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WARNING: As this is a WMG for Zero Time Dilemma speculation, there will be spoilers for the first two games here. Additionally, all Wild Mass Guessing pages are Spoilers Off, so spoilers for this game are unmarked as well.

    Pre-Release Theories 

Zero Escape 3 Predictions
  • Akane is evil all along. Putting this here because I'm hoping it's NOT true.
    • Jossed. Akane is genuinely well-meaning and not even as manipulative as Uchikoshi painted her to be.

Zero Escape 3 will have a Nonary Game.
The Nonary Game was based on an idea that members of Brother's cult came up with first, but Ace ultimately decided to use it as a way of training Espers. If the cult is behind the outbreak of Radical 6, then it seems possible that they infiltrated the Nevada Test site and set up a Nonary Game with the nine people at the site. And since the nine people at the test site couldn't contact the outside world due to restrictions set in place for emulating the Mars mission no one noticed that the people there were being forced into a Nonary Game.
  • Confirmed. Albeit it's called The Decision Game and works markedly different than previous Nonary Games.
    • And then technically jossed. By nature of its name, the Nonary Game works around having nine participants, and the Decision Game has 10.

Zero Escape 3 will have many returning characters.
Considering the hints dropped in the true ending Clover and Alice will time travel backwards and help out at the Nevada test site. Dio will kind of return by having another clone like him present. Junpei will return because we already know he had something to do with the test site. Naturally Sigma, Phi, and K will return as well. Its also possible that other characters from 999 will return as well.
  • Confirmed. At least 4 characters will return, being Akane, Sigma, Junpei, and Phi.
    • Also, we will know what happened to Lotus, Seven and Snake.
      • Two out of three. No word on Snake, but Lotus is still out there raising her kids, and Seven continues his detective life. Still don't know his name, though...

Akane is actually BROTHER and Santa is the original Left
Also the whole point of the Nonary Game(s) is actually to give Akane the same ability to "Jump" as Sigma and Phi. Akane's brother dies at some point before the world goes to hell and causes her to start Free The Soul. After seeing how fucked up the world is due to her cult, Akane organises the Nonary Game on Rhizome 9 to send Sigma and Phi back in time to save her brother, who was also one of the people who died in the Mars incident. After that Sigma and Phi are brought back she plans to "jump" to this timeline and live out the rest of her life with her brother in a good timeline.
  • There's a problem with the timeline of this theory: you find out in this game that Gentarou Hongou and Cradle Pharmaceutical were funded by Free The Soul, which means that they were active while Akane and Aoi were still alive and playing the second Nonary Game.
  • Jossed. Brother and Akane are not related by blood.

Brother's divine revelation will be significant in the sequel.
It may turn out to have been due to esper activity.
  • Confirmed. Brother "Mind Hacked" other espers who foresaw a nuclear war that wiped out humanity.

Zero Escape 3 will have a final ending of Akane fleeing the law with Junpei in tow, while Sigma and Phi marry.
During Virtue's Last Reward, it is stated that Akane still has feelings for Junpei (That her life was saved by a man she loved, and that she wanted nothing more than to marry him and live a normal life with him). Now, after the events of the second Nonary Game, it's unlikely that she can entirely drop all the charges against her, but she can live as happy a life as possible by having Junpei, who wants nothing more than to be with Akane, follow her around. It's also entirely possible that the Akane that Junpei remembers and cares for still exists. K describes her as girlish in his memories, something that seems to hint at Akane being more normal that she indicates throughout the game.

The second part lies in another note from K's ending, where Akane recounts how Dr. Klim (well, younger Sigma) had fallen in love. While K prefers to believe that the person was her, there is a lot of implication that Sigma and Phi will get more character development together. On the same stream of thought, Sigma's missing arms and eye were to protect Phi in an incident.

  • The second part has been Jossed. Word of God is that Sigma and Phi will never become a couple, and that the woman Sigma saves is someone he met and bonded with at the test site, and that he later based Luna off of her.
  • Jossed. Sigma fell in love with Diana and had twins, one of whom was Phi. He lost his arms and eye trying to disarm a bomb to save Q, Mira and Eric. Junpei proposes to Akane, whether she has to face law enforcement is unknown.

Zero Escape 3 will feature mind swapping and amnesia, real and faked.
Hints in the epilogue and from the creator suggest that the sequel will have quite a few returning characters. However, if these returning characters are also participants in the test site challenge, this makes slightly easier to guess who the player's allies and enemies are. If the possibility of mind-swapping exists, it would be harder to guess who can really be trusted. The epilogue also suggests that Kyle and '?' are not the same person, and '?' is occupying Kyle's body for some reason.

As for the amnesia, it has showed up in the first two games and could serve to cast doubt on how cooperative one of the cast members will be towards the player, since an ally with amnesia may distrust you and be more interested in looking out for themselves. In the timeline where Kyle and '?' switched, the former had not been participating in the Nonary Game and would thus not have recovered from his dose of Soporil, so it is possible that whomever his mind is occupying is amnesiac.

  • Specifically, Akane tells Clover and Alice that she can send them back in time using "Schrodinger's Cat". The most likely way this can work is for someone to create a timeline in which they *didn't* spend all those years in cold sleep - if nobody opens the treatment pod, who's to say that Clover's still inside it? So Zero Escape 3 will include a version of Clover who has no memory of what happened in Virtue's Last Reward because she hasn't lived through it (yet, or ever) - no need for amnesia.
  • The only character (that we know of) that has amnesia is a child. Eric does accuse him of doing... something, but other than that, he seems harmless. In fact, he seems the only sane person on team Q. Not to mention he is the playable character.
    • Confirmed. Players are hit with an amnesia-inducing drug every 90 minutes. Q's amnesia is sort of real, he's a newborn android similar to a Gaulem from the previous game, naturally having a blank-slate memory. Brother's esper ability is mind-reading and short-term possession.

Santa/Aoi, and what he is up to
Santa/Aoi Kurashiki was more or less the other Zero is the second Nonary game of 999. If that's so, where is he for the AB game? Wouldn't he be valuable to Akane to help her with this project? Also, isn't it a little uncanny how much Phi and Santa look alike? There is little to no mention of him, let alone his involvement in the Nonary Game. Isn't it a bit odd how he seems to have just fallen off the radar while Akane is taking the full initiative? Keep in mind that he too was on the run after the second Nonary Game.

  • One possibility that comes to mind: Santa was at the Mars Test Site, and he was one of the ones who didn't make it out alive. This would explain his absence in VLR, and give Akane yet another reason to try to avert the Bad Future. Plus, if he's at the test site, then it would enable possible plot twists where he gets confused for Phi, or the other way around, due to their resemblance.
    • It's very possible he was at the Mars test site and lived but then died along with the billions of other people in the aftermath. Virtue's Last Reward takes place like sixty years after 999 so his absence isn't really that suspicious. He could have just had a heart attack at some point either. What I mean is that the large timeskip means they're free to do whatever they want with Aoi without having to worry about canon.
  • As it turns out, Aoi is working with Akane, but did not join the Dcom project. He's completely irrelevant to the plot and is never actually seen.

Phi's Identity
Phi is actually from the successful timeline where the earth isn't destroyed. That's how she knows to volunteer to be frozen, who to go to, and why she's so essential to stop Radical-6.
  • Furthermore, Alice and Clover both mention that bodies can be sent back in time as well, so Phi could have actually been born and lived in that successful timeline, though it isn't strictly necessary for anything in the game to happen.
  • Largely Jossed. The Golden Ending specifically says that it was older!Phi who went to Alice to be frozen — as in, the Phi who had already experienced the AB Project.
    • Sort of confirmed. Phi is born during the events of the game, during a timeline where there's no Radical-6 outbreak. She's sent back by a transporter to 2008.
      • More accurately, she's sent forward to 2008 after previously being sent back all the way to 1904. Due to the way transporting works in this series, however (it merely creates a clone in the target timeline), her adoptive mother in 2008 is none other than her 104-year-old self.

ZE 3 will have an Assimilation Plot
Considering all the talk of ants, termites and hiveminds.
  • Jossed.

There will be more than one Nonary Game going on in Zero Escape 3.
The ending of VLR suggested that K/Kyle somehow managed to jump back to 2028 despite not existing at that point. This suggests that it might be possible for someone to jump into someone else's body under the right circumstances. Also, Word of God has hinted that we'll find out what happened to some of the other characters from 999 in the Bad Future, suggesting that we'll be revisiting that future and the game won't take place entirely in 2028.

Perhaps one of the big twists in the third game will be that there are two (or more) identical Nonary Games going on at different times and places(one at the test site in Nevada, plus another). The protagonist of that game will end up jumping between the two games at random (maybe without even realizing it at first), allowing for surprise twists when characters act differently than they should because they're actually different people.

  • That does seem pretty interesting. Given the evidence we have for now, the most likely locationss for the Nonary Games would be the Mars Mission Test Site, natch, as well as the Chemical Plant that Alice & the SOIS was planning to attack on Christmas Day.
  • It's been hinted that Kyle can swap consciousnesses with Sigma, as he was originally created to be a spare if something happened to Sigma. So this may be possible.
  • Maybe, maybe not. There's a dog in ZE 3. The characters will use him to pass messages between sections of the facility, via the vents. What this means is unclear.
    • Jossed. There's only one location to the Decision Game.

Brother is Lord Gordain
The symbol on the robes from the first game had what was later revealed to be the symbol of Free The Soul on it. This suggests that Gordain and his compatriots were involved with the cult in some way. It'd be an interesting callback if the ultimate villain of the series turned out to be the creator of the very first Nonary Game. Perhaps Left's death is also tied to the Titanic sinking that Gordain was in.

Of course, Gordain is said to have died back in the 1930's, while Brother is still alive in the 2020s. Of course, Brother was said to be ancient enough to be virtually immobile, and only top members of FTS had ever seen him in person. Plus, Word of God suggests that he'd survived into the Bad Future of 2074 through some sort of psychic shenanigans. Perhaps this means he faked his death at some point, and kept his body alive through suspended animation (maybe with Ice-9) while directing the cult through his psychic abilities.

  • Left either died before or after the sinking of the Titanic in this case; the body was found by police elsewhere. Other than that, Gordain being Brother does make for an interesting theory. Perhaps he used the field to jump into someone else's body in the future (which creates some Nightmare Fuel in that someone else, most likely an innocent, died in Gordain's decrepit old body) or used "Schrodinger's Cat" to transport his body through the field.
    • This isn't the most sound theory: It's said that whoever killed Left bribed the police not to investigate. Gordain was a multi-millionaire, not to mention a LORD. It's unlikely that the police could be bribed off such a high profile murder case.
      • This scenario would occur back when Gordain was young, presumably before he became rich or gained his title.
      • Jossed. Lord Gordain is not mentioned in the game, while Brother's identity is clearly revealed. It is highly unlikely that "Lord Gordain" was an alias of his either, as Brother was only 10 years old when the Titanic sank.

Brother was a participant in one of Gordain/his successors' Nonary Games
Alternatively, perhaps Brother and Left were both participants in one of those first Nonary Games, and Left was one of the unlucky losers to meet his end in the incinerator. It would explain why his murderer was not prosecuted, and it would provide a bit of a parallel to Akane's situation.
  • Partially Jossed, Left was mentioned being found dead & covered in bruises. Hard to be examined by the police when Gordain's games ended with the losers being incinerated.
  • Jossed.

