Zero Time Dilemma Was Ruined For Me …

… although you could say that it was my own fault.

Since this is a newer game, I’ll continue below the fold.

So, after finishing “The Nonary Games”, I turned my attention to “Zero Time Dilemma”. I was really looking forward to trying out the game, and in fact part of the reason I pushed through “The Virtue Games” was so that I could get this started before I headed back to work. While the character images were a bit off-putting at first, the models were attractive — and especially in the case of Mira, deliberately so — and I really started to like some of the characters (Eric being the only one who was out-and-out irritating, which seems to be deliberate). This was only helped along by the fact that Sigma and Phi returned and were in one team, and Akane and Junpei also returned on another team. Since I really liked Diana — who was with Sigma and Phi, and this turns out to be important for the story — and since Carlos was tolerable, this left the last team — with the strange child Q, Mira, and the annoying Eric — as the team that I didn’t really want to follow. But since it gave you the choice of team and since at the start you had to move between the three teams to unlock further fragments (portions of the alternate histories), I decided to round robin them, starting with Diana’s team, through Carlos’, and ending with Q’s. I then did a couple of the escape rooms and hit game overs with both of them, which was annoying. And then I selected by accident the next story section my first time with Q’s team and then proceeded through it to the other two groups. I then continued to pick the fragment that each of them had in common, and … ended up at what is supposedly the ending of the game. There might be another choice that you can unlock later, or not, but the big twists were revealed, including who Zero was and why he wanted you to play the Decision Game.

Well, that was short.

It seems that there were two big things I did that led to this. The first was starting out by trying to keep everyone alive, as everyone has to be alive to get that ending. Since it seems reasonable that most players, especially after having played the first two games, will try this route first to see what happens, this is definitely on the game. The second thing is that at certain points you need to enter passwords. Since I keep a walkthrough open so that I don’t get frustrated with the escapes, I used it to look up the passwords instead of playing through the fragments where you get them. And, to be honest, I would have done that anyway since I hate writing things down while playing a game and wouldn’t have remembered them anyway. So, this let me skip right to the end, while the game would have much rathered I do the other fragments first.

Now, of course, because I used a walkthrough to cheat, it’s actually a reasonable argument to say that my ending the game was my own fault. Except, in the previous games you simply wouldn’t have been able to get to those points if you hadn’t gone through the other fragments (or paths, in the case of those games). You’d hit a “To Be Continued” lock and have to find the path that would let you unlock it. This was one of the best aspects of “Virtue’s Last Reward”, because the unlocks made direct reference to what you learned on those paths, and it did so automatically. And since the game locks off certain fragments until you do certain things — you can see the scenes locked on the fragment selection and they open when you do certain things — it was reasonable to think that the “cheating” would, at most, get me to a locked scene or get me information that I shouldn’t have had yet. In fact, I “cheated” in “Virtue’s Last Reward” by entering a user name and password on the Director’s computer that I didn’t have yet, and all it did was get me to Luna’s ending, with 8 more to do, and at least 2 or 3 more necessary to get to Phi’s ending, which is the true ending. So while I did do something that the game wouldn’t have wanted me to do, it’s also something that the game itself and all of its predecessors implied wouldn’t ruin the game for me by taking me straight to the ending.

While the ending reveals all of the twists, it doesn’t go into the details, so there’d still be some fun in doing the other fragments and seeing how it all happened. But the game overs are also quite depressing, and the twists aren’t that great to make me really, really want to go back and see the set-ups. Thus, I played the game for something like four hours, don’t really want to finish all the fragments, and have no interest in replaying it. And all because the game left things unlocked that would let me get to the ending, and I was willing to use the walkthrough to skip the password protections. All in all, I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed.

2 Responses to “Zero Time Dilemma Was Ruined For Me …”

  1. Andrew Says:

    It seems an odd decision for a modern game to make you keep game-critical information (i.e. password progression unlocks) outside the game

    • verbosestoic Says:

      I think they might get stored in the files you can reference somewhere, but probably not as the actual passwords (but, rather, the information that you can use to derive it). For some things, in some of the games you’d just automatically remember it when the time came, but my impression from the walkthrough is that that isn’t the case here. It is a bit bizarre.

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