- "This game isn't about compassion, and it's not about being clever. It's about one thing: how well you can manipulate people to your advantage. How unfair you can be."
- — Dio
The Nonary Game: Ambidex Edition is a game orchestrated by Zero Sr. and Akane Kurashiki. The actual game is overseen by the AI Zero III. It is the focus of Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward. While inspired by the original Nonary Game, the Ambidex Edition places additional psychological strain on its players by making trust a key component. The game was played on January 25, 2074 in Rhizome 9 on the Moon. Some of the players were kidnapped earlier and put in cold sleep for 45 years.
The Bracelet Points ("BP") on the characters' bracelets vary during the game. When they reach 9 BP, they get a unique chance to open the escape door numbered "9" and escape, but if it reaches 0 or less, they receive a lethal injection and die.
The game was the medium through which Akane and Sigma's AB Project was orchestrated. The A represents after and the B represents before. The A also means "anima" (soul/consciousness) and the B means "body".
The ultimate purpose of the game and the project was to prepare the consciousnesses of Phi and Sigma to return to December 2028. By sending their consciousness through spacetime, they could take part in the Decision Game during Zero Time Dilemma.
The variability between the pathways (illustrated via the in-game flowchart) were designed to train them to master and strengthen their SHIFTing abilities so they could save humanity during the game. Ultimately, the existence of the game, as Zero Sr. creates it after observing it as a 22-year-old mind, is a bootstrap paradox.
Rules of the Nonary Game
The ultimate goal of the Nonary Game is to escape the facility. They must escape through Door 9, the only exit in the facility. In order to get through Door 9, they must gain Bracelet Points (BP) through an Ambidex Game. The order of the game is:
- Chromatic Door validation (10 minutes after Chromatic Doors open)
- Escaping a room (No time limit)
- Ambidex Game (45 minutes after opening an Ambidex Gate, or until all votes are received)
- Ambidex Results (several minutes)
- Chromatic Door Opening (Time varies between Ambidex Results and Chromatic Door Opening. Generally about an hour.)
- Repeat 1-5 until start of the third round or Number 9 door is opened. Round 4 and onward, repeat 3 & 4 until Number 9 door is opened.
- All players will wear a bracelet. Anyone who attempts to break it or remove it will die through a lethal injection.
- Players' bracelets shows how many BP the player currently has, what color they are, and if they are a SOLO or PAIR.
- Round 1: Bracelet colors can be Red, Green, or Blue for both SOLOs and PAIRs.
- Round 2: Bracelet colors can be Magenta, Yellow, or Cyan for both SOLOs and PAIRs.
- Round 3+: PAIRs can be Magenta, Yellow, or Cyan. SOLOs can be Red, Green, or Blue.
- By pressing both buttons on the bracelet at the same time, the bracelet will display how many minutes are left before the next set of Chromatic Doors open or how many minutes are left before the Ambidex Gates close.
- The bracelets contain Soporil β and tubocurarine. The bracelet will inject the player via needles with Soporil β (an anesthetic), which is intended to put the player to sleep (though strong willed players can fight the anesthetic and will only be disoriented and sluggish). 9 minutes after that, tubocurarine (a muscle relaxant) will be injected, stopping the player's respiratory system, killing the player by asphyxiation. These will only be released if the player receives a penalty in the following ways:
- The player's BP equals or falls below zero.
- The player enters an invalid Chromatic Door.
- The player does not enter a Chromatic Door before it closes.
- The player attempts to remove/destroy the bracelet.
- The player enters Door 9 with less than 9 BP.
- During an Ambidex Game, no vote from either party of a chromatic team is received.
- The bracelet will only come off under two conditions:
- The player escapes through Door 9 with 9 or more BP.
- The bracelet does not sense the player's heartbeat.
- Main article: Chromatic Doors
- After each Ambidex Game, players will have a certain amount of time before the next set of Chromatic Doors will open.
- Once the Chromatic Doors are open, a player will have 5 minutes to enter it. If a player does not enter one by the time it closes, they will die.
- Only 3 people may enter a Chromatic Door (1 SOLO and 1 PAIR). Players in an invalid Chromatic Door combination will also die.
- Players must mix the colors of their Bracelet and the resulting color is the door they can enter.
- Hence a Red SOLO can pair with a Green PAIR to go through the Yellow Door. Or a Red PAIR can pair with a Green SOLO with the same effect.
- Players may also pair with another player(s) who have the same color Bracelet as their own and enter their complementary color door.
- Hence a Blue PAIR and SOLO can go through the Yellow Door.
- White Doors require two complementary colors to open them.
- Hence a Red SOLO can only pair with a Cyan PAIR to go through the White Door.
- Each round, there is a different set of Chromatic Door colors. Round 1 and 2, there are three possible combinations for each door and three possible ways for teams to go through each door. Round 3, there is only one possible combination for each team. However, any White Combination Team can enter any White Door they wish.
- Round 1: 1 Magenta, 1 Yellow, and 1 Cyan Door.
- Magenta is a mix of Red and Blue. Its complementary color is Green.
