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Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma

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Zero Time Dilemma
Developer Spike Chunsoft
Publishers JP Spike Chunsoft
NA Aksys Games
Release dates 3DS/PSVita
NA June 28th, 2016
EU June 28th, 2016
JP June 30th, 2016
PC (Windows Steam)
JP June 30th, 2016
Platforms Nintendo 3DS
PlayStation Vita

Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma is the third and final installment of the Zero Escape trilogy and sequel to Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward. It is developed by Spike Chunsoft and published by Aksys Games in North America and Europe.

It will be released for the Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita and PC on Steam. The game will be digital download only for Europeans. All versions of the game feature English and Japanese dual audio.

The game's genre is a mix of psychological horror, mystery, suspense and thriller. The gameplay is a mix of escape-the-room and puzzle.

The story primarily follows three people: a nurse named Diana, a firefighter named Carlos, and a boy with a spherical helmet named Q. The three protagonists are trapped in a facility along with six other participants. The nine are forced to participate in the Decision Game, a deadly game which involves bracelets that inject them with a drug every 90 minutes which induces memory loss, killing 6 out of the 9 players, exploring the facility and solving escape-the-room puzzles in order to survive and escape, and figuring out the truth behind the game and Zero's identity.



Who is Zero?

"Six of us are... dead. Counting myself, there are only three left. They were killed... I... I guess you could say I killed them... No... no, that's not quite right. Not just them. Not just these six... All of them... All six billion... Soon, I will have killed six billion people-"
— Diana to the Operator, about the dire situation in the facility

Brother, a misanthrope who despises the human race and wants every single human on the planet to die, has decided that humanity has long overstayed its selfish, greedy existence on planet Earth. Brother has received a mission from "God": to purify humanity via its death and extinction and create a utopia in which every single human is a blonde-haired, blue-eyed man named Left with the exact same face and everyone has the same beliefs, thoughts, opinions and values with no sense of individuality, since that only leads to conflict.

In order to kill every human on the planet, his organization of over a million followers, Free the Soul, have developed and prepared a suicide virus known as Radical-6 to be unleashed to the entire world in 2028. This will determine the ultimate fate of humanity and all life on the planet.

In December 2028, nine people have been sent to the Mars Mission Test Site in Nevada to simulate a manned mission to Mars, and experiment if life is suitable there. However, it turns out that the test site is full of booby traps.

Six days into the project, on December 31st, the nine participants wake up together in a room and find unremovable black bracelets on their wrists. A masked man dressed as a plague doctor, Zero, then appears and announces the start of the Decision Game. He says that the survival of him, the people, and all of humanity hinges on this game. The participants are then moved to an underground shelter, split into three teams called C, Q, and D, and are forced to play a series of miserable games.

In order to escape, they must collect 6 X-Passes to open the X Door that blocks a central elevator hall. However, a password is only revealed when a person dies. They cannot escape without sacrificing six of their people.

It is up to the Espers of Crash Keys to stop Radical-6 from escaping. Who will live and die? Will humanity survive the 21st century? The answer will lie in the fate of the player.

Full plot summary (SPOILERS)


Full plot summary will go here.


Zero Time Dilemma features seven named endings and a number of unnamed bad endings where the story hits a dead end without it being a true ending.[1]

List of endings:

  • CQD-END: 1.
  • C-END: 1.
  • Q-END: 1.
  • Q-END: 2.
  • D-END: 1.
  • D-END: 2.
  • CQD-END: 2.


The leader of Team C. A hot-blooded man with a strong sense of justice. He cares deeply for his younger sister, who is suffering from an incurable disease.
A member of Team Q. A young man working at an ice cream shop who is in a relationship with Mira.
A member of Team D. A curt young woman who joined the DCOM experiment to save the world.
The leader of Team Q. A young boy who has lost his memories and who is wearing a mysterious spherical helmet.
Junpei Tenmyouji
A member of Team C. After the events of 999, he joined a detective agency to track down Akane, who had vanished completely. Currently technically "ran away from home".
Akane Kurashiki
A member of Team C. Though she appears to be a proper young woman, her true personality is Machiavellian.
The leader of Team D. A pacifistic young woman who hates fighting. Works as a nurse.
A member of Team Q. A young woman who is in a relationship with Eric.
Sigma Klim
A member of Team D. Although only 22 years old, he seems to have led a long and complicated life. Occasionally called "old man" by Phi.
Zero An unknown person hiding their identity behind a mask and disguise, who seems to be controlling the deadly games. Their goal is unknown.
Gab An old dog able to fit through air vents too small for humans, making him able to travel between sections of the facility. Participants attach messages to his collar to try and communicate with other Teams.



The game has fully animated visual novel parts, but they are in the form of more cinematic cutscenes. The usual narration is all replaced by voiced dialogue.

