The Let's Play Archive

Zero Time Dilemma


Part 39: Anthropic Principle (1 of 2)

Part 39: Anthropic Principle (1 of 2)

After a tour through all three Decontamination Room fragments, it's time to do another puzzle room.

A rather simple decision looming with two outcomes, and a few extra nodes tacked on the branches. Extended scenes, or more locks?

Music: Riddle and Puzzle 2nd Mix

This is...

The Rec Room.

Hey! We finally found a fragment that doesn't start at 18:00! Instead it looks like we're six hours later, at 00:00? So did all the other fragments we've seen starting at 18:00 really take place at the same time, but in different branches of the timeline?

It's the new year...?

Right. Zero explained it earlier.

We might've just forgotten we did.

So we've woken up a bunch of times already?

I can't even think about it without getting chills.

We have a little more knowledge than they do. All three team members are here, so we know we're not following from the Pantry, and we're obviously not in whatever timeline resulted in C-Team being executed. That would leave the Decontamination Room (unlikely) or the Infirmary as possible prior fragments leading up to this one. At least from what we've seen so far. Or there could be some other morphogenetic weirdness going on.

Carlos walks over to the door.

Junpei admitted to having a bit of a drinking problem back in the Decontamination Room, not that the others remember that.

There's a lot of things we can do here.


A slot machine and a jukebox.

I'm kidding.

I guess we can't just goof around in the limited time we have in here.

Junpei turns his back on Akane to lean against the bar.

True, looks, tastes, and other superficial things change with time. But there must be something inside you that's still the same.

Music: Ustulate Pathos

Swimming, going to festivals, getting into snowball fights in the schoolyard... During the incident with the rabbits, you protected me, didn't you?

The Junpei from back then... He must be somewhere...

Again with the giant ring.

Says the one of us who changed first. No. You might not have changed at all, it's just me seeing things I missed before.

The hell...


Wait, you weren't a firefighter then?

I'd come home after buying a birthday present for my sister...

At that point, I had arrived before the fire department had. That's why I...

[Carlos's sister:] Carlos, I'm here! I'm over here!

I managed to save my sister, but not my mother and father.

And I was never able to even thank them...

Ah, sorry. I kinda brought the mood down.

Anyway, I just wanted to say...

If you have something to say, say it while you're alive.

Heh. Good point.

What are you staring at Junpei? He looks like a mannequin in this shot.

Okay, let's find a way out of here.

I guess they're all staring at the door now.

I recorded this stuff five days ago, let's see how much I remember of what I did.

Music: Rec Room (Lounge 2nd Mix)

The Rec Room is my favorite puzzle room. It's colorful, there's a lot of stuff to interact with, and the overarching solution is non-linear.

Let's start as usual by looking at everything in the room. Like this jar on the fireplace.

Maybe it's for the fireplace? I wonder why that label says that though.

Maybe 130(ml) of "oil" is the max you can put in the fireplace before it explodes?

Or you need to use 130(ml) of "oil" to get your fried chicken to taste delicious...

Fried chicken? What is this, Zero's Cooking Hour?

Hmm, "oil 130(ml)"... Why is the unit of measurement in parantheses?

We can't actually pick it up, so the label itself must be a clue somehow.

Looks like they're glued in place...

Maybe that's so they don't fall off.

Clicking anywhere on the fireplace or the brick above it results in an aggressive zoom-in.

It's a fireplace. There's no fire in it right now.

Wow, it's big enough to fit someone inside.

How funny would it be if Zero decided to play hide and seek here.

In front of us are a couple of chairs and a table with some stuff on it.

Oh wow, this leather chair's so comfy.

Well, the comfort level of a sofa or chair is very important.

The other chair has equally bland dialogue:

A leather chair.

You can rest here for a while if you're tired, Carlos.

No, this isn't the time or place. Let's check out something else.

Let's examine the table itself, first.

There's a closed portable chess set on the table and a...

Bottle of...jam. It'd look tasty on a piece of toast.

Better not eat it, Akane. Could be poisoned.

There's also a booklet of some kind. Let's start with the jam.

Carlos? Why are you staring at it? Do you recognize it?

Yeah... My sister really likes this. I bought it for her a lot. "Take some in the morning and you'll be strong and beautiful inside and out! JAM 100(%) pure!" I'd hear her quote that ad all the time.

It's great you have such a fond memory, but you should never make your voice that high.

It sounds like a TV commercial aimed at young girls.

Ah, JAM 100(%) pure... Never thought I'd see it again.