Brother is Ace
  • In-game, he is said to be a supporter of Free the Soul. More importantly, the Myrmidons all share a face, which might be a little jarring to some, but not someone with prosopagnosia who can't differentiate between them anyway. Brother is also the mastermind behind the first Nonary Game.
    • Jossed.

Brother is Green Suit Kid
In the original 999, there are flashbacks to the first Nonary Game, in which you can see Akane, Aoi, Light, and Nona, but being the Nonary Game there are still 5 people who never get introduced, two or three of whom are guys. Given that Brother has the ability to access the morphogenetic field, it's not impossible that he was present in the original Nonary Game, as was his brother. None of the other children shown look like Left, so he was likely in building Q.
  • Not possible. Brother had already established Free The Soul by the time of the First Nonary Game. It's highly unlikely that Hongou would have allowed his messiah be in any danger aboard the sinking ship of the Gigantic. Now, a first generation clone of Left on the other hand...

Brother is going to be a female participant of the third game.
The mission is too important, so Brother has to be directly involved. The female part is just for Gender Misdirection.
  • Jossed. Brother is male.

Brother will use esper powers to make Radical-6 appear on Earth.
Radical-6 is a disease from Mars. There exist another timeline where humanity travels to Mars and astronauts on that mission are infected with Radical-6. It was quickly contained in this timeline since it was on another planet. However, Brother is a very powerful esper and takes advantage of the Mars Mission Test Site. Since it simulated a manned Mars mission, Brother was able to pull astronauts from the future timeline into the test site and infect all of humanity. And how did Brother do it? By creating a Schrodinger's cat scenario and manipulating the perspective of the most powerful esper in the world, the Protagonist of Zero Escape 3. This means that one timeline branch in the third game will be on the Test Site and another timeline branch will actually be on the planet Mars.
  • Jossed. Brother isn't mentioned to have a direct involvement with Radical-6's discovery or development.

The epilogue of VLR does not take place in the Bad Future.
Or, more accurately, it both does and doesn't, thanks to the Schrodinger's Cat effect.

If Sigma and Phi succeed in stopping the Radical 6 outbreak, then where would their consciousness go when the second time jump happened? One theory springs to mind: in the "good future" where the disaster is averted, Sigma and Akane reinact the AB Game to perform the time jump, in order to prevent a time paradox. Of course, to do that, they'd have to create the illusion that the apocalypse had happened. This brings things back to the whole Schrodinger's Cat theme: the disaster both happened and didn't happen.

The "red earth" could have been staged through a few methods, such as a red lens between the earth and moon. Plus, most of our information about the outbreak and disaster comes from Tenmyouji. Given his true identity, it's very plausible that Junpei could have been working with Akane the whole time. Of course, the wild card in this theory is Dio: if the disaster had already been averted, then why would Brother send Dio to prevent the disaster from being averted?

  • Unless Dio's true purpose wasn't to sabotage the AB Project, but to hijack it by time-jumping into another Left clone at the test site to ensure the outbreak did occur.

We will end up revisiting Building Q in Zero Escape 3.
Both the Mars Test Site and Building Q are located in Nevada. This can't be a coincidence. Therefore, perhaps the two sites are connected in some way, and we will end up returning to the Gigantic replica for at least part of the third game. It would be fitting to bring the final game back to Where It All Began.
  • Jossed. The D Com building and the underground bomb shelter are clearly distinct from Building Q.

Phi may be Left or related to left.
Someone pointed out that a lower case Phi in the Greek alphabet looks like a 'Y'.
  • According to Word of God, the letter 'Y' represents the Eye of Horus.
  • Zig-Zagged. Phi is Brother's sister, while Left is his adopted brother.

Phi is actually two different people, whose minds have swapped places.

The Phi we see in 2074 is actually not the same one from 2028 who was cryogenically frozen, but an entirely different person. The story about cryogenic freezing was actually a ruse set up by Akane to make us believe that they were the same person so that their minds would be able to switch places. After all, K was able to send his mind back to 2028, even though he wasn't born yet. Maybe that revelation was foreshadowing that other people can swap minds.

A couple more points that could be seen as evidence in favor of this theory:

1. In the scene where Sigma returns to 2028, we never actually see Phi in person, since she's already in the cryo chamber. Perhaps this was done to hide the fact that 2028 Phi doesn't look like 2074 Phi.

2. At one point, Phi mentions that she's twenty years old, though Sigma thinks she looks younger. That, along with the C-cup joke, could be hints that Phi is in the same boat as Sigma, in that what she thinks she looks like and her actual appearance are very different. After all, Sigma didn't notice his mechanical eye until it was pointed out to him.

  • Jossed. There are multiple Phis, but not for that reason. Every time you use the transporter, it sends a copy of you through spacetime but doesn't affect the original. Since Phi transports multiple times, there are multiple copies of her. They're all the "same person," though.

Phi is Diana, the girl who Luna was based on.
As a corollary to the above WMG. While the fact that Diana is supposed to look like Luna appears to Joss this theory, it could be re-opened by introducing the idea that there are two Phis who do not look like each other, but managed to swap minds. Perhaps there's some misdirection at work here.

After all, the recording of the Mars Test Mission we found suggests that only three people survived. Sigma and Phi have to survive the mission in order for the mind jump to work, and it's heavily implied that Tenmyouji/Junpei was there as well. Word of God also suggests that Diana is supposed to survive the mission, since she and Present Sigma have to meet after the mission in order for him to build Luna. That leaves four people.

There's two possible explanations for this: either the recording was made at a time when Sigma was believed to be dead(he did lose his arms and eye in an accident at the test site), or Phi and Diana are in fact the same person, and the developer's comments on Luna being based on Diana are intended as misdirection.

Of course, there is one hole in this theory - Phi doesn't seem to have any special reaction to seeing Luna, the way Sigma does when he sees K's true face.

  • Jossed. Diana and Phi are both in this game as two separate people.

If Gentarou Hongou... makes another appearance, he will be against Free the Soul.
His original goal was to gain the ability to differentiate faces, while one of the results of Free the Soul's goal will be the remaining population all having the same face. The two don't seem compatible with other.
  • Doesn't disprove this theory, but they can be compatible - if everyone had the same face, then everyone would have the same impairments Ace had - instead of giving himself abilities he doesn't, he'd be making everyone else's abilities useless, putting them on equal footing anyway. However, Word of God said that Gentarou didn't believe in Free the Soul anyway and was just feigning it to get their support in his projects, so he's already not really "with" them.
  • Jossed. Ace is never seen.

At some point, Sigma will hack into Free The Soul's servers, witness FTS assassinate someone, and have a one night stand with the mistress of a politician in FTS's pocket
  • At a point early in VLR, Sigma is wondering "Why me?" And lists a bunch of things that he might have done, including the above three things, as well as "Start a fight with a frightening and Mysterious new religion." Well, we know he's doing that, He kind of already has... so maybe the other things are things he'll do too.
    • Except Sigma has already done all those things. He claims to have already had a one night stand with a mistress of a prominent politician during that monologue. He 'hacked' into the Crash Key's servers using Luna's password and username, accessing their database. And he witnessed Dio nearly assassinate Akane.

Clones can jump back into the same body as their original host
This is pretty much the only way I figure the Golden Ending Epilogue makes any sense at all. Kyle and Sigma share the same DNA, and perhaps even the same soul. Something Kyle saw in his 23 years of life is important for the Mars mission test run, and jumps back so his memories are shared with Sigma's. It's the only way he can really make the jump to 44 years before his birth.

Phi is Sigma's daughter.
  • The woman (Diana?) who Sigma fell in love with as a young man is Phi's mother.
  • Shortly after Phi's birth, she either died in the Radical-6 pandemic, or she didn't die at all, but only disappeared as a result of something to do with the events at the test site.
  • Phi's esper abilities were inherited from Sigma.
  • Her name is a result of Family Theme Naming.
  • Word of God says she and Sigma will never be romantically involved, and aside from some general lechery on Sigma's part, they haven't really had any Ship Tease. This explains why.
    • The exact statement referenced above (in Answer #24 of VLR's Answers) was "No, they won't be a couple… I can't tell you any more without it being spoilers, so please look forward to the 3rd game." This makes the theory much more plausible.
  • It also explains the "connection" that Phi and K feel with each other. Neither can define it, but they describe it as a feeling that they're "similar" somehow. In fact, they're both Sigma's children. Note that this comes up on Luna's route, and Luna was created to act as Kyle's mother, while the woman she was based on was actually Phi's mother.
  • As Phi tells Sigma in what will turn out to have been a nice bit of dramatic irony, she has no idea who her father is or what he looks like, or whether he's alive or dead. Also, she lost her mother very young and doesn't have anything of hers except that brooch, which suggests that she doesn't know what her mother looked like. That's why she doesn't recognize Luna, Sigma, or Kyle.
  • The fact that Phi is only a little younger than Sigma at Point A on the timeline might not be an issue. She could be inhabiting another person's body - we know that time traveling espers can jump into other bodies. She could be a clone of herself, created in the past - we know that cloning technology has existed long enough for the fourth generation of Lefts to be adults in 2074, plus this would be another reason for her to feel a connection with K. And there's undoubtedly a lot we still don't know.
  • The woman at the test site will have the brooch.
  • As far as physical appearances are concerned, Phi has red/ginger eyebrows (indicating that her white hair is dyed) and blue eyes, the same as Diana.
    • C-O-N-F-I-R-M-E-D-! Phi is born during the events of the game, and is sent back via a transporter to 2008. The bit about Diana having the brooch, however, is Jossed; she actually gets the brooch from Phi.

Snake is Brother, or at least a clone of him

All of humanity will end up becoming espers, or at least low-level ones.
  • We know from both previous games that the chances of a baseline human manifesting psychic abilities increase if other espers are nearby or sharing a similar situation (For example, Junpei manifested because of the Power of Love, but Snake and Clover's close proximity likely helped. Sigma and Phi are in the game with Tenmyouji and Clover so they can manifest in the same way). The test site will presumably have a lot of normal humans and a lot of the cast's espers there, so why shouldn't there be a self-perpetuating chain reaction?
    • Also, a lot of the philosophical monlogues, especially in the first game, seem to be about humanity's collective potential for tapping into the morphogenetic field. It's odd that in the second game its more focused on individual espers - so it makes sense that those themes will be explored in full.
    • Zig-zagged. It's mentioned that more espers are being born than before, and in the end, two distinctly non-esper characters gain esper-like abilities due to resonance, but not on an all-of-humanity scale.

Hongou and Akane will work together.
  • Think about it. They have a common enemy now: Free the Soul. I can definitely see Akane putting aside her hatred for the man to work towards saving the world.
    • Hm. What could Hongou contribute to the plan that Akane can't?
      • Pharmacology, knowledge of FTS and its organization, maybe his inability to recognize faces can function as a Disability Superpower?
  • Jossed. Ace is never seen.

The next game will feature Schroodiver's cast
  • The first game featured time travel save scumming,so the second used it too,without ever an attempt to hide it(for those who played the first game anyway).Considering the large number of people we believe will participate (Diana,Sigma,Phi,Kyle,Brother,?,other members?(according to other speculations:Akane,Junpei,Clover,Alice,Dio,Hongou,Santa,etc.))it is not too unlikely that scroodiver's mechanics will make an appearance so that new characters can appear (if only because,even with overlaping characters (? and perhaps Kyle will probably overlap with someone)Brother and/or zero will become too obvious.So based on some choices prior to meeting all of the cast (or even after that,if masking gear/clones are involved)the cast will change.

