So, what's it going to be? Will you choose to Ally? Or to Betray?
Will you prove your virtue and choose "Ally"? Or will you choose "Betray" and send your allies to their last reward?
Virtue's Last Rewardnote (Kyokugen Dasshutsu ADV: Zennin Shibou Desu; lit. "Extreme Escape Adventure: Good People Die / I Want To Be A Good Person") is a Visual Novel for the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita, and the sequel to the DS's Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors. It was released in February 2012 in Japan, was released October 23rd in America, and November 2012 in Europe, courtesy of Rising Star Games.An average college student called Sigma awakens inside an elevator, finding himself trapped with a strange girl named Phi who somehow knows him. Working together to escape the room, Sigma and Phi discover that along with seven other victims, they have been kidnapped, trapped inside a large warehouse and forced to play the "Nonary Game: Ambidex Edition" by an A.I. program calling itself "Zero III".As with 999, each player has a numbered bracelet attached to their wrist and will be killed if they break the rules. However, the "Ambidex Edition" has a twist: to escape the warehouse, the nine players must accumulate points by splitting into teams of three (further divided into two sub-teams, a duo and a single) and completing deadly challenges. Nine points will grant a player their freedom, but losing all their points will reward a player with death. Reminiscent of the Prisoner's Dilemma, a sub-team can choose to betray their partnered sub-team in order to steal points from them, but if both sub-teams choose "Betray" then neither gain anything. Furthermore, the exit door will only open once, regardless of how many players have enough points to leave.Check out the trailer here. There is also a promo anime for the game over here subtitled, or here dubbed. While the American edition has both Japanese and English voice tracks available, the European edition has only the Japanese voice track.Be warned that like 999, this game is a minefield of spoilers, so do not read ahead if you're spoiler-averse.
Quark, a boy ten or so years old, tries to kill himself in practically every timeline thanks to the mind-altering disease Radical-6, a scene many players find difficult to watch.
In a flashback, Quark and Tenmyouji once got into a fight causing the former to run away. Tenmyouji went to search for him and nearly got himself killed due to a fever; had he died, Quark would become an orphan again.
Aerith and Bob: The cast includes characters with Awesome McCool Names like Sigma, Phi, Quark, Tenmyouji and K... but also Alice, Luna, and Dio. And unlike the last game, most of the players are not using fake/code names.
After the End: The game takes place several decades after the Radical-6 plague outbreak and a subsequent world-ending explosions on Earth, which is implied to now be a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
While the player is controlling Sigma, there are usually at least two other teams off solving puzzles and investigating rooms.
In the path to the Golden Ending, Sigma also goes back in time to input the password to the elevator safe so his past self can escape earlier than usual. Phi will actually berate you if you try to do the puzzle again.
Alternate Universe: Some of the characters suggest time travel works on a "many-worlds" system, meaning the routes in which characters died or went crazy still exist, and even if Dr. Klim stops the Radical-6 incident, the players of this game will still be stuck in their current Bad Future.
Altum Videtur: Several Latin phrases make appearances in the game:
Phi's brooch says Elapsam semel occasionem non ipse potest Iuppiter reprehendere (Not even Jupiter can reclaim a lost opportunity.)
Also spoken by Phi: "Acta est fabula, plaudite!" (The play has ended, applaud!)
On the tombstone in the garden: Tu fui, ego eris. (What you are, I was; what I am, you will be.)
Memento mori (Remember death) is part of the message on the wall of the Floor B warehouse.
The journal found in the Laboratory is entirely written in Latin. Most of the characters can't read it, but Phi is able to translate one important passage.
Always Close: For some reason, Sigma almost always feels he needs to wait until the last second to input his AB Game vote. Sigma eventually exploits this to realize other characters are inexplicably changing their cooperate/betray decisions depending entirely on what he chose.
Anti-Frustration Features: Since the game has multiple endings based on past choices, you're going to want to revisit those previously played portions of the game to see them all. The "Flow" chart allows you to instantly jump to any previously played pivotal point in the game, such as when choosing "Ally" or "Betray" in an AB Game. Jumping back to past moments also means having to go through several minutes of dialogue again, but the game alleviates the tediousness by giving the player two extra dialogue options: AUTO which plays dialogue at normal speeds and keeps going without player input. And SKIP which blazes through the dialogue at lightning speeds, turning 20 minutes of spoken dialogue into 20 seconds. A bonus for the SKIP option; it only skips previously played dialogue depending on the situation. For example: Depending on if someone was betrayed or allied, their subsequent dialogue will change, but much of the in between dialogue from other characters is the same no matter what. So the SKIP option will only blaze through the "generic" dialogue and return to normal speed at the "new" dialogue.
