on 3 January 2013
I should start by saying that I'm not into shoot 'em up, blow 'em up or anything else 'em up type games, and I cut my gaming teeth on adventure games like Zork, Maniac Mansion and Simon the Sorcerer. Hence games with lots of text, dialogue and inventory puzzles are my preference. If you don't like to read and prefer to shoot a lot of stuff or jump from platform to platform this game is not for you.
On the other hand, if you enjoy thought provoking subject matter and fiendish (or even not so fiendish) puzzles then you'll almost certainly enjoy this. 999 was brilliant, this may be even better. The puzzles are occasionally very difficult but usually not too bad, and they all refer to the story line (unlike, say, the Layton games which I also love).
A story like this couldn't be told in the conventional ways like a novel or a movie. The way this has been created is quite ingenious. There are also several laugh-out-loud moments within the Archives section (Grandpa videos? Really?) although the story is not a comedy. Be prepared for a lump in your throat at times, and be prepared to squirm a little when you have to choose a path you'd never choose in real life (unless you are a total cad and a bounder), in order to advance the story. You end up caring about the characters in a way that other games can only dream of. You'll also get at least 40 hours of gameplay out of it, unless you use a walkthrough for all the puzzle rooms, so it's good value for money.
On the subject of the voice overs, I found the clicking "voices" of 999 annoying eventually, although the different tones for each person was clever. The European version uses the Japanese voice acting, which I love. I have heard the English acting for the American version of the game and hate it, the voices just are not right for the characters. I find this with a lot of games actually, and wish more games companies would at least allow us in the West the option of the Japanese voices. This is, I know, a matter of taste. Incidentally, chaps at Rising Star, it's not "donno", it's "dunno" - some of the language localization is a teeny bit clunky in places. The option to speed up dialogue you've already read is very useful, as is the flow chart. The Memo function is great, pen colour options other than green would have been nice but aren't necessary.
On the downside, everything you've heard about the PEC Room is correct. It is bug-ridden and tricky to navigate for this reason. DO NOT save inside this room. My game crashed twice while in the PEC Room and if I hadn't saved before I entered instead of after I'd have lost about 20 hours gameplay. If you know about this problem and act accordingly you'll be fine - it's an annoyance but not enough for me to mark down the game as a whole.
This, 999 and Ghost Trick are 3 of the best DS/Nintendo games ever made in my opinion. More like this please.
on 30 November 2012
I'm lucky that I've played many good games, but sometimes I find truly excellent ones. I loved "999" - great story, memorable characters, interesting puzzles but Virtue's Last Reward is... even better! Yes, I know, 3D effect isn't very good (sometimes it's a little fuzzy) and there is no english voices (personally I prefer the original dubbing, but I understand that some people are dissatisfied with the decision of the european publisher), but it doesn't alter the fact of how good is this game. Longer and even better story, more challenging riddles, great voice acting, better narrative and improved gameplay (for example you can write custom notes, which is really very helpful option). The best addition is "Flow system", which allows to return to any key point in the story and continue from there - you can choose different routes and even skip over any dialogue already read in other playthroughs.
If you like games with a unique vibe and you're not afraid of reading many lines of text, I don't think you can find lots of better games than Virtue's Last Reward.
on 11 December 2012
I pre-ordered this for my 18 years old daughter so here is her review:
--- PLAYING 999 BEFORE VIRTUE'S LAST REWARD ---
I played 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors this summer and since then, I have been so excited waiting for this release. 999 and Virtue's Last Reward are two of my favourite DS/3DS games (maybe the best games I have ever played).
After 35 hours, I have reached the end and I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND PLAYING 999 BEFORE PLAYING VIRTUE'S LAST REWARD. It is not necessary but in my opinion, you enjoy more the game and 999 can be bought here on Amazon too.
--- MY NO EXPERIENCE WITH THE FAMOUS BUG ---
After this, I have to say that I HAVEN'T EXPERIENCED THE FAMOUS BUG that corrupts your files everyone talks about. I have been very careful every time I had to save the game and I have always done it when I was in Novel parts (never inside an Escape part). My game only froze when I was in the Archive Room playing a Die puzzle. Fortunately, all I had to do was turn off my 3DS, turn it on again and continue the game from my last saved point. I don't know if my saving advice will be useful but in my case it was (or I was very lucky). I really hope you won't experience the bug either.