The next game will be extremely confusing.
At the end of VLR, Akane brings up the idea of human thought shaping reality. Given how time travel has already made the series a beautifully confusing story, the fact that belief itself factors into it will be able to do things like alter reality in the different branching routes based on what the characters are led to believe. Mind Screw ensues.
  • Jossed. While the game does have its screwy moments and twists, it never follows up on what Akane said in VLR and thus never reaches that higher level of incomprehensibility.

Zero escape 3 will come out(or at least announced) in 2015
I've heard it has been hinted at
  • Confirmed for the announcement! Zero Escape 3 will be released in Summer 2016.

Dio's plan to sabotage the AB Project was designed to fail
Brother, as another esper, is more aware of how the Mental Time Travel mechanics work than we're led to believe. Therefore, he leads Akane and Klim to believe his plan was to have Dio sabotage the project by either killing Akane or setting the bombs. Yet, Dio proves to be rather obvious as a villain, and is eventually defeated in the timeline where the project works.
  • Confirmed. For Brother's plan to succeed, old Sigma has to be sent back in time to the events of ZTD. To do that, Dio has to be there and fail.

But what if this plan was actually a Kansas City Shuffle designed to distract us from the real plan: to have Dio hijack the time jump and jump into a Left clone at the test site to ensure that the Radical 6 outbreak happened as planned? After all, we've seen that Sigma and Phi weren't the only ones to go back in time; K apparently jumped back into the past as well.

  • Jossed. Dio is never even mentioned in ZTD.

Ice-9 will play into the plot of Zero Escape 3
In the first two games it was mentioned and explained but in both games it was ultimately irrelevant. In this next game it will be important or involved in a puzzle or two.
  • I think Radical-6 (the main focus) won't be so related to All-ice(Ice-9), would it?
    • Or maybe the creators can get around it.
  • Jossed.

Snake gets screentime
We never got to hear any relevant things about Snake, and as I remember it, Clover really never told about him. I'm sure Snake will make a return in Zero Escape 3, or atleast he'll get backstory.
  • Jossed.

Seven got his scars battling Free The Soul
We know that Seven got his scars battling a "particular powerful global organization" some time 9 years between the first and second Nonary Game's. Perhaps he figured out that Free The Soul was the Organization Behind The Man, and spent several years fighting them, and this will be delved into in some capacity.
  • Confirmed in VLR's answers.

The Big Guy will have amnesia
The first game has Seven. The second game had K. It stands to reason that the third game will have an amnesiac who's physically strongest among the cast.
  • Confirmed, but with a twist. The amnesiac is indeed the strongest member of the cast, but he's a robot based on a small child and is therefore also the smallest.

The dilemma in this game is between stopping the outbreak and escaping
Perhaps the very act of escaping this game's Nonary Game (or whatever equivalent is going on) is what causes Radical-6 to infect the world (because the participants are already infected). This then lays out the Sadistic Choice - is stopping the outbreak worth letting the participants die? This will be especially brutal if most of the cast are returning characters. Of course, the Golden Ending will involve finding a way to save everyone and thwart Brother's plans, though it may need the help of the mysterious entity in Kyle's body in the epilogue of VLR.
  • This could be corroborated by the fact that "the game will focus on choices that force players to choose between gaining their freedom or retaining their moral integrity" and how "your way of thinking, values, and virtues will be intensely shaken during this game".
    • Zig-zagged. In the ending that leads to VLR, Diana has the option to take a heavily injured Sigma to the surface, leading to a Radical-6 outbreak. The player has no choice in the matter and she goes through with it anyway.

Participant #9 is Sigma
Look at this guy and tell me he isn't Sigma.
  • Yeah, obviously it's Sigma. Confirmed.

Identities of revealed participants
(Feel free to add to this as more characters are revealed)

  • #9 : Clearly appears to be Sigma.
    • Confirmed
  • #6: Could be Diana, it's hard to tell due to the image being black and white. Could also be Nona, Akane, or a new character. Could also be Phi, as the facial structure seems to match up a bit, but her hair appears to be dark rather than light.
    • #6 confirmed to be Akane.
    • The second half is jossed. #3 is very likely Phi.
  • #2: Could be Junpei or this game's Left clone(he does look a bit like Dio in facial features).
    • Jossed on it being Junpei
  • #7: Very likely to be Diana, as she appears to be wearing the same clothing as the woman in the torture photo, who is Diana.
    • Confirmed
  • #1: The Left clone, or a new character.
  • #3: Either Phi or Santa. Seems too obvious not to be one of them.
    • Phi confirmed.
  • #5: Looks like Junpei.
    • Confirmed
  • #8: Could be Lotus, Nona/Ennea, or a new character.
    • Confirmed new character
  • #4: A child with amnesia wearing a mask. New character? Left clone? He wouldn't be wearing a mask if his identity wasn't a plot point.
    • It's less who he is that's important, and more what he is.

The protagonist will be Participant #5
I'm assuming Sigma isn't the protagonist this time around since he'd know too much about the setup and the protagonist should be someone going in fairly blind so that he/she can easily receive exposition about the situation. It would make a good callback to 999 if the protagonist had the number 5 again, as that was Junpei's number in that game (and Akane's number in her first Nonary Game).
  • Unless Junpei is the protagonist again, this might be jossed.
  • The playable characters are 1, 4, and Diana.

There is a Participant #0.
With only one more person remaining to be revealed, I'm expecting some sort of shocking revelation. There will supposedly be a conference on the game this March, where we might receive a trailer, demo, and/or a reveal of the final participant.

But what if the big twist is that there are ten people at the test site, and not nine as we were led to believe? One of the participants is not supposed to be there. Is it Sigma? Akane? Brother?

If there's ten people, then that explains why more than three people could survive the disaster if six people died. Of course, it brings into question why Diana was hiding the existence of the tenth person (since she said there were three survivors including her).

  • Sigma is #9, and Akane is a different participant. So it wouldn't be either of them. Brother, on the other hand, is a possibility.
  • Unlikely. Diana said "Six of us are... dead. Including myself, there are only three left". There could only be 9 participants for the numbers to add up.
    • Diana doesn't have to know if there was a secret tenth participant. Besides, the first game already had more than 9 participants.
    • Confirmed - there is a 10th participant in Q team.

The game will be released on June 5th, 6th, or 9th
June and 6th due to the nickname and number, respectively, of Akane, one of the most important characters in the series. 5th for the number of the original main character, Junpei. And 9th because 9 is the Arc Number
  • This troper believes the game to come out on June 21st, and not just because it's his birthday. First off, neither June 5th, 6th, or 9th are Tuesdays, the release date of games in America. June 21st, however, is a Tuesday. And when you take the date in number form, 6-21, and find its digital root, it equals 9 (6+2+1), the arc number. It is also the only Tuesday during the summer of 2016 where that is possible. So then we have the game coming out in Akane's month, on a day that has a digital root of the arc number. If Uchikoshi doesn't take advantage of this, then I have lost a little faith in his grand schemes. Will still play the game, however.
    • Jossed. The game will be released on June 28th, 2016.

The Sigma in ZTD is not the Sigma we know from VLR
Put simply, looking at the Japanese voice actor reveals, Sigma's voice actor is not the same VA as in VLR. In fact, it's Daisuke Ono this time, who did the voice of K's suit in VLR. He however was not the voice of the person inside the suit, as Kyle (young Sigma) and Sigma (old Sigma) share the same VA. This can lead us to believe that the current entity inhabiting Sigma's body is something else, possibly related to the K suit. If we put on our tinfoil hats, maybe "?" was connected to the suit throughout VLR, and has taken over Sigma's body? Tinfoil hats off now, this development would make more sense, as then some strife would be injected into the group of Diana, Sigma, and Phi. If all three of them are the same as we know them, then there won't be any problems or dilemmas between the three of them, cutting out quite a bit of possible drama. But if one person isn't who we think they are, that makes everything much more volatile...
  • Jossed. The returning characters all have secrets we haven't heard before, but none of those is related to their identity.

Q is Dio (or at the very least a clone of Left) as a child
The reason why he helped Luna on the last game was because he met a girl like her before; Now we have Diana.
  • In the trailer, we saw a pig fetus. Normally cloning is associated with sheep but pigs may have been cloned too. Q is wearing a pig mask.

Granted we know that Dio supposedly helped Luna because had an affair with a girl that looked like her; but that doesnt mean that she was the only girl that looked like Luna he has met

  • Q has the appearance of a child in 2028. Dio has the appearance of a man in his 20s-30s in 2074. That makes this theory unlikely.
    • Jossed. Q is an android and Left is not in the game.

The true protagonist of the game is ?, who has the ability to mind jump between different people.
With the introduction of multiple protagonists, there has to be some common element tying them together. My guess is that when we play as one of the protagonists, we are actually playing as ?, the entity that was in K's body in the epilogue of VLR. This person will have the ability to jump into people's bodies and manipulate their actions, making them key to preventing the release of Radical 6.

On the flip side, when we're not playing as a character, they might not act the way we expect them to, since their actual character may be different from what we were led to believe.

  • Unlikely. Not only would this hurt the characterization of three different characters who are all (most likely) completely new characters, this would also be incredibly poor writing, especially compared to Uchikoshi's standards.
    • And precisely how will this be considered poor writing, or hurt the three characters' characterisation? The three different characters still have their own individual personalities and backgrounds, but ? has the ability to take over any of their bodies at any point to influence their decisions - ? is a completely separate character from the three playable characters. Like one of the theories below, I believe that ? is a standalone character on his own, but has the ability to possess any of the characters we play as, meaning that ? is us, the player. I also believe that ? was in Junpei/Young Akane's body in 999 and Sigma's body in VLR to control their actions and steer them towards the best ending - thus, the true protagonist of the whole series is actually ?.
      • Because he COMPLETELY took over Kyle's body, effectively kicking Kyle himself out. That is what's being used as a basis for why it would not only hurt characterization, but also why it's poor writing. It's an assumption based on current knowledge, that for all we know there is no way for ? to jump into someone's body without completely booting them out and sending them to whatever body he was just in prior. If this assumption is correct, it would mean a majority of the interactions between the three team leaders and everyone else would be Kyle, instead of the individual characters, which would mean it would hurt characterization on their part, since they'd have little to no character outside of the slim interactions when the characters are all together.
  • Jossed. The question of ? is never addressed, or even acknowledged.

The three groups are not all at the same Nonary Game.
The idea of multiple Nonary Games has been suggested before, but the way this game appears to be set up by the previews, the idea is becoming more plausible.

Since the preview mentioned the dog's ability to pass through air vents and deliver messages, we can extrapolate that the three groups will have limited contact with each other. Plus, there's the paradox where six people were said to have died, yet five out of nine are shown or implied to have survived. In addition, Akane's presence at the test site contradicts her assertion that she doesn't know what happened there.

It's possible that she's lying, but it's also possible that Akane actually wasn't at the test site; Team C is in a re-enactment of the Mars Test Mission. If this is true, then it's possible that only Sigma, Phi, and Diana were at the actual test mission, and thus the contradiction in the recording is solved.

Though that just leaves the question of why the re-enactment is needed. To allow someone to mind-jump into the test mission by tricking them into believing they're at the test mission? And which mission is Team Q at? The real mission, the fake, or a third duplicate of the mission?

  • There's one problem with this theory: the 9 participants were originally housed in Dcom all together for 6 days, then sent to the underground shelter and split up on December 31, 2028. From this we can infer that all 9 of them are from the same time period.
  • Also, we know that the characters in the different teams meet up at some point, since we see Sigma alongside Q and Eric in the first trailer.
    • Zig-zagged. They are at the same location, but not awake at the same time. The 3 wards of the base are actually one and the same.

