Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward actually takes place on the Moon in January 2074. However, this isn't revealed until Phi END. This fact is hinted at in Dio END, though unwittingly, by Sigma. He comments that the sky is so clear that he can see the band of the Milky Way. He also says that the red "Moon" looks much bigger than usual. The red Moon is actually the Earth in 2074 after the Radical-6 apocalypse and the Antimatter Plant Explosions disaster.
As mentioned by Dio in Dio END, there were many shelters, presumably Rhizomes, which contained survivors of the Radical-6 pandemic. Presumably, this shows that many people moved to the Moon to escape from the Radical-6 pandemic, as well as a destroyed Earth.
The kinds of people who lived in the Rhizomes include millionaires who paid large sums of money after the April 2029 tragedy, government researchers and officials, chosen children, etc. However, 45 years have passed since and most of those people have returned to Earth. The people that remain currently are eccentric people who enjoy living on the Moon, researchers, scientists, laborers who are mining the Moon's rare minerals, and those who lived so long on the Moon that they couldn't adjust to Earth's gravity.
All the players have earned 9 BP and are able to escape via the Number Nine Door. Everyone except Dio, who is incapacitated after his plot to destroy the facility is thwarted, leaves the facility.
After going through depressurization in the PEC, they arrive outside. Alice and Clover initially believe they are in a nondescript desert. The players notice the red Moon in the sky and assume a total lunar eclipse is occurring. Tenmyouji corrects them, saying the red Moon is in fact Earth and that the eclipse is actually a solar one. The Earth's red appearance is a direct result of the destruction of all of Earth's antimatter reactors in a last ditch attempt to get rid of Radical-6. Quark states that they were in a moonbase the whole time, later confirmed by K who explains that they are in Rhizome 9 out of 54 such facilities on the Moon.
End or Beginning?
- There are several clues that the players are on the Moon throughout the game, such as:
- Phi and K's superhuman jumping abilities.
- The players' bodies, which feel unusually light, numb, and foreign.
- Sigma's comments, when carrying an unconscious body or a corpse, on how light it is, as if he "is carrying a piece of dried wood".
- The Pressure Exchange Chamber matching the pressure of the outside of the facility in order to exit the facility.
- The sink in the infirmary, from which water drains very slowly.
- The astrological motifs (sun, star, moon) on the Key Cards.
- In the lounge, in order to to receive both the escape and secret file password, the player must mix a "red moon" and a "red planet", which can be seen as major foreshadowing.
- In Warehouse B, "MEMENTO MORI, IF THE NINETH LION ATE THE SUN", is an anagram for "THE MAN ON THE MOON RULES THE INFINITE TIME". This was revealed in Phi END.
- Akane Kurashiki believes that the "other side of the moon" is a dispatch base for UFOs.
- Some people believe that the Moon is actually not a "natural" satellite, and that it is actually an artificial structure: the product of advanced science and technology, presumably by aliens. Considering how aliens apparently exist in the Zero Escape universe (Zero Time Dilemma contains a transporter apparently created by advanced alien technology), this idea isn't so far-fetched and may coincide with the series. Some also believe the Sun could have similar origins.
- The Moon's weaker gravity also hides the fact that Sigma is older and has a weaker body. This is also the reason why K wears armor while living on the Moon.