AI: The Somnium Files
|AI: The Somnium Files|
Cover art, featuring (left to right) Aiba, Date and Iris in the center
|Platform(s)||Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4|
AI: The Somnium Files[a] (// (listen) EYE) is an adventure video game in development by Spike Chunsoft, planned for release in September 2019 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch. It is set in Tokyo, and follows detective Kaname Date, who investigates serial killings and enters witnesses' and suspects' memories to extract information. The game is directed and written by Kotaro Uchikoshi, designed by Akira Okada, and produced by Yasuhiro Iizuka, and features character designs by Yūsuke Kozaki and music by Keisuke Ito.
AI: The Somnium Files is a mystery adventure game, and is split into two types of sections: investigation parts and somnium parts; it additionally contains several optional side quests. The story progresses through branching paths leading to multiple different endings, based on choices the player makes; the player only gets a full view of the story by playing through each route. Rather than starting over from the beginning several times to see different paths, the player can skip directly to the branching points.
During the investigation parts, the player character, as detective Kaname Date, uses his artificial intelligence unit Aiba's functions, such as X-ray vision and zooming, to further the investigation in the real world.
During the somnium parts, Date uses a machine called the Psync Device to enter the memories of suspects or key witnesses who do not want to share information with him, in the form of dreamscapes called "somnium", to find clues and extract the information by solving puzzles. The puzzles involve examining objects and choosing an action to perform with it, and solving mental locks – obstacles standing in the way of clues – allowing the player to sink deeper into the character's subconscious. As there is a six-minute time limit before the dreamscape collapses, and actions take time to perform, the player must be careful in deciding what to do. Within the somnium parts, Aiba takes on the form of a human woman and acts as the player avatar.
AI: The Somnium Files is set in a technologically advanced Tokyo in the near future, and follows detective Kaname Date from the Advanced Brain Investigation Section (ABIS) of the metropolitan police department. Date investigates a serial killing case in which victims have had their left eyes gouged out. Date himself lost his left eye six years prior to the beginning of the story, and has an artifical eye containing an artificial intelligence unit called Aiba that is linked to his consciousness and used to assist in investigating the killings.
Among other characters appearing in the game are Date's co-workers at ABIS including his boss and old friend, and the engineer Pewter who handles the Psync device and created Aiba; and YouTuber Iris Sagan, a high school student who makes Let's Play videos and music videos under the name A-set.
AI: The Somnium Files is developed by Spike Chunsoft, and is written and directed by Kotaro Uchikoshi, produced by Yasuhiro Iizuka, and designed by Akira Okada, and includes character designs by Yūsuke Kozaki and music by Keisuke Ito. Kozaki was approached by Uchikoshi for his role as character designer due to being an internationally known artist, and how Uchikoshi wanted the art to have a worldwide appeal. The game is developed with a higher budget than that of Uchikoshi's previous work, the Zero Escape series, which according to Uchikoshi helped allow him to express his concept for the game in a way that he was unable to with Zero Escape. Comparing AI: The Somnium Files with Zero Escape, Uchikoshi described AI: The Somnium Files as being made more with adventure game fans in mind, in contrast to Zero Escape's heavy use of cutscenes.
Two of the game's core themes are eyes and "different types and expressions of love", reflected in how the title AI is pronounced "eye" and in how "ai" (愛) is the Japanese word for love. The title also has additional meanings in that it is pronounced like the English word "I" and is short for "artificial intelligence", and the "Somnium" in the subtitle is taken from the Latin word for "dream".
The idea of entering characters' dreams to solve cases was proposed by Iizuka. Uchikoshi thought it was intriguing, so he decided to use it in the game. The game's investigation-based puzzles are intentionally designed to be less difficult than those in the Zero Escape series, and are described by Uchikoshi as a modern take on the style of Hideo Kojima's 1994 adventure game Policenauts. Other influences on the game included EVE (1995) and The Silver Case (1999); Okada additionally mentioned Life Is Strange (2015), Detroit: Become Human (2018), Heavy Rain (2010) and The Walking Dead (2012–2019) as influencing his work on the game.
The game was first teased at a Game Developers Conference 2017 press event under the working title Project Psync, with a piece of artwork depicting an eye. Spike Chunsoft announced the game the following year during an Anime Expo 2018 panel, and released a first teaser trailer introducing Date. In January 2019, Spike Chunsoft started promoting the game with videos and a Twitter account for the character Iris.
The game is planned to be released in North America on September 17, 2019, in Japan on September 19, and in Europe on September 20 for Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation 4, with both English and Japanese audio. In addition to the standard edition, a "Special Agent Edition" will be available which includes an artbook, the game's soundtrack, an Iris acrylic stand, a set of stickers, and a game box.
- Known in Japan as AI: Somnium File (AI：ソムニウム ファイル Ai: Somuniumu Fairu)
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