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31  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Zero Escape 3 official on: June 29, 2016, 05:48:32 PM
About to start today's play session. Am roughly 10 hours, 45 minutes into the game. Just finished looking at the last 'new' fragment. (Some are still locked). So now it's time to go fishing for all the side pieces I haven't touched yet. Thoughts update:

-A lot of my prior feelings really haven't changed 10+ hours into the game. I don't really feel emotionally invested in any of the characters, sans Gab, which as Dice says...IS the best character. Only person so far to even get any major plot/character progression is Sigma and even that just feels like some VLR re-treading. At this point I'm more playing for the overall ZE-Plot conclusion than caring what happens to these people. What's really, REALLY hurting the narrative is, so far, we get NOTHING about the time these characters spent together in the Mars Test site and I feel comfortable enough in how the game's rolling to say we never will.

Removing this is the equivalent to removing the waiting period between doors in 999 and the Chromatic timer locks in VLR. We NEED to see the whole cast having some time to bounce off each other to get a vibe for who could/would potentially be a dick to each other and why some issues of trust would be dramatic. Just having some talking bobbleheads yell out "You should trust them!" "No, they might do something bad to us!" really means nothing when you give us absolutely zero information about the group dynamic as a whole. And it's not the amnesia either, because characters make passing 1-2 line mentions of their time above with pretty much zero details other than 'This is how I know your name/occupation'. It's just realllllly grinding my gears because 999/VLR proves this writer can do SO much better; but here they're just hamstringing themselves in a horrific way on this stifling new presentation.

-I've given him enough time to pick himself up out of the gutter; but I think 10+ hours is more than long enough. Let's address another major weakness of the story so far. The antagonist. I'm gonna be frank here. Zero II...sucks. He's so much a let down of a Zero that I can't even really grace him with Phi-style disdain. Let's look at past Zeros for a moment.

Zero from 999, and admittedly too the true Zero from VLR, obtained a sense of mystery and foreboding by being pretty much invisible for 90%+ of the game. You had audio recordings and mass speculation from the cast. But nothing really to shake your notion that this might be some diabolical, genius mastermind. The gas-mask-cloak combo that Zero traditionally sports also helped invoke a simple, but effective style of back-of-the-mind dread about what he could potentially be. In short, less is sooooo much more.

Conversely, we have Zero III from VLR. Which, admittedly there was no topping. His quirks and stellar VA presentation just dominated the spotlight. He's one of the very few love/hate relationships with an antagonist force that's actually stood up to multi viewings. Zero III's charm and ability to terrify you with just a single change of vocal pitch really did set the bar for any future personifications of the Zero-Game Master.

Now we have Zero II...voice? Bland, uninspiring, stereotypical  masked killer fare that got old circa Scream II. Outfit? Eh, I'll give them some credit here. It is a bit imposing but really just because the Plague Doctor mask 'is' a form of ye-olden gas mask it really just...doesn't fit with the aesthetic of the world. Speaking of cliche killer fare. Spouting the same set of 3-4 stories with a catch phrase, all delivered in near monotone, really doesn't make you endearing. :-\ It's the same guff where lazy writers, in order to try and make their killer look smart, just have them quote famous lines or spout philosophy for no real reason other than 'clever'. While not the same branch per say here, these two traits are born of the same tree.

Zero II is uninspiring, not intimidating, and really more a nuisance to the reader than a memorable antagonist. I actually don't care who they are at this point; which, unlike previous gripes, IS a cardinal sin on the ZE story because investment in the Zero-Mystery should ALWAYS be one of your primary draws. Maaaaaybe somethig in a future fragment will change this but if it takes 10+ hours for me to give a darn about your antagonist, you've failed. Badly.

- Not really a nitpick, but more of a calling it now. If this turns out to be the opposite I'll be happy for something in this game to have surprised me, genuinely. But I'm about 74% sure that Q

is a girl

Why? Because tell me this doesn't look familiar.

(Yes, do consider this link to be in spoiler coding.)


I have a few other half-reasons to back it up too. But they're all relying on cliche-spotting and I'd like to give the writers more credit than that.
32  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Zero Escape 3 official on: June 29, 2016, 12:53:21 AM
Taking a break about 5 hours in (I think roughly 20-25~% of the Flow Chart is done so far) to give off some first impressions.

Let's get the core out of the way here.

-Music is amazing as always.
-Core plot so far is about 90% satisfactory.

Buuuuut...unfortunately I do have to say there are some pretty dire speed bumps here that are making it pale compared to VLR/999. I'll get the spoiler-free (not blind free mind you, but spoiler free) stuff out of the way first, then move onto the minor spoiler nitpicks.







