A downloadable game for Windows

NOTICE: Reality Layer Zero is currently in active development. The build listed on this page represents the complete, unedited state of the project as of the latest major update. Five additional "major" updates are planned.

Currently available chapters: First Layer.



Reality Layer Zero is a debating RPG and occult mystery thriller.

You've been summoned by the city of Liere to testify in defense of your grandfather. You must prove his innocence, or he will be executed.

Alas, you are an amateur. Your investigative prowess is nonexistent.

All hope is lost... if not for one small thing.

Shortly after arriving in the city, you acquired a strange ability that allows you to control others' minds by defeating them in a verbal debate.

With this... You might be able to uncover the truth.

You have seven days.


  • Unique card-based debating system.
  • High-quality, high-resolution pixel art.
  • Completely original soundtrack.
  • Consequential branching dialog.
  • Social links!
  • 2-4 hours of gameplay (as of the First Layer update).

Command the three rhetorical modes-- Logos, Ethos, and Pathos-- to bring your arguments to resonance and influence the mind of your opponent.

Each argument has an associated cost represented by its premises, or the amount of points from each of the three rhetorical modes required to resonate (score) the argument. 

On resonance, the argument's weight will be applied to your resonance meter. Fill this meter to deplete your opponent's willpower and, ultimately, defeat them.

A simple goal; yet not-so-easily met. Your opponent can manipulate the premises you control-- and, likewise, you theirs-- with rhetoric. Rhetoric has its own associated cost, and applies effects ranging from depleting premises directly (via critique), applying status effects to the opponent (via proposals), manipulating the Enthymeme (the unstated premises), and much more. 

Striking a balance between resonating your own arguments and preventing your opponent from resonating theirs is the key to being a successful orator.

With use, arguments will level-up and become stronger. Leveling up may also unlock hidden effects, or inspire the development of new arguments.

Super-Intuitive Deckbuilding Interface

Customize your battery of arguments with ease. Select the cards that best match your playstyle, consider which resonance effects work well together, balance cost vs. weight, and then build a complementary rhetoric deck to maximize your arguments' potential.

In 7 days, your grandfather's sentence will be carried out, and he will be executed. You have 7 days to put a stop to this and save his life.

Each day is divided into two phases-- morning and afternoon. In each phase, you have a decision to make about how to spend your time. Do you spend it hunting for clues, building relationships with the locals, developing your arguments alone, or doing something else entirely? Each decision you make will impact reality around you and contribute to your grandfather's ultimate fate.

- Inherit New Ideals -

The citizens of Liere are notoriously tight-lipped and secretive-- but if you can find those that open up to you, the information they provide might bring you closer to the truth-- or, otherwise, may inspire the discovery of new arguments and rhetoric. Spend time with the right people, expand your inner world, and something good is bound to happen.

- Gather Evidence During Investigations -

Talk to witnesses and examine places of interest carefully for bits of information that might be rhetorically-significant later on. Be mindful while searching, though-- some evidence can be missed, which will make it difficult to find yourself in a position of advantage in the debates to come.

- Present Evidence In-Debate -

The evidence that you gather during your investigation can be presented to counteract your opponent's attempts to turn the tables.

Photosensitivity advisory: Reality Layer Zero contains brief sequences of bright, flashing lights, up-to but not in excess of 3 Hz under normal circumstances. Please play in a well-lit room.


reality-layer-zero-windows.zip 104 MB
Version 3 Mar 28, 2023

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Found this game through SAGE 2023

Interesting Story overall, it definitely got me interested, however it got slightly confusing around when Irene was explaining some points.

Gameplay wise, it definitely has a pretty fun type of strategy when it comes of risking points to get more or defend another set. Even though that certain enemies are a tiny bit unfair when it comes to gaining points and shooting you down for most of it.

If theres any *real* complaint about anything, it would be the effect on one of the big cards, especially about the effect of being able to use 2 actions per turn. It kinda makes the whole risk of trying to use it to backfire heavily as it also affects the opponents.

Absolutely would love to see more on it otherwise!

Good feedback! Top of my list of gameplay improvements for the next major update is to "mellow out" the opponent AI a little bit, to reduce that unfairness and increase how in-control the player feels, so consider that totally noted. 

As for Pace Up (the resonance effect on the big card "Clockwork"), I also agree it's a skosh problematic at the moment. It's possible that mechanics which show up in future chapters may help dial-back how off-the-rails it feels, but if not, it may need a rework. I'm thinking of either "localizing" the Pace Up effect for each debate participant such that it functions more like a Haste status in a more traditional JRPG, or perhaps decoupling the debate pace and acceptance rate mechanics somehow, so that only the "activating" player gets the "increased acceptance rate" benefit (at least at first). I'm open to suggestions on this one.


Wow! So much fun. I discovered this on Steam by almost complete accident, but what a pleasant surprise! Absolutely loved it, and have my eyes firmly fixed. I want more! Best of luck with development.

Just finished played one time through. I have no idea of the possibility space from the branching dialogues but from what I experienced I think you expertly captured a feeling of consequences to choices and urgency that I don't get from other games. The game genuinely felt like the stakes are high and I had only one chance to make things right, even with the prior knowledge that I could have just saved and loaded the game and reset my mistakes. 

The combat is fascinating to me and I think it was a great idea to have 3 effective pools to build from and attack on, which makes it not so trivially optimizable to build a deck around. Combine that with the strongly tied themes of debate behind the deck-based combat and I see a very strong base for a game here. I will eagerly await for further updates!