--- GAME CONTENT REVIEW ---
About the storyline, there haven't enough words to describe it, IT IS JUST INCREDIBLE. It hasn't deceived me in any aspect. There are many mysteries and you are so excited about finishing the game that you can't stop playing it. The end is epic and every minute dedicated to get it was worth it. You have to replay the game again and again but, if something has been read before, you can skip it (or make jumps on the Flow chart) so you never get bored.
Anyway, I think it is not a plot for everyone. There are many deaths and hard situations and you have to be prepared to assume them. Furthermore, quantum physics and complicated topics are habitual. But well, if it doesn't matter to you (since you played 999 I suppose), it will be ok. I enjoyed all the conversations a lot and I think they are necessary in the game.
Another topic is the interactive part. The puzzles are very interesting. Some of them are easy but usually you have to think if you can't beat them. I am sure that if you like puzzle games, you will have a very nice time solving them. Moreover, you have to make a lot of choices that take you to different endings.
--- I WILL RECOMMEND IT TO... ---
I will recommend the game to anyone who loves reading (and almost living) thrilling stories, and enjoyed games like Another Code, Hotel Dusk, the Phoenix Wright saga or the Professor Layton games.
9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors and Virtue's Last Reward are THE BEST INTERACTIVE NOVELS I have played. I hope this review helped, and I hope you will buy and enjoy this game too.
on 2 December 2012
I've previously played 999 so I'm aware of the whole format. I didn't want to write a review until I had played quite a bit, and now I'm almost 20 hours in and I've still yet to finish the game or uncover the secrets.
Just to warn you, be prepared to replay this game many, many times. Now don't be daunted, you can easily skip through the parts you've gone through already, but to get the final ending you'll have to keep going through this game.
I would pretty much compare this game to the Saw franchise but don't let that fool you, it is much more sophisticated and intelligent. What I like most about this game is that it doesn't hold your hand and baby you. There's a lot of complex topics that the game will throw at you to give you a better understanding of the background, i.e. explaining what antimatter is or the schrodinger's cat experiment. I think you have to be open minded and be willing to accept there is a lot of text as this is a visual novel after all.
Another aspect that is important is decision making. There is no doubt about it, your decisions will make a big impact and ultimately affect the ending. It can affect the way characters see you but it can also be more life altering for your character.
There's little things that I appreciate about the game that I think they elaborated on since the prequel, like the fact that at times your character can become conscious of previous decisions you've made in the past even though technically he's never experienced it before because this time you chose differently. He'll respond with "Wait! You chose betray last time!" referring to an earlier decision you made that caused such results. I'll try not to spoil too much for you because the storyline is the best part. Although I love how difficult the puzzles can be that it'll really wrack your brain, I tend to try and get through the puzzles quickly just to see what's going to happen next.
Although I have yet to reach the end of the game, I would highly recommend you to play 999 first because I feel there will be a lot of connections made between the two games. If I'm to be honest, so far I still prefer the characters in 999 because they felt more fleshed out, but as I've explained I've still yet to be close to finishing the game so my view may change completely. Either way, I feel everyone should keep an open mind and experience this game.
Edit: I forgot to come back to this review after completing it and I have to say, I was mind blown by the ending. The last couple of hours when I started unlocking everyone's endings I was pretty gob smacked. By the end, the storyline moves at such a fast pace and it is definitely open to another sequel. As some of you know a third game is being made. I will reconfirm that you definitely need to play 999, particularly to appreciate the ending as other wise some aspects will be lost on you. I can't wait for the next game!
on 25 March 2014
Let me start off by giving you a brief insight into what the game will be like. The vast majority of the game is a visual novel (i.e. reading dialogue and a lot of it). Seriously, for some parts of the game, you can spend two to three hours just reading text so if you don't like reading, this game is not for you. There is more to this game however, the escape sections provide a welcome relief and make you feel that you are actually influencing the plot in a meaningful way.
So then, now that you understand the basic idea of the game, let me tell you more about some of the details. Firstly, the escape sections. These are a very good difficultly as the puzzles are hard and can take a while, and a fair bit of frustration, to solve. However, they are not impossibly hard as if you get stuck, you can switch to an easy mode where the characters give you hints about difficult puzzles and guidance as to what to do so that you don't end up as you do in all too many point and click adventure games where you just click, use and try to combine everything. The hints aren't too obvious at the start so you can still feel that you were involved in getting the solution but eventually pretty much spell out the answer if you can't get it as there is nothing worse than spending a hour on one impossible puzzle. A bonus is also provided in each escape room which is great as it feels like a real sense of achievement to finally find it on your own. The difficulty curve is also good with the first puzzle being fairly straightforward (but still harder than the difficult puzzles from some games). The puzzle get increasingly hard quite quickly so that even people more used to puzzle games have to think for a bit and eventually reaches a stage where you're pretty much forced to get some kind of hint.
