999 Was a Hard Act to Follow
Virtue’s Last Reward is a sequel to a game that I loved on the DS called 999, or 9 Person’s 9 Hours 9 Doors, which absolutely floored me. I did not expect to enjoy 999 as much as I did, but it was one of my favorite titles in a long time. VLR did not hit me as hard, but it is still a quality title in its own right.
The art-style of VLR is different, as this game focuses on 3D models rather than the manga style drawings of the previous title. I prefer the old design much more, but it is really a matter of preference. Initially the look was a little off-putting, but by the end of the game I had grown a slight affection for it.
Story wise the game was much more expansive and a little more convoluted than the past title. It works by revealing plot points over time and slowly explaining all the concepts to you over several timelines. It is a very interesting story that definitely throws some curve-balls and twists that impressed me. By the end of the title I had enjoyed the journey. It leaves you on a cliffhanger that had me confused, because I was sure it wasn’t the ending. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of content in the game and you definitely get your money’s worth, but where they leave you was very off-putting, to the point where I had to check online to see if the game was really over or if I missed something. It sort of makes sense because I can understand where they will go for the next game and they can definitely make a full title out of it, but I was still disappointed with the way they left it
Gameplay wise there isn’t much. There are basic puzzles you have to solve and most of them just deal with getting out of the room you’re stuck in. It does seem that they did a better job merging the puzzles with the story in this game. Many more solutions and clues to the puzzles reveal information that is pertinent to the plot and the development of the characters. The puzzles were better in this one, but they’re still just there to make this a little more than a visual novel.
All the characters are very well voice acted except for the main character, who is a silent protagonist. Normally this thing is pretty easy to overlook in something like the Elder Scrolls series or the Persona series, but it is evidently annoying in this title because the main character has at least fifty percent of the dialogue. This hurts the title even worse because his text scrolls incredibly slow. I read at a very average speed and I still had a five to ten second wait in between his lines. Thankfully this all makes sense in the end, and there is definitely a purpose for it, but that does not change the fact that it had me angry for most of the game. I’m glad there was a reason, but I wish they had found a better way around it.
Overall, I do recommend this title. It is a great adventure that pushes your mind to contemplate issues of trust and betrayal. Although I do think 999 was a much greater title in comparison, and if you are deciding between one or the other or wondering if you need to play the previous title first, pick it up now. While it is not exactly essential to the experience of Virtue’s Last Reward, in my opinion 999 is miles better and is still one of the best stories I’ve had the privilege of enjoying, video game or otherwise. Virtue’s Last Reward does stand on its own as a good title though, and is honestly the only game worth picking up a 3DS at the moment. If you own a 3DS or a PS Vita, I wholeheartedly say you should get it. If not, it is not worth buying the system for.
There is a glitching problem on the 3DS version where the game can crash if you save in puzzle rooms, and if it happens in the Crew Quarters or the PEC Room your save file can become completely corrupted and you will have to delete your file and start everything again. This is a huge problem, but I only saved during the novel sections and did not have any problems with crashing or glitches, aside from the PEC Room. I played through the room three times and the game crashed in the same spot every time. I decided to skip it and do everything else possible before I went back to that room and did it last, and I got through the room completely fine. Other than that one point, the game was completely bug free. Just make sure you save during novel sections.