Junpei and Akane will not end up together

I think at this point Akane and Junpei won't get together in any scenario. Akane is supposed to be fairly sociopathic and heartless really, even if she does have some feelings for him I don't think they will be acted upon, further Junpei has already given up on her in another timeline. Given everything we've seen between the two of them since 999, I think its been pretty well telegraphed that they won't be together. I imagine they will address their feelings then abandon the idea after deciding its for the best.

  • Jossed. Akane is revealed to be a more idealistic person than most players expected, and Junpei proposes to her during the game.

Junpei was in on it from the beginning.

From everything Tenmyouji told us in VLR, it seemed clear that Junpei did not catch up to Akane again until they met on the moon. Yet the previews for Zero Time Dilemma show that not only are both of them at the test site, but they're in the same group. This makes me question why Jumpy neglected to mention this before. It's possible that Participant 6 isn't actually Akane, but it's also possible that Junpei and Akane are playing the long con, and are actually working together to stop the outbreak.

If Junpei is actually part of Crash Keys, that throws a lot of what he said during VLR into question.

  • However Uchikoshi himself stated that Junpei went on to spend the rest of his life searching for her. He has never directly lied in the Answers. He has always either told the complete truth or dodged the question entirely. That makes this theory improbable.
  • Jossed. In the VLR timeline, Akane wipes his memories with the amnesia drug. The Golden Ending changes history so VLR never happens.
    • Also, come the release of ZTD, Uchikoshi has indeed lied in the answers; a lot of things he said would be revealed in ZTD were not.
      • That could very well be due to budget constraints not allowing him to do so.

The VLR Timeline will feature the characters faking their death.
  • First, six passwords are needed to open said door. Diana confirms there are six dead bodies, the number of the people needed to be killed to obtain the passwords. However, there are five survivors- Sigma, Junpei, Akane, Phi, and potentially Diana. This means that the Operator we hear on the tape may be some sort of emissary for Zero. He puts up a face of potential rescue. Zero would expect Diana to be presumably scared out of her mind, and grab any sort of Hope Spot. Obviously, she would be honest, right? As such, Zero gives up the passwords to escape. However, the Radical-6 is still released.
  • It's possible she thinks Akane and Junpei are dead, as it's mentioned that they are split into different sections of the facility.
    • Zero wouldn't be that stupid. He would confirm that they were dead, without a doubt, before giving up a password.
    • Jossed. They transport themselves from another timeline after their original selves perished in that timeline.

The characters' bracelets open safe passageways through the facility.

  • Their bracelets deactivate traps throughout the facility (it's mentioned Sigma lost an eye and his arms in the facility, and the trailer shows a knight with a minigun on it.). They also activate the ventilation, which removes the virus from parts of the facility. If a dead character's bracelet is used, it still opens, but does not deactivate traps. Sigma would likely be forced with this choice. Also, as such, the game is, like before, designed to make sure the nine escape the facility. They will, instead of exiting through the X-door, be forced to venture through the entire facility, reactivating the Test Site's ventilation, which has been damaged by FTS. They will find an X-door which requires all participants to use all 9 bracelets from people that are still alive to open, and escape.
    • Jossed. The bracelets are still a drug-injection device, and also serve as wristwatches. The X-door is opened with passwords, not the bracelets.

Junpei in this game is either Kyle or '?'.

As some people have already pointed out, in VLR, Tenmyouji said that he searched for Akane for years, and Uchikose stated in his interview that he never caught up to her (until the end of VLR, anyway). Some people are pointing out that this game seems to contradict that, with Junpei being present in the game working in Akane's team. But it might not actually be Junpei... his consciousness, anyway. While we don't know the true extent of Junpei's esper abilities, it seems to me that he is not a very strong esper, as the only thing we ever witness him do is send a puzzle answer to Akane in the past. It's possible that his presence in this game is not to be himself, but to be a vessel to another consciousness.

Young!Akane was able to watch Junpei's actions in the future so closely that she was able to narrate the entire game from his perspective. It's possible that Junpei's strengths as an esper are the ability to connect easily to other people and/or be a "viewpoint" for other people. (Similar to how the first game stated that some people are better "senders" and some are better "receivers.") It's possible that Junpei, with the presence of other espers (Akane, Sigma, and Phi) boosting his strength, is able to actually house another consciousness that isn't his. We don't actually have any proof that Kyle can directly inhabit Sigma in the past, just speculation at this point. Kyle (or, if not Kyle, then '?') can occupy Junpei and still leave Tenmyouji telling the truth in the future - that HE never met up with Akane, because he was someone else at the time.

  • Unlikely. Junpei knows what happened at the test facility. If he was K or ?, then how would he know this?
  • Jossed. Junpei is Junpei. In fact, all returning characters are exactly who they claim to be.

Junpei and Akane don't remember what happened at the test site because of the amnesia drugs.

The simplest answer as to why Junpei doesn't remember meeting Akane at the test site, and why Akane doesn't know what happened there despite being at the place, may simply be a result of the amnesia drugs in the bracelets. Maybe they escaped and separated from each other, but got hit by another dose of the drugs before they could remove the bracelets. So neither of them remembers the events at the test site (though Tenmyouji vaguely remembers being involved with the project), or meeting each other there.

  • Zig-zagged. The VLR timeline is completely averted in the final ending, so there's nothing to explain. In the ending leading to the VLR timeline, this is basically true, though Akane specifically gives Junpei an additional dose so he won't remember her at all.

Eric snaps as a result of Mira's death

Eric is seen flipping out in several scenes in the trailer. My guess is that he'll be filling the Clover role in the cast. In the last two games, two of the nine players are shown to be in a close relationship early on, one of them gets killed, and the other snaps, accusing the other players of killing their partner.

Eric and Mira are shown to be in a relationship, so it's plausible that the same pattern may apply here. Mira might be one of the first participants to buy it in many of the timelines, and Eric's unstable state is due to her death.

  • Confirmed. In multiple pathways it's a plot point to defuse his anger by revealing who did it before he kills someone.

Akane attempted to infiltrate Free The Soul after the events of the VLR timeline
We see her wearing Free The Soul robes in the End or Beginning epilogue. Perhaps she was going to attempt to infiltrate Free The Soul after the failure at the Mars Mission Test Site?

We will see more sadistic choices
There's a possibility that saving everyone will be a bad choice.
  • Zig-zagged. Sadistic choices abound, and the morality of swapping places with alternative timelines, throwing their selves from that timeline under the bus, is brought up, but not once is saving lives a "wrong" option.

This game will continue the trend of a protagonist being Zero.
It may be any of the three player characters, or Zero's body will be revealed as ?'s being hijacked by brother
  • In the trailer, Zero looks down on the protagonists through bars. However, this is from first person, which means it's also from OUR view.
  • In Virtue's Last Reward, ? is mentioned to be necessary for the Mars Mission Test Site. So he might be Zero, in a roundabout way.
  • This could explain the mystery of the sixth death as it could be Zero himself. Also note how this is the first time that Zero appears in the cover art separate of any other character(aside from the 999 rerelease).
    • Confirmed. Zero is Brother, and we see things mostly from his viewpoint via security cameras.

Q is Kyle's mind in his body...
And ? is who Q originally was!
  • As a theory below states, Q could be short for Question Mark.
    • Jossed. Q is an android.

Phi did not actually survive the test mission in the VLR timeline
We're told that Phi volunteered to be frozen in 2028, but she's already in the pod when Sigma returns to the present. Plus, there's the paradox with the number of survivors to take into account. How can six people die, but five people survive? If Diana thought Sigma was dead because of his accident, that might take care of it, but that leaves Diana, Junpei, Akane, and Phi.

We assume that because Phi appears in VLR, that means she obviously survived the test mission, but... what if she didn't?

Maybe her appearance in VLR is like Akane's in 999, in the timelines where Akane died in the incinerator. Because of quantum uncertainty about her existence, she's still able to appear despite being dead. Akane just made up the whole thing about the cryogenic pod so Sigma (and ?) wouldn't learn the truth.

  • Jossed. Phi survives in that timeline — in fact, she's Patient Zero for Radical-6, so her survival creates that timeline.

A character will have a prosthetic arm that they will use to get rid of their bracelet
The first game had Snake break his arm to go through the #9 door with Junpei and Clover, the second game had Sigma crushing his arm to prevent himself from being injected with Tubocurarine and dying. Perhaps the third game will do something similar.
  • Jossed, although at one point Carlos loses his perfectly fleshy arm and his bracelet with it.

Alternatively, someone can get rid of their bracelet by losing an arm
Maybe the bracelets work similarly to the VLR bracelets in that they sense the pulse of whoever's wearing it. If the bracelet no longer senses a pulse, it pops off, and the other bracelets display a password for the X Door. If there's no pulse on a bracelet, it means the participant is dead, right?

Not necessarily. Maybe the bracelets can be tricked into giving away a password if a bracelet is disconnected from a participant in some other way, such as losing an arm. Sigma might end up discovering this after that accident where he loses his arms. It might also explain the survivor paradox; maybe Diana thought Sigma was dead because the bracelet displayed his password.

Having a participant try to cut off their own hand to get rid of the bracelet and display a password would be perfectly in line with the Darker and Edgier feel of this game.

  • It's unlikely that Zero would make this big of a mistake. Zero would likely check Sigma to assure that he's dead before giving them a password. Or, as a WMG below says, Zero may need to approve the password, so he would most likely make certain that Sigma is dead by checking his pulse.
  • Partially confirmed. Carlos loses an arm, and his bracelet with it, but he isn't declared dead.

Zero is Left.
He wears a butterfly on his LEFT shoulder. Given what butterflies represent, and the themes of the series, they fit quite well.His death caused Brother's Start of Darkness and Sanity Slippage, which caused him to create Free The Soul, and release Radical-6. As such, his goal is to save his life and prevent Brother forming Free The Soul.
  • Jossed. Zero is Brother.

Zero will have to approve the passwords to open the doors.
That way, he can make sure that the Espers in the game don't jump back after getting a password to open the door while preventing a death.
  • Confirmed. Team C tries to pull that trick, and the passwords are rejected, notably declaring that alternate histories' passwords don't work.

Time-jumping will be impossible at the test facility because of Brother's presence.
VLR established that powerful espers are able to absorb the power of weaker espers, which explained why Clover and Akane couldn't use their powers at Rhizome 9. If Brother is present at the test site (either as Zero or one of the participants), then it's likely that he's even more powerful than Sigma and Phi. That might mean that neither of them are able to time jump at the test site.

Which is just as well for Zero/Brother, since Sigma's abilities would completely break the scenario with the passwords, since he'd be able to learn the passwords in alternate timelines and use them to escape without killing anyone.

  • Jossed.

Brother uses his Esper abilities to form FTS
It's highly unlikely that people would want to join or support a cult attempting to kill all of humanity, including themselves. Thus, he uses his abilities to persuade or force them into supporting him.
  • Possible, though it should be noted that Free the Soul is trying to prevent human extinction (albeit at horrible cost) not cause it.

Zero will have a Villainous Breakdown in the Golden Ending
  • Jossed. He remains composed throughout the entire game.

? is in Akane's body
That would explain why she didn't remember the events at the Mars Mission Test Site, and why Junpei says that he never caught up to Akane until the events of VLR.
  • She implied at the end of VLR to be aware of ?'s presence, as she mentions them being necessary to the Mars Mission's success. Since in the first game you were technically playing as Akane, that would mean that ? was in/with her during that game, too. So it's not too unlikely that ? is Akane in this game, too.
  • Jossed. ? never comes up.

