Ramble Ral: AI: The Somnium Files

(Articles in the Ramble Ral section are presented “as is” with minor editing. For more information please see its section page. They will probably contain spoilers for the game in question)

AI WIPEG

Yet another Visual Novel from Uchikoshi on the completion list and I’m sure many people have questions about it.

First of course is the age-old question of “did Mr Writer M Night Shaymallana use the exact same plot twists that he does a million times”, to which the answer is “What do you think?” – I think no but then again I’m an idiot.

That being said, because AI is a murder mystery detective story and not a “some dudes are trapped in an enclosed area and will probably snap and kill each other” game, it does feel somewhat fresh somehow SO I’ll cut him some slack here.

That being said^2, I feel like the mystery isn’t the strongest part of the game because… well, the guy reuses his plot twists. I feel like mystery writers should probably either be super creative that they’re original all the time or not build a reputation for doing certain things because I basically saw 99% of the incoming things ahead of time even without the help of a super AI eyeball – As soon as I saw a certain name being dropped I immediately went “welp that’s the killer right there and the original body”

The strongest point of the game is probably the character work – The Date / Aiba dynamic is very strong and I don’t really think there’s many games where you play as a 30 year old single father raising a kid who isn’t their own :VincentValentine: – I think a lot of people think that Mizuki and Mayumi’s end scenes are the best written and most emotional in the entire game and I really recommend doing the former ASAP because you kinda want to strangle her otherwise, funny enough, before you really understand her inner workings.

The latter will hit every hard for people whose memory retention is kinda shot or who know people who are experiencing it. The most egregious part of it is that it’s seriously completely unrelated to the murder mystery that they had to throw in a stinger right at the very end so it doesn’t feel like you somehow wandered into a PSA.

I have no idea whether he’s drawing on his own personal experience but I get the kinda feeling that Mr Writer thinks that the people who are your “true” family aren’t the ones that just share your blood (and sometimes they aren’t even that bad of people overall, just completely unsuited to being parents). The MC is basically portrayed as being a father figure to most of the young characters in the game.

Also obligatory “the MILFs are good looking mmmmmm did you know the artist designed the characters for 3DS Ice Symbol games” comment I guess.

Anyway on the mystery part… well, the process of uncovering the mystery is enjoyable enough, however I think the reveal where you find out how it all began is extremely questionable – So many things could have prevented if only people had the genius idea of RESTRAINING THE DAMN PEOPLE YOU’RE TRYING TO SYNC WITH – you’re at a police station, no one has any excuse from not cuffing dudes to the machine! That’s some gross negligence right there and Boss should probably be ashamed of herself.

The villain doesn’t get points for intelligence either – why did he think it was a good idea to sync into the body of a criminal that’s known to the public when he had a clean record? And then his motivation against our main character is that he wanted to make him suffer for “what he put him through”, except that his own misfortunes was self inflicted!

And yes, he probably should have learned how to restrain people to the machine too after the first time

To put simply, for the game’s plot to even have happened, everyone would have to be complete morons.

I’m just glad the villain was really entertaining to watch – and the scenes where he’s in other people’s body really showcases the range of the VAs.

Is there anything I haven’t covered? I guess the puzzles… ehhhh, meh.

Originall when the game was first announced, a lot of people were concerned about having to do puzzles in real-time, but in actuality, AI’s really not time-based in any real sense – it’s a resource management game and the puzzle rooms range from being either really straightforward or stupidly trial and error because of strict resource requirements. I guess they’re just there to add some gameplay because pure reading VNs sell very poorly since damn youngins hate reading.

Assorted non-structured comments

– Holy cow Ota is 24 years old, what the hell? Did he lose the genetic lottery or something? He’s a friggin midget.

I seriously thought he was the same age range as Mizuki throughout the whole game and only realized at the end his actual age (I guess mentioning college should probably have tipped me off but well) – honestly it makes a bunch of his scenes kinda reflect rather poorly on him now then when I was thinking he was just a dumb kid.

– The action scenes, yeargh. Literately every one of them have the same punchline and you know I don’t mind when it was used the first time because it was a comparatively “low stakes” event so putting some humour there works fine, but having even the serious end of route conflicts be resolved the same way is VERY dumb.

– AI is actually like the one game of this guy where everything is basically clean with no loose ends but there’s like a couple of things that I don’t think is ever explained – Why does Date have memories of other paths? He remembers Mizuki crying about him being comatose which never happens on the True Route, for example, and that clearly can’t be “hidden memories that I just happen to unlock”.

This plot element is generally a big deal when it shows up in all his other games but here it’s just “uh yeah that’s a thing, moving on” In lieu of any given explanation, I can only assume that Date’s a big Sudoku fan.

– Why does Mizuki have super strength, it’s not a part of the plot at all. Does this actually take place in the X-Men universe? Apparently the answer is in a recent interview…

Anyway, that’s it. Pretty nice experience overall but I can’t really see a sequel, shrug.

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