Antimatter: Antimatter rockets figure in the Mars mission backstory, and the world was devastated after 18 antimatter generator plants were detonated in 2029. The bombs Dio plants also use antimatter charges.
Arc Number: Like in the first game, the numbers 3 and 9 are all over the place.
There are various 9s in the game's rules
There are nine images of a lion eating the sun.
Arc Welding: The in-game secret files reveal that Gentarou Hongou, aka Ace, was a member of Free the Soul, and that Cradle Pharmaceutical and his experiments with the morphogenetic field were funded by the cult. The symbol on the robes Snake was forced to wear in 999 is also used as Free the Soul's coat of arms.
"Memento mori, If the nineth (sic) lion ate the sun." It's instructions for Sigma to use the ID and password he gained from K and Luna's deaths in previous timelines when he sees the ninth image of "a lion eating the sun" in order to gain access to the Director's office.
Actually the ninth image would be the computer in the Q room, where you had to use the ID and password from a card off Akane's body. So specifically the death here would be hers.
The phrase itself is also an anagram of the true arc phrase - "The man on the moon rules the infinite time."
"Tu fui, ego eris." ("I was you, you will be me.") A message from Zero Sr. to Sigma, hinting at his true identity.
Dio is a fourth generation clone of Left, the dead sibling of the enigmatic leader of Free the Soul.
Art Shift: The first part of the "END or BEGINNING" epilogue uses the same art style from 999.
Author Appeal: The secret files in the Crew Quarters imply that Sigma's obsession with swimsuits is derived from the story's author. There are also a few promotional images for the game of Phi◊, Clover◊, and Luna◊ in swimsuits.
Bad Future: A massive portion of the human race died and Earth was plunged into nuclear winter following the outbreak of Radical-6 and the destruction of the world's eighteen anti-matter power generators on April 13, 2029.
Berserk Button: Every other character will turn on you if you Betray anyone to obtain 9 points outside of one specific ending or appear to be a sleeper agent for Zero.
Big Bad Friend: One of the 9 players is the mastermind behind the AB game, Zero II. It turns out that while it is technically Sigma, it's a future version of him, whose body the consciousness of the present day Sigma was inhabiting.
Big Bad Wannabe: Dio is easily caught of guard and tricked in many of the routes, despite being a terrorist member of Free the Soul there to kill you all.
Big Eater: Phi stuffs herself when exploring the Pantry with K.
Bigger Bad: Brother, the leader of Free The Soul, is the one who sent Dio to stop the AB Project from succeeding. However, he only appears in a flashback with his face obscured.
Body Horror: Sigma has issues with his suddenly, and unexpectedly, prosthetic arms, artificial skin or otherwise, and becomes very worried at he might be a robot without knowing about it. Then when he uses his knowledge of his artificial arms to save himself in another route... by crushing one to a pulp with a massive door. Then with the fact that he's suddenly a 67 year old man with only one eye. And then being back in his 22 year old body... immediately after getting new artificial arms. They have no skin. Considering you can't see Sigma except during specific circumstances... this body horror is reflected upon the player, as well. Sigma's life is full of this.
It also has foreshadowing for more body horror: in at least one route in the next game, Sigma will lose his arms. Unlike in this game... it's probably going to be shown directly. Likely with screaming.
The game's final escape sequence is exactly the same as its first, although you don't have to solve any puzzles since you already know the safe password.
Much like the end of the first game, one of the player character's last objectives is to save Akane Kurashiki.
At the end of the game when you ask Phi who she is, she gives you the exact same joke/non-answer she gave when she first met Sigma.
Brain Bleach: Sigma and Alice wish they could forget the sight of a grown man in armour (K) riding a big cute bunny like a little kid.
Brick Joke: Checking the safe in the elevator at the beginning will cause Phi to suggest a cracker's inside. When Sigma opens the safe later on in the story, Phi frantically yells "Grab the cracker!" If you missed it, this is a joke on "safecracker".
But Thou Must: You have to go back and create a timeline where you Betray Phi after being told you did earlier in her route. Even Sigma is utterly baffled by being forced to select "Betray".
The final puzzle door that you go through has a "Q" on it, just like the last door in the first game. Q is a homonym for 9 (Kyu) in Japanese.
Tenmyouji: Well, now someone's just being a smartass.
Clover mentions the rumor from the first game that Alice's body water is made of Ice-9, which Alice dismisses as completely absurd.
Upon finding a monitor, Alice concludes that the CPU must be in the monitor. Which is exactly what Lotus of the previous game said an ignorant person would do.