Some themes that didn't make it in VLR will appear here
  • Monty Hall Problem: Probability appears to a theme in ZTD.
    • Confirmed. There is a trophy that you can get for "solving the Monty Hall Problem"
  • Schrodinger's Cat: Appeared in the previous game, probably will be used again as a mindscrew.
    • Confirmed. There's a trophy called Schrodinger's Cat, and it was discussed in VLR that Alice and Clover would return using it.
    • Actually Jossed. Schrodinger's Cat is oddly never mentioned despite the trophy.
    • While it's not mentioned, it's indeed present. Carlos plays an AB game against Junpei that goes exactly as it did in VLR.
  • The Trolley Problem: You'll be choosing who to potentially kill often, it seems.
    • Confirmed. It's only used once, however and never mentioned by name.
  • Toxoplasmosis: We'll probably be learning more about the nature of Radical-6 and it will probably be compared to a rather nasty parasite called toxoplasmosis gondii.
    • Confirmed. Akane says basically this in one of the timelines. Although it has nothing to do with Radical-6.

The final puzzle room on the Golden Ending path will be called A
  • That would be one way to bookend the Q room from VLR.
  • Jossed.

Carlos is the original Left.
The resemblance between Dio and Carlos may not be a coincidence, and he doesn't seem like he's another clone. Therefore, perhaps Carlos is the original Left, and his death at the test site is what sets everything in motion.

After the test mission goes awry, Carlos/Left's body is found covered in bruises. Because of the chaos surrounding the Radical 6 outbreak, his killer is able to escape prosecution. The result is the ill sister he left behind developing psychic powers and becoming Brother, the very person who would later end up setting everything leading to her brother's death in motion.

Bonus irony points if it was Akane who ended up killing Carlos, since it would mean that her efforts to stop the Radical 6 outbreak ultimately ended up causing it. Even more irony points if it's Brother who kills Carlos, escaping justice through the clout of the Free the Soul cult, and turning everything into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  • Free The Soul was formed long before the Mars Mission Test Site. They gave Ace funding for the first Nonary Game. There is also supposedly a Left clone at the facility, which was alluded to by Dio, so this is unlikely.
    • Brother also existed as an "old man" in both 2028 and 2074. It's highly likely that Brother is able to time-jump. If Brother jumped into the past to found Free the Soul and set up the Nonary Games (maybe Lord Gordain was one of Brother's hosts), then Brother could be from any point on the time-line.
      • Then why would there be a Left clone at the facility?
  • Jossed. We never learn Left's identity.

Alice shares the identity of Zero with another unknown person, presumably Nona.
First, Alice mentions she'll return using Schrodinger's Cat. The only person with whom this is possible is Zero and Q. Q would be literally impossible, as Alice is obviously too old to be Q. Zero is the only person with whom this is possible, as (s)he remains masked throughout the game.
  • Jossed.

Second, the Operator mentions the camera feed is hacked. Alice, as an infiltration and technological expert, would know how to hack cameras and other forms of security, and how to break into (a government owned) testing facility.

  • Why does she need to share the identity of Zero with someone else? And Clover also mentioned that she would potentially return using Schrodinger's Cat.
  • Jossed. Alice is never mentioned by name in the game.

? is not human
Something that has been bothering me is the response Akane gave to him at the end of VLR. I recall the conversation going something like?: "So [Kyle] is in my body?" to which Akane responded "something like that". I believe that this indicates that ? could be something that doesn't necessarily have a body such as an AI.
  • The ? plotline is never resolved, or indeed mentioned.

Phi is a lesbian
In the Japanese version of the second trailer, she uses "aishiteru", which means "I'm in love with you". As it has been confirmed by Uchikoshi that Phi and Sigma will never be a couple, and it's rather unlikely that she'd be referring to members of the other teams, given that they're trapped with no means of verbal communication with the other teams, this leaves only Diana as a possibility.
  • Counterpoint: Just because she and Sigma aren't going to be a couple doesn't mean the line wasn't directed at him.
    • It can be assumed that, because we know they won't be a couple, this means they don't have romantic feelings for one another. She used a word reserved for lovers.
  • Unresolved. She shares some affectionate moments with Diana, but it's revealed Phi is her daughter.

Another pathogen is a threat
If you pause at a certain screen, there's something called FBR and apparently the only way to cure it is by injecting Radical-6.
  • Jossed. FBR may or may not even exist. It's only if Q-Team does inject Radical-6 that things go to shit.

Q is ?
The Q is short for Question or Question Mark.
  • Jossed. Q isn't short for anything and we never find out anything about ?.

Another person/people, outside of the main nine characters, will be present during the Mars Mission.
...And this would explain the "Not just these six" people being dead line given by Diana, which has been pointed out to contradict the apparent number of survivors as of VLR. In both 999 and VLR, the cast of nine encountered other people in the facility who were not directly part of the game. In 999, you had the two other Cradle Pharmaceutical Execs, who ended up being killed by Ace and in VLR you had Akane, as the old woman who is killed by Dio, in the routes where she is not acting as K. It's possible they will find other people inside the facility - who are possibly already dead when they find them - and they are counting those extra people in their death count, throwing off the numbers.
  • That wouldn't solve the "6 people are dead" contradiction. She says, soon after that, that only three are left.
  • Diana is simply incorrect. It's possible to travel physically between timelines. The main timeline's Junpei and Akane die, then another timeline's Junpei and Akane arrive without Diana's knowledge.

Q is Quark
The fact that Q is a child and that Quark's name starts with a 'Q' hints that Q might be Quark. After all, Quark's purpose was never really explained in VLR, so he might possibly be a key character in this game. Then again, this theory sounds too straightforward and predictable, since we're talking about a Zero Escape game...
  • If Quark was already born by this point, he should be an adult in VLR.
    • Unless he was cryogenically frozen like Clover, who didn't age much between 999 and VLR. Or there will be some sort of time travel thing introduced in this game.
      • Unlikely. Tenmyouji found Quark when he was an infant. Q is too old to be Quark, even when cryogenically frozen.
      • Q being Quark is still a possibility, because this game HAS been known to use 'unlikely' theories and seemingly contradictory facts as part of the plot. Say, someone made a theory that Tenmyoji is actually Junpei on the VLR WMG page before the game was released. Everyone would've been like 'impossible, VLR takes place two years after 999 since Clover is only 2 years older.' And they would've been wrong. Who's to say that they can't pull off a similar plot device in this game as well? This game IS about the unexpected!
      • The only way I could see Q being Quark is if the "multiple Nonary Game" theory is true, and not all the perspectives are taking place in 2028. Then it's possible that one of the alternate perspectives is happening closer to 2074, and some of the other participants are actually clones or GAULEM duplicates (to maintain the illusion that the duplicate is happening in 2028 by hiding that some of the participants are already dead or visibly older). And that still leaves open the question as to who the 2028 Q was.
  • Jossed. He's a robot.

Q's name is a pun on 'kill'.
This was the first thing I thought of when I saw Q's name. Maybe he kills someone in this game, or gets killed himself?
  • What does Q have to do with kill?
    • Same pronunciation, specially considering the game's original language is Japanese. This pronunciation is also shared with 9 and that created a important wordplay in the first game.
      • Kill is pronounced as "kiru" so I doubt it.
      • And why does everything have to be based on the Japanese language? Just because the game is made in Japan doesn't mean all puns must be in Japanese. Surely the creators had considered that fact that the lowercase 'q' looked liked a '9' back in 999 so that the pun will work in English as well. Besides, they can use this pun even in the Japanese version by explaining the fact that 'Q' sounds like 'kill' in English.
  • If this is true, it's never mentioned in the game. No explanation is ever given for Q's name, though from a Watsonian perspective it's probably intended to remind you of Quark and reinforce a misconception among players.

The player character (us) is ?, and the mastermind of all 3 games.
The unknown consciousness that awakens in Kyle's body in the Another Time ending is the same consciousness that existed in Junpei/young Akane's body in 999 and Sigma's body in VLR (in other words, the player). This consciousness has the ability to jump from one person's body to another and travel through time and space, explaining why the same consciousness is able to be present in 999, VLR and ZTD's timelines. This also explains why we are able to play from the perspective of three different people in ZTD. Maybe the mastermind of this game (actually, all 3 games in general) will turn out to be ?, the player, as someone who has experienced the events of all 3 games. Think about it - the first game was played from young Akane's perspective, and the second was played from Sigma's perspective. Both turned out to be Zero, the mastermind. Maybe there was only a single mastermind all along - us - and Akane and Sigma were only being influenced by the consciousness when they did what they did.
  • Jossed. There is no mention of ? in ZTD. The player is Zero, just like in 999.

The game will take the RNG to a whole new height
.The developers have stated that a scene can be determined not by choices but rather by the Random Number Generator. For example, one scene has Zero locking Sigma in a chair and Phi in an incinerator, with Diana forced to choose between shooting Sigma with a gun or letting Phi roast to death. However, the gun is loaded with 3 live bullets and 3 blank bullets, which is where the Random Number Generator comes in - take a chance to save Phi and possibly save them both or not risk it and save Sigma.

Now, my guess as to how routes work is this - when a segment is completed and we see where it lies on the decision tree, we see the branching storyline from the scene where a random chance changes the story. In order to get the Golden Ending the player must watch the scene multiple times and see every version of the random event then act on the best scenario.

  • Confirmed, though in two cases the game is gimmicked to automatically give you a specific outcome. You always win the initial coin toss on your first try, and you always win a later random event on the third try. The rest are legitimately random, and you may have to make several attempts to get every result.

Phi and Sigma will have to go even further back and prevent Left's death
Perhaps Brother will release Radical-6 no matter what they do at the test site, and they have to go back and stop Left from being killed, as that will prevent Brother from wanting to release Radical-6.
  • Saving Left seems like it'd make an ideal endgame. If Left doesn't die, then Brother never comes into being. Therefore, Free the Soul is never created, and none of the Nonary Games ever happen. Akane doesn't get stuck in the incinerator and doesn't become an esper, and the Radical-6 virus is never released.
  • Phi does end up going all the way back to 1904, but that's not why.

Diana and Sigma are an Official Couple.
Virtue's Last Reward provided heavy Ship Tease between Luna and Sigma, and in fact, Luna is in love with Sigma. Of course, Luna is a GAULEM based off of Diana, but why did Sigma decide to build a GAULEM based off of Diana in the first place? Considering that Word of God stated that Phi and Sigma aren't a thing, it seems likely that Diana and Sigma are or were romantically involved. This would fit in with K's recollection of Akane telling him that Sigma was in love with a girl at one point. In addition, it's also likely that despite Sigma's sacrifice, Diana will probably either A.) die or B.) disappear forever like Akane did to Junpei, given that Sigma would build a GAULEM that could almost replace her, but never be the real thing (which makes Luna's crush on Sigma quite sad).
  • It was confirmed that Diana and Sigma met after the events of the game, and they both created Luna on the moon. He likely created Luna because he had Diana as a model at the time. He may still be romantically involved with her, but if they are, it would most likely not be the reason for Luna's creation.
  • Confirmed. They even have children during the game and are confirmed to have been in love in the VLR timeline as well.

The "Akane" we meet in VLR is actually Diana.
It's said that Sigma and Diana will meet on the moon after the events of ZTD(since they need to meet in order for Luna to be created), but we still don't know what happened to Diana afterward. In K's flashback, he mentions that he and Dr. Klim were the only people in the facility. The simplest explanation is that Diana had passed away by then (either from Radical-6 or another cause), but this series seldom uses the simple explanations.