At this point my brain tickled and I decided to start writing down the words and corresponding numbers.

A chess rule book. Are we supposed to check this?

There are some markings on the chessboard that look like these drawings. Easy enough to figure out even without this note, if you're at all familiar with chess, but nice that it was included.

The chessboard itself has a "3" icon with a single arrow in each direction (depicting how a "king" piece can move), and a "1" icon with arrows moving multiple spaces off in each straight direction (like how a "rook" piece can move). The side of the board seems to have the word "chess" written upside-down...almost.

Huh? The chess board doesn't want to open. But I don't see anything keeping it shut...

Hey, is there something off about the word "chess" there or is it just me?

That's all for the chessboard for now, but there's another hint available by clicking it again.

Oh... The "e" in "chess" is mirrored!

Aha! That's it! That's why it felt so off to me.

But why is only the "e" mirrored? Is it just a typo?

The chessboard is the rare item that actually has a third set of dialogue if it's clicked yet again, providing an even less-subtle hint.

Why is only the letter "e" mirrored on this thing...

Hey, you know, couldn't "chess" sort of look like numbers?

You're right. Each "s" would be a 5, the mirrored "e" is a 6, and "h" is 4...

But that leaves the "c" out since it doesn't look like a number.

So, keep an eye out for something with 5564 later.

There are suits of armor all over the room, but this one is holding something.

A suit of armor. I always liked these things.

Why not try it on, Carlos?

This is not exactly the best place to be doing that. Besides, it looks hard to put on.

That's nice, but I'm more interested in what it's holding.

Hold on. This thing's holding something in its right hand.

It's...a fire hook?

You could use it as a weapon, but I don't think it'd be able to break down the door.

But they're all so old that we can't read a word.

No clues then. Let's move on to the next place.

Nothing interesting on the bulletin board, so let's look at the roulette table.

Some of the numbers are circled, and there's a letter-input on the wheel itself.

This is a roulette wheel, just like the ones you find in casinos.

There's some kind of input here. Let's test it out.

Ugh. Well, we sucked with that... What was it we're supposed to put in?

Alphabet... Alphabet... Was there a clue somewhere?

It didn't like my random entry. Four letters here, and four numbers circled on the table. We just need to find a note to translate those numbers to letters, probably.

5, 21, 26, and 28... I've no idea what they mean.

That's all for the roulette table. How about another suit of armor?

A suit of armor... Having one of these standing in your home would be pretty cool.

Yeah... It'd be a great statement, even if it didn't match the interior design.

...It'd definitely dominate a small room.

I don't know much about interior design, but I do know that my wife would kill me if I tried to stand up a suit of armor in the corner somewhere. Maybe it could go in the basement next to the pool table.

Next up is the bar. Lot of stuff here, though much of it shares the same dialogue.

First, there's a small box on the bar itself.

Maybe we can use it for something. Let's take it with us.

I can hear something when I shake it... Hey Junpei, try to karate chop it open.

If I could do that, I'd make a career as a pro fighter.

I thought maybe we could use the fire hook to pry the box open, but no luck. I'm still pretty sure that would work better than the real solution. You'll see when we get there.

Further down the bar, we have an ashtray, some cigarettes, and some matches. The cigarettes have another word-number association...


And...why are you shouting, Junpei?

You don't know, Carlos?! They're super rare! You can't find them anywhere anymore! I memorized the slogan when I was a kid! "The setting sun at 24. A perfect match."

Men... Always wanting to be cool. It's just a cigarette.

Why do you have to be 24 to smoke it...? Whatever, you said it's rare?

Like the other word-number pair items, we can't actually take the cigarettes (or the ashtray). Let's try the matches.

Matches. They don't feel wet, so we can still use them.

It's easy for me now, but I was afraid of lighting fires when I was young.

Now that you mention it, I remember watching you being scared to light a firework.

Oh! You still remember!

Yeah, I seem to recall you cowering and hiding like a baby behind me.

Aww, don't tease me like that.

I guess getting locked in an incinerator and almost getting burned alive made Akane a little scared of fire afterwards.

We can't use the matches to set the box on fire, either.

I jot down the new word-number pair. I had to start over on this page because I ran out of "ink" (the bar on the left), because apparently the eraser still counts as using "ink". I had to wipe the whole page with the trash can icon instead.

Anything else about the bar itself?

A bar counter made of wood. There's another one like this in the Lounge.

This all feels really adult. I like it.

No time for a drink right now. We have to focus on getting out of this room.