This is because the developer honestly felt most modern gamers simply don't like reading much these days, and that cutscenes are much more direct and easier to keep players invested in a story. It would also make the game more accessible to those not interested in the text-heavy visual "novel" aspect (999 on DS, for example, contains hours and hours of clicking and reading).[2]

The text skipping function from Virtue's Last Reward that doesn't skip new text will return.

Escape rooms


Escape rooms return, but it is currently unknown how many of them there are (previous games contain 16).

The escape rooms have additional objectives similar to the Secret Archives of Virtue's Last Reward.[1] It is implied that these will be called "quests", and completing them will obtain "Quest Files" and serve the same purpose they did in VLR.

Decision Game


"Make your decision!"

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 5.28.18 PM

Q in one of the game decision parts, with a time limit of 9 seconds with 7 seconds left.

Zero Time Dilemma does not feature a Nonary Game, but instead, a Decision Game which is a series of tragic, heartbreaking, sadistic, horrifying, intense and emotional mini-games that the Mars Mission Test Site participants are forced to participate in. It is implied that it will be more devastating, gruesome and gorier than anything previously seen - so much so that the previous two entries have Japanese ratings of ages 15+, and Zero Time Dilemma is ages 17+.

The player must make extreme decisions where there is no right answer - hence the "dilemma" in the subtitle. Moral elements are the main theme of the game and are meant to intensely shake the player's way of thinking, values and virtues. What is right? What is good? What is evil? What is wrong? For the extreme decisions, they are often accompanied by scenes where someone's life is on the line.

There is a time limit during Decision Parts. To press the button or not to press the button – perhaps letting time run out is also an option.

It is implied that the game features a voting system in which the participants are forced to kill off 6 of the 9 players in order to escape.

Randomized outcomes


Zero: "Life is simply unfair, don't you think?"


Diana firing a gun that has a 50% chance of killing Sigma in order to save Phi.

The Decision Game has some randomized outcomes, utilizing elements of pure luck and chance instead of skill. Zero says, "Life is simply unfair" and flips a coin - one side is blue, one side is red - what this currently determines is unknown. Randomness, chance, and unfairness is a core theme of the game. For example:

  • Is it fair that someone is born in a poor low-income family where they struggle to survive and are always on the verge of starvation, while someone else is born into a wealthy rich privileged family in which everything is provided for them? No.
  • Is it fair that someone who is transgender is born into the gender of a body they are not comfortable with and suffer from body dysmorphia, while another is fine as a cisgender? No.
  • Is it fair that someone's partner, family member or pet is killed in a car crash or obtains a horrible painful disease? No.
  • Is it fair that someone is born as an orphan or with abusive parents, while someone else is born into a family with loving parents? No.
  • Is it fair that someone is born into a certain race or ethnicity which is discriminated against, while someone else isn't? No.
  • Is it fair that someone is born a paraplegic, mute, deaf or blind, physically or mentally disabled, while someone else is born perfectly able? No.

...etc. Life often operates on the principalities of unfairness, chance, randomness and luck. A major component of life does not rely on effort, talent and skill.

In terms of the game itself on how this theme will be used, for example, Sigma will be trapped in a chair. The gun next to Sigma's chair has three live rounds and three blanks which has a 50/50 chance of killing him. The game calculates the odds each time so in one playthrough, he may live, while in another, he may die.

  • Is it fair that Sigma may die in someone's Decision Game, while he lives in someone else's? No.

This is the point of the game: life is simply unfair. This makes every playthrough of the game unique to the player. Like life itself, some players will have an advantage, while others will play the game at a disadvantage.

The randomized events of the game will also help to make it as "spoiler-proof" as possible.[2]

Floating Fragment System


The Floating Fragment system of Team C.


The general global flow chart, showing how each fragment fits chronologically.

It is possible to play as the leaders of Teams C, D, and Q, those being Carlos, Diana, and Q respectively. They, and therefore the story line, can be switched between using the Floating Fragment system.

The system is characterized by its "Fragments" as the main feature of this game's bracelets is that every 90 minutes, all of the players are injected with a drug that wipes out all of their previous memories of the game. Thus, the story is viewed in anachronistic "Fragments" and the player, just like the characters, will have no idea where in the story they are chronologically. As more "Fragments" are unlocked, the player will be able to figure out the chronological narrative of the game. The game can be played out of order.


Shinji Hosoe will compose the music for Zero Time Dilemma. [3]


Due to the low popularity of the Zero Escape series in Japan, as well as budget and financial matters, the game was put on hold in 2014.[3]

Soon after, "Operation Bluebird" was created by fans, supporting the Zero Escape series, posting images of their Zero Escape collection, often with a message supporting Zero Escape 3.[4]

Kotaro Uchikoshi posted on February 17, 2014 "That matters are now under consideration".