Plus, we have the survivor paradox, where it's said there were only three survivors, but five people ended up surviving.

So, what if the old woman at Rhizome-9 is actually Diana, who is assuming the role of Akane? The real Akane died at the test site, and Diana assumed her identity. This revelation would bring a new meaning to Tenmyouji's words in the epilogue of VLR, about how the Akane he knew no longer exists. While on the surface, it appears to be about how Akane's psychic powers have made her cold and inhuman, it acquires a new meaning if Akane is actually Diana. Junpei knew Akane better than the others, so he might have been able to realize that the "Akane" he was talking to was an imposter.

The only hole in this theory is the "Akane" that Sigma meets after he jumps back to the present. In this case, either Diana dyed her hair to look like Akane, or they swapped bodies through psychic shenanigans.

  • If Diana dyed her hair, that wouldn't change how her face is exactly the same as Akane's. As for the psychic shenanigans, even if Diana is an esper, why would she jump into Akane's dead body, and pretend to be Akane to Sigma? Why pretend to be Akane at the facility? There would be no point. And why would she lie about not knowing what happened at the facility?
  • Jossed. Diana was indeed at Rhizome-9, but she wasn't hiding her identity.

K is in Akane's body
We know that K will be in somebody's body in this game. There are only four characters that he could be in that wouldn't potentially ruin characterization: Phi, Sigma, Junpei, and Akane. We know that Junpei was at the facility, as he clearly remembers the events, and Phi andf Sigma are obviously in their own bodies. Akane is the only one who makes sense.

In VLR, Junpei says he never found Akane until the events of VLR, and Word of God says the same thing. Uchikoshi hasn't once lied in the Q&A's, so we can assume that this is the truth. Akane also says that she doesn't know what happened at the facility. The only possibility for all of these things to be the truth is if Akane is either K or ?.

  • Or, those answers could only be canon with the VLR timeline. In a new timeline where Radical 6 was prevented, those answers would still be true.
  • Nope. K makes no appearance, and the Golden Ending erases him from history. He still exists in his own timeline, of course.

Zero is...
Someone who was in the Second Nonary Game, or someone who was close to the players of the Nonary Game, as only they would know Junpei and Akane were bracelets 5 and 6 respectively.
  • Zero could also be Brother, as his powerful esper abilities could give him that information.
    • Confirmed. Zero is Brother, and his esper abilities are confirmed to work differently from the other espers in the series, making him a mind reader.

The contents of notes sent via Gab will change between being sent and received.
With the concept of the teams sending each other notes in play, this would make an ideal Mind Screw. For instance, Team C sends Team D a note. But when we switch to Team D's perspective and receive the note, the contents of the note have changed. This would be a good way to mess with our heads.

Is Zero intercepting the notes and altering them to further his own agenda? Do the characters act differently and send different notes when we're not controlling them? Are we in a different time fragment than we're led to think, and this is a different note we're getting? Or are the notes different because the perspectives take place in different times and places entirely?

  • Jossed.

Phi will be important in Zero's plan.
Her name, Phi, or φ is the stand-in for the golden ratio, which occurs on the spiral on a snail's shell. SHE is the snail Zero refers to when the Russian Roulette occurs. He's subtly warning Diana that Phi's survival will be important to the success of Zero's plans.
  • Kinda confirmed; he is trying to close a Stable Time Loop that results in both his and her births. She's not the snail, though; the snail is an actual snail.

Zero will lose due to a small detail he neglected to notice.
As Foreshadowing, he tells the players in the 9 Minute Gameplay Teaser that 6 people died due to a snail. It's possible that he'll be defeated because of something he originally thought was insignificant.
  • Jossed. He basically gets everything he wanted in the end.

Phi is Santa after a sex change
  • This is a fringe theory created by a certain imageboard but it eerily makes too much sense.
    • Phi is participant number 3. The same number Santa had in the first game.
    • They both look similar which Uchikoshi gave contradictory explanations why: Nishimura preferred that or she was requested to make Phi look like a female Santa.
    • Jossed.

Alternatively, Phi is Santa's clone, and has a defect that makes her female
Along with the points made in the above WMG, Kyle said in VLR that he felt some sort of connection to Phi, or something along those lines. Since Kyle is a clone, this may be foreshadowing that Phi is also a clone.
  • In that case, since Q is related to Schroedinger's Cat somehow he could be both a Left and Phi clone.
  • Jossed.

Carlos is actually Santa/Aoi Kurashiki from the first game.
It makes sense when you consider that his ill girl sister is Akane. Whether or not Carlos knows about this is a different issue entirely
  • Problem with this is that it may over-saturate the game with returning characters and considering Diana and Q, it's most likely a brand new character that doesn't know what's going on.
  • Jossed.

Phi is the snail Zero talks about
Based on the trailers, Zero mentions how "a single snail can make the world go extinct". In the 9-minute video, Zero tells the story of an incident that happened, where 17 years ago a woman was killed and a falsely-accused man was sentenced to death, leading his wife to suicide. Another related incident speaks of a cab driver who got into an accident caused not only his own death, but that of a woman and her child. Zero indicates that both those incidents were caused by a snail. He mentions that the incident would lead to global extinction. Moreover, he starts talking about this when Phi is trapped inside the incinerator, and Diana has to choose about whether or not she's going to shoot Sigma.The new booklet features the Golden Ratio motif, which is represented by the greek letter Phi, a letter that Phi herself is identified with in the official VLR Q&A. The Golden Ratio is a spiral, which happens to be found in various patterns around nature, one of them being a snail's shell.This game happens in 2028, and Phi was born in 2008, meaning she's 20 years old by the time ZTD happens, and also meaning that she was alive 17 years ago, being around 3 (Phi's bracelet number in this Nonary Game, if I may add) at the time of the incident. Maybe, somehow, Phi was the cause of those incidents which killed six people total, and that those incidents later snowballed into the worldwide catastrophe present in the games.
  • Jossed. Zero directly calls Carlos the snail in the most recent trailer.
  • Jossed. The snail is just that, a snail. The falsely accused man and his suicidal wife, are, however, Akane's parents, and the real culprit is Mira.

Alternatively, Zero is the snail. And in at least one timeline, the 6 dead participants of the Decision Game are the 6 people killed in the incident caused by the snail.
In the incident described above, a woman is murdered, a falsely-accused man is sentenced to death, his wife kills herself, a cab driver is in an accident with a surgeon, and a child dies. The child is likely Q, and the surgeon may be Dr. Sigma Klim. The falsely-accused man and the wife could easily be Junpei and Akane or Eric and Mira, and Akane/Mira may kill herself because of Radical 6.
  • Jossed. Zero directly calls Carlos the snail in the most recent trailer.
  • Although Carlos is confirmed to be the snail, the part about the 6 people in the incident representing the 6 dead participants could still be true.
  • In actuality, the snail was literally a snail that drove a woman to jog down a path where a budding Serial Killer was waiting, leading to... a whole host of problems.

Alternatively, Diana is the snail
Zero says "A single solitary snail took the lives of six people. No, not just six... but six billion. Six billion people will lose their lives as a result of that lone snail". Diana believes she killed 6 people, and then she says she killed 6 billion.
  • Jossed. Zero directly calls Carlos the snail in the most recent trailer.
  • In actuality, the snail was literally a snail that drove a woman to jog down a path where a budding Serial Killer was waiting, leading to... a whole host of problems.

Will suffer a series of events similar to the axe ending from 999.
  • In one image we see a blood-splattered Carlos next to a puddle of blood and an axe.
  • In the trailer, we hear him screaming, similar to how Junpei did after his hand was cut off.
  • In the same image, his left hand is hidden from view, which was the hand Clover cut off in the first game.
  • Zig-zagged. Depending on how the scene plays out, he either commits suicide thinking he killed Junpei, or Akane cuts off his hand before he manages to subdue and kill her.

Junpei and/or Akane are fakes
Akane looks absolutely nothing like she does in both 999 and in the End or Beginning epilogue of VLR, which is before and after the events of ZTD respectively. Junpei acts nothing like he does in 999 or VLR. I don't think a year can change someone's personality that much without some really bad, life scarring event. This would also explain how 6 people supposedly died at the facility, but we know that 5 made it out, how Junpei says that he never saw Akane until the events of VLR, and how Akane says that she never went to the test facility. The only problem with this theory is that, by Junpei's own confession, he was at the test site.
  • Jossed.

In at least one timeline or ending, the 3 survivors will be Sigma, Diana, and Junpei.
Furthermore, this timeline will be the original VLR timeline. We know this because Junpei stated he was at the test site, and because we know Sigma and Diana later reunited and built Luna on the moon. So at least one of the endings will show this timeline.
  • But we also know that Akane has to meet with Sigma before the reactors exploded, and that Phi has to go to Akane and get cryogenically frozen. How would they both live?
  • Jossed.

Phi figured out a way to escape the incinerator in the previewed decision game.
Which is why she insists that Diana not pull the trigger in spite of the 50% chance they'll all survive. Maybe she knows something the other two don't, and has figured out a way to escape the incinerator. Her plan is to trick Zero into registering her death so he'll reveal a password without anyone actually having to die for it. She can't let Sigma and Diana in on it, however, because Zero might figure out what she's really up to.
  • Jossed. Either Diana pulls the trigger or Phi burns.

There might be a Schrödinger's Cat component to the plan, as well: As long as the incinerator isn't opened after it activates, she will be able to escape because the possibility of her finding a way out still exists.

  • However, there is a way to look into the incinerator, so Schrodinger's Cat probably wouldn't work unless she was right up against one of the walls that the door to the incinerator is also on. And even then, I'd expect the door to open after it's finished.
  • Jossed. Phi is indeed killed by the incinerator.

The RNG will be pre-determined during the game file creation to avoid save scumming.
RNG plays a mayor role in the game. The game creator has stated that he wishes for everyone to enjoy the game and to pretty much make any game walkthrough useless and this is his solution. But it would not stop someone from save scumming to get the same results as in a walkthrough right?. If the choices are pre-determined from the beginning, choosing the same actions in your save file will lead to the same results no matter what, but because RNG was rolled at the beginning it will still lead to different result for different players. For some players some rooms will always lead to an important character dying no matter how many times they reset to try to get a different result, so they will have to avoid the room all-together if they want to survive. Other players will have to completely avoid another room to survive which may be end up being the "save room" in your save file. Of course there will always be a correct set of choices to reach the golden ending, but the choices that depend on RNG will vary from player to player. So depending on the number of RNG choices the game presents there can be many iterations of choices that lead to the same ending but only one of them activates when creating a save file.
  • But there's gonna HAVE to be a way to let every player fill out the flowchart completely. Locking players out of certain RNG choices will make it impossible to complete the flowchart.
  • Zig-zagged. Some random choices are rigged, some aren't.


    Post-Release Theories 

The poison Team-C and -D are injected with is tubocurarine.
Remember? The muscle relaxant that VLR bracelets used as a killing method. We never got to see it in action.

In Zero Escape 4, 1904 Phi will be involved in the story.
Either she will appear as a character or be involved in the backstory somehow. It's too tantalizing of a plot thread not to expand on.