Children Are Innocent: Quark is pretty much the only one not scheming in some way, even though he's a kid raised in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
Cliff Hanger: Most storyline paths will cut to "TO BE CONTINUED" at a particularly tense moment partway through until you collect critical information from other routes.
The game ends just as Sigma and Phi are about to begin their mission to infiltrate the Nevada air force base; a base laden with booby-traps, one of which cost Sigma his eye and both his arms in his previous attempt.
Dio is pretty happy about being a clone of the leader of Free the Soul's dead brother.
K only has issues with his "father" Sigma's Parental Neglect, he couldn't care less he's a clone of the man.
Crapsack World: A virus has annihilated most of humanity, forcing the rest into underground shelters during the short time between the prologue and the beginning of the game
Cultural Translation: The original script contained Japanese cultural terminology, humor and even vocal quirks, leading translators to completely change a great deal of references, idioms and puns in the English version. For instance, The Japanese title of the game has a Double Meaning that literally translates as "Good People Die" / "I Want To Be A Good Person". The translated title changes this to an English only idiom with a slightly different Double Meaning, "Virtue's Last Reward".
Cyanide Pill: Dio uses a suicide pill to kill himself in the Alice Ending so no one can stop the bombs he planted.
He attempts it in the Sigma and Phi routes, but gets stopped by Sigma before he manages to use it.
Deadline News: In the (first) epilogue, we see a newscaster reporting the horrible extent to which the Radical-6 virus has spread before succumbing to it and killing herself.
Dead Man Switch: A Free the Soul terrorist uses a switch that sets off a number of bombs he planted on 30-minute delay if the device is ever more than a meter away from him. The terrorist, Dio, uses it as insurance if he fails to kill everyone in the AB game himself.
Denser And Wackier: Denser and Weirder, anyway. Characters include Andriods, clones in Powered Armor, A 22 year old man in a 67 year old man's body, a secret agent dressed like an egyptian princess, and so on.
Tenmyouji openly discusses "Grandpa Videos" and "Erotic Units" with Quark.
Sigma is also a 22 year old college kid's mind in a 67 year old man's body, which explains a lot about how other characters react to his perversions: As a college kid, it would be unsurprising. As an old man with wild hair and a prosthetic eye? It's downright creepy.
K's mask is removed again in Phi's ending. It's still surprising because there's a different person behind it than the first time.
Driven to Suicide: A virus seems to be present that causes those infected with it to become suicidally insane.
Dwindling Party: One route has more and more people turning up dead until there's practically no one left.
Easter Egg: Several hidden messages can be accessed on the phone in the Crew Quarters by using the numbers 6969, 5309, 3141, and 8008.
The passwords used to deactivate the bombs are actually coded messages. Replace each letter with the one that comes immediately after it in the alphabet to decipher them.
Easy-Mode Mockery: When you switch to Easy mode, your partners will offer you hints for the puzzles. If you do really poorly, they tend to get rather hilariously annoyed at you.
Elaborate Underground Base: The setting for this Nonary Game, complete with a lounge, rec room and infirmary. It's also on the moon.
Enhance Button: While looking at security footage at one point, you're able to inexplicably zoom in and clearly see the numbers on a character's bracelet. Probably justified by being built in the year 2028, where screen resolution should be pretty immense, especially for a highly sophisticated security system.
Everybody's Dead, Dave: In Luna's and Clover's route everybody dies but Sigma, Quark (who is missing) and in Luna's route Phi. It also turns out the Radical-6 pandemic has killed off most of Earth's population.
Evolving Credits: Characters like the The detective who sets up the prisoners dilemma in one route and the Old Woman only appear in the credits of routes where they have a speaking role.
Exact Time to Failure: The watch timers start at the exact same time as the clock on Dio's bombs by pure coincidence.
Fair Play Whodunnit: The file "Knox's Ten Commandments" lists author Ronald Knox's ten rules for writing detective fiction, only for the game gleefully break every single one of those rules. At best, you can use some of the rules as hints for a few of the game's mysteries.
Virtue's Last Reward breaks the letter of every single rule while upholding the spirit of the rules. The intent behind Knox's list is so that writers don't perform an Ass Pull by coming up with impossible crap that wasn't foreshadowed or alluded to, just to get themselves out of corners they wrote themselves into. In VLR, Magic A Is Magic A. Even the weirdest stuff is fully explained and properly foreshadowed.
Fake Difficulty: Well, more like pointless difficulty. You are supposed to play through the rooms on hard with the extra passsword to get the golden files and also unlock the Golden Ending, but nothing is stopping you from beating the level on easy, then just going back and using the same password at the beginning of the level.
