Why, yes, that is a polar bear about to saw an anime girl in half, because that’s what happens when Zero Escape director Kotaro Uchikoshi is no longer restrained to the waking world. AI: The Somnium Files is his next game, developed by Spike Chunsoft, and now has a July 26th release date on PC. It’s a sci-fi mystery that seems vaguely inspired by oddball Jennifer Lopez psycho-thriller The Cell, putting players in the shoes of a cyber-psychic detective investigating people’s dreams as well as crime scenes. Below, a bizarre new trailer that I wouldn’t try to make sense of yet.
Gematsu talked a bit with director Uchikoshi and designer Akira Okada at GDC 2019, and he had some interesting things to say about the game. While the Zero Escape series was a visual novel interspersed with escape room segments, AI: The Somnium Files aims to be “a game mainly for adventure game fans”, suggesting a more puzzle-heavy time. It doesn’t look to be skimping on the grisly violence that the Zero Escape series frequently descended into either – the game opens with you investigating the murder of a woman with her eye gouged out, seemingly with an ice pick.
Also in the vein of Zero Escape, the cast revealed so far are mismatched oddballs. There’s little known about protagonist Kaname Date beyond his cybernetic, dream-diving eye, but they have shared some details on the rest of the cast. Iris Sagan, seen with pink hair and cat-ear headphones in the trailer, is the initial prime suspect, and is a teen internet pop star. Scruffy 20-something writer Ota Matsushita is apparently part of your investigation crew, along with Aiba, a cuddly-looking eyeball-monster who is apparently your AI assistant. Of course there’s a mysterious twelve-year-old girl too, because everyone – no matter how young – is at equal risk of a grisly demise in Uchikoshi’s games.
AI: The Somnium Files launches on July 26th. You can find it here on Steam.