- Yellow is a mix of Red and Green. Its complementary color is Blue.
- Cyan is a mix of Blue and Green. Its complementary color is Red.
- Round 2: 1 Red, 1 Blue, and 1 Green Door.
- Red is a mix of Magenta and Yellow. Its complementary color is Cyan.
- Blue is a mix of Cyan and Magenta. Its complementary is Yellow.
- Green is a mix of Cyan and Yellow. Its complementary is Magenta.
- Round 3: 3 White Doors.
- Green must pair with Magenta. Blue must pair with Yellow. Red must pair with Cyan.
- Round 1: 1 Magenta, 1 Yellow, and 1 Cyan Door.
- After entering a Chromatic Door in the correct team combination, the players will enter a room and will have to find an password to a safe in each room by solving puzzles scattered throughout the room.
- The safe will hold important documents, important items, and a key to escape the room. Entering a secret password will give the player a Silver (Easy difficulty) or Gold file (Hard difficulty).
- Once a room has been successfully escaped from, any player may go through that room and its Chromatic Door, regardless of their bracelet color.
The Number Nine Door
- In order to open the Number Nine Door, a player must have 9 or more BP.
- Players with less than 9 BP may try to open the door, but the door will not open. They will not be penalized if they try to do this.
- Once Door 9 is opened, it will remain opened for 9 seconds then close forever. The Nonary Game will end. The Number Nine Door can only be opened once. After that, it will never open again, trapping the remaining players in the facility forever.
- If a player attempts to go through when the Number Nine Door is open without 9 or more BP, they will die. Their bracelet will self-activate its lethal injection.
- Once the Number Nine Door permanently closes, all other doors in the facility will unlock, allowing players to go to whatever rooms they wish if they did not go through there yet.
Rules of the Ambidex Game
The Ambidex Game, or AB Game, is a short game in between rounds to gain BP. Players vote to Ally or Betray their opponents to gain BP to eventually escape. At the end of each AB Game, points are added or subtracted according to how the two player teams vote. The AB Game takes place in the AB Room.
- Specific key cards are needed to open the AB Gate each round by finding them in the rooms behind the Chromatic Doors.
- First Round: Sun keys are required.
- Second Round: Moon keys are required.
- Third Round+: Star keys are required for the third and every subsequent round afterwards.
- There is no specific AB Room players need to enter. They may choose whatever AB Room they wish.
- SOLO and PAIR teams that went through the same Chromatic Door will challenge each other for BP.
- Hence a Red SOLO that went through the Yellow Chromatic Door will challenge the Green PAIR.
- Once an Ambidex Gate has been opened, players will have 45 minutes to cast their vote.
- At least one representative of each color group must vote. If both parties do not vote, both parties will die.
- Once a player hits "START" on the voting screen, the Ambidex Gate will close until the current polling period ends.
- At least 1 member of a PAIR needs to vote, so both players of a PAIR do not need to be in the Ambidex Room to vote.
- If one member of a PAIR enters an AB Room and the door shuts before the other can enter, the remaining member may not enter an unoccupied room to enter their own vote. Attempting to do so will result in a warning being issued.
- Players that are a PAIR work together and will both receive or lose the same points from the results. PAIRs only get one vote shared among both members.
- Players vote to Ally or Betray the person(s) they entered the preceding Chromatic Doors with. Depending on the action chosen by the players, points are assigned differently. This process is similar to the Prisoner's Dilemma.
- If both parties choose Ally, both parties receive 2 BP.
- If one party chooses to Betray and the other chooses Ally, the party who picked Betray will receive 3 BP, while the party who picked Ally will lose 2 BP.
- If both parties choose to Betray, neither party will receive any points.
- A non-voting party will default to ally as long as their opponent votes.
- Hence a SOLO that doesn't vote will automatically Ally as long as the PAIR submits a vote and vice versa.
- Upon concluding an AB Game, all players' colors and SOLO/PAIR assignments will automatically shuffle randomly.
- If a player's BP drops to or below zero after the results, they will automatically be penalized.
- After the results of each of the first and second rounds, players will continue to the next round to get the next set of keys for the AB Room.
- After the third round, Star Keys will reopen the Ambidex Gates (With the 45 minute wait between) until Door 9 is opened.
Zero Time Dilemma
In the scene following the Power Room, Junpei and Carlos must play a game similar to the Ambidex game. The rules are: shall both Ally, both shall gain 3 points. Shall both Betray, the traitor shall gain 6 points and the truster will lose 6. The door outside of the room will unlock once a player gains 9 points. However, if a player's points fall to or below 0, then that player, as well as two others, are executed. Diana and Sigma will be killed if Carlos dies, whereas Akane and Phi will be killed if Junpei dies.
Like the AB games held against Alice and Tenmyouji in Round 1 in VLR (as well as the Round 2 AB Game against Phi in VLR), Junpei will always pick the opposite of what Carlos picks. After seeing both of the timelines where the roles of Ally/Betray are changed, it is at this point that Carlos learns he is an esper and Akane explains to him the nature of his ability to SHIFT.