One of these bottles on the shelves really stands out. And it looks like another word-number pair, too.

Wait! This is...!

SAD MAN 570... Is something special about this wine, Carlos?

There's a legend about this bottle. You're not supposed to ever drink it! It's so bad, wine experts everywhere lose their will to live after tasting it.

It's like Pandora's Box...but with wine.

It's all right if you open it, but please don't drink it!

Wonder if I'll run out of room on the old memo pad.

Are you a regular drinker, Carlos?

I've never bought for myself, but I don't refuse when coworkers invite me out. I always end up leaving early to visit my sister though.

You really are dedicated to her.

The rest of the bottles on these shelves are the same, but there's something else on the wall next to them.

These are records?

Oh, really? I've never seen real ones before.

Me neither. I hear old bars sometimes still use them though.

The player itself doesn't take up much space. My parents used to have one. When I listened to records on it, it made me feel like I was really at a concert...

I take a moment to look up and make sure there's nothing hiding out of sight up there.

I wonder if one will crack open with a "Congrats" banner once we get out of here.

I doubt Zero is the type to do something as cute as that...

Nothing else on the ceiling, but there is something different on the next set of shelves.

It's a glass bottle of water.

Dramas on TV always have one of these things as the murder weapon...

Water you saying, Junpei? The shelter must be fully prepared, so they bottle of them.



What? What? It's...just a joke! Come on you two, say something?!

I didn't even notice those puns the first time I saw them. "Water" = "What're", and "bottle" = "bought all".

The rest of the bottles are tied to the same dialogue as the other set of shelves, so I move on to another suit of armor.

This armor's pretty well-made. But...why is it here?

What if...the armor starts moving to attack if someone cheats?

Don't be silly, Junpei. We're not in some game or movie.

Ha ha. Probably not, right?

It's kind of cool that each star represents a state.

I like the Japanese flag, too. It's simple and clean.


What are you going on about, Junpei? It's just a memorial plate.

What, you don't know what a funyarinpa is? That's practically blasphemous!

I'm ashamed to admit that I had forgotten the reference here, despite people in the thread calling it out before. Back in 999, Junpei refers to an abstract drawing as a funyarinpa, then says a line like the one above when questioned about it. Apparently it became something of a fan icon, and a reference to it showing up two games later is pretty cool of the developers for what was originally a throwaway joke.

Moving on, there is plenty more stuff on this wall to check out.

This says New Caledonia...

It's a popular vacation spot. Blue skies... Endless ocean... I'd like to see it someday.

It'd be pretty sad to go alone though.

I thought this one might be another gaming reference, but apparently New Caledonia is a real island (archipelago, actually) out in the Pacific Ocean, east of Australia. It's a French territory with a bit of a rocky history (like most colonial settlements that didn't have much regard for the natives already living there).

Yeah, a digital one. But nothing's on the display. Maybe the batteries are missing?

We could toss it around like a Frisbee. ...What? You gotta admit it looks like one.

I guess the saying about a stopped clock being right twice a day doesn't really apply to digital ones.

Yeah... Looking at this kind of calms me down.

Junpei gets a line for this painting on the second click:

No way to turn into a werewolf staring at a boring picture. Let's keep looking.

No switches hidden behind it...

Let's search somewhere else, you two.

That's only because we're trapped here.

You feel so free when you're surfing... A complete 180 to how we feel in here.

This card table has been staring at us for awhile, let's finally take a look.


Why so serious, Junpei?

It's just...that tower of cards. My fingers are itching to knock it down...

Same here. But it'd be a shame to destroy all that hard work.

Something could fit inside.

There's a minus, a plus, and an equals sign... Must be a math equation.

We've got a bunch of cards laid out like a math equation, and all the kings are off to the side and torn in half. Let's see if we can get any more hints.

These cards are set up to look like a math equation.

You're right. And all the Kings are ripped in half over to the side.

Not much to go on there, at least not yet. Let's keep looking.

This thing has a sign about collecting five coins, slots for five coins, and a button under a glass case.

Nothing interesting about the sign. How about the coin slots:

There are five holes here.

It says "Collect 5 coins!" at the bottom. Then the holes are for the coins?

We have zero coins right now, so we'll have to come back later. What does the team have to say about the button?

Hey, this button says OPEN. Think this is for the door?

But it's under this glass. We couldn't press it even if we wanted to.

It says "Collect 5 coins!" down here at the bottom.

Does that mean if we get five coins we'll be able to push the button?

And it looks like the coins go into these holes. Let's start looking.

