AI: The Somnium Files was developed and published by Spike Chunsoft. It’s part visual novel, part point and click, and part “escape room”. It was released on PC, PS4, and Nintendo Switch in September 2019. It saw a Xbox One release in September 2021.
When a mysterious lady is killed and strung up in an abandoned Amusement Park, who is also missing an eye, it’s up to Kaname Date to figure out why she was killed. Why was her eye removed? Is there possibly a copycat killer who’s recreating a serial killer’s MO from 6 years ago? Why was she strung up where almost no one would see her? There’s many routes in this visual novel to read through, and a lot of twists and turns to keep you guessing!
The game is mostly a visual novel. So you’ll be spending your time reading a lot. Or you can listen to the well voiced lines if you’d rather. The game has 5 routes that you have to play through if you want the full story. Although two of them are blocked up until you complete other routes. So the very first route I found myself on, just so happened to be one of the two locked routes that I was unable to see the extent of, until about 20 hours later. By then I had mostly forgotten what had happened. Luckily the route chart gives you a summary of all the events leading up to that point. You just have to read them section by section
When the game gets going, it is really good. I was sitting on the edge of my seat in anticipation, waiting to see what was going to happen next. But in between it all was very slow. Yes there were some really good laughs and some interesting revelations, but for the most part it was hard to read at night, as it was slow enough to put me to sleep. I thoroughly enjoyed just about every route though. There was a character that I just didn’t like, so playing through his route, I couldn’t care about how it ended. But that’s not the game’s fault. I will say there is one route that felt like it ruined literally every character because of one “big twist” that happens on it. But at least the true ending kept it all intact. Sure the cast is exceptionally large, there’s at least someone you’ll love. I guarantee it. Whether it’s Ota the Otaku. Or A-Set the internet star. But no one is as good as Aiba. Although Date has his moments. What with all of his dirty jokes and innuendos.
When you’re not reading, one of the things you’re doing is clicking on things in the environment. This can lead to some really funny dialogue. But the other part that makes up the other 10% of the game are the “Somniums”. What these are, are basically escape rooms. Except with the caveat that you only have 6 minutes to get through them. So there is a lot of trial and error with them. This was easily my least favourite part of the game. Not only because it was trial and error, but because of the time limit. Everything reduces the time. The only time your timer isn’t decreasing is if you’re standing still. But even then it ticks down ever so slowly. Literally by the millisecond. Or maybe it would be nanosecond.
So as you run around these Somniums, there are environment points you have to interact with to further continue your “investigation”. You see that shelf? You can interact with it. You can push it, pull it, investigate it, or maybe even lick it. Each action takes off a certain amount of time from your timer. But the question is, will any of those actions actually be something that you need to do to progress the puzzle. As you do these actions, you get time modifiers for your actions. So you can cut a time by 1/8th or make it 10 seconds for your next action. But I never truly knew how to use these until my third puzzle room. Sure I’d highlight them, but you have to hit a whole other button to activate them THEN do the action you want, for them to have any effect. So that really didn’t help the whole timed area for me.
The cool thing about the way the routes are chosen, are actually done in the somniums though. So depending what actions you take, lock you down a specific path that you can sort of see, which then leads you onto your desired path. So instead of making the right dialogue choices, like in so many other visual novels, I did really like the shake up in this! Plus it was really funny seeing Aiba’s reaction to the different routes.
- Fantastic Story
- Lovable Characters
- Interesting Way To Choose Routes
- The Story Can Get Slow
- One Route Ruined All The Characters On That Path
- The Escape Rooms
I truly loved this game. Sure the story gets a bit slow in between its high points, and I truly didn’t enjoy the escape rooms, but the game is fantastic. Anyone who likes sci-fi murder mysteries in a Visual Novel should absolutely give this a read. I cannot recommend it enough, with all of its characters and routes and deep twists. Plus at the time of writing, it’s on GamePass for anyone who has it! Do not skip this!
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