- title: Zero Time Dilemma (ZERO ESCAPE 刻のジレンマ
- platforms: Steam, 3DS, Vita (now incl. PS TV)
- physical edition: only NA/JP 3DS, Vita
- digital version:
-Vita: 988 MB (download file)
-3DS: 1194.75MB (9,558 blocks)
- release date:
-3DS, Vita: NA/EU June 28, 2016, JP June 30, 2016
-Steam: June 30 (2 a.m. JST))
- developer: Chime
- publishers: Spike Chunsoft, NA/EU Aksys Games (3DS/Vita)
- director: Kotaro Uchikoshi
- artist: Rui Tomono
- writer: Kotaro Uchikoshi
- composer: Shinji Hosoe
- official website: Aksys, Spike-Chunsoft
US/EU1, US/EU2, US/EU3
JP1, JP2, JP3, JP4
metacritic (Vita) (87)
metacritic (3DS) (83)
gamerankings (Vita) (86.84%)
gamerankings (3DS) (80.94%)
- operation bluebird review [on Facebook]
All in all though, ZTD continues to excel and advance the Zero Escape series. and it delivers on a lot of the hype and anticipation that the fans have been building for years. This game is a great sendoff to the series, and the fact that it's coming out is a triumph in itself! Thank you, Uchikoshi! Thank you Spike Chunsoft and Aksys! Most of all though, thank you, fellow fans, as you've made this moment a reality!
- gamesradar 4/5
Professor Layton for people who watch Hannibal
- playstationinsider 10/10
In conclusion, Zero Time Dilemma is perfect. From it’s presentation to it’s onerous gameplay, this game flawlessly ends this seven year saga.
- gamecrate 8.25/10 [PC version review]
But despite these flaws, Zero Time Dilemma is an absolute treat to play. I played the PC version and I still hardlined it from start to finish, crashes and all. It might have one of the best plots I have seen in this generation of gaming. It’s smart, well written, interesting, and constantly interactive.
- rpgsite 7/10
[…]The shift to cinematic cutscenes over the more visual novel-esque arrangement in its predecessors works to a certain degree, but not without its share of problems.
[…]With inconsistently stilted voice acting and subpar animations, Zero Time Dilemma is a mixed bag when its cinemas play out.
[…]Character movement in cutscenes feel stiff and never quite nails a natural flow to how their limbs move. When the 3D character models need to make a sudden motion, it often comes off rigidly in an odd robotic sort of way.
[...]There are several benefits to this stark change in format though. ZTD is much more action-packed in its depiction of events; the game wants to convey that characters are always on the move as their nightmarish shelter devises new ways to threaten their lives. The cinematics also help build up a sense of urgency when the Decision Game interface pops on screen; tension is rightfully pre-established before it’s time to decide.
[...]Overall, we still firmly believe Zero Time Dilemma is a great conclusion to the Zero Escape series. Its incredible storytelling through fragmented scenes fittingly structures the entire plot as a puzzle that the player pieces together one at a time.
[...]While some of its flaws may leave some areas feeling half-baked, Zero Time Dilemma will be something that won't be leaving our minds anytime soon.
- gamespot 6/10
But too many escape rooms ignore the lessons learned from the missteps of old school adventure games. Too many require constant clicking on seemingly innocuous details on the screen. Too many eschew the subtle guidance of a good puzzle, opting instead to rely on point-and-click mechanics, creating frustration and removing you from the experience almost as much as the poor animation and dialogue do.
[…]It’s a complex narrative built around a chaotic, intriguing structure. It may stumble too many times with its dialogue, fail to find much substance in its characters, and lack any impressive presentation. But it uses that fragmented structure to keep you guessing, and engaged, right up to its numerous depressing, hopeful, gruesome endings.
“No other game can fuck with your head quite this much”
Pros: A gripping story that could only really be told in a video game. Unsettling, gruesome… will keep you up all night.
Cons: The animations are janky; the dubbing isn’t great.
- destructoid 9.5/10
Bloody brilliant […]
Eventually, the poor direction of the story segments stopped bothering me. Not because it got any better (because it didn't), but because the story is so goddamn good. Hands down, Zero Time Dilemma has the best story in the series. It made me laugh, shocked me, sickened me, surprised me, brought a tear to my eye, and taught me to look at Back to the Future in an entirely different light.
- Polygon 8/10
[...]But I've loved following these characters the most over the past six years, and this concluding chapter serves them well. Zero Time Dilemma, above all else, is a finale that should please anyone looking for a great story — even if the gameplay gets lost in the background as a result.
- IGN 9.2/10
Despite minor technical issues, Zero Time Dilemma is the dark, enthralling conclusion the Zero Escape trilogy deserves.
- nintendoworldreport 7.5
We're in a timeline where this game can exist, but it's not without flaws. [...]
+Fully voiced with excellent VA
+New format changes up the formula well
+Pays off portions of prior games
-New graphic style causes major uncanny valley
-Possible to “play the game wrong”
-Went a little far for the M rating
- operationrainfall 4/5
[...]Despite some of its flaws, for $40 Zero Time Dilemma is a hell of a ride. The game is rated M for a reason. Its gory, messed up, unsettling and disturbing, but I like it! I think fans of the series will enjoy how it ties together some of the plot points from before.