During a week-long stretch from June 15-22, 2015, this game was the most anticipated game in the world according to fan voting on Most Anticipated Games.[5]

Zero Escape 3 was officially announced at Anime Expo 2015 on July 3.[6] A press release revealed the title for the game, Zero Time Dilemma.[7] Uchikoshi said that without fan support after 999, both Virtue's Last Reward and Zero Time Dilemma would have likely not been made.

Uchikoshi stated that both the Japanese and the North American versions are being developed simultaneously and that both games will be released in Summer 2016.


To be written.

3DS, Vita and PC differences

Unlike Virtue's Last Reward, it has been strongly implied that the 3DS version of the game won't have 3D support.(refer to Q7)

The differences in graphics are noticeably more detailed in the Vita version.[4] The Vita version has trophies.

It is unknown if the PC version will feature achievements.



Sigma lost his arms and an eye trying to save a "woman".

  • A teaser site under the name of ran from March 18th, 2015 to July 3rd, 2015. During its run, words related to the game were added once or twice a week. How these words are related is currently unknown. Some of these words were presented during the game's announcement at Anime Expo 2015 and have appeared in the the game's trailers and achievement leaks.
  • It will answer the unsolved mysteries left from the previous titles.[8] It promises to solve the mysteries of Virtue's Last Reward, but it may not solve all of the mysteries of 999.
  • Sigma will lose both his arms and his right eye trying to save a "woman" (who she is currently unknown, but it may be Diana or Mira) in at least one of the endings.
  • What happened to Light Field, Aoi Kurashiki, Seven, Hazuki Kashiwabara, and Gentarou Hongou after the events of 999 will be revealed by Akane and Junpei.[1]
  • Sigma and Phi won't be a romantic couple. (Source: VLR Answers, 24)
  • More information about Free the Soul will be revealed. (Source: VLR Answers, 56)
  • The game will be more similar to 999 than VLR in terms of tone and will have a darker story.[9]
  • The three protagonists know nothing, so they'll learn about the past games through dialogue. This makes the game good as a standalone game or as the final game of Zero Escape.[8] However, playing the previous two games will enhance the experience, in the same way Virtue's Last Reward is enhanced by playing 999.
  • "Dio" will probably appear, but "not as the man we know".[10]
  • Moral elements "will be the main theme" of the game. "Your way of thinking, values, virtues will be intensely [shaken] during this game," Uchikoshi said. "This game is even more philosophical than the past volumes. Of course it'll be entertaining too!"[11]
  • Phi's background may be revealed. (Source: VLR secret archives)
  • Dashiell Gordain's name will not be mentioned, but by the end of the game, we will understand more about him. (Source: Uchikoshi's twitter)
  • The game will focus on choices that will force players to have to choose between gaining their freedom or maintaining their humanity. It also mentions that an age of ruin is nearby. (Source:
  • The participants will each be labeled with a number. (Source: Artwork)



Diana wearing a bracelet.

  • The art style of the characters is a mixture of the previous two games. In 999, they were 2D anime with black outlines. In Virtue's Last Reward, they were fully 3D with no black outlines. In Zero Time Dilemma, they are fully 3D with black outlines, creating a cel-shaded look.
  • The game's plot took Uchikoshi about a year to write.
  • Exclusively in the United States, there will be a limited edition pre-order bracelet watch.
  • This is the first game in the series in which both the American and Japanese versions are being developed at the same time, the second Zero Escape game to be released in Europe, and the first Zero Escape game to be released outside of Japan first.
  • Sigma was intended to be the sole protagonist, but that was changed early in the game's development. Uchikoshi felt that putting him back in his "Virtue's Last Reward state" would be bad writing.
  • Uchikoshi had planned to ask Kinu Nishimura to return as character designer, but once he hammered out how Zero Time Dilemma would differ from the past games, he decided to ask Rui Tomono. This was also because they needed to make the backgrounds and characters more cinematic.
  • The development team aimed to make the event scenes feel like a drama was being watched.
  • This is the first game in the Zero Escape series to have multiple playable characters.

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2
  8. 8.0 8.1 Famitsu, March edition





NOTE: For organizational purposes, please do NOT post images of characters in this gallery. Instead, please check their respective galleries.

Start a Discussion Discussions about Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma


    113 messages
    • As Uchi was talking about, they've released so much ifno about the game now that it is getting into spoiler territory that could lower the g...
    • I think that we should have the wiki be as spoiler free as possible.
  • Who is Phi?

    28 messages
    • I think Phi became a part of Crash Keys after the events of VLR, but not before.
    • It could be possible, but Phi hasn't seen Akane as of VLR.

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