So the demo for Virtue's Last Reward just came out today for the Vita and I finished it. There were two sections to it: the "Novel" section and the "Escape" section.
Playing the Novel section first and referring to my memory of 999, the first thing that I noticed was how nice the 3D models looked. The presentation overall is quite nice, with the environments and the music being appropriately atmospheric. The voice acting sounded great (especially Zero III's), however it was weird when characters were actually voiced and talking to Sigma (the main character) while he simply responded with typical abstract text sounds.
The menu system has a lot to it, but one thing I would have liked is if the text log wasn't buried in it and could be accessed simply with a single button press. I often like to look back on the log in text heavy games like this and having to tap the menu button and then having to tap the log is irritating compared to what most games do which is just pressing a button to have it appear.
The Novel sequence ended at a bit of a weird spot, so I was glad that the Escape sequence took place immediately after the first one. This sequence is basically just solving puzzles and exploring, which is what players should expect to do in this game just like in 999.
Flicking one's finger to control the camera is a real bad experience. It was imprecise and generally unresponsive, as I couldn't tell if camera control was too sensitive or not sensitive enough. Using the rear bumpers if one wants precise movement is definitely the way to go and, to an extent, the left analog stick can be a more precise alternative to touching objects on-screen (though the cursor is also a bit floaty). This makes me wonder if the game would control much better with the 3DS and its stylus.
Other than the technical stuff, the story's interesting. I like Zero III's personality compared to the original Zero, who only had his mysterious identity going for him and, without that, being generally forgettable. Also something I found interesting and, maybe it's just me, but Junpei in 999 was a pretty smart dude based on the dialogue he had with other characters while Sigma seems like an idiot (or maybe he's just uncultured) in comparison. Not having even heard of Schrödinger's cat is an example of this, with Phi (his female partner) even making a remark that it'd be hard to find someone who doesn't know what that is.
Overall, I enjoyed the experience. I'm looking forward to playing the full game later this month.