- EGM 9/10
The Good: A game that can present a story, mix up all of the pieces, and still have you engrossed the entire time.
The Bad: Puzzles not as hard as I’d hoped; some awkwardness in character animations.
The Ugly: Oh, I don’t know—the way people die in this game?
- The Vita Lounge 4.9/5
Zero Time Dilemma is a masterpiece that provides the perfect closure for one of, if not, the best video game trilogies I've played.
- Anime News Network A-
I can tell you that ZTD never plays it safe, and that's why it's so damn good. You will see terrible and gruesome things happen to characters you love. You'll see revelations that come out of left field, only to realize later that everything was in plain sight. Most of all, you'll see a riveting story that takes a sadistic delight in constantly subverting your expectations.
- nintendoeverything thumbs up
If you’re reading this and have already played 999 and Virtue’s Last Reward, then Zero Time Dilemma is without a doubt something you should play.
- gameinformer 8.75/10
"A Mind-bending Adventure Through A Maze Of Death And Heartbreak"
[...]The small aggravations do little to damage Zero Time Dilemma when it’s firing on all cylinders and letting you take control of this interactive story in engaging and memorable ways. The final chapter of the Zero Escape series is an excellent horror adventure both for fans and newcomers, allowing them to be storytellers in addition to players, defying time and fate to create their own twisted, macabre labyrinths.
- usgamer [review-in-progress, by Bob Mackey]
"Unstuck in Time"
[...]As of now, I've worked my way through a large portion of Zero Time Dilemma's story fragments, but as with the past games, writer Kotaro Uchikoshi typically aims for Stephen King-size tomes over a story that would be more economical. Still, with a game that shrouds so many truths in mystery, it's definitely hard to lose interest in the plot—especially if you've been a fan of the series since 999 and never thought this final installment would even be a possibility. For the time being, I definitely haven't been disappointed by Zero Time Dilemma, but be sure to check back with USgamer soon for my final thoughts and score.
- nichegamer 8.5/10
[…]I wish I could talk more about Zero Time Dilemma, but if I did I’d be spoiling so many of its great moments. I’m still baffled this game was made, but I’m none the less glad I was alive to play it. The puzzles may be the weakest in the series, but the story and characters carried Zero Time Dilemma all the way to the finishing line, and gives us the conclusion fans were hoping for all the way back in 2012. If you’re a fan of the Zero Escape games, I don’t need to convince you to buy it, since you probably were already going to do so anyway. If you’re a newcomer and want to get into the Zero Escape series, play the first two games before you even consider playing Zero Time Dilemma, as it offers a much more rewarding experience if you have.
- hardcoregamer 4/5
While it ends up feeling a bit like the weakest game in the series so far, even a weak Zero Escape game is still an absolute delight, and Zero Time Dilemma is no exception. Between the magnificent and bizarre mystery that keeps you captivated, the colorful cast of characters and the nicely perplexing puzzles, this is one for visual novel, puzzle and adventure game fans alike. Heck, it’s a darn good game for anyone in general and one that can easily get newcomers hooked enough to try the earlier games as well (which you absolutely should, of course). Some parts could use a bit more polish (maybe tone down The Walking Dead influences next time), but in the end, it’s safe to say that Operation Bluebird was a success.
- gamingtrend 85/100
Great character writing
Use of animations is an overall boon
Great escape room design
Frustrating timeline interface
Technical hitches and subpar 3DS port
Sometimes robotic animations
- twinfinite 4.5/5
Thankfully, we do live in the brightest timeline – the one where this lovely gem of a game does exist.
- nerdmuch 9.2/10
Zero Time Dilemma is the best game in the Zero Escape series, featuring the most intense story, cutscenes, decisions, and fun (and sometimes frustrating) mind bending puzzles which makes this game so amazing and definitely deserving of a spot in your library.
Other notes about the game:
-The music was thrilling and I enjoyed the puzzle music.
-Some animations were awkward or the lip syncing did not match the dubbing quite right. However, it did not hinder gameplay experience.
-There are some spoilers for the other games in the in-game dialogue, but this doesn’t deter newcomers or giveaway too much.
-There’s so much replayability with multiple endings, especially since you can skip puzzle segments (or replay them if that’s your thing!)
- geeksworldwide 9.3/10
An intriguing story filled with challenging puzzles and a colorful cast of characters makes this game such a joy to play. Combined with the numerous story paths and a slew of different endings, you could be playing this game for quite some time if you want to see how deep the story truly gets. A rewarding experience for series fans and newcomers alike.
- wegotthiscovered 5/5
Still, genre fans can rest easy; you’ll still have to combine objects to form entirely new ones, though these moments aren’t as arbitrary as those from your favorite adventure game from the 90’s. Unlike Virtue’s Last Reward, there is no set easy mode; instead, the other participants in the room will slowly dole out more hints should you get stuck or are taking a long time on a particular section of a puzzle. This method of easing the difficulty works well, and feels more organic than an arbitrary hint button. I will admit that some puzzles can be difficult, and while I did brute-force my way through one (due to my own error), they aren’t unsolvable (at least by my standards).
