The Let's Play Archive

Zero Time Dilemma


Part 83: Payoff (2)

Part 83: Payoff (2)

If they all want to stay so bad, I'm inclined to let them.

Letting the timer run out has the same effect as explicitly choosing not to SHIFT.

Music: Aftermath (Decontamination Room)

Well, that was fun.

The fragment is complete, because choosing to SHIFT would, of course, take us to a different fragment.

In fact, do you notice the only fragment without the completion border around it?

So, not SHIFTing is just another boring game over.

My argument for SHIFTing is pretty simple. What would you rather have? A version of you running around outside with no idea what happened? Or a version of you running around outside with full knowledge and abilities from the rest of this game? Whoever's left in the shelter is getting blown up either way...

Anyway, let's SHIFT.

Yeah, there's no scene or anything.

We're not locked in anywhere, either. If you weren't paying attention to the dialogue before the decision that revealed our destination, you might have some doubts on how to proceed here.

Checking the global flowchart reveals a new node on the coin flip fragment, that was stuck behind a hidden lock before. And true to the characters' plan, the new node is located right after the Sun End.

You can also see the new node by going into the coin flip fragment itself.

Anyway, let's get on with the final ending of the game.

Music: Glacial Solitude

The background music is different, but we're seeing the same shot as when we first won the coin flip. Including the small crowd at the bottom.

We start about halfway through the original scene (a minute into it, by the timestamp given). This line is right after Carlos had an image of the flipping coin flash through his brain.

The rest of the scene plays out the same, but I'll let you enjoy it again anyway. It was quite a few updates ago, after all.

Hey, uh, could I ask all of you something? this kid?

That's where we ended the first time. But now...

I imagine Carlos is the light in the center leading the way.

Music: Transient Tranquility

Interestingly, this track is what plays during the original Sun End scene.

I'm...not sure why they're all passed out on the ground. Maybe that was a particularly strenuous SHIFT? Passing out wasn't really a side effect in the other ones we saw.

Carlos's hand barely twitches.

His eyes slowly open.

One last standing animation for the road.

Junpei and Akane stand as well, but I already promised Carlos would be the last one.

Sean looks around. He's never been outside the shelter, so doesn't know this is Dcom.

Eric moves to help up Mira.

Missing Lip Animations: 69

I definitely remember you.

Then we really did...

It must've worked...

Life is unfair. Don't you think?

Music: Divulgation 2nd Mix

Delta and Gab are here. Remember how last update, Delta said he had two good things to tell everyone? And those two things turned out to be Gab being killed, and Delta forcing Eric to kill him? Those are "good things" because we were free to SHIFT out of the doomed shelter without worrying about leaving anyone behind. And remember, Sean stayed behind after pressing the button in the Decontamination Room, because Gab and Delta were both chained up and unable to leave.

You bastard...

Seventeen years ago... A snail traveled down a narrow path in the park.

If that snail hadn't been there, perhaps all of you here would've lived a completely different life than you did.

Just one small snail. And everyone's lives...even the world...changed.

We've been given bits and pieces of the snail story throughout the game. So, let's explain it in its entirety for once. It begins with a woman jogging along a path. Normally, she goes down one path, but one day there was a snail on that path. So she took the other path, instead. There, she was killed. It's heavily implied that the woman is Eric's mother, and the killer is a young Mira.

A man is falsely accused of the murder, and eventually convicted and executed. His wife commits suicide in her grief. These are Akane's parents. As a result, Akane was vulernable to the kidnappings ten years ago, dragging Junpei into this whole mess last year to save her younger self. Without Akane, Sigma doesn't get dragged into the events of VLR, which means the events of this game wouldn't have happened, either. At least, not the same way. So Phi and Delta wouldn't have been born.

When Akane's father was arrested, he had called for a taxi but didn't end up taking it. Instead, the taxi picked up a surgeon and got into a fatal accident, killing both. A young boy in the hospital was supposed to be operated on by that surgeon, and ended up dying instead. That young boy was Sean, after whom our robot friend is modeled and named.

The only ones who don't seem to be directly affected are Carlos and Diana, the primary heroes of the game. It could be that Maria, Carlos's sister, wouldn't have had Reverie Syndrome. Diana has some backstory from having an abusive husband and working as a nurse, but neither seems to fit in with the rest of the story.

