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The trilogy of the most popular dark visual novel / whatever you want to call it series in the West is now complete! Until a 4th game comes along.
I've finished up the first bunch of fragments from C-Team, and now moved on to Q-Team.
I've been enjoying the game, but I have to admit there's something missing from it when compared to 9 Persons, 9 Hours, 9 Doors. I noticed it before as well back when I played through Virtue's Last Reward, because that game lacked the same thing. I couldn't put my finger on what exactly it was until just last night. But I think I understand what it is now.
It's a distinct lack of detail.
What I mean is, in the first game, there were very few FMV sequences or any cinema scenes. Hardly any. The story was told primarily through still images and...text. Lots and lots of text. And that text added a LOT of flavor and color and...detail. Very accurate, often grim and...grisly, gruesome detail. You got to not only experience the horror and violence of the situations, but also stuff like how a room feels, sometimes how it smells. You get to see inside the protagonist's inner monologue, and (during the bad endings) even read about *how* it feels to be murdered. What was going through his mind as it happened. Sometimes even how the murder looks just before the final blow...and it may not be what one would expect a killer to look. It was a level of detail both VLR and ZTD only barely approach.
There's something only expert writing can achieve, and something these rather stilted, poorly animated cut scenes and sometimes meh-level voice acting can't replicate. One of the more recent bad endings I got was...rather violent and bloody. And sure, it was a bit disturbing...but the level of blood and violence was so over-the-top (IMO) that it reached nearly Mortal Kombat satire levels. It was harder to take "seriously" than a really well-worded, macabre description of what was happening with excruciating detail and maybe the inner thoughts of the characters as it was happening.
Anyway, just an observation I had. Still very much enjoying my time with ZTD. It's basically the only thing I've been playing on 3DS lately!
I think I have a similar but...different issue, I guess.
You're right in that 999 was the most book-like and used the narration to provide details that visuals didn't (or couldn't). I think that's a strength that that game has that its sequels don't, and as the series has gotten further from a visual novel (and more towards being a playable movie), a few elements were kind of lost in the process.
I think VLR was able to make up for this by, IMO, stronger dialogue and some extremely good voice acting that brought the characters to life. It also had a bit of a different atmosphere that was generally less horror-based (with a couple exceptions) and more like you're attempting to solve a big mystery with a bunch of people who may or may not betray you.
I'm pretty deep into ZTD (close to 20 hours) and it once again decides to go in a different direction than what's before it, but unlike in VLR, I think several things it does are steps back. The decision to do real-time cutscenes is a risk and since it's not done that well, a lot of elements suffer for it. In VLR, the voice acting was great and was even lip-synched fairly well to most of the dialogue. You could often just watch a character's mouth as they talked and it fit really well. It felt very polished in that way. ZTD, instead of making a highly-polished visual novel, goes with very unpolished cinematic storytelling. The lip-synching doesn't really match at all, and even the voice acting suffers because the actors can't read lines at their own pace anymore due to the timing of the cinema scenes.
Regarding the blood, it's really starting to wear on me. The No More Heroes-esque fountain effect is sort of out-of-place considering how un-exaggerated so many other things are in the game. There hasn't been anything, like, unbelievably grisly (partly due to the camera always cutting away during any animation that would be difficult to do), but the amount of times you see these characters meet some gruesome end has a numbing effect. I couldn't proceed further last night until I put in every possible vote during the execution for the first Decision Game. So not only do you have to actually vote 9 times total (skipping over a lot of repeated stuff), but the player is forced to watch each team wake up in a room with the thing on their necks, stumble around in confusion, then scream for mercy before their heads are blown up (offscreen) and blood splatters the walls and floors.
It's like...geez, why is this game requiring the player to watch all this? It doesn't give me more information about the characters, it doesn't really endear me to them or help me sympathize with them (since we're also making each team kill one of the others), it's just watching them all scream for their lives and dying pointlessly. And the deaths are also starting to lose their emotional impact because they're so frequent (just about every Decision can end in someone's death, and the game encourages you to go down every path).
Heck, another example: D-Team has that dilemma that's portrayed in the official art where Sigma is bound to a chair, Phi is trapped in an incinerator about to ignite, and Diana is forced to hold a gun to Sigma's head. Firing a shot will open the door and free Phi, and half of the bullets are blanks, so it's kind of a game of chance. I ended up choosing to fire the gun, and everyone made it out okay. But to see everything, you need to both let Phi burn (which led to a very decent emotional scene, actually), AND you need to fire the gun and have a real bullet come out to see THAT scene. Since it's actually random (50/50 chance), I ended up playing the scene like 4 times to attempt to get Sigma to die already! Which feels bass-ackwards to me, trying over and over for a character's death. It reminded me too strongly that it's all just playing a game and further hurt the integrity of the characters and weight of their deaths/your decisions.
Technically, VLR did some of the same stuff, but there were a lot more decisions besides life-or-death ones, and there were FAR less deaths, and the FLOW system was unique and new and fit in really well with the story. Plus it was less fragmented, you'd pick one path and play for several hours rather than these bite-sized chunks that are difficult to place in the timeline ("Wait, so Q-Team is dead in this timeline...? How did they die this time around?").
This is a lot of complaining, isn't it? I actually am still quite compelled by the game and want to keep playing; I don't think it's bad by any means. But I thought 999 was great and VLR was especially great, and so far ZTD can't really step up to those. We'll see how it goes though, I'm starting to really get into some later-game revelations now and there've been pockets of greatness.