The game really wants you to know that you have to collect five coins.

You go out late a lot?

Only when I'm in the mood to drink alone. Walking the streets distracted me from everything I had to deal with at work...

For me, it's the opposite. Walking alone at night makes me nervous...

Junpei's line takes on more meaning since we've already heard his story from the Decontamination Room...

There's something on the floor here.

Doubt we'll be able to open this with our bare hands.

Not much of a hint here, but we did pick up a tool awhile back.

Just grab the fire hook and click on the door again...

Hmm...55643, and the 3 has a big red X through it. It's been awhile but I'm pretty sure we've seen something like that before.

There's also a small wooden hammer inside the compartment.

It's a wooden hammer.

We can probably use it somewhere. We should take it with us.

Oh, I know. When Zero shows up, we'll hit him with that X...

What, like whack-a-mole?

If that's what it takes to get us out of here... Nope. No way that's right.

Grabbing and rotating the hammer reveals that there is indeed a red X on one side of the head.

There's a red X on the hammer, and a red X on the number here, let's try hitting it.

Nothing's happening. Maybe this isn't where we're supposed to hit.

It's possible. I wonder what the numbers in 5564X mean...

Guess the red X is more symbolic than literal, then.

Yet another suit of armor. I think that's four total in the room.


What's wrong, Junpei? Why are you staring at it so hard?

Oh, I just thought maybe it was one of those door motion-sensor activated things.

There's something sticking out of the helmet over here.

Huh? Something's stuck in the helmet.

A chart of letters of the alphabet on it...?

Hmmm...three rows of red and black letters...look like anything else we've seen in this room yet?

We've almost made a full circuit of the room. Just a few things left, like the exit door.

Urgh... Dammit. The door's shut tight.

It's locked. We'll just have to find a way to open it.

A jukebox?

The dice-shaped buttons are really stuck on. I doubt we can take them off.

It'd be a lot of fun to play with them though.

Too bad, they would be a perfect fit for the three square holes on the card table.

My choice of colors was not the best here, but I wanted to write down what looked like another word-number pair.

I didn't click anywhere near the card slot, but now that you mention it, there does seem to be one above the dice buttons.

Let's use the superhero trading card Junpei treasured back in grade school.

Like I would still have that. That was forever ago. But hmm, a card... Did we find anything that could fit there?

The notes we found so far aren't inventory items, so they won't work. Guess we'll have to come back later.

I finally got the word-number pair hint to trigger by clicking the very bottom of the jukebox.

What?! JUKE 803? The "death" model?!

Huh? You know about this jukebox, Akane?

Yes... It's the cursed jukebox that travels from bar to bar. At 8:03 exactly, it plays a song so depressing that whoever's listening commits suicide. That's how the machine got its nickname... "Juky, the Grim Reaper of Eight-o-Three!"

I can't decide if that's terrifying or cute...

And how exactly did this rumor spread if everyone who listened to it died...

They've got some weird urban legends in this world.

The slot machine has multiple parts to interact with. I'll start with the top.

I think something needs to go on the upper section of this slot machine.

You're right, it's completely blank. But what?

Huh? How exactly do you make a heart?

That's our last word-number pair.

"Odds" is how you explain win rates in gambling. But that's usually percentage, not odds. Maybe that's why it's in parentheses?

You seem to know a lot about this, Junpei. Do you play slots a lot?

Naw, just a little horse let off steam and unwind, you know? There happened to be an odds 35 race, so, well, I bet $100 on it... ...

I take it you didn't win, huh. Don't be so hard on yourself. It happens.

I kind of ran out of room on the memo pad, but I'm sure I'll remember what that was supposed to be later.

The bottom of the slot machine is a separate zoom screen. Hey, there's a heart!

There's nothing in the tray here.

We should get coins flowing out if we get a match on the machine.

Maybe this machine is where we get the coins? How do we play it?

It says EXTREME SLOTS here on the bottom.

Extreme, huh? Well, it better live up to expectations...

Well, clicking the name label didn't help. How about the reels themselves?

Pulling the lever does nothing. The reels won't spin.

I don't think power's running through it. How do we turn it on?

What about the heart thing, maybe that'll help?

There's a heart on this frame here.

For being only 9 by 9 squares, it's rather pretty.

Hot springs hotels have these kinds of puzzle games a lot.

Are we supposed to use the slot machine to make a heart somehow? Seems like we'll have to come back later.

Well, that's the whole room. I'm nearing the character limit already, so the rest of the update will follow in a few minutes.