Gab walks over.

This version of Gab hasn't gone through anything troubling.

You all have SHIFTed in from another history.

Specifically, in this history not a single person has died. I strongly doubt the police would listen...

I'm annoyed that the characters are still this ignorant of the effects of having multiple timelines after all this time.

If so, then I'd say this world would be full of criminals of all kinds.

I love that they focus on Akane for that line. The original Zero, murderer of many in alternate histories.


all over the shelter...

You've slept for quite a while.

No transporter, no quantum computer... Loaded into a truck and taken away.

We know that after the coin flip, we either wake up here or we start the Execution fragment, both starting at 12:00. But we don't actually know when the coin flip took place, other than it was earlier on the same day. So there could have been enough time to do what Delta's saying?

Sean is able to move right now due to radio signals received from a satellite.

What, aren't you happy?

I say again. In this history, not a single person has died.

Phi and I exist, and there will never be an outbreak of Radical-6.

There is only a bright future ahead for all of us.

One last slow circling of the camera around everyone.

You said you released Radical-6 so that you could kill that person.


Buried in the implications of these statements - every ending we've seen where Radical-6 isn't released, just results in all of humanity dying anyway.


Was the ending leading to VLR the good ending after all?

Delta stops, and so does the music for a second.

Music: Blue Bird Lamentation 2nd Mix

Nothing in the future has been determined yet.

Screw that!

Delta cackles maniacally again.

For several seconds.

Imagine. What if... None of you had experienced the events that occurred in the shelter...

You're so determined now to change the future.

One of the goals of all of this was to get you into that frame of mind.

It's all going according to plan...

Without a single casualty--

I created a future where mankind will be saved.

Yeah. So it turns out Delta's primary goal was creating a timeline with a team of motivated super-SHIFTers that could stop the fanatic. Alongside the other goals of ensuring his own birth and ensuring a "failsafe" timeline where Radical-6 is released to kill the fanatic instead.

I will give all of you one last choice.

Delta tosses the gun over to us.

Carlos catches it.

you will be able to choose whether to kill me now, or allow me to leave.

I promise, I won't use mind hacking on you. You are free to decide.

Pull the trigger, or let me go...

Music: Interminable Dilemma (Payoff)

Yup, that's it.

We either keep Delta around to help us find the fanatic...

Or kill him for being an untrustworthy asshole and torturing us in other timelines.

The outcome is left to our imaginations.

Seems odd that Delta couldn't find the fanatic by himself, with those powers of his.

But I guess it really takes his powers combined with the SHIFTers' ability to see the future to really excel.

Some people are probably upset that the ending makes this game seem like another setup or training for a future mission.

I don't really see it that way, though.

Delta's already claimed to have created a timeline where everyone is saved.

So the outcome is already known, or at least the ability to reach it.

Really this game just put together the super-team to be able to deal with the fanatic.

The legwork of tracking down and defeating the fanatic probably wouldn't be as interesting on its own, anyway.

Overall, I'm satisfied with that part of the conclusion.

Even leaving that final decision and its consequences up to the audience, I rather like.

There's a bit of a problem with a lack of closure with the characters, though.

It's somewhat helped by the epliogue that we'll see shortly, but not entirely.

For instance, what happens with Sigma and Phi?

Are their consciousnesses from the VLR timeline going to jump to here?

Or is there some future version of their selves in this timeline that's going to hop back?

Even though our Sigma and Phi clearly remember the events of the VLR timeline, not whatever new one we've just created?

Does Diana stay with old Sigma here, only to have him replaced by a young Sigma who doesn't know her? Or a young Sigma who spent some unknown time in an unknown future?

I like to think that, in this timeline, Sigma and Phi put themselves into a cryo pod in 45 years so that their younger selves don't experience anything at all, and just hop back into the present while skipping over the events of this game entirely.

Then old Sigma and old Phi are bounced forward 45 years in the current timeline, and morphogenetically access the memories from the old versions of themselves in this timeline. Hopefully a happier future than the VLR one they left.

I get the feeling that the developer didn't really know what to do with that tangled consciousness-swapping mess, either, which is why it doesn't get mentioned at all.

The futures of C-Team and Q-Team are interesting, as well, but I'll get to those with the epilogues.

What about Free the Soul, though?

Did Delta create them as just a means to an end to get to this timeline?

