AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative review

AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative review

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What is it? A dream-diving visual novel where you solve a murder mystery in nearby Tokyo.

Publication date: Out now

Expect to pay: £50/$60

Developer: Spike Chunsoft

Publisher: Spike Chunsoft

Judged by: Intel Core i7-10750H, 16GB RAM, GeForce RTX 2060

multiplayer? no


Jin Furue has been murdered. Someone has cut the CEO in half and left one half in a TV studio, where a live quiz show is being recorded. The other half of Jin doesn’t show up until six years later, having apparently passed away just hours earlier. That’s the mind-boggling setup for AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative, a visual anime novel out there, but with a compelling murder mystery at its core.

You’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise, given how crazy this sci-fi adventure can get. Your constant companion – at least for half the game – is a filthy artificial intelligence that lives in a fake eyeball where your left eye should be. With her help, you’ll solve the mystery of the Half Body Serial Killings as you discover conspiracy theories, creepy viral videos and a cult that believes the world is just a simulation, the world is gone. That is, when you’re not battling faceless goons for quick prompts in one of a handful of ridiculous action sequences.

Credit: Spike Chunsoft

Like its predecessor, Nirvana Initiative is a sprawling mystery that touches multiple genres, combining visual novel conversations with the aforementioned action pieces, and more interactive scenes for puzzle-solving and investigation. Somehow it all comes together – this generic fusion and the conspiratorial sci-fi – because it doesn’t take itself quite seriously. You might be surprised by a Pokémon minigame in the latest Frogwares Sherlock Holmes adventure; here, it’s just another day at the office.

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