Virtue's Last Reward places you at the heart of a terrifying mystery, as you awake imprisoned in a strange warehouse. With you in the locked room is Kim, a girl who seems to know you from the past, and elsewhere in the building are seven other unfortunate abductees. All of you are about to be launched into the same nightmare.
In a game where plot is everything, we won't reveal too much, but suffice it to say that your unseen captor has a malevolent sense of humour and an unhealthy taste for gruesome games. On each character's wrist is an electronic bracelet that tracks their performance, keeping count of their score as they attempt to find a way out of the facility. The only way to unlock the doors and open new areas for exploration is by solving mind-bending puzzles, but doing so forces you to confront the most horrifying obstacle of all – a wickedly ingenious game of trust and treachery that can either speed your path to freedom or leave you to die alone in the maze.
Boasting brilliantly complex characters, dark secrets and a story as gripping as any movie or best-selling book, Virtue's Last Reward is rich, rewarding and incredibly fun to play. The only question is: once you get into it, will you ever get out?
Enter the maze
Virtue's Last Reward looks and sounds extraordinary, like a striking, stylish manga comic that you control.
The plot unfolds via hundreds of animated 3D scenes featuring a host of memorable characters and some brilliant dialogue. The cinematic effect is heightened by the frequent movie cutscenes, as polished and exciting as any anime classic. The characters speak in Japanese with English subtitles – which feels all the more authentic and engaging – and the music is perfectly pitched, ramping up the tension as you pick your path through the twisted labyrinth.
The result is complete immersion in the game's unique, story-led experience. Even the controls are streamlined, accessed mostly via an on-screen menu that's designed to keep your focus firmly on the action. Everything – from the log of past encounters to the memo pad, which allows you to make notes via the PS Vita system's touchscreen – is set up to ensure you lose yourself entirely in the plot.
Trust no one
Virtue's Last Reward is a smart game, and for all its violent thrills and spills, it wants to get you thinking.
Transported to a mysterious building, you're set a sinister challenge in the twisted Nonary Game: earn nine bracelet points to win your freedom. These points can be earned by solving puzzles, but the shadowy power behind your incarceration doesn't want to make things too easy.
Whenever you make progress, you must choose either to ally yourself with or to betray another of the Nonary Game's unfortunate players, elsewhere in the facility – and don't forget, your fellow prisoners will be required to make the same choice. If you both choose to ally, you'll each earn two points. If one of you chooses to betray, the betrayer will earn three points and the betrayed will lose two points.
If you both choose to betray, however, no one wins or gains any points. It's a clever spin on a real-life theoretical problem known as the Prisoner's Dilemma, and it makes every moment of Virtue's Last Reward unforgettably tense and exciting – especially when you recall that dropping to zero points will trigger your character's execution by lethal injection. Grisly.
Lucky then, that the game's ingenious Flow system allows you to revisit past actions and follow fate in alternative directions, effectively creating parallel universes in which new decisions lead to new destinies. Be prepared, though: sooner or later these other worlds will start to bleed into one another, leaving you to decipher not only whether you can trust your fellow prisoners, but whether you can trust yourself...