« on: January 11, 2014, 04:34:51 am »
I've beaten Virtue's Last Reward, which is a sequel to 999 from the DS. It is pretty much exactly the same setting, 9 people get kidnapped and locked into a strange installation full of puzzles. And they'll die if they mess up. And there is probably a traitor in the group. Fun!
So yeah it's a visual novel / adventure hybrid, though the two parts are very strictly seperated. There is a novel section, then a puzzle room, then a novel section and so on. The puzzles are mostly pretty cool (though not realistic in any way, think classic Resident Evil puzzles), though there are a few really frustrating ones here and there. The puzzle sections can be switched to an easy mode though if you just want to get on with the story, in that case the other characters with you will shower you with hints.
The novel section has a ton of branches and to get to the real ending of the game (and it's really the only proper ending), you'll have to go through all 9 other endings first. That makes it a very lengthy game. It took me close to 30 hours, and I'm a fast reader and rarely wait out for lines to be read out aloud. There is a flow chart in the game with which you can jump to any point and decision seemlessly, so you don't have to go through the beginning puzzles over and over for each ending, you can just jump to where you made a decision and dive right into the new branch. Though there is still tons of repetition, since while each branch plays out slightly differently, the overall gist of the event remains fixed. When I had seen the first 3 or 4 endings I thought I was on the home stretch, but then it actually took another 10 hours to get to the real truth behind everything. That was really frustrating for a while. But it's worth it sticking to the end.
It's a really good VN/puzzle hybrid, and if you enjoyed 999 at all, you'll also enjoy this. If you didn't play 999 yet, I'd recommend playing that first. There are references to it in VLR, which aren't vital, but they'll spoil 999. And if you end up liking VLR you'll want to play 999 too, and then it would have been spoiled for you.
One technical caveat though, ugh the game is glitchy. Two times during puzzle segments my game froze and I had to reload an earler save and go through 30 minutes or more of the game again. I looked it up online and it's not a rare issue. Also never ever save during a puzzle segment, or it can kill your save... I actually got my second freeze right in the final puzzle room of the game, which was ultra furstrating. I ended up just watching the end on youtube since I didn't want to do the puzzle again. On that occasion I saw the US dub of the game (the EU version only has the Japanese dub for licencing reasons). SWITCH TO THE JAPANESE VOICES ASAP. The US dub is abysmal.