And if so, what happens to them now?

Their leader, Delta, aka Brother, is either dead or is likely going to be using the group to help track down and deal with the fanatic.

There are probably some other unanswered questions from the earlier games.

But overall I feel like this game did a good job of picking up enough of the threads from the earlier games to satisfy the fans, while delivering a story that has sufficient complexity and twists to be its own work, as well. Despite some mis-steps and some poor animations in particular, the game delivers on a well-executed twist with the combined wards, and a heavy emotional impact with the Twins End.

The statement in this image isn't an exaggeration. ZTD was canceled at one point, and only got revived due to extensive fan support and activity. In particular, a Facebook group called Operation Bluebird arose as an online campaign to garner support for the series and for development of the third game. It's said that the game's director, Kotaro Uchikoshi, eventually pitched resuming the project using a fan-made rendition of the Morphogenetic Sorrow track that was published in Operation Bluebird, and gave credit to it for getting the green-light to move forward with the game.

With that, we've reached the final ending. CQD-END:2, or the Eye End. If you'll recall, CQD-END:1 was the Sun End from the very beginning of the game.

Also, the coin flip fragment is finally cleared!

We have all the endings on the save file, now, too!

You might think that's it, but there's just a little more.

It's pretty hidden, but I've gotten into the habit of checking for new files after every fragment anyway. After the final ending, jump into any scene, and take a look at the files. We've got seven here to tell us a bit of what happens to C-Team and Q-Team afterwards.

"Post-Payoff: Carlos (1)" posted:

The day is bright and clear. A girl in a white dress strolls along the beach, the wind tossing her long, blonde hair playfully. Up until a half a year ago she had been confined to a bed. Carlos's eyes still tear up every time he sees her smile.

"Come on, Carlos. You don't always have to help me. That's the point of my rehab."

"Oh, you're right. Sorry, Maria."

Carlos brushes her hair out of her face. It's definitely not the summer sun that's making him act out of sorts. It's the fact that his sister is here standing before him.

Maria grins up at him. "What would Akane and Junpei say if they saw you being all fussy like this?"

"It's fine. They understand how important you are to me."

"Both you and Junpei put your lives on the line."

"That was a different history. But going through that means we know how to treat Reverie Syndrome."

"I can't believe we have the ability to jump through spacetime..."

"I'm just glad you're able to control it now."

It's all because Carlos met Akane and Junpei that Maria was able to recover. He wishes he could show them how well she's doing.

"Post-Payoff: Carlos (2)" posted:

"You're thinking about them right now, aren't you Carlos?"

"What makes you say that?"

"Because you're smiling."

Carlos closes his eyes as his unconscious smile turns fond. "They're just about your age. It kind of feels like I gained a brother and another sister..."

"You ARE going to their wedding, aren't you?"

"Yeah. And you're coming with me."

But there is something Carlos needs to do first. Back when the three of them parted ways...

"I'll be waiting to hear word from you when you locate that terrorist."

Carlos held his right hand out toward Akane and Junpei, and the other two grabbed onto it with their own. There was no way of knowing if Delta was telling the truth, but if he fanatic would kill off all of humanity. Akane and Junpei vowed to find this person, and Carlos offered to help.

He can still feel the strong bond between the three of them, their hands clasped together tightly.

"I suppose I better get used to talking more before the wedding, huh?"

Holding her hair out of her face, Maria reaches out to her brother, who takes her hand in his, and they continue walking down the beach. The same blue sky above them stretches over friends Carlos knows he can rely on.

"Post-Payoff: Akane & Junpei 1" posted:

Junpei sits upon a white sofa somewhere within the secret location of Crash Keys, twiddling a pen and sighing.

"Hmm... What else should I say..."

Laying on the table in front of him is a half-written letter. Suddenly, Akane pops up behind him.

"What are you doing, Junpei?" She playfully teases.


Junpei dives for the letter, but she snatches it from his fingers and begins reading.

"Let's see... [Carlos, without you, Akane and I would've never gotten together. Thank you.] ...Is this an invitation to the wedding?!"

"No! It's most definitely not!"

He makes a grab for the paper, but Akane quickly moves it out of his reach.

"It's just a progress report," Junpei mutters. "Okay, yeah, I mentioned the wedding, but the date hasn't been set yet. I made a you and your brother... We wouldn't get married until we've dealt with the fanatic."

