Currently Playing AI: The Somnium Files

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Bowl-of-Lentils

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#1  Edited By Bowl-of-Lentils

I was originally going to wait for the physical version of AI to be released next week but ended up purchasing the digital version on the Switch. I finished the first Somniun section and I am still in the early stages of the games. So far though, I am liking it quite a bit. Compared to Uchikoshi previous two games, Punch Line and Zero Time Dilemma, AI feels like it was actually given a proper budget and a healthy amount of development time. While his previous two titles had sloppy presentations that felt like they were trying to do too much with the budget/time they had, AI feels like a much more polished experience.

Just like was mentioned in a few pre-release interviews, AI is more of an adventure game compared to Uchikoshi's previous games where you can investigate environments, gather clues and solve puzzles in the game's Somniun sections. These sections, where you explore a character's dreamscape to help solve mysteries, are under a time limit where time advances whenever you move or interact with anything. It seems really interesting, especially how you have to figure out the strange logic of that character's dream world in order to solve puzzles, but I feel like I made some bad choices in my first Somiun investigation that might come back to bite me. I'll have to play a little more to get a full grasp on how all that works out.

The game's story just throws you into the middle of an investigation, with the characters causally talking about past events and their relationships without going into details. On one hand it is cool because you feel like you are piecing together the story through normal conversations instead of exposition dumps but it also makes me feel like maybe I am already suppose to know all the stuff they are talking about. Like I am jumping into a sequel that assumes I am already familiar with the series or I was suppose to read a prequel web-comic before starting the game. It is still very compelling so far and I'm sure that the game will explain more once I get further into the story.

The characters also seem pretty fun so far and they are backed up by some very solid English voice acting. Plus the Switch version, which I am playing mainly in handheld mode, seems to run without any issues. I saw some reviews that complained about the game's performance on Switch but I have been playing it after downloading the Day One patch and have had no real problems.

Anyway, is anyone else planning to pick up AI? And if you have, what are your impressions so far?

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Zeik

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I remember seeing some trailers for the game awhile ago that seemed kinda interesting, but I didn't realize it was an Uchikoshi game until like a few days ago, which definitely puts it way higher on my to buy list than previously. I don't think I have the time to play it right now, but I'm going to try to remember it for the future.

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sparky_buzzsaw

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Oh neat, I had not heard about this. Sounds up my alley. Good writeup!

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gerrid

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Glad to hear it's compelling, I'm going to play it once I'm done with Link's Awakening.

From what I've read it works similarly to the Zero Escape games, in that you will have to return to branching points in the story on subsequent playthroughs to make different choices. If so, I wouldn't worry too much about those early bad choices!

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Bowl-of-Lentils

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@gerrid: Yeah, the game has a flow chart similar to VLR, so I will most likely get a bad ending and will have to go back and make different decisions to explore different branches of the story. I just don't know how all that will work out in AI specifically yet. I'm sure once I get my first ending I'll have a better idea of the flow of the game overall.

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Quantris

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Picked this up the other day, and just got to the first branching. It lets you go back immediately which I did, and the difference seemed pretty significant (not sure how it plays out). It's not clear that either one is better than the other though I do have an immediate personal preference.

Also, this game gets pretty weird really quick, which I appreciate. I hope it keeps that up. The glossary is pretty funny too.

And yes, the production is quite a bit nicer than e.g. VLR and pretty slick overall. I'm digging the art direction.

Playing on Switch w/English voices; no major complaints though some load-pauses are definitely noticeable. Didn't try the Japanese voices yet but the English ones are good so far.

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gerrid

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I was surprised by how quick the game gets dark and weird. I'm not 100% sold on the mental lock gameplay especially when there's a time limit. But the story is very intriguing and I really like the characters

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GenericBrotagonist

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Just finished this and man, what an absolutely fantastic experience. It's probably my game of the year so far. Uchikoshi just has a way of putting such care into every single one of his characters that even the minor ones stick with you. I'll take his relatively small casts over a huge open world game's generic models with generic outfits any day. He also somehow managed to surprise me yet again even though I'm looking for his twisty bullshit at this point. This is one of those times I really want a sequel but at the same time I know there really shouldn't be since it's a perfect stand alone experience. Oh well, they got around that problem after 999 blew up so they can again. I just hope SOMEONE at GB plays it, it would be a shame if it was completely ignored in GOTY. Vinny liked Zero Escape so I'm surprised this doesn't seem to be on his radar. Dan and Jeff should also give it a try since they were interested in playing ZTD but just weren't willing to play the others first.

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gerrid

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@genericbrotagonist: How long did it take you to finish? Did you do the entire flow chart?

I'm about 5 hours in and while I really (really) don't like the abstracted trial-and-error timed gameplay in the mental lock sequences, the story has really kicked into gear and I'm enjoying that a lot.

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GenericBrotagonist

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@gerrid: It took me around 25 hours, and yes I completed the entire flowchart. You really have to in order to get the true experience. I think there are a few joke endings that aren't included on it though. Yeah, the decision to make the gameplay entirely trial and error is a very strange one. Zero Escape's escape the room sequences were much more fun. However, so much less time is spent with them than the story and I'd say that story more than makes up for it.

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gerrid

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@genericbrotagonist: it's a shame because it means there's no puzzle element at all...in a detective game. Pretty odd choice.

Thanks for the info, I'm about 7 hours in now got to the end of one branch and had to go back. Loving the story.

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