Final Exam Boss:The "q" room on the True Phi Path contains all of the most difficult puzzles you've completed in the game as the final test.
Sigma's Verbal Tic. If the subject becomes about cats he can't refrain from making cat-related puns like "You gotta be kitten me." Zero III, being a rabbit, is always making similar rabbit-related puns.
Involving Sigma's true appearance:
The cover art has one of Sigma's eyes glowing and his hair looking oddly gray:
One of Phi's first lines in the game is "Shut up, grandpa!"
When Sigma tells Phi he's 22 years old, Phi shoots back "You must have done a lot of drugs to look like that at 22."
In the Lock 3 route, when Dio escapes through the number 9 door he tells Sigma "Just hurry up and die! You senile old fuck!"
Sigma tells the others that he's a student shooting for a Ph.D. Alice responds, "I guess you've been working on that for quite a while, huh?"
When Sigma goes silent for a moment, Alice shouts "Hey! Did you have a stroke or something?!"
Clover: Give me a "P"! Tenmyouji: Give me an "I"! Sigma: What the hell are you guys doing?
Tenmyouji's odd way of counting:
Sigma: 3, 2, 1... Tenmyouji: 2, 3, 4...
Tenmyouji asks Alice if her body water is Ice-9.
When Clover tells Tenmyouji she doesn't want to go through the Chromatic door with him because he's old, he indignantly shouts "I'll have you know I'm as spry as I was when I was twenty!"
During the first round, when you pair with Alice, he'll say he could never betray Clover.
Quark talks about the time he got something none of the other kids had ever had: a root beer float hinting at the fact such things barely exist anymore after the apocalypse. He also mentions being surprised to learn that one kid he knew had a mom.
G-OLM talks about the Chinese Room, where the player is treated with a picture of a girl trying to decipher letters written in chinese sent to her through the door. The G-OLM then proceeds to compare the Chinese Room story with the GAULEM and how they cannot be told apart from a human being, even if one is right in front of them. The G-OLM utters: "See? Right in the middle of—" before being deactivated as if to prevent it from revealing who was a GAULEM. Now, look at the girl from the Chinese Room story. Doesn't she look a bit like Luna?.
Zero III refers to Clover as "Cleaver" a nickname only Akane could still know, hinting at her involvement in the newest Nonary Game.
The graffiti found in the warehouse.
"Memento mori, If the nineth (sic) lion ate the sun." anagram: "The man on the moon rules the infinite time."
"Two milkmen, go comedy." anagram: "welcome to my kingdom.", "Two Klim men."
The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: The "memo" feature is called "Brain Memory." It allows you to store data, hand written onto the screen. One easily-overlooked "feature" of Brain Memory is that every time you jump, the information in there gets more and more distorted, and if you save information on the screen across enough jumps it may become unreadable. This is because, although Sigma has photographic memory, he loses information when he jumps.
Fun with Acronyms: GAULEM stands for "General-purpose AUtonomous Labor Electronic Machine." G-OLMopines that the full name is silly and the creators probably just wanted an acronym that sounded like "Golem."
Game-Breaking Bug: In both the 3DS & Vita versions, some of the puzzle rooms like the Pressure Exchange Chamber can freeze up the system, forcing a hard reset. If you save your game in a room when it glitches, your whole save file can become corrupted too. Luckily, the second part can be avoided by only saving during the novel portions of the game.
Golden Ending: Phi's True End, which is reached by clearing almost every other path in the game. In it, Akane is saved, the bombs are successfully defused, Dio is captured, and everyone survives.
Hair-Raising Hare: Zero III, a creepy digital rabbit avatar who facilitates the events of the life and death Nonary Game this time around.
Human Popsicle: Cryogenic freezing exists, and can be used to preserve victims of disease until they can be properly treated. It's also used to get Clover, Alice and Phi into the Nonary Game without worrying about them dying from Radical-6 or old age.
I Never Said It Was Poison: In Sigma's route, Dio angrily insists that he doesn't know anything about who the Myrmidons are, nor some old fart named Brother, despite Sigma not saying anything about the Myrmidons being people or Brother's age.
Interface Spoiler: The player can call up the flowchart of events at any time and see which decisions lead to new scenes. However, the Golden Endingand the white chromatic doors don't appear on the flowchart until the player unlocks them.
Getting the Gold Files early will reveal concepts before they are explained in the game.
Ironic Echo: Dio at one point defends himself after saying Quark is likely dead by stating "What? I'm just saying it's a possibility." Later on, when Phi accuses Dio of killing Alice and Luna, she retorts to his objections with "What? I'm just saying it's a possibility" too.