-First, this new presentation method is not doing ZTD any favors. One of the BEST elements of 999/VLR was its vivid descriptions of the world around you, the emotions your character was going through, and all this little things that just helped immerse yourself in the reality of those games. Sure, it sometimes came off as a bit exposition heavy. But that's what I came to love about the Zero Escape games. ZTD's new presentation comes pretty much in all cutscenes. So there's absolutely no stray narration. It's literally all dialog; with any emotion to glean coming from the vocal performances of the actors and the model's expressions; the latter of which is direly lacking.

In essence, this change makes ZTD out to be a pretty good visual novel...but a pretty awful Zero Escape game. The heart and very soul of what makes a ZE game, a ZE game, is absent. And while that's not a cardinal sin in and of itself, you're going to find yourself a few hours in sorely missing out on the those details. Which ties into the next problem.

-The general lack of setting. You get told 'where' you are, 'when' you are, and that's about it. Character dialog go, go, go! And now death! Death! (This is a problem I'll expand upon in the third point.) ZTD eschews any finer details about the Test Site, or where these Zero Games are taking places. Effectively cutting off the 'breathing points' 999/VLR gave you. You find yourself a little disoriented and wanting to tap the game on the shoulder just to ask for a little more non-death information. But the game instead is like 'Nope! This is 2016! Who has the patience for that!'. So compared again to 999/VLR, sequences feel rushed. The story, with minimal environmental/internal thought details to slow itself down, barrels along at a breakneck speed that'll burn you out via motions sickness.

If you look back at 999 and VLR's opening areas it becomes a night and day comparison. While both predecessors did throw you right into the action you got a nice chunk of narration before and after to help you settle in. ZTD didn't think that luxury welcome anymore.

-Now...let's wrap this over into the third major issue. Remember that joke I made sometime back about how it seemed like they were going for an all time kill count? Well, ZTD = Zoom, They Dead turned out to be more accurate than I'd hoped for. Without spoiling specifics; this is how EVERY fragment in this game goes.

Less than 10 minutes of dialog (if you're lucky; usually more like 4-6) -> Puzzle -> Death.

Hoooooly lagomorphs is there a body count in this. So much so that it NEEDS to be addressed as a story fault. I've watched every Saw movie and even those have lesser kill counts and lesser kill pacing.

By the third or fourth exposure you just start becoming numb to it, as the game relies on this one trick pony to try and ratchet up any tension left by the massive void fault #2 created. And really...it just doesn't work. :-\ You get tired of it very fast and are left wishing for something more substantial to sink your teeth into. Not to mention they more often than not get in the way of story elements you WISH they'd talk more about. For example, in VLR when Phi stopped you in the archives to have a nice little 5 minute talk about Multiple World Theory? Imagine now if VLR cut that conversation off at 'Have you heard of Multiple World The-?' with an IT-level honk-laugh while yelping 'Sorry kiddos! We need more blood nao~! You didn't wanna hear about that sciency stuff anyway!'.

That's what ZTD does. And you come to disdain it for it.

-Speaking of things cut short. Let's address characters...hooo-boy...let's talk about characters... I'm going to wrangle in a bit of presentation talk here too, since it's at least 50% of what's wrong with how things are going so far. As you know, the story is potentially told mostly out of chronological order. You pick fragments you want to visit; but they're NOT clearly labeled in the timeline until after you've played them. As such, crucial little tiny flakes of information that can change a character from 'Single note, cliche, annoyance bomb' into 'Okay, I think I can put up with you' might not be played until you've had to sit through 3+ fragments of their blather. They're not all flat characters per say, but they really don't get much room to live and breath because of the removal of narration. And again, the 3D models used have bugger all emotional range.

So far only Sigma and Phi are decent, but that's because they're just continuing straight off of VLR. Everyone else just kinda gets this single note and has a very, very hard time deviating from it. Which is unfortunate considering how ever the worst character in 999/VLR, Dio, had moments of 'this guy might be okay at times' before moving into full on mustache twirling.

However even if some of these characters do get a moment or two to flesh out, the chrono-scatter system may have ruined their moment of impact. We're going to go into character spoilers here for Mira and Eric as the primary example.

Cutting to the chase, Mira is the Heart-Ripper killer they mention for all of 45 seconds.
Her reveal fragment is...admittedly pretty good...but it lacked a certain
hook for me to truly be invested in this reveal. Why? Well, I found out not
two fragments later. Because I hadn't seen the fragment yet where Eric
talks about their first meeting and gives a nice little bond the two hadn't
presented until this...or rather it WOULD have had I not seen Mira's first. And now because
I saw Mira's first Eric's utterly rings hollow.