Akane's face flushes bright red. She hastily hides her face behind the letter and goes back to reading. "[I'd like nothing more than to get the approval and blessing of our old friends, and those of you we met six months ago.]"

Eyes wide, Akane glances up at Junpei. He avoids her gaze, awkwardly scratching the back of his head.

"Post-Payoff: Akane & Junpei 2" posted:

"You know, there's a history where I keep searching for you, even after I'm old and craggily. It...still exists out there somewhere, and when I think of that--"

A sharp pain jolts through Junpei's face; Akane is pinching his cheek.

"Ow! That hurts! What are you doing?!"

"To prove to you that this isn't a dream," Akane giggles. "You still can't believe we're together like this?"

Junpei shakes his head.

"You've changed a lot, Junpei. A half a year ago, you were never this honest. It's like... How do I want to describe it..."

"Like a dream?"


Junpei leans in and quickly pinches Akane.

"Oh, now you've done it!"

She darts forward and goes after Junpei with both hands, getting in a pinch whenever she can, and Junpei does the same. Once they start laughing it's very hard to stop, and they keep going until they're out of breath.

"I guess...this is all thanks to Carlos too."

"That's why I'm writing that thank you letter."

On Akane's left hand, a ring glitters on her ring finger.

"Sean, Eric, & Mira (1)" posted:

"Hey Mira, how are you feeling? Are you lonely?"

"Come on, Eric. You visited last week."

Eric smiles wryly, and reaches out to Mira with his left hand. Mira does the same, and their hands with matching silver rings align on either side of the plexiglass window.

"I brought a new guest to see you today." Eric shifts to the side and a head pops into view.


"Hiya Mira! Long time no see!"

"It's...Sean, right?"

"Yep. I'm happy you remembered!"

Behind Mira, the sun is shining through an iron-barred window, lighting up the Visitor Room.

"It's been a long time, Sean. It's good to see you." The smile that appears on her face is real. Mira no longer needs to plaster on a fake one.

"When I heard you turned yourself in, I was really surprised."

"Eric was the one who convinced me. He said I should pay for my sins so we could be together."

"So that's why you got married in jail."

Eric ducks his head shyly.

"Are you sure you're okay with this?" Mira asks.

He looks at her in confusion.

"Sean, Eric, & Mira (2)" posted:

"Don't you regret marrying me? I did carve your heart out in another history... Isn't that what you said, Sean?"

"Yeah. You did..."

Eric looks Mira straight in the eye. "I've already told you this a bunch of times. I forgive you. No matter what happens. Besides, you haven't killed me in this history yet, right?"

"Yet..." Mira's lips twist wryly.

"But...the Heart Ripper's killed people already. So many..."

"Sean, stop it..."

Eric turns angrily to Sean, and Mira's face falls into a frown, but Sean continues speaking.

"You turned yourself in, Mira, but that doesn't mean you've paid for all the crimes you did. I doubt the family and friends that were left behind would forgive you even if you were put on Death Row. There's no way you can clear your sins here."

Mira grits her teeth.

"But there IS a way to clear them...well, not what you've already done, technically. You'll have to pay for those your whole life, that will never change. But maybe you can in another universe..."

"Sean, Eric, & Mira (3)" posted:

Suddenly, Sean's fist crashes through the plexiglass window.


Mira jumps backward while Eric is frozen in shock.

"Wh-What are you--!"

Eric can't even finish speaking before Sean moves. Jumping through the broken window, he kicks the outside wall of the Visitor Room, causing it to crumble and reveal a giant hole. An alarm immediately starts blaring and police officers rush into the room, but Sean darts forward and takes them all down in a blink of an eye.

He holds his hand out to Mira. "Let's go!"


"I know where the transporter is being stored."

"You're saying...we should go change history?" Eric finally stutters.

Sean nods. "To stop young Mira from committing murder. Mira, I'm pretty sure that's the only way you can clear your sins."

Mira stares out through the hole in the wall at the horizon extending beyond.

With that, we've finally reached the end of the LP! We've got 69 missing lip animations, 5 references to the LP title (plus a few close variations), and 83 updates in 75 days, which seems insane looking back on it. I hope you all enjoyed the ride!

One last present before we wrap things up - a complete picture of the global flowchart!