Knockout Gas: As in 999, Zero used traps and grenades containing an aerosol version of the liquid drug in each player's bracelets, Soporil, to incapacitate and capture each victim.
Kill 'em All: Everyone dies in a number of the game over scenarios in Phi's route, Clover, Alice and Sigma's routes end with everyone dead as well.
Killer Rabbit: Though Zero III appears as a cute little bunny avatar, he still has the power to kill you if you don't follow the Nonary Game's rules.
Sigma: Clover, try pulling that lever. Clover: Why do I have to do it? Sigma: It might be dangerous. I was hoping you could just wrap your hands around it and give it a good jerk. It is kinda big, but I'm sure you can handle it. Just...be gentle. Clover: Uh... This doesn't seem like appropriate workplace behaviour. You're kinda grossing me out. Sigma: I know you probably still think of yourself as just a girl, but you've become a woman some- Clover: You're not making it any better! Why don't you do it?! Sigma: If you can't take it, then maybe Luna can. Have you done this before? You just start at the base and work your way up, then give it a good tug once you get to the top. Luna: ...Wh-What? Clover: What is wrong with you?! If you're so desperate to give that lever a good time why don't you do it yourself! Just leave me and Luna out of your sick fantasies, you creep! Sigma: Hmph. Fine. But I won't like it. Clover: Oh... Luna: One of the doors opened. Hmm, we might as well go through it. Sigma: Maybe we should try flipping it one more time, though... I think you could actually manage with just one hand, Clover. Just do it real fast, it'll only take one second. Just up and down once... Clover: Ugh. You are disgusting.
Late Arrival Spoiler: Somebody who is currently playing 999 and sees the promotional art for VLR can probably assume that Clover survives the first game, and isn't the original Zero.
Left Hanging: Akane can't and Phi won't tell you what happened in the Mars Simulation incident that caused the outbreak of Radical-6, making it a Sequel Hook for the third game in the series.
Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In the "Another Time END" epilogue, you play as an unknown consciousness in Kyle's body that Akane and Phi seem to imply actually is the player of 999 and VLR.
Lighter and Softer: The sequel is less gory than its predecessor, with the bracelets injecting a poison instead of making people blow up, and overall there is far less endings which end up in a total slaughter. Word of God revealed that the higher ups gave him the order to make the sequel more light (question n°71 of the Q&A), since they believed the scary and gory nature of 999 led to the poor sales of the title. Word of God also reveals that he was not happy about being forced to tone down these aspects of the game. The bleakness of the setting may be a part of that.
Look Behind You: Phi tells Dio something is behind him and then runs for the elevator by herself to keep him out of the AB room. Dio actually falls for it.
In mathematics, the Greek letter sigma is used to denote "summation", hinting at Sigma's ability to accumulate memories from alternate timelines.
"K" is a standard "placeholder" variable used in summation functions hinting at the real K's identity as Sigma's clone "son".
Phi is another Greek letter; of its many uses in math, the most notable is standing for the empty set.note Okay, okay, the symbol Ø isn't REALLY a phi (it's derived from the Scandinavian slashed O), but they're very similar. Older math books sometimes used phi for ease of typesetting.Phi remains a total mystery even in the true ending. The author rubs it in on the Answers page: when asked "Could you give us hints about Phi?", he simply answers "Φ".
Mental Time Travel: Phi and Sigma can both transfer their conciousnesses into the past and future. Training them to use this ability is the entire point behind the new Nonary Game.
Mind Screwdriver: This game does give a far less crazy explanation for apparent ancient Egyptian princess Alice catching a ride with you at the end of 999. She's actually just a Department of Defense anti-terrorism agent with odd taste in clothing.
END or BEGINNING: An epilogue unlocked after the Final True End where Sigma talks with Young!Akane on the day the world ended 45 years ago.
Another Time END: A Sequel Hook epilogue unlocked after clearing every puzzle room on Hard Where an unknown conciousness in Kyle Klim's body talks with Old!Akane about the Mars testing facility incident.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Dio never triggers the bombs on his own accord, and Tenmyouji even bluffs him out of doing it in multiple ending paths. They only go off on a automatic timer once the party takes the detonator away from him.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: The bombs would go off in every timeline if Dio didn't insist on giving away one of the passcodes to taunt you.
Nobody Poops: Nobody seems to get hungry or need to use the bathroom during the course of the game.
Non-Standard Game Over: The 11 GAME OVER "Bad End" outcomes. failing to solve certain puzzles in Alice, Phi, and Sigma's route also results in smaller non-standard game over scenes.
Off Model: During Sigma's face reveal, the reflection of his face on the pond has his artificial eye on the wrong eye. While the artificial eye is supposed to be on Sigma's right eye, the reflection should look like it's on his left eye.
