Anime Expo may mainly be about Japanese anime, as the title suggests, but it’s also played host to some pretty big Japanese video game announcements and showcases this year. Among these announcements however, it’s unlikely that any could match the fan excitement centering around the long-awaited Zero Escape: Volume 3 being green-lit and officially on the way, at long last!
The announcement came on the heels of a countdown clock originally uploaded by the series’ North American publisher, Aksys Games on their personal website during this past March. The clock counted down to the time of Anime Expo, where Aksys formally announced the long-demanded threequel at their panel. This was met with high enthusiasm, particularly after a Western fan campaign, Operation Bluebird, was put together online to petition for the planned third entry in the Zero Escape series. This campaign was meant to raise awareness and demand, and came about in response to the series’ creator, Kotaro Uchikoshi claiming that Zero Escape: Volume 3 was being put on indefinite hold due to the poor sales of the series’ nonetheless well-regarded second chapter, 2012’s Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward.
Unlike prior entries, the North American release of Zero Escape: Volume 3, which will probably be re-titled by the time it comes to retail and digital storefronts, is being developed simultaneously with the Japanese version. This means that the North American version and Japanese version will launch around the same time, specifically, in early 2016, which was explicitly confirmed as the North American release window, at the very least.
Regardless, Zero Escape: Volume 3, as with the previous Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward, is in development for Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita. While it was originally planned as an interquel to the first and second games, it now seems to have been revised as a sequel to Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward, according to Aksys’ announcement. The original game in the series, 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, originally released exclusively for Nintendo DS in 2010, though received a gameplay-lite, story-focused port of sorts on iOS in 2014. Like its sequel, it was immensely well-received, particularly in regards to its story, despite being a cult game that wasn’t a huge seller, particularly not in the West.
Both Zero Escape games are virtual novels that feature branching storylines, and rely on escape-the-room puzzles to drive gameplay, with the second game also featuring a mechanic that allows you to support or betray those trapped with you. The iOS port of 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors removed the escape-the-room puzzles however, and was a pure story experience, largely serving as a way to catch up players of Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward that were unable to secure a limited-run copy of the original DS release.
Plot and gameplay details for Zero Escape: Volume 3 are unknown at this point, though it’s pretty likely that the game will be showcased in greater detail later in the year, no doubt at Tokyo Game Show this September. Regardless, keep tracking Eggplante for all news and updates on Zero Escape.