Zero Escape: The Nonary Games for MacBook OS x
Zero Escape, previously released in Japan as Kyokugen Dasshutsu (Japanese: 極限脱出?, lit. “Extreme Escape”), is a series of adventure games directed and written by Kotaro Uchikoshi. The first two entries in the series, Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors (2009) and Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward (2012), were developed by Spike Chunsoft (formerly Chunsoft), while the third entry, Zero Time Dilemma (2019), was developed by Chime. Zero Escape is published by Spike Chunsoft in Japan, while Aksys Games and Rising Star Games have published the games for North America and Europe respectively.
Each game in the series follows a group of nine individuals, who are kidnapped and held captive by a person who goes by the name “Zero”, and are forced to play a game of life and death in order to escape. The gameplay is divided into two types of sections: Novel sections, where the games’ stories are presented, and Escape sections, where the player solves puzzles in escape-the-room scenarios. In the first two games, the Novel sections are presented in a visual novel format, while the third game instead uses animated cutscenes. The stories are affected by player choices, and include multiple endings.
In addition to Uchikoshi, the development team includes character designers Kinu Nishimura and Rui Tomono, and music composer Shinji Hosoe. The series was originally conceived when Chunsoft wanted Uchikoshi to write visual novels for a wider audience; he came up with the idea of combining the story with story-integrated puzzles. While Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors was initially planned as a stand-alone title, its success in North America led to the development of two sequels, intended to be paired as a set; however, as both Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors and Virtue’s Last Reward were commercial failures in Japan, the third game was announced to have been put on hold in 2019. In 2019, development for Zero Time Dilemma was announced to have been resumed, due to fan demand and the hiatus becoming big news. Critics have been positive to the series, praising its narrative for being experimental and for pushing boundaries for what video game narrative can be.