Obviously Evil: Dio is a scumbag, votes "Betray" at every opportunity, and it becomes clear he's done something heinous the longer the game goes on. As it turns out, he's a terrorist member of Free the Soul, and he either killed Akane or he planted bombs all over the facility to kill everyone.
Omega Ending: In order to get the Final True Ending you need: the codes from the Dio, Tenmyouji, Sigma, and Alice paths to defuse all four bombs; the ID card from Quark's path to solve the one-headed lion mystery of room Q. Plus you need to have seen Phi's bad ending once to break Lock 08, Alice's ending to break Lock 09, and Luna's ending to break Lock 10. To get Luna's ending, you also need to have gotten key #1 from Sigma's path and key #2 from K's path to solve a two-headed lion mystery. To get Sigma's ending, you need to have gotten the Alice ending, which in turn requires the Dio ending, and to get K's ending you need to have gotten Clover's.
Quark gets sick with Radical-6 and needs to be sedated, or goes missing.
Alice succumbs to Radical-6 and kills herself. Even if you stop her, she'll burst into the room and kill herself later on anyway.
Akane gets killed. Preventing this re-occuring event eventually becomes a major plot point.
Ontological Mystery: As before, nine strangers are dumped in a series of puzzle rooms for no apparent purpose, in a game that could very well kill them all. Even 999 players will be stumped as to the purpose of this Nonary Game (even Clover, in-universe), because the ones who set up the last Nonary Game already achieved all their goals. Nobody's even sure what it's like outside the building, where the building is, or what day or time it is.
The Plague: Radical-6, which makes those infected with it become suicidally insane.
Playing The Player: The main twist reveals that the player's ability to explore story branches is actually an ability Sigma has.
Sigma being an old man for the bulk of the game is a big one aimed at Japanese gamers. The creator lamented quite a bit in interviews that he couldn't use more mature characters as player characters because Japanese gamers having in his opinion a rather narrow-minded look at what makes a good player character. He even mentioned at least once that he had intended the characters to be older in 999. Is it really surprising that he pulled this kind of twist?
Posthumous Character: The Old Woman you find dead early on in the game ends up featuring heavily in the story as she turns out to be K's mother figure, one of the main facilitators of newest game, and Akane / June / Zero from 999. Sigma also ends up preventing her death in the path to the Golden Ending.
Powerof Trust: If everybody just committed to trusting each other and always chose Ally, everybody would be able to leave after playing 3 rounds of the AB game. This actually happens in the last 3 rounds of the AB game in Phi's ending, which allows everybody but Dio to escape.
Sigma and Phi take turns doing this to one another, mostly just to annoy each other.
Zero III goes out of his way to work in a rabbit or vegetable-related pun in every sentence.
Red Herring: A number of potential solutions for Plot-Lock 3 are shown in other timelines, including using the cryogenic pods and tinfoil to remove the bracelets, using a defibrilator in the facility, or finding the injection gun that can counteract the poison in the bracelets. The actual solution comes from learning that Sigma has robotic arms.
Religion of Evil: Free The Soul is a religious cult that is responsible for the outbreak of Radical-6, a virus that effectively wiped out most of the human race and sent the world into an apocalyptic future, and sent Dio to kill everyone involved with the AB Project.
Robotic Reveal:Luna, just after the lock on her path. Also subverted in the Sigma ending - he turns out to be a human with cybernetic arms.
Sadistic Choice: In Alice's route, you have to choose whether to give Quark or Alice your one dose of Radical-6 cure, Axelavir, before they kill themselves. Unless you've found the replicator in the Laboratory, in which case Sigma can Take a Third Option and save them both.
Samus Is a Girl: In Sigma, Alice, and Phi's routes, Akane is the one in K's masculine looking armor.
Save Scumming: A form of this forms a key gameplay mechanic and plot point.
School Swimsuit: In the Japanese version, Sigma's swimsuit obsession is actually a school swimsuit obsession. Presumably this is due to Author Appeal.
Schrödinger's Cat: Discussed. Very late in the game, Akane is explicitly referred to as such.
Schrödinger's Gun: Used and discussed. A few characters inexplicably change their cooperate/betray decisions depending on what the player chooses at the same time. After a while, Sigma starts to notice this as you replay sections. This is eventually used to open a scenario lock, as seeing the Game Over where you betray Phi and she cooperates is what's needed to stop her from leaving in the alternate choice where you cooperate and she betrays you.
Sigma himself is subjected to the Schrodinger's Cat effect: he is forced to remove his memory of his past in order to make dramatic changes to his future.