[...]Zero Time Dilemma wraps up the long-running Zero Escape series in style. Presentation issues aside, it's the masterpiece we've been waiting for, and the one that the fans deserve.
- reviews2go 8/10
[...]Visually, the games look the same bit different. The PS Vita version has much more detailed and crisper visuals in the 3D Cel-Shading scenes. When you look on the 3DS, there are a lot more jagged edges on the models, there’s less detail on the models, and the color shades look very washed out compared to the same models on the Vita.
Then we have the volume issue on the 3DS. When you play the game on the Vita, there is an obvious difference in how Zero’s voice is compared to everything else. It’s not as loud and sometimes you need to tweak the voice volume to hear him correctly. Along with this, the voice is strangely low in the 3DS version compared to the Vita version. Even with the voice volume all the way up and the system volume cranked all the way up, I had a hard time hearing what he was saying even when I was in a silent room.
Finally, we have performance. The Load Times are the first things I’ll talk about. Loading sequences for the game aren’t bad. The Vita version maybe has you waiting 5-6 seconds for a screen to load while the 3DS will have you waiting 2-3 seconds. The 3DS does have faster load times, but neither is really worth getting down about. You’re not going to be waiting long no matter which version you’re playing.
As far as frame drops are concerned, these are more noticeable on the PS Vita. There are many times where you will see the frames slow down in scenes, in the same way they do when you use physical buttons to move the cursor in escape rooms.
- gamespew 9/10
+Smart and heartwrenching narrative
+Creative and diverse puzzle rooms
+Satisfying conclusion to the trilogy
-Overly convoluted timeline menus
-Slow early game
- ztgd 9.5/10
+Clever puzzles with well balanced difficulty
+Clean, easy to use interface and quality of life improvements
-Touch controls on the Vita can get a bit obnoxious
- gamingbolt 8/10
Zero Time Dilemma is an immensely satisfying conclusion to what might be one of the best, best told stories in the history of the medium.
- tech-gaming 85/100
Here’s the irony surrounding a discussion of Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma- revealing even the slightest detail threatens to diminish the experience. So, if you were a fan of 2009’s Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors or 2012’s Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward, you’re advised to put your faith in writer and director Kotaro Uchikoshi once more. […]
- iplaypsvita 9/10
There is issues though: Slowdown with cutscenes happen a lot and everybody seems mechanical in movement which I found odd. Also found a few bugs in cutscenes like when a character’s mouth opened you could see what was behind their mouth in the room though after redoing, it went back to normal.
[...]There is no lag during gameplay and loading is quick and I guess with the new graphics bugs or weird issues like hair moving around will happen just odd.
- metro.co.uk 8/10
In Short: A successful conclusion to one of the most underrated storytelling franchises in gaming, even if some of the presentational changes are too ambitious for their own good.
- https://twitter.com/Sycoraxic98 7/10 (print review)
- BitShiftTV Reviews Buy Recommendation [spoiler-free video review]
Overall, Zero Time Dilemma has exactly what fans of the Zero Escape series expect - crazy characters, a twisting narrative, challenging puzzles, scientific theories, touching backstories, and mind-blowing plot twists. All in all, it is a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy, and an enjoyable ride from start to finish.
- sega-addicts [Spoiler-Free Review]
[…] I don’t think I’ll ever forget what I experienced in my time playing the Decision Game, and I’ll never regret the memories I’ve made with this magnificent series.
[…]A better name of this game would be: Zero Escape: Ain’t Life A Bitch?
- wii-brasil 9/10 [Portuguese review]
[...]None of its problems can take away Zero Time Dilemma's brilliance. They're annoying hiccups soon forgotten when the game goes back into surreal events and puzzle-filled enclosures. Zero Escape 3 is, much like the previous games in the series, hard to leave, with its misteries lingering over players' heads even after closing the 3DS. It's the long awaited final episode, that resurged after many had lost hope. Sometimes, yes, life can be fair.
Plaudite, acta est fabula.
- gaminggamma 9/10
- maroonersrock 8/10
- gamophilia 85/100
- gamers-haven 87/100
- fanboynation 8.7/10
- ps3blog.net 100/100
- gamingunion 9/10
- technobuffalo Buy/Wait
- CGR 9.25/10
- relyonhorror 9.0 / 10
- actugaming 8/10 [French review]
- gamekult 7/10 [French review]
- koi-nya.net 88/100 [Spanish review]
- gamona.de 9/10 [German review]
- gameindustry.it 9/10 [Italian review]
- famitsu: 32/40 (8 / 8 / 8 / 8)
- dengeki playstation (85/85/80/85)
big thanks to SexyFish, Dandy Crocodile, TheSuperSakura, mStudios, properpropaganda, orthodoxy1095, Sn4ke_911, IamAwake, fixyouregrammar, DNAbro, Volcynika, Nachos, PranooY, Tricky I Shadow for finding more reviews/info and to all the Gaffers posting impressions