Thanks game.

I get the feeling so many moments like this are going to be utterly ruined because you saw Scene 47 first instead of Scene 12. Whatever logic this whole random-fragment thing might have IN game it really can't possibly be good enough to make up for the damage being caused OUT of game.

And then as a final note...there's the major elephant in the room. Junpei... Oh dear...you poor thing...what did these lazy writers do to you?

Lemme just speed summarize my issue here.

In ZTD, Junpei is a raging, annoying douchebag. No, seriously. That's his one tic
and he rides it like it's a Decision Game.

Why is he a douchebag in ZTD?

"Because I joined a detective agency and saw people die."


...never you mind that you SAW THE ENTIRE ****ING PLANET DIE IN THE VLR
TIMELINE! And you know what? You were still a pretty decent guy then. :-P This
is just character flanderization at it's worst here and uuuugh....

And as the final punch in the spleen; I can see why Sigma built a robo-version of Diana instead of saving something to clone her with. She's pretty rubbish as anything other than a doormat made out of parrot feathers.


Honestly though, as long as ZTD ties up the threads from 999/VLR it's going to get a passing grade. I won't regret having played it. Any fan of the series will want to see this one through.

I am warning you though...it's gonna be the black sheep of the family.
33  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Zero Escape 3 official on: June 28, 2016, 07:45:33 PM
Wait...what...? Within the first three minutes of boot-up dialog I literally

hit an ending.

Ai yah. At least he's honest.
34  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Zero Escape 3 official on: June 27, 2016, 05:31:45 PM
Game's out tomorrow. I spent the whole weekend burning through VLR again to refresh myself on the plot's finer details. So for anyone who hasn't here's a brief little list of harder to remember things from VLR to know going into ZTD. And I really do recommend reacquainting yourself with these plot points. (Spoilered in case you're not done with VLR yet; fished out some matching video to boot.)

#1- This whole audio recording.


#2- Remember that Sigma & Phi are actually
the old-man second-loop Zero-Sigma and I 'think' second-loop Phi.

#3- There aren't just decision games in the facility. It's apparently trap-laiden; and one of these is responsible for
Blowing away Sigma's arms and right eye...and he SURVIVES it somehow.


It is highly implied that the player, yourself, is going to be treated as
a proactive entity in correcting the Radical-6 timeline.

35  Media / General Games / Re: Games so good you got sad when it was over on: June 27, 2016, 04:40:27 PM
Hrmm...lemme think far back for this one...

Mega Man Legends 2- This one first and foremost. Anyone who has any love for the sub-series knows what a life-time punch in the gut this one was. These days though...I think it's best left sleeping. MO#9 pretty much showed to me that old Keiji doesn't have the desire or ability to produce a decent story-plot for that kind of universe anymore. Time will tell with Bloodstained whether or not that applies to all genres or just his Mega Man-verse. And a Capcom version? No. Just...no.

Grandia Xtreme- Let's shove the elephants out the door first. Yes, the story was meh. VA was pooooor (even Mark Hamil didn't really deliver much of a performance here). And the character's were cookie cutter at best. Edge Maverick protoforms at worst (I'm looking at you Evan. >.> ). But the combat...mmm. Sure it might not 'look' as smooth as III's but it handled the best the series has ever done. Combined with fun bosses, rocking music, and a surprisingly enjoyable and deep level of customization per character...I'd gladly buy this again just for something to zen-grind. Even more so than any Disgaea game. So when I got to the end of the post-game 100F dungeon it was very much a "...where's the next 100? :( "

Sonic Generations- So much sadness on so many levels. Never was there as good a game as this, never will there ever be again for the poor hedgehog. Well...at least not until SEGA/Nintendo goes bankrupt and someone with actual common design sense decides to hold the license.

Fallout: New Vegas- Helped quite a bit coming off the heels of it's lesser brother. FO3's original and 'redone' endings both invoke a sense of "Is it over yeeeeeet?" by the time you get there through sheer burnout. But the time you finish New Vegas it's very much a longing for more stories in this region. New Vegas 2 would be highly welcome, although it'll never happen since FO games like to bounce from region to region.

Any Civilization Game- >.> ...fess up. Anyone who knows the 'One More Turn' feeling knows the worst part of any Civ game is when the victory condition hits. XD

Virtue's Last Reward- I have the opposite feelings of Ramza here. Plot Threads I can tolerate. So long as the localized story is wrapped up at least 90% of the way, I'm fine with that. You can tease any little things that aren't immediately relevant to the current tale so long as you wrap that bugger up. But VLR wasn't just a cliffhanger...it was a cliff-abyss.