Schrödinger's Question: Phi has Sigma guess what way a die will come up. He's always right no matter what you pick..
Also applies the game of rock paper scissors you have before the first AB game against Tenmyouji.
Sdrawkcab Name: Luna's login password for the Director's Office is MIL KEV OLI. It's "I LOVE KLIM" backwards; it turns out Sigma's future self's last name is Klim, and Luna has unrequited romantic feelings for him.
Sequel Escalation: Virtue's Last Reward is 3 to 4 times the length as 999, has nearly 5 times as many endings, more unique story branches, a deadlier Nonary game, much bigger stakes behind it, and character voice-acting.
Sequel Hook: The game ends with Akane asking you to help Sigma and Phi finally prevent the incident at the "trap filled" Nevada Mars Test Site that caused the Radical-6 virus outbreak.
Ship Sinking: This game shows in the timeline Sigma and Phi failed to stop the Radical-6 outbreak, Junpei and Akane never end up together.
Word of God has explicitly stated that Sigma and Phi will never be in a romantic relationship.
Shmuck Bait: Think you can safely vote after your opponent is put to sleep with Soporil due to their Radical-6 going haywire? Especially if you have 1 BP left? Surely you can just choose "ally", right? Well...
Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Luna, the orange-haired woman, shares a lot of mannerisms with Akane, while Phi looks a lot like a gender-bent Santa. Alice is also a mysterious Stripperiffic woman like Lotus, K is an amnesiac like Seven, and Dio wears a princely getup like Snake.
Take a Third Option: You can do this on Alice's route, but only if you've previously escaped from the Laboratory at least once in Quark's route. Specifically, both Alice and Quark catch Radical-6, a disease that eventually makes its victims commit suicide. A bottle of Axelavir is discovered that can cure it, but there's only enough for either Alice or Quark, but not both. For a moment it looks like you have to choose who will live and who will die...until Sigma suddenly "remembers" that the laboratory has an IG Replicator that can replicate Immunoglobin, which in turn can be used to manufacture a second dose of Axelavir so you can save both Alice and Quark.
Talking Is a Free Action: Mostly averted. Sometimes it's stretched, a bit, for example, the Number Nine door is only supposed to be open for nine seconds but sometimes the character leaving gets a bit longer than that to monologue. However, in any other given time-sensitive situation, the characters will often be racing against the clock and a few times it turns out that having a conversation during a countdown is a bad idea. One ending, where Sigma gets a medical examination from Luna right in the middle of searching for a bomb...only gives him enough time to confirm his medical status before everyone explodes.
Temporal Paradox: Subverted, according to Wordof God. It seems that technically, the deactivation code for Bomb #01 doesn't really originate from anywhere because Dio never tells it to anyone, but Zero Sr. does, and Zero Sr. is Sigma, meaning he would learn from "himself". What actually happened is that Akane hacked Bomb #01 and changed its password, which is how Zero Sr. knew of it. Incidentally (refer to Easter Egg), the password for that bomb is one letter away from the name of Akane's organization.
Thanatos Gambit: Akane is acutely aware of the fact that some of the game's timelines will result in the death of herself and several others.
Theme Song Reveal: If you haven't figured out the identity of the old woman by the time you finish Luna's route, the sound of Morphogenetic Sorrow playing over Luna explaining her orders and the old woman's death will tune you in.
Theme Tune Cameo: In the promo anime, Sigma is listening to the game's theme song on the radio when he's kidnapped.
The Time Traveller's Dilemma: Although the goal of the AB project is to prevent the release of the Radical-6 virus, the timelines in which Sigma and Phi failed to do so still exist. Phi talks to you about it briefly as part of the Multi-World Interpretation, and Tenmyoji and Quark talk about it during the Golden Ending, and some ethical implications thereof.
Timey-Wimey Ball: Akane's explanation of Sigma's necessary time-jumps is more of a Timey-Wimey Diagram; and the end of it splits in two.
Tomato in the Mirror: Double Subverted. At one point Sigma is implied to be a robot after his hand is cut and he begins to bleed white. This is helped by an earlier implication that one of the players is an android. Eventually this is revealed to be false, he just has cybernetic arms. Later, it is revealed that Sigma is Zero, although due to his consciousness travelling through time, he remains unaware until near the end. Within the game, Sigma's face is never actually shown outside of the game's introduction, leading the player to believe that he's a college age student, and not the 67 year old he's shown to be.
Tomato Surprise: Numerous facts about the setting are kept from the player, despite many of the characters being aware of them.
The plot actually occurs not in December 2028, but 45 years later. Everyone other than Sigma, Clover, Alice, and maybe Phi is aware of this.
