By Paul Kainoa Vigil / March 18th, 2015
In celebration of the middle of the week, Aksys Games quietly put out some interesting teaser material this Wednesday. On their Facebook page, Aksys posted the link to a teaser site with the URL 4infinity.co. It directs users to nothing but the image above. As can be expected, the intention is impenetrable as far as we know.
However, a not-insignificant number of the comments on that Facebook announcement page surround a certain visual novel franchise. Let’s toy around with that, by taking a look at Aksys, the franchise in question, and some events related to that franchise.
Aksys Games is a video game publishing and localization company that services English-speaking audiences. They are well known for being consistent partners with Japanese developer Arc System Works (Guilty Gear, BlazBlue) and often work on titles from fairly well-established but not-quite-large developers like Idea Factory. One other such developer is Spike Chunsoft, presently known for the Danganronpa and Zero Escape franchises.
Danganronpa saw the announcement of Another Episode about a month ago. I don’t think it’s likely this is a Danganronpa title — while Danganronpa 3 doesn’t exist yet as far as we know, wouldn’t the franchise compete against itself? Also, part of the URL for the teaser site is “4infinity.” Kotaro Uchikoshi, the writer and director of the Zero Escape series, produced a series of visual novels known as the “Infinity” games, a mind-melting science fiction franchise of games somewhat similar to Zero Escape. That franchise only has three entries: Never7, Ever17, and Remember11.
The Zero Escape series has something of a trying story. In North America the franchise enjoys cult status and critical acclaim but in Japan neither 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors nor Virtue’s Last Reward sold well. The sales were apparently problematic enough to prompt Uchikoshi to take to Twitter a year ago and tell fans that Zero Escape 3 was “difficult to realize” at the time of writing. It might seem that circumstances have changed since then; later on Uchikoshi’s (self-managed) Facebook profile at one point looked as it does below, though a certain key element was later removed.
The above image was captured and posted on this NeoGAF topic. In addition, Japanese outlet 4Gamer conducted an interview with a handful of Japanese developers at the end of 2014 to gather their thoughts on future plans, and Uchikoshi said: It’s looking like 2015 will be the year where everything I’ve built up over the years will come together and be let out into the world in one fell swoop.” He’s not unaware that there is a vocal Western fanbase for the Zero Escape titles and has spoken directly to fans on occasion. The franchise is also a passion project for him, too.
And of course, the numbers. Zeroes? Threes? Two Zero Escape titles? Divide by three? Font vaguely kinda-sorta-maybe/maybe not reminiscent of the 9’s from 999’s art? I think we have our answer.
All of that being said, the massive blank that remains unfilled is this: if this is a Zero Escape announcement, why is Aksys making that announcement and not Spike Chunsoft? It’s true that following VLR’s release, Aksys was fairly aggressive in promoting the franchise. They created special limited edition digital watches, unified 999 and VLR under the Zero Escape name, ported 999 to iOS and printed more 999 copies for the Nintendo DS (with new cover art, too). But they’re still not the developers.
All of the necessary qualifiers aside — it’s just speculation — I am personally hoping against hope to see news related to the third Zero Escape title. But we’ll have to wait until Aksys speaks more…
…unless you’re feeling particularly impatient, in which case you can try your hand at some of these images uncovered within Aksys’ database related to the new teaser site:
Aksys GamesZero Escape