-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.