The events of the game actually occur on the Moon. About half the cast is aware of this.
Sigma is in the body of a 67 year old man. Everyone other than the player and Sigma is aware of this.
Trailers Always Spoil: Averted. Unlike the actual game, the promo anime is an entirely non-canon retelling of events by Sigma, who believes himself to be a 22-year-old college student rather than the 67-year-old man he actually is in the game.
Translation Convention: Even though Clover and Tenmyouji aren't westerners, they don't seem to have trouble communicating with everyone else. Justified in that Clover and Tenmyouji were already fluent in English given their backgrounds.
Twenty Minutes into the Future: The game opens in 2028 and involves issues of nuclear and biological warfare that feature heavily in 21st-century fiction.
Unreliable Narrator: Whoever wrote the secret files often comes across this way, repeatedly joking with the reader and contradicting themselves in a single entry.
Verbal Tic: Sigma apparently has one of these. Whenever he sees or starts talking about cats, he starts putting practically every cat-based pun he can into his speech. Yes, it hiss as bad as howl that. The other characters are re-purr-tedly annoyed by it. We're not kitten.
Video Game Cruelty Punishment: A large number of premature bad ends occur if you hit the "betray" lever. On the other hand, there are a couple of times when hitting "betray" is the "right" option (usually when you expect your opponent to also pick "betray," because that protects you from losing points).
Viewers Are Geniuses: This game will expect you to make 2+2 = kumquat a few times with the plot. Even with the secret files, you'll be fitting pieces together to get a full sense of what's going on.
What Could Have Been: CERO bureaucracy aside, there were some concepts Uchikoshi didn't/couldn't slip in such as Dissipative system, Monty Hall problem, Gödel’s incompleteness theorems, Toxoplasmosis, Folie à deux, Capgras delusion, Fregoli delusion, Sally–Anne test, and Project MKUltra.
Tenmyouji: This isn't New Year's Eve in 2028. Today is January 27th.
Sigma: In '29?
Clover: Don't tell me... '30?
Tenmyouji: Still no.
Alice: Then just what year is this?
Tenmyouji: ... It's '74. 2074.
"Well Done, Son!" Guy: K (aka Kyle Klim) views his relationship with Sigma this way. Not only is he wrong, he's instrumental to helping his father save the world.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: Akane could easily be seen as one. Even Ushikochi sometimes talk about her in this manner. She is the explicit mastermind behind every event featured thus far in the playable series, cares very little about casually ruining lives, as well as taking them, when it suits her purposes. She even flat out admits that the people and methods involved in her games matter very little to her and could be achieved in different matters, implying if she cared enough.
What Happened to the Mouse?: You can visit the Gaulem Bay during a route where you went to another puzzle room instead and see that G-OLM isn't there. There was no explanation for this in game. Ushikochi states in the Q&A that he was inside the operation table, and most likely put there by Zero Jr/III.
What the Hell, Hero?: The other characters really let you have it if you vote Betray against certain characters, especially the ones that are incapacitated or otherwise unable to vote. Phi gets so angry at you for Betraying her in one timeline that she decides to screw you over in another... even if you haven't actually done so yet, and even if you only end up betraying her because she betrayed you first, and you're trying to figure out how you can keep her from leaving..
White Void Room: The final puzzle room you unlock resembles this, at first.
World Half Full: As bad as Earth is, Tenmyouji does imply that things are slowly getting better. There is a cure for Radical-6, and the nuclear winter is slowly starting to dissipate.
Year Outside, Hour Inside: Radical-6 does this within the body. Moreover, It is revealed that the entire game took roughly 36 hours instead of the expected 14 or so, and that all the timers were slowed accordingly.
You Bastard: If you're on Clover's route, and you choose "Betray" in Round 2, you'll get a game over, and it plays out like this trope. Specifically, it causes both you and Clover to get 9 BP so you can escape...but in order for that to happen you took advantage of a sedated and thus unable-to-vote Quark, who thus defaulted to "Ally". This basically means you took advantage of a sick little kid to save yourself. Once it's explained to everyone that you pressed the button and not Clover, everyone gets royally pissed off at you, and just to punish you for your cowardice, everyone else charges at you at once, and K in particular actually manages to catch up and pin you to the ground just so you can't leave, and Alice shoves Clover out the door so only Clover will escape and get help for everyone.
Any instance where you betray Luna tends to have this tone as well. She always chooses "ally", and will be utterly heartbroken if you betray her, especially the second time (where she explicitly says she trusts you beforehand) and the third time (where it's a test to see if you still trust her despite her being a robot). The latter instance will lead to her taking the only other survivor and abandoning you in the facility while Zero III berates you for not trusting her.