The other main part of the game of course is the story. Now, I don't want to ruin anything so I'll try and keep this spoiler free. In summary, there is only one real word that describes the story. Wow. The characters are meticulously sculpted and work off each other very well (fans of the series will know that Uchikoshi tries to have each of the nine characters represent the nine different types of people in society so I guess this is hardly surprising). Unlike many games and films, where characters are clearly split into 'good guys' and 'bad guys', this can really not be said of Virtue's Last Reward. All of the characters, including the protagonist, are flawed heroes, each with their own good features but all of them willing to betray everyone and commit terrible acts, justified of course by questionable beliefs. This makes the characters incredibly complex and leaves you wondering who you can trust and who is responsible for all of the goings on.
Having a great set of characters allows this game to have a great story to it. There are so many unexpected twists and turns that it is almost impossible to predict what is going to happen and who is responsible for whatever tragedy has struck. The plot can sometimes get a little complicated with ideas such as Quantum Physics, the Multiverse theory and a whole host of philosophical arguments discussed (which when all discussed at the same time can make your brain hurt a little). Therefore, I think it is fair to say the story is fairly straightforward to follow but at times, the reasons why can be a little confusing and that this is definitely a thinking man’s (or woman’s) game.
Many other reviews have mentioned a bug which, from my experience, has not been a problem. It is a good idea to be aware of it and therefore save often (but I do that with all games with a manual save). My game did crash during the infamous Prep Room but aware of a potential issue, I had saved before entering the room and was therefore able to quickly get back to where I was, losing at most 5 minutes, and experienced no other issues.
So then, who would I recommend the game to? Well, as I have already mentioned, you have to be okay with reading quite a bit of text but the soundtrack and voice over makes this less monotonous and the quality of the story really builds tension making you want to keep on reading regardless. The voice over is only in Japanese for the EU release of the game (an English option is available if you import it from America) which I know will not be to everyone's tastes, although I personally prefer it, it is, after all, a Japanese game. All of the text and images are in English but be aware that the translations for the dialogue may be a little off as sometimes the character speaks for ages and only a few words come up on screen and sometimes the opposite is true. This can make it a little difficult to read all of the text in time if in auto mode or conversely make it seem that the story is advancing very slowly. However, a log allows you to see any missed text and the translation is faultless grammatically and still seems to explain everything in adequate detail (although I can't really comment as I cannot understand the spoken Japanese). Although rated 16, the violence is not too graphic but I think that 16 probably is an appropriate rating as there is still images of blood, death and people being stabbed (just not people getting blown up like in the first game, 999). Sometimes, the content can be a little disturbing and frightening. As a 16-year-old myself, I did sometimes feel that the content was a little difficult and intense. For people that are worried about such things, there is also quite a lot of swearing. Otherwise, there is no sex/nudity (which is a welcome relief for fans of visual novels) or anything else that would be explicit. In terms of playing the first game in the series, I would highly recommend it before playing this as there are a lot of references to it made in this game which will make a lot more sense if you have some contextual knowledge of the series (also the first game is equally amazing so you should play it anyway). Personally, I watched a play through as there is not an EU release of the game but a mobile version of just the story parts of the game has been released for iPhone and iPad (called '999: The Novel') quite cheaply recently so I suggest playing through either the original game or the novel first. The story does make sense on its own (although, again, I can't really comment as I did see the first game) but it is a good idea to at least know a bit about the plot and characters before playing this, even if only from reading a summary.
To conclude then, this is an amazing game that I cannot recommend highly enough. However, not everyone will enjoy this (i.e. if you can't subscribe to the idea of 'reading' a game, if you really cannot put up with the Japanese voices or if you are still a child). If you are not in any of these groups, then I suggest playing 999 (or at least getting some background knowledge on it) and then picking up a copy. It'll certainly be worth your time.
Oh, it took me about 35.5 hours over a very intense 6 days (I just couldn't put it down) to complete the game by the way if you want to know about game length.
Game play: 9/10
Graphics: 7/10 (but this is really not the sort of game that you play for amazing graphics)
on 17 January 2013
Well, after 40 plus hours of barn-storming game play I have finally (and sadly) come to the end of Virtue's Last Reward. What an experience. I was already sold on it having played and loved 999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors and it's recommended but not essential to have played this beforehand.