(1 edit) (+1)

Played the demo, and I want more! There's just so much I like about the game that it feels like it was made to hit all of what I like about Deckbuilders. This is more for encouragement, but I can't wait to see more, and I'll make sure to share it with others so that they can see this!


+ A VERY compelling story with well-written characters and mystery.

+ A unique conflict system (you debate opponents instead of fighting them). 

+ You have a lot of customization options for making a Debate Deck that matches your tastes. 

+ The overworld that feels like Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, but with more fantasy and less Mario.

+ Lots of interactable objects in the environment. 

+ Catchy music (I personally love Distant Warmth and Jazzy Idealist).

+ The finale of Chapter 1 is JUICY. (It is dramatic and scary, but will make you more determined than ever to solve the mystery.)

+ There is a "countdown" to finish the game, but the countdown only goes down when you decide. So all of your decisions have long-term consequences, but you aren't rushed.

+ There are lots of references to real-world rhetoric/philosophy (Perfect for nerds like me!)


- I won't sugarcoat it... The turn-based combat is slow.  It's a sluggish back-and-forth. (Still fun to do, but not for everyone.)

- There are not enough opportunities to fight opponents.  (Chapter 1 left me wanting more chances to debate people).

- Terminologies can be confusing (I myself have to think about combat in terms of Energy Points and Damage, instead of Premises and Resonance.)

A fun and exciting turn-based strategy game, with lots of dialogue and lovable characters. It has very few issues and is well worth playing.

(4 edits)

Have been enjoying it so far, but stuck the first time I've got to Justice square, I think I'm meant to talk to a lone guard, but can't find one other than this guy who doesn't really interact.

Minor feedback, skipping the text animation is awkward because of the way the text can pause because of end of line, full stop or comma, and they all behave slightly differently. and I occasionally skip the last bit of text by accident.

A potentially easy fix could be preventing skipping ahead when its an end of line [v] if you press a button within something like .2s of it appearing. Or an option to speed up text animation 

Thanks very much for the feedback. You can find the guard down the alleyway as pictured here. Might have made him a little *too* out of sight, heh heh... 

Gonna totally figure out a better way to prevent accidental text skipping, but for the time being, if you miss the last little bit of text, you can press tab (or L3) to view the text backlog. Should alleviate some of the annoyance!

(1 edit)

Thanks :D

Yeah, may make sense to put him a bit more visible, like here.
until now the game's basically taught me that you can't go into areas that are off the main path, so I didn't even see the gap in the fence

Nice about the L3. could be good to mention that early (maybe i just missed it lol)

ah, errored trying to edit the deck (god isn't making games annoying)




action number 1

of  Step Event0

for object obj_deckEditor:

Unable to find instance for object index -4

at gml_Script_anon_gml_Object_obj_deckEditor_Create_0_28543_gml_Object_obj_deckEditor_Create_0


gml_Script_anon_gml_Object_obj_deckEditor_Create_0_28543_gml_Object_obj_deckEditor_Create_0 (line -1)


Do you have any more details? (For instance, where the crash occurred?) 

Depending on several factors, you may be able to bypass this error if you reload. 

it was talking to the guy you pointed out, then going into the deck to edit, going out, going in again, clicking around a few times (i was a bit unsure what to change)

i'll try again when i'm next free to game

(5 edits)

Hey, fair enough, I'll see if I can reproduce it. Thanks for the tip!

EDIT: I have managed to reproduce the error. I'll add a fix for this issue as well as some of the others you mentioned here in the next update. For now though, for yourself and those who might be reading, if you've got a card "grabbed" while in the deck editor, DON'T back out of the editor! Drop the card first!

EDIT 2: Should be fixed as of version 2. I also went ahead and addressed the other two things you mentioned (accidental text skipping and finding the isolated guard). See Patch Notes #1.


Game is good. Writing is charming and easily digestible. Game length is less than 5 hours currently, but is a great basis for future content.


(disclaimer-- had the pleasure of playtesting the beta for this game)

Reality Layer Zero is a fascinating blend of mystery visual novel storytelling, adventure game exploration, and unique, debate-themed card RPG gameplay.

Overall, everything in the game is super well made, and the story, music and art direction all do a great job at complementing one another. There's obviously been a lot of time spent tuning the card gameplay to make it have a satisfying flow. In the first layer that's available, combat never felt unfair, and it was often extremely satisfying. At first it can seem a bit daunting, but, even as someone who doesn't really play a lot of card RPGs, I found that I was able to conjure up and execute some fun strategies by my second hour of play. And on a second playthrough, I was able to come up with and execute some really fun strats to take down the harder debates more effectively.

The atmosphere of the story is very distinct, and the mystery setup within it is so juicy-- I'm dying for some answers (but I can wait patiently!) The writing is also very strong, which is great, given how a good deal of the game is spent reading. The first layer does a great job at establishing the brooding, uneasy tone of the town, while also allowing for some occasional moments of wit and humor, and, of course, lots of intrigue and setup of deeper things to come. I also appreciate the inclusion of a backlog, as well as the ability to save and quit mid-dialogue so you don't have to wait for gameplay sequences if you have to go somewhere.

I'd recommend this to anyone who likes mystery VNs or adventure games like 07th Expansion works or Ace Attorney. And if you like RPGs that go for a unique style of combat, the systems here offer some leeway to play around with various builds in just the first layer.

Most special shout outs go to the expressive spritework, memorable CGs and fantastic music! Again, I'm stoked to see more in the world of Reality Layer Zero in the future!