D-Team is easily my favorite and quite enjoyable. Q-Team is my least-favorite.
Where's all the discussion for this one? C'mon, Negative World, I thought you guys were super into Zero Escape!
Anyway, I'm almost done with the game. Zero's identity has been revealed and I've come across what I think is the game's big twist. Slight spoilers ahead on my thoughts about it, nothing too revealing though: I'm not quite sure if I can buy the twist this time around. Seems like a bit of a cheat, moreso than 999's or VLR's.
There've been a lot of cool moments since I last played, though. The game's second half has some pretty compelling scenes. D-Team's second ending in particular was spellbinding.
In other news, D-Team is still the best team by far, and Eric is still the most obnoxious player by far.
Well I did all the fragments for all teams that I could select...went back and redid the initial voting and the gas button decisions...And then I appeared to be stuck.
Was about to list the dead ends I had run into (naming killers, defying the laws of probability etc when I noticed a ! node that hadn't been filled in, which I could click on. not sure why it didn't flash at me in an obvious way, but there you go.
That's an unintuitive mess if so. I figured the first time I failed that I needed to do something specific to rig the dice or else 'jump' into the 1-1-1 reality via one method or another. Apparently not.
This way just spits in the face of mathematics. Do not like.
I had the same questions. I think D-2 End is the best part of the game, it's got some strong character development and surprising reveals. I like that it slowed down a bit and focused on the humanity of the characters for a while, made a nice change of pace.
Yes, that's right! Maybe I was playing too late at night when Carlos mentioned that, so I missed it. Although, I don't recall any references to any twins either. So....either I'm doing everything out of order, or I'm not paying enough attention during my playthroughs.
If you haven't found any references to twins yet, you're barking up the wrong tree right now! Try searching some other paths.
It's kind of easy to get "stuck" on the flow chart, so make sure you've done all possible paths up to that point. Heck, you may not have even seen the scene I'm talking about yet--the first time you see the Door, you're not supposed to know the password.
Make sure you've voted to kill all the teams in the first decision. That apparently kicks off some later scenes. And I'd recommend doing the path that @Shadowlink mentioned here as well. Eventually you'll find the sequences you're supposed to!
Keep in mind that if you looked up a password in a FAQ to progress, you might end up having stuff spoiled for you in-game that you weren't supposed to see yet. (you can speed run this game in 11 minutes from start to finish if you have the right codes!) It could be detrimental to your enjoyment. Have you gotten D-END 2 yet?
*I* haven't figured out the door code yet. The only code I have doesn't seem to work. (Nor does it work in the Quantum computer?)
So I'm not looking at T-buns spoiler....and I just remembered while I type this that they uncovered another door behind the painting. Wonder why I glossed over that. Did it come in the middle of D-teams big ending?
The fragmentary nature of this game is really annoying sometimes. Was stuck again after the ending last night and was going to poke around on my commute this morning. Maybe give the Force Quit boxes another look. Now I'm going to see if I can get to that other door...
NVM! Going back through the second door scene, I found the clue I needed. Must have glossed over it the first time with the lack of context.
That scene didn't sit well with me because I didn't quite understand how Carlos knew to tell them to check the portrait but I replayed that bit too, and saw his vision of Q team again. Man, you can't blink in this game, you miss stuff.
Now Eric is being a jerk with his shotgun again. Someone needs to take that away from him.
Pausing for now because I'm at work and I need to get my musings down on another thought I had last night....
When C-team start jumping around, the characters ponder that maybe Zero wants them to Shift and ask themselves why would he want that?
After both the Radical-6 ending and the Twins ending, the answer seems obvious. *Multiple* timelines need to be kickstarted by this game in order for the game to exist in it's current form at all. It's a nexus. It is both the beginning AND the confluence of all the necessary timelines.
The twins need to be born and sent back in time. This sets up the clue to the Door of Truth, as well as the existence of the portrait that hides the other side. The twins are clearly critical to the history behind the game. And that's not even taking into account the likelihood that Baby Phi and game Phi are one and the same. (Or my theory that Delta is Zero.)
But at the same time, there has to be a timeline that leads to VLR- That being the Radical 6 ending, with Sigma sustaining his various injuries and Diana allowing Radical-6 to be loosed upon the world. That needs to happen in order to set up the events of VLR, allow both Sigma and Phi to access their abilities, and then jump back to change everything in 2028.
Meaning the game is deliberately set up to foster the necessary timelines that lead to it's own existence...and then ultimately (I assume) the 'true' timeline that navigates through the coming disaster. And just like Akane!Zero and Sigma!Zero in 999 and VLR respectively, ZTD!Zero is made to seem like a complete sadistic asshole...but there is method in the madness as always.
This also touches on Akane's thoughts on the increase in the number people who can Shift...I think the Anthropic principle described with the dice exercise applies here too. There may only be a few people who can do it....in any *one* timeline. But if people keep jumping from shitty timelines to a 'good' timeline...then of course those numbers are going to increase. Because anyone who can Shift will ultimately make their way to the 'best' timeline- Which will then appear to be full of Shifters.
Aha! I thought something fishy was going on with the time
The big clue is the triple scenario in the decontamination room with the button. The way those scenes play out, it's being portrayed to happen simultaneously, yet the flowchart clearly depicts them happening one after the other. That and the whole 'Oh if someone pushes the button, it won't activate right away' rubbish was suspicious as hell.
Didn't see the offset coming though. Figured it'd be something weird like entirely different days or something. This was a bit more subtle.