I am a relative newcomer to The Nonary Games series; I started my adventure on Nintendo’s DS with Nine Hours, Nine Doors, Nine Persons and found out that I am very bad at this series. Maybe my bad life choices slowly bleed into the difficult choices in this series and I continue to make bad ones. I got decently far in the game but did not choose wisely at some point in the game and found an icepick in my back. I never went back to the series and I’ve not even played the second game in the series. Yet, here I am reviewing the third game in the series as a relative newcomer, which means these characters won’t mean as much to me, and I’ll be a tad confused at some point during the story scenes; of which there are plenty. If you want to read a review of someone who loves this series and has played the game multiple times, then check out Kailan’s review here. I will be giving newcomers a chance to gauge if they want to pick this up before playing the others.
This game is highly story based, seeing as it is a visual novel, which I am used to playing on my Vita. Seeing one on my big screen was a nice change of pace. One drawback is the fact that you can’t walk around or quit as easy if you were on a portable device, but seeing these characters almost life sized was pretty sweet for me. I digress. You find yourself one of nine people trapped in the Nevada Desert; you are locked in a cell with two other people and have a strange bracelet attached to your wrist. You meet your captor named Zero and he’s oddly dressed as a plague doctor. He explains to you the situation and offers you your first choice of the game, a simple coin toss. Choose what you will; I think you will be surprised by both outcomes.
I love the look of this game; I’ve been a huge fan of cell-shading ever since I got my hands on Wind Waker. Somehow these type of graphics just make the game look and feel timeless. In 20 years, when I fire up my PS4, Zero Time Dilemma will still look amazing. The character designs are great and each person has an amazing uniqueness about them, and if you’ve played through any of the previous games, you can recognize some familiar faces. The voice acting is great too; the actors really capture the panic of what these individuals are going through. Being kidnapped, locked in an underground bunker, and told that only six out of nine will live has to be horrifying; it is one of the reasons I’ll never let myself be kidnapped; I’d rather be shot on the street. Either way I enjoyed the look and feel of this game immensely. It is the best looking one in the series and keeps you on your toes more than the first one did.
What I really like about this series is how it pretty much took the Escape Room craze and turned it into three extremely well done games. They test your mettle and allow you chances to replay what you may have mucked up on. A real life Escape Room won’t allow you to do that; you just fail and lose your money. At least with this game you can figure out what you did wrong and come back better than ever. For the older readers out there these games also reminded me a lot of my favorite type of books during childhood: Choose Your Own Adventure. When you fail in a choice, you can go back to that choice and try again to see what would have happened if you made a better decision. I used to dog-ear my Choose Your Own Adventures where I had to make a choice so that I could check out what I didn’t pick later. Man I miss those books, and this series is the closest I’ll get to having them back.
The Nonary Games is a series that needs to be enjoyed in order, so you know what is going and have all your decisions come with a heavier weight to them. I enjoyed my time with the third one in the series having completely skipped Virtue’s Last Reward and I’m pretty sure some major spoilers came my way and I don’t even know it yet. For fans who want to finish this series up, Spike Chunsoft really upped the ante with the decisions you make and the outcomes you get. I don’t want to spoil anything because I was taken aback quite a few times, but man there were some jaw dropping consequences. If you are new to the series, please, please, please play the games in order; the impact will be much greater and you’ll have an overall better experience. Think of it as watching Return of the King first and then watching Fellowship of the Ring. You’ve got to play them in order to get the maximized enjoyment from them.
A PS4 review code of Zero Time Dilemma was provided by Aksys Games