Kotaro Uchikoshi, the director of the first and third Zero Escape games, has revealed his next murderous mystery during Spike Chunsoft's panel at Anime Expo 2018. AI: The Somnium Files is a visual novel adventure doodad about a detective with a roboeye who will travel into people's memories as he hunts a serial killer. The game is still largely under wraps, but apparently a core theme is "different types and expressions of love". And a teenaged YouTuber is involved somehow. No word yet on when AI will launch, so for now check out the announcement trailer below.
"The game starts out with a bizarre murder case," Uchikoshi explained during Spike Chunsoft's panel yesterday, speaking through a translator. "A body is found with the left eye gouged out of the skull, and you play a detective on the trail of a serial killer through the streets of modern-day Tokyo."
Enter Kaname Date, a detective with a cybernetic eye which has an embedded AI helper for murder-solving purposes. That's not even the strangest thing about him.
"Date has the ability to go into their memories and extract information there," Uchikoshi said. "These memories are kinda like dreamscapes, and the Latin word for dream is 'somnium', hence The Somnium Files."
Oh, and here's Iris Sagan, an 18-year-old high school student who's also a "net idol" (a YouTuber, basically) known for videos of her singing and dancing as well as video game Let's Plays. She is... something to do with all this? Mysterious!
You might be noticing a lot of eyebits here, and the name crams in even more puns. The 'AI' in AI: The Somnium Files is officially pronounced 'eye', connecting to the eye-gouging murder, Iris, and Date's AI eye. And "ai" means "love" in Japanese, hooking into that theme too. The game was formerly codenamed Project: PSYNC, but presumably they realised that's the term for when your mum checks you've all had a wee before the long drive to your nan's.
AI: The Somnium Files is coming to PC via Steam (as well as PlayStation 4 and Switch but shh). It should have a page on Spike Chunsoft's site over here but er that doesn't seem to be up yet. For now, you can watch an archive of the livestreamed presentation on YouTube.
If you're not versed in Zero Escape, Kate Gray's review of the trilogy-concluding Zero Time Dilemma should clue you into why AI might be an interesting one. And I've just realised that, pronounced the official way, "why AI" sounds like a terrible Geordie impression.
Elsewhere in visual novel murderworlds, the designer and producer of Danganronpa are now working on Zanki Zero: Last Beginning.