsoft Windows version was also released worldwide by Spike Chunsoft in June 2016. A PlayStation 4 version is also planned for release in North America and Japan in 2017.
Zero Time Dilemma is a fairly decent port for the PS4. It features slightly revamped visuals but still suffers from the same awkward animation and a slow paced story that will take a while to properly set up.