Consider the whole game is essentially NOTHING BUT A PREQUEL/SET-UP. X-X

Let's not discount either this was a 4-year abyss. With at least 50+% of that being a time period where it seemed ZTD was perma-canned. That made VLR's ending all the more depressing.
36  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Bloodstained Ritual of the Night on: June 23, 2016, 03:22:14 AM

Necro-ing due to demo footage of the game in motion.

I see where the production budget for Might No 9 went. >.> At least this one actually looks good in motion so far.
37  Media / General Games / Re: VA-11 HALL-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action on: June 22, 2016, 09:11:13 PM
Spotted this on Steam; so I'm assuming the full version is done and out?
38  Media / General Games / Re: Inafune's latest project The Mighty No.9 looks Mega Rocking, man. on: June 15, 2016, 07:31:15 PM

Review copies are now live. So yes, sadly, THAT is the final product. This isn't a link to a review, but rather neutral commented gameplay so you can form your own opinions.

My thoughts?

-Terrible story presentation.
-Meh art style.
-Very empty level design with zero challenge present for anyone who has any Mega Man experience.
-Voice acting so bad it gives Mega Man 8 a run for it's money.

Final Grade: Bombing like an out of date marketing team on Trailer Day.
39  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Zero Escape 3 official on: June 12, 2016, 01:09:23 PM
So, in a sense, you're essentially playing VLR as though you didn't have the moon
to counter balance it?

At least that explanation makes sense. And helps lay the groundwork for why cooperation might be at a minimum without there being a


in the mix again.
40  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Zero Escape 3 official on: June 11, 2016, 05:20:32 PM
Was browsing Steam. Some of the screenshots are of new things not seen in the trailer yet. Most importantly is one of the 'Global Flowchart'. Having no knowledge of the game I don't see anything that 'looks' like an obvious spoiler. But full blinders of course shouldn't click. :-P


Most interesting spoil free tidbit: I haven't done an exact count, but eyeballing it I think ZTD has roughly 35-40% more phases to the story than VLR's story chart did.


As I feared, it looks like ZTD's story presentation is going to be a hot mess. As shown in how you select story parts to follow.


They don't even look remotely sorted in anything orderly. So not only is the story
chronologically bouncing all over the place, but the selection system itself gives you no clue as
to what piece is where in the timeline without having to consult the Global Chart
... Uggggggh. >.<; I know 999/VLR hasn't been exactly straightforward up til now...but I shouldn't need a freaking triple-sided roadmap to enjoy a timeline-driven plot.



...I have nothing really do say about this one. It just looked funny. XD



....this is beyond weird. Why on earth would you format the system that way?

Seems like needless busy work to manually type in the name of who you want to kill.
41  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Zero Escape 3 official on: June 07, 2016, 02:43:31 PM
INTERVIEW: Zero Time Dilemma's Creator on Zero Escape's New Art Style, Adventure Games and More


Things to take away from it:

-It's going to be formatted more like a TV show than a VN because baseline reading comprehension skills hold it back from a 'wider audience'.
-"Certain decisions you make will give you random results"

..................... ~_~; Remember that 50/50 gun from the gameplay demo? You thinking what I'm thinking?

-The Player will see events out of order. So instead of being the omniscient timeline hopper
like 999/VLR you're going to be the one who doesn't know what's happened up to this point.

...I want it to be good. My 'bad' senses are tingling though.
42  Media / General Games / Re: Inafune's latest project The Mighty No.9 looks Mega Rocking, man. on: June 06, 2016, 03:19:52 PM
How to kill your game in a single trailer.

43  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Fallout 4 on: June 06, 2016, 02:54:43 PM
I'll still say the best Fallout game out there right now is New Vegas. The core itself it pretty solid, but with the sheer scope of mods out there for it and what they do for it...puts 4 to shame. Although 4 probably is second best; even if the leveling system is utter garbage if you want anything to do with crafting. The original and 2 tie for third. 3 unfortunately sits bottom of the barrel of the main line. Even with mods there's just no salvaging the hallway-shooter problem that plagues virtually 80%+ of its gameplay. (Literally half of it's DLC is nothing more than straight line run and guns. When you get to experience things like Old World Blues it just shows how much better Obsidian does things over Bethesda.)
44  Media / Anime, TV, and Movies / Re: Anime/Manga Journal on: May 31, 2016, 03:00:44 PM
Just got Higurashi and Kai in the mail. Quite happy these are finally on DVD. Will be nice to have a comedy to enjoy this weekend once Trigun's done.
45  Media / Anime, TV, and Movies / Re: The "what was your first anime?" Thread on: May 30, 2016, 12:35:32 PM
The Flying House/Superbook.

No, seriously.
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