After the events in the Golden Ending Sigma will re-create Luna, K and Lagomorph.
In the game he mentions that he thinks of them as if they were their own children so he will Re-create Luna and Lagomorph. Kyle is probably gonna be different because he can not be programmed and because diverse life circumstances will make him a completely different person (maybe he ends up being Sigma and Diana´s third child instead of a clone). So he also programmed Kyle to jump to his new body in the ZTD Golden Ending so it ends up being the same Kyle from his memories, but what happened to the child that swiches places with Kyle, that would make him "?" an esper that may have both the abilities Mind Hack and Shifting and no physical body of his own since he lost it. With both abilities and no body he pretty much becomes a being in a higher plane of existence who can "possess" anyone in the multiverse since his conciousness was never attached to his original body due to the quick change with Kyle so he doesnt have such a limitation, a being who is searching through the multiverse for his unkown origin. A being that will end up being the player himself and will have a mayor role in the 4th game to either stop the religious lunatic from killing humanity, or helping everyone stabilize another time loop (because that is pretty much guaranteed with 3 games doing it) while he discovers his origin. This would also explain why they never tell "?" anything about what happens in ZTD or the possible 4th game, if "?" learns his origin too quickly then history wont be exactly as it should be and the time loop may not go full circle.
  • It's generally said Luna is based on Diana, but since Sigma experiences VLR and then sets up the base for VLR before switching places with his old body for ZTD, he had never met Diana by the time he met Luna on that timeline.
    • Diana went with Sigma to Rhizome 9. From Sigma's perspective, he met Diana for the first time when he jumped back to his younger body after the events of VLR, but she knew him already from the events of ZTD and knew that he would be going to the moon. This is true for every VLR timeline.

Phi was raised by 1904!Phi.
Phi mentions that an elderly couple raised her, and implied that they worked at the research facility with the transport devices.
  • I think the file said 1904!Phi lived to be nearly 100 years old or around 100 years old. Considering she'd be about 104 by the time our Phi showed up it seems pretty unlikely. Though such a massive time difference is now making me question they they sent her so far in the future in the first place. Seems like you'd be waiting a very long time before you can get any solid evidence on that experiment. Maybe they also sent Phis and Deltas twenty and fifty years into the future and there's really a whole bunch of them out there.
  • The file explicitly says that 1904!Phi was researching the transporter in 2008, and very heavily implies she was indeed Phi's adoptive mother.

Transporting and Esper powers is the reason why Brother is still alive in ZTD and VLR despite his age.
Shifters in the series as far as ZTD lets you understand, tend to live many years and can only truly die out of old age since they keep jumping to the better timeline, lets call it the Golden Timeline. A Mind Hack esper can achieve the same result if they read the mind of a Shifter. 1904!Phi lived nearly 100 years because of this and she may have helped prolong his brother´s life like this. After her death he could have already aquired one of the kids from the original Nonary Game to keep his "Timeline Vision". This is the reason why he is still alive in ZTD, as for VLR He probably used the Transporter, as long as an intact Transporter exist at the destination he can copy himself there. So the proccess goes as this: 30-50 year old Delta who is the founder of Free the Soul at this point learns of the Future because of unexplained reasons. So he copies himself to 40-50 years into the future where his now 100 year old self greets him and lets himself be Mind Hacked. He then kills his old self and waits 9 months for the Transporter to charge and sends his 31-51 year old self another 40-50 years into the future. He repeats this proccess 3 or 4 times and should be reaching VLR at the biological age of 33-34 but with the memories of over 150 years.

The reason why we are not shown Akane going to Brother's location in the VLR timeline.
From a story standpoint this happens because neither Carlos, Q/Sean or Diana go there themselves so its not for us to see. The other main reason is because Brother could have revealed to Akane a mayor plot point for a Zero Escape 4 game which he learned from his Mind Hacking ability, Akane then proceeds to follow Brothers instructions by making sure VLR plotline goes exactly as planned to close the time loop but adding the appearance of "?" after the timeline stabalizes for the next game.

Zero's true identity is YOU, the player.
In instances where the player character made an obviously bad decision, the character claims to have not done so of their own free will. In the final endings, Delta reveals that he has the power of mindhacking, to take over their actions. Except it was the player who made those choices for them. In addition, when Delta is revealed by Q, he points at the camera to the player. By extension, this means YOU are responsible for killing 6 billion people and causing the events of Virtue's Last Reward! It also means that the ambiguous ending, where we don't see whether Carlos kills Delta or not, the game/authors ultimately cannot decide whether to blame you for all your bad choices in light of your good ones.
  • We do play the game from Zero's perspective, but Zero is still a character in the game universe. The game screen shows what he's seeing or what images are being beamed to his vision from the security cameras. This is made clear in the ending where Zero's identity is revealed.

The next Zero Escape game will be released in 2025.
In keeping with the whole root number theme from 999, it'll be a good 9 years before we see Zero Escape 4, if at all.

The reason why you don't ever see what happens to D Team in the Epilogue files...
...Is because it would almost certainly have to reveal the result of the final Decision Game, given the status of one of the characters involved in it relative to D Team. It would probably also be awkward to have the three maybe four, talk to each other and come to terms with the fact that they're all related.

There is no religious fanatic that will blow up the world and kill everyone.
Zero only told the participants that as part of his plan, and he only got the idea from reading it out of the participants' heads, who only knew about it from him, etc. etc. infinite loop.

Alternatively, Zero was just lying about being Brother.
The fanatic is real, but Zero is actually unaffiliated with them. there were no Lefts or anyone even looking like Dio in ZTD. Zero knew that Akane was trying to track down Free The Soul thanks to their involvement in the background of 999, so he just used that knowledge to provoke Akane and goad her into taking the actions she does in the VLR timeline.

In addition to having the ability to access the morphogenetic field, espers also have longer lifespans and slightly increased physical ability compared to normal humans.
This explains why Delta could live to be 124 years old, and possibly much longer than that in the VLR timeline. It also helps explain how Phi could jump-kick Delta despite being on Earth rather than the moon, and may have possibly factored into Sigma surviving the bomb explosion as well, despite the fact that it killed Eric and Q (and Diana, in the timeline where she tried to disarm it) instantly.
  • It's implied in both 999 and ZTD that anybody can access the morphogenetic field under the right circumstances though. Could still be true that those with a greater affinity for it tend to be healthier.
    • The 1904 Phi was also confirmed to live for a very long time. This does seem likely.
  • Akane is an esper, and she's pretty fragile.

Mira's Smile
In the post-game file Mira is mentioned to smile a real smile... being a sociopath incapable of feeling emotion... this shouldn't be possible.

The morphogenetic field is shown to be like a terminal connecting with a server with the human brain acting as the transmitter. Its also implied that all humans have some connection to the morphgenetic field due to the way the brain works.

In 999, morphogenetic field theory is being researched by Ace to see if he can't cure his condition. The idea being that his mental condition was being caused by a weak connection to the morphgenetic field and could be repaired.

In the ending of ZTD, Mira's SHIF Ted which required a connection to the morphogenetic field. Perhaps, her mental condition of being unable to feel emotions was due to a misconnect between her and the morphogenetic field. SHIF Ting might have re-calibrated her brain and tuned it to the morphogenetic field.

The final SHIFT actually cured Mira. Thus her real smile and her love for Eric might have been true.

  • Nitpick: Ace's plan was not to fix his brain, but to see people through others' eyes. But the bulk of your theory is sound.

? is Delta
The unknown consciousness from the Another Time Ending is actually Delta. At the end of VLR, ? said that Kyle swapped places with his body on 2028. Maybe that means the 'Delta' that we see in ZTD was actually Kyle all along, in Delta's body.

? is a transporter copy of Delta that was sent to 2008 with Phi.
While it's possible that Phi was sent alone from 1904 to 2008, there's nothing to say that Delta couldn't have been sent as well and raised by a different family. On Xmas 2028, the 20-year Delta copy (let's call him Kappa) switches places with Kyle - being a clone of Sigma, Kyle is also a SHIF Ter, and as Kappa is Sigma's son their genetic makeup could have been similar enough for Kyle to be able to switch their minds. Kappa uses his mind hacking ability to quickly learn about the world of 2074, which is why he knows so much about things he shouldn't know. After Kyle switches back and returns Kappa to 2028, Kappa then uses his knowledge of the future and his mind-hacking ability - the 'power of human thought to reshape reality' - to alter the outcome of the Decision Game.

Delta isn't actually Brother.
The real Brother is actually the religious fanatic. Based on what we know of Brother from VLR, he is incredibly scornful of humanity. Delta very clearly isn't. In fact, half of his plan revolves around him wishing to SAVE humanity. What we know of the religious fanatic lines up with what we were told of Brother: The fact that he's scornful of humanity, and that god told him to kill them. Meanwhile, everything Delta does creates contradictions with what we know from VLR. He doesn't seem to be very upset about his "brother's" death. Hell, Left is only mentioned once in the entire game. If we assume that Delta is Brother, then there's no way that Left would be mentioned only once, when all we know of his motivation in VLR is that he started despising humanity as a result of his death. And if Delta really is Brother, then there's no way he'd kill Alice's father in cold blood like we know he did in VLR.
  • In that case, Eric is the best candidate for Brother. He is very much upset about his brother's death, enough to make him incredibly sensitive. Furthermore, he has been shown to act violently toward basically anyone who isn't Mira.
  • But Delta is so old that he's had plenty of time to reconcile his brother's death. It's been decades.
  • It could also be that other character who dedicated his life to his sick sibling.

Alice and Clover use the transporter to get home
It should still be around in the Apocalypse future, and Akane has probably kept track of it. Why did they say Schrodinger's Cat was involved? Because the transporter will duplicate their bodies, and presumably their consciousnesses. Each Alice/Clover pair will wake up in one of two possible places — there's no way to know which until they get out and see.

The transporter is used to send Kyle into the timeline created by ZTD's Golden Ending.

In "Free the Soul of Y", Y is acting as a pictogram for the tree of alternate timelines.
  • Word of God says that it stands for the Eye of Horus, but it could have a double meaning.

What happened to D-Team after Payoff

From VLR's diagram, we know that Sigma's consciousness isn't going to travel anymore, because he succeeded in preventing the release of Radical-6. So he's not going to the moon, nor are Diana and Phi. That said, Sigma will just sweep his college exams and tests with his knowledge about genetic engineering, get a job and marry Diana. He will also beat the crap out of Diana's ex if he dares to come back to harrass her again.

As for Phi, she will probably keep living separated from her parents, knowing her rough personality. But she will pay them a visit from time to time.

And Delta... that depends on Carlos's choice. If he didn't shoot him, then Delta will just keep commanding Free the Soul and do whatever FTS's goals are, because I don't know what their deal is anymore after this game.

Diana was framed for multiple homicide by Delta after Q-End 2
Maybe the "Mom" line wasn't supposed to be a pardon. Maybe he wanted to get rid of the corpses by using the police against Diana. He could have knocked her out, disposed of the double corpses of Diana and Sigma, and put her fingerprints on the shotgun and Zero's clothes. If it was the universe of Ace Attorney, she would easily be charged for kidnapping and serial murder, unless a lawyer from the Wright Anything Agency came to turn everything around and prove it was Delta. Somehow.

Mira's clone is Eric's mother
Why did Eric and Mira's first victim say the same line? Even more suspiciously, how is it that Eric never notices Mira's faked affect due to her being a sociopath[1] despite the fact that he very clearly understands that there are different kinds of smiles and can tell the difference between them? And why does she remind him of his mother, anyway? Easy. In the epilogue, she atones for her wrongdoing by sending herself back in time, in order to prevent herself from ever having killed anyone. However, she doesn't arrive at the right time and never meets herself, so she decides to live her life without killing anyone anymore (after all, she has already learned what the heart of a person who loves her is like). She settles down with a man who reminds her of Eric, and has two children with him...but inevitably meets her younger self, getting killed by her. It is almost certainly the case that each instance of using the transporter results in a stable time loop with no changes from the original timeline, so the only alternative is that something she did when she returned to the past caused her younger self to become a killer.
  • That would also explain why Eric's mother reminded Mira of her own mother.