This improves on 999 with the fantastic 'flow' system for saving and jumping from one possibility to another and the much faster 'skip' option is a vast improvement for scrolling through previously read text.
One of my favourite points is the excellent voice talent which is used throughout the game - it's atmospheric and enlightening for fans of cross-cultural swearing.
The characters are much better drawn this time, both figuratively and literally, however I found the 3D aspect of the game a bit poor - often blurry and not really adding anything to the depth of field - but this really doesn't detract from all of the excellent points; just flick that slider...
There is much talk of bugs in saving but I made sure only to save during the story sections rather than during the room escapes. No problems.
I won't spoil any of the plot - I envy you if you are about to start this excellent game from the start. This is the first game on the 3DS I have felt compelled to review if only to get one other person hooked.
on 2 April 2013
This game is the official sequel of"999: 9 hours, 9 persons, 9 doors" - so my first advice is to play the first title before starting this one, it adds much more background to the whole story.
The basics: the game is a visual novel, so it has A LOT of stuff to read. So, if you're looking for an action game, this is not for you.
The story is complex and very structured - you have to play it over and over to explore all of the rooms in the facility where the story is set, and also the whole thing changes based on your choices - good things is that you can skip the blocks you already experienced (and read).
There's a "flow chart" which is super useful to "go back" and see what happen if you make a different choice. This is actually the whole point of the game, as you unlock new endings while completing the others.
This is one kind of game I love, the quality of the writing is great.
Heard of a bug which luckily I never experienced, looks like it can be avoided not saving into certain "puzzle rooms".
on 9 April 2013
For anyone who liked the prequel, 999, I highly recommend this game. This first one doesn't have to be played for coherence, but it's recommended for a better experience. The only negative thing is a save breaking bug that AFAIK has not yet been fixed. If possible, play this game on the Playstation Vita to avoid this, or look up on the internet hjow to avoid the bug on the 3DS.
For anyone who has no idea what this is: It's basically a novel with puzzle games included, where the main focus is story and the choices your character made. In fact, the game has many endings and in order to get the true ending you need to keep playing until you've gotten all the other endings. This may sound tiresome, but fear not. For every bit of gameplay you've already encountered, you can fast forward past it, until you witness new content. It's a clever system and makes you question the traditional one-way method of storytelling :)
on 11 December 2013
Arrived earlier then expected in perfect condition.
The game itself is really addictive, the story is just...wow. You have to play it to see what I mean, I honestly can't remember having so many 'wait, WHAT?!' moments in a game.
It's worth noting you DON'T HAVE to play the game before it in the series (9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors) I didn't and I was hooked all the same, although this game does contain major spoilers for that game.
This game isn't for everyone though - it's mostly a visual novel, with some puzzles, so the vast majority of the game is reading text but if you give the story a chance I'm sure you'll be unable to put it down.
NOTE: There is a bug on the 3DS version that can corrupt your save, there is a very easy way to avoid it though: never save in a room called the 'PEC' and never save during any puzzle section
on 28 March 2013
The first game wasn't released in Europe eh? I was going get an imported copy of "999: 9 hours, 9 persons, 9 doors" but then I saw that the sequel "Virtue's Last Reward" was released for the 3DS and snapped it up. The 3DS as a console is really starting to come into it's own now and there are some brilliant games for it, but it is violent, challenging, adult-focused games like this one that bring it up to the next level.
The game is split into two parts - a mountain of dialogue which absorbs you into the story and really flexes that grey matter just understanding half of it! Followed by a series of challenging puzzle rooms where you discover a number of weird interactive areas which you have to piece together varying clues to obtain a code which allows you to escape. None of these puzzles are particularly easy to work out straight away and there is even a easy mode which allows other characters to help you out with the answers if you are permanently stuck - this probably works even better than Professor Layton's hint coins.
Apparently the script was written with the English language in mind (although all audio is Japanese) and the humour is absolutely hilarious at times, fitting in some comedy puns and even the odd sexual innuendo! It took me around 30 hours to complete the game, with the majority of it used scrolling through text, but it depends how long you need to spend in the puzzle areas as to the ratio of reading:playing. Controls are intuitive on the touchscreen and areas are easy to explore - the first moment where I died and the game started from the beginning threw me completely, but don't worry, this is all part of the plot and you can skip easily through any repeated script. As for crashing, I experienced no problems just by avoiding saving the game in most of the puzzle areas and found no evidence of bugs.
Finally, the crowning glory is the plot - it is ridiculously complex but as you finish the game it is all revealed piece by piece. Word of advice though - don't spoil it by reading it before you get the game.