Peter Triezenberg
Zero Escape Creator Spills the Beans on Lingering VLR Mysteries
Needless to say, major spoilers within.
08.16.16 - 9:01 PM

Zero Escape is one of the most story-dense video game series of all time, with each subsequent entry adding more and more plot threads to a tangled web of insanity that's delightful to unravel. One of the biggest lingering mysteries left by the second entry, Virtue's Last Reward was the identity of "?", a figure who made an appearance in the secret "Another Time End" unlocked by collecting all of the game's gold files. Seeing as Zero Time Dilemma didn't quite clear things up on that front, series creator Kotaro Uchikoshi took to Twitter to answer some of those lingering plot holes. So, what's the deal with "Another Time End"? Well...

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"First of all, it seems necessary to clear up the misunderstanding about Kyle and "?". So-called "? END/Another Time End" was added as anomalistic irregular bonus. That was a kind of 'afterword' written in a conversational format. In that scenario there was no meaning to supplement main story. That was a story in higher realities/dimensions and metafiction. That is not connected to main story time-sequentially. Therefore that is not canon."

Uchikoshi went on to say: "Main story of VLR ends in the hiding place of Crash Keys on April 13 in 2029. When young Sigma saw the explosion through the window. That's the ending as canon of VLR." Apparently, the inclusion of "Another Time End" was at least a partial response to the 2011 Touhou earthquake, and was meant to give a more uplifting and hopeful secret to those who were willing to collect all of the Gold Files. "I think I made two mistakes in VLR. 1: I added the voices in 'Another Time End' in the international version. 2: In the flowchart, I put 'Another Time End' on the place after/below Phi End. For these reasons, many players misunderstood as if 'Another Time End' is canon. I really regret that."

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Well, that's one mystery solved. But what about the identity of the mysterious "?", who remained anonymous throughout "Another Time End"? Uchikoshi has an answer for that as well, while also encouraging fans to make their own theories. "It goes without saying that what is the identity of '?'. Itís as many players are presuming. At least, I wrote 'Another Time End' in VLR with the intention of it. Also there is no doubt that '?' intervened in ZTD. In order to imply that, the ability of Mind Hack by Delta was set to resemble the things that '?í can do. You can choose one you like from the following 3 theories. The character did it or Delta did it or '?' did it. The choice is yours."

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So there you have it. Are you satisfied with Uchikoshi's answers? Let us know on the boards, and be sure to check out Robert Steinman's review of Zero Time Dilemma while you're at it.