“Will you choose to Ally…Or Betray?”
Virtue’s Last Reward is visual novel/puzzle game for the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita. The story revolves around a group of nine people trapped inside a warehouse. They are awakened and forced to participate in the nonary game: Ambidex edtion.
This game requires the players to create teams of three and explore various rooms together. Each team consists of a pair and a solo member. These roles are determined by the information displayed on the bracelets that each member has attached to their left wrist. This bracelet displays the colour affiliation each participant has and whether they are in a pair with another person who has the same colour or are a solo player. Along with this there is a number on their bracelet, known in the game as “Bracelet points” or “BP”. This number when it hits 9 will allow whoever has this amount of points to open the exit and escape the facility.
After a set of rooms has been explored the participants participate in the Ambidex game. This involves the players in the team pairs voting against the solo player they chose to make a team with when they decided to explore a room together. The game involves the pair team and the solo player voting whether they choose to ally or betray their opponents. If both teams choose to ally both teams get 2 BP, if one group chooses to betray then they receive 3 BP but the group who chose to ally loses 2 BP and if both teams choose to Betray then no one gets any points. This game will continue multiple times until someone gets 9 points and decides to leave the facility.
The game mostly follows a visual novel style of gameplay – there is a lot of text and story. The player is given choices at certain points of the game, which mostly consist of which room the player wants to explore or which characters the player wants to be in a team with. The puzzle moments of the game happen when the player enters a room. A room will be filled with various objects, files and clues that will help the player open the safe in the room that has the key to the exit. Along with this there are two passwords to the safe that can be obtained by combining items together or using them at certain places within each room in order to activate or solve a puzzle. These puzzle sections aren’t the most taxing puzzles as most of them are pretty straight forward.
The player is given various documents which will have either clues or instructions on how they are solved. Also there are no penalties for failing puzzles so the game allows the player the option of trial and error when solving these. Most of the puzzles involve examining and combining objects and using the touch screen controls to press buttons, move objects into place or enter passwords.
For the visual novel aspect, the game gives the player a flow chart of all the choices they made and shows the routes. In order to get all the endings the player will need to jump back and forth between the various routes, which the game encourages by having locks on certain routes which halt progression unless the player has seen a certain scene. This will lead to instances where the player will see the same scene multiple times but with slightly different dialogue. The game is very aware of this and will make mention to different timelines (routes) and how someone chose a different option in the ambidex game or how someone acted differently. This means that there will be multiple playthroughs to get different endings. In Virtue’s Last Reward there are 24 possible endings.
The game has a great cast of characters, the player takes the role of Sigma, a silent protagonist of sorts. He has a lot of dialogue but amongst the whole cast is the only character who has no voice. For the UK version of the game, there is only Japanese audio. This is not a complaint as many anime fans will be able to recognise a few famous voices amongst the cast. A few voices of note are Mamiko Noto as Luna, Rie Kugimiya as Quark and Daisuke Ono as K. Most of the drama from the game comes from the interactions from the characters with regards to how people voted during the ambidex games and how people act during the puzzle room sections. Along with these character interactions there is also a deeper story which is very slowly revealed through each of the endings.
One thing that should be noted is that the 3DS version has a save bug that is encountered when the game is saved within certain puzzle rooms. It is advised that when playing the game, DO NOT save the game in a puzzle room as it has a chance of corrupting your save game. Another thing to note is this game is a direct sequel to the Nintendo DS game 999: 9 Hours 9 Persons 9 doors. Unfortunately this game was never released in the UK. Some players may be put off by this but the game can still be enjoyed regardless. There are a few mentions to the previous game here and there but there is also an archive in the game which has information on things that happened within Virtue’s Last Reward and any relevant information needed from 999.
Overall Virtue’s Last Reward is a great game. It has a very interesting story filled with dynamic characters and great twists and turns. The mechanics of the puzzles and multiple playthroughs keep the game interesting and fun. A must have for fans of visual novels and one of the most unique experiences you can currently have on your 3DS.
Platform: Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita
Publisher: Rising Star Games