Possible ideas that were scrapped during production
  • The Mars testing site was indeed hijacked by Ft S. Consider the fact that we saw blood in the medical room that hinted at a Radical-6 outbreak.
  • Junpei and Akane weren't meant to be participants. They probably weren't meant to elope here as well since Uchikoshi intended for them to be a tragic romance.

The religious fanatic that Zero was trying to stop was Brother/Delta himself
Remember that the real cause of the VLR apocalypse wasn't Radical-6 directly, but rather the nuclear explosions caused by the outbreak. It's possible that the warnings that Delta received about a terrorist destroying the world were the results of his own actions. In releasing the Radical-6 virus in order to kill the fanatic, Delta ended up causing the apocalypse he was trying to stop, though it turned out that some of humanity survived. Because he's not a SHIF Ter and has to rely on the memories of other SHIFTers, he never realized that he was the "fanatic".

This would turn the whole series into a massive Bootstrap Paradox, with Brother's actions being the result of premonitions of the event he would end up causing. It would also add an extra layer of irony to the ending, as the participants continue searching for a fanatic who they've already stopped.

  • This would make sense as, in VLR, we're led to believe that Delta is a religious fanatic on a mission from God to cleanse the world.

Carlos is Hispanic
Okay, so this is a much lighter theory than the rest and has nothing to do with the actual story but here's a guess Just For Fun. While he may look like the typical blond American, Carlos and Maria are both Spanish names. At the very least it's possible they're mixed-race.

Akane never really suspected Carlos murdered Junpei when they found the head in the pantry
There are many words to decribe Akane but "dumb" isn't one of them. She DOES however have fondness for crazy ideas. She already suspected for a while that Carlos is an esper and she knows that being in danger can increase one's affinity to morphogenetic field. Since they had no real clues about killer's identity and fairly limited time to find him before going to sleep again (with possible scenario of another one of them not waking up), she created danger to Carlos to let him use the morphogenetic field to find something about the killer. It didn't work. This is also why she didn't attack him from the start and why she had "My God, What Have I Done?" moment when he killed himself.

Delta is Akane and Aoi's great-grandfather
For starters his twin sister looks like gender-flipped Aoi. In adition many of her gestures and poses in VLR are fairly similar to the ones done by Aoi and Akane in 999. Then there is Delta's "Snail Tale". Why would he know this? The victims were Sean, the Surgeon, taxi driver, Eric's mother and the Kurashikis. The only one we know is in any way connected to Delta is Sean, but where would backtracking the case from him lead? Sean died because surgeon didn't get in time, surgeon died, because of the car accident, whoever was responsible for the accident is cause of Sean's death, end of story. Why would Delta go further and try to find who was supposed to be driver's previous passenger? If however the framed guy was his grandson(or his granddaughter's husband) it makes sense, he investigated both cases and realized they were connected and the snail is responsible for everything. Also if Mira kills Junpei, Delta kills her... but only in the timeline where Akane dies. If Carlos kills himself, Mira lives. Why? Because if Akane dies, then Mira is indirectly responsible for death of Delta's great-granddaughter, that is why Delta kills her. As a revenge. Then there is a fact that everyone we know in Delta's family is pretty powerful esper, and so is Akane (Aoi is also an esper but we don't know how powerful). And wouldn't it be cool if all three Zeros were related?

On the off-chance there is a new Zero Escape game, it will be a Decision Game
Since 999 and VLR are now packaged under the Nonary Games collection, it would make sense for Zero Escape 3 and 4 to be bundled as Zero Escape: The Decision Game

The Mandela Effect will be discussed in the next game
Remember how in 999 that Seven had memories of Akane dying during the first Nonary Game despite her being in the same place as him? That could get brought up as an example of the Mandela Effect and that Espers are the reason for it.
  • If there is a next game, which there probably won't be.

Akane's mother was a SHIFTer
We know that Akane's mother (to keep with her kids' names let's call her Midori) commited suicide after her husband was found guilty of murder and executed. Her suicide was in fact a SHIFT attempt. Midori wanted to jump to a timeline where her husband is alive, or alternatively she jumped to the past in attempt to save him. Naturally the timelines we see are the ones she jumped from. Of course Midori loved her kids but either she didn't realize that the timeline she'd leave would be kept intact, or simply didn't care since Akane and Aoi would still be alive and well in the timeline she's going to.

Carlos got his pretend rape plan from Akane's "Back to the Future" discussion
Carlos gained the memories from the other timelines, which would include the one where Akane discussed Back to the Future with him & Junpei. In Back to the Future, Marty comes up with the plan to pretend to try and rape Lorraine so that George can step in and act like the hero (only for things to go horribly wrong). After gaining his memories from the other timelines, in order to outsmart Zero, Carlos thinks about the story of BTTF and comes up with the plan to pretends to rape Akane. The difference here is that, unlike in BTTF where it was the pretend rapist and the pretend hero who were (planned to be) in on it, here it's Akane, the pretend victim, and Carlos, the pretend rapist who are both in on it, while Junpei ends up playing the role of the actual _really_ pissed off boyfriend.

Gnosticism would have been a great theme for the game
Gnosticism is a branch of Christianity that believes the physical world is a prison that has trapped the soul that yearns to reunite with Sophia; essentially the goal is to Free the Soul.

The identity of the religious fanatic is Junko Enoshima
Hey, both Danganronpa and Zero Escape are owned by Spike Chunsoft; it's not out of the question. Plus, it fits the few facts we know about the fanatic: Junko is a seemingly ordinary high-school student, so it would make sense that Delta can't find her; and while Ultimate Despair isn't exactly a religion, it is a cult-like organization dedicated to bringing about the destruction of humanity. Effectively, the actions of Delta in this game bring about the events of Danganronpa, partially mitigating the effects of the Tragedy and preventing it from spiraling into an all-out nuclear war as predicted by Delta. It's even possible that Crash Keys ends up evolving into the Future Foundation, seeing as ZTD ends with Junpei and Akane pledging to use its resources to hunt down the fanatic.

Quark is a descendant of Carlos
Since Carlos ends up surviving in the timeline that leads to VLR, it's possible that Quark could be a biological descendant of him. Both do have blond hair, and the future Junpei was the one who found the kid. Since we don't know for sure what happened to Carlos after the outbreak, it's possible he survived long enough to leave a descendant behind.

Diana and Sigma didn't starve to death
The transporter's activation triggered a video from Zero that told them about the pantry, and everyone was able to eat well for a few days and regroup while they explored the newly uncovered rooms, at which point they discovered the grenade launcher and were able to escape and live out their lives together happily with their children and dog.

Dreaming in humans is subconscious access to the morphogenetic field.
While discussing Reverie Syndrome, Akane theorises that it is caused by a person with esper capability subconsciously accessing the MG field, while awake at least. As all humans have the latent capability to connect to the MG field, dreaming may be caused by the uploading and downloading of information by the unconscious mind, and that's why dreams are typically fragmented and nonsensical as the mind attempts to make sense of foreign information. Being able to consciously access the field is therefore somewhat akin to becoming a lucid dreamer. In ZTD, Eric unconsciously 'uploads' the password to the Door of Truth after he is drugged into sleep, or at least broadcasts what he recently discovered during his sleep, which is how Diane is able to retrieve it from the mind of the sleeping man in the next room over.

Delta was hiding his presence from the player... the player being virtual-space Sean.
Over in the Headscratchers section there's a big argument about the whole "Q isn't Sean, he's Delta who's been hiding offscreen all along" twist. The previous games in the series had twists like that, but in that case the characters involved were unaware of the twist and so they found out at the same time as the player. But in this game, all the participants know that the kid is Sean and the wheelchair guy is Q- the only person who doesn't know this is the player. Delta is the one who controls what the player sees, so who's he trying to fool? It must be the player, but Delta doesn't show any sign of Medium Awareness, and when VLR flirted with metafiction in the Another Time ending it was declared non-canon as a result, so it can't be the real player. In that case, who is the player? Think about the timeline- the snail incident happened 17 years before 2028, that is, in 2011. So when Sean puts himself into virtual space and wakes up in a simulated world where the snail incident never happened, he must be back in 2011. One of the presents his parents give him is a video game system... and what game system came out in 2011? The Nintendo 3DS... the very same system on which Zero Time Dilemma was released. Perhaps, with all the events of the series averted in the simulated timeline, it became nothing but fiction. Delta figured this would happen and engineered the twist entirely because he thought Sean would like it (once he was old enough to play an M-rated game that is).

The 999/VLR/ZTD verse's creator deity is Haruhi Suzumiya
Espers (a version is possible via morphogenetic fields), time travelers (duh), sliders (double duh), and aliens (human ones, but still). Given that this particular group of people don't quite fit the definition as neatly and their powers are much more restricted, this must have happened when Haruhi's powers were not as strong as they are currently.

The Resonance Effect

There's mention of the Resonance Effect right after Junpei's proposal to Akane.

As is known in VLR, usually, the presence of a strong SHIFTer suppresses the abilities of others around them. Sigma and Phi were co-strongest, to the point that Junpei (as Tenmyouji) couldn't access the morphogenetic field at all.

Perhaps the in-universe explanation of the Resonance Effect is that Carlos has subconsciously trained his abilities so much as a firefighter, that he has so much excess "bandwidth" when accessing the morphogenetic field, that it actually spills over and allows him to enhance the abilities of others near him. Which would make Carlos a stronger SHIFTer than Sigma and Phi, or at least that his years of firefighting (of which there would be crisis choices aplenty during rescues in burning buildings) was better training for him than the whole Ambidex Game was for them.

Maybe Carlos is right on that edge before being so powerful that one succumbs to Reverie his sister...

  • Or rather, he didn't succumb to Reverie Syndrome because he's so powerful. Remember, Reverie Syndrome is what happens when an esper is receiving so much data through the morphogenetic field that they can't handle it.

The True Ending isn't Payoff. It's Apocalypse.
Okay, let's follow Sigma's personal timeline from December 25, 2028. He gets kidnapped by Akane, acting on knowledge she received via the morphogenetic field from her older self, and wakes up in 2074. He experiences the events of VLR, then has his consciousness yanked back to his body circa April 2029, at which point in time he's already lost his eye and limbs as per the Apocalypse timeline. He meets Diana for the first time from his perspective, but not from hers, and after she dies, he spends the rest of his life preparing for the Nonary Game in 2074, then sends his consciousness back to December 25, 2028, whereupon he immediately joins the DCOM study (they've already been isolated for five days by December 31, so it started the very next day)—something that the actual 22-year-old Sigma would have had no reason to do, had he not been replaced by his older self—and meets Diana for the first time from her perspective, but not from his. Since the events of ZTD are Delta's Stable Time Loop to ensure his own birth, any outcome other than Apocalypse would be a failure. No Radical-6 pandemic, no 2074 Akane telling her younger self what to do, Sigma stays in his age-appropriate body and never meets Diana in the first place.

Payoff is the Golden Ending, where no one dies, but it's not the true one. The true one was in fact one in which six...five people were killed inside the DCOM facilitynote  and a pandemic cause the death of six billion people. Life is unfair, isn't it?

Alternative Title(s): Zero Escape 3


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