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Summary of Prequel ARG "Hidden Bats" (contains spoilers for first game).
Title: AI: The Somnium Files - nirvanA Initiative
Developer: Spike Chunsoft, Co. Ltd.
Publisher: Spike Chunsoft, Co. Ltd.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC
Genre: Detective Adventure
Release Date: 6/24/2022 (NA), 7/8/2022 (EU)
Distribution: Digital & Physical
Editions: Standard Edition, Collectors Edition, Steam Deluxe Edition (details)
DLC: Kimono Set, Monochrome Set, B-Movie Horror Set, DLC Bundle, 3 Pattern T-Shirt Set (limited time), Hot Dog set (limited time)
OST: AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES – nirvanA Initiative Complete Soundtrack Digital Album (details)
- OS: Windows 10 64-bit
- Processor: Intel Core i7-3770 @ 3.40 GHz or better
- Memory: 4 GB RAM
- Graphics: NVIDIA@ GeForce@ GTX 460 or better
- DirectX: Version 11
- Storage: 20 GB available space
- Sound Card: DirectX compatible soundcard or onboard chipset
- Additional Notes: 2 GB VRAM
Six years ago, the right half of a corpse was discovered. The left half was never found…until six years later, completely fresh with no signs of decay. Now, Special Agents Mizuki and Ryuki, along with their AI partners Aiba and Tama, are tasked to solve the bizarre Half Body serial killings while unveiling the mysterious plot known only as the Nirvana Initiative…
Mizuki Okiura - One of the game's protagonist, a Psyncer at ABIS, she's mature for her age and possess great physical strength.
Aiba - Formerly Kaname Date's AI partner, AIBA now resides in Mizuki's left eye helping her solve cases for ABIS.
Kuruto Ryuki - A rookie investigator at ABIS, he's well educated and has a mild mannered nature. Another of nirvanA Initiative's protagonists.
Tama - Ryuki's AI-Ball partner, she resides in his left eye. Tama is stern and inspires Ryuki by literally whipping his ass into shape.
Iris Sagan - A net idol who was featured prominently in the original game. She is a close personal friend of Mizuki's and into conspiracy theories.
Andes Komeji - A former "quiz king" turned comedian. He was a witness to the original appearance of the "right half of the body."
Kizuna Chieda - Daughter of the rich Chieda family, she's in the same dance club as Iris and is friends with Mizuki.
Kaname Date - Special investigator and Psyncer for ABIS, his role in nirvanA initiative remains a mystery.
Masked Woman - A mysterious woman who wears a mask of an upside down face, not much is known about her.
Tokiko Shigure - Tokiko is the President of the Japan Branch of Naixatloz
Shoma Komeji - The son of Andes Komeji, Shoma lives with his father but doesn't get along with him.
Lien - A locksmith and a suspect in the Half Body serial murder case.
Gen - A mysterious restaurant owner who always wears a mask.
Boss - Is the commander of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police's ABIS unit, she's Mizuki's superior and longtime friends with Kaname Date.
Chikara Horadori - The Director of the Horadori Institute of Genetics, a suspect in the Half Body serial killings.
AI: The Somnium Files nirvanA Initiative is a mystery adventure game, like the original Somnium Files, it is primarily split between P&C investigation sections and "Somnium" sections with full 3D movement. During the investigation part you examine environments for clues and question suspects to gain facts about the case, occasionally making use of your AI-Ball partner's special abilities to uncover hidden information.
Several new features have been added to the investigation part in this sequel such as:
- Virtual Reality
During Virtual Reality your AI-Ball partner's special abilities, such as X-Ray and thermal vision, can be applied to an entire field of 3D space. The player must search the scene and switch between the correct abilities to gather evidence and confirm facts about the case.
- Truth Reenactment
After you've gathered enough clues and information you will sometimes piece together the full picture of events in Truth Reenactment. In this mechanic the player deduces the circumstances of the crime by solving puzzles answering their partners questions, the criminal's actions are then reenacted like a movie scene.
- Wink Psync
Wink Psync is a shorter version of a normal Psync that can be performed on-site, without requiring the machines at ABIS headquarters. It doesn't allow you to dive as deep into a suspect's subconscious as the normal Psync, but you can tell if they've been lying.
During the Somnium parts you enter a suspect's dreamscape to reveal facts of the case they may be withholding or misremembering. The player controls a human-like version of their AI-Ball partner and must solve puzzles by approaching various objects within the dreamscape and selecting the correct actions, doing so will unlock the suspect's "mental locks." These sections are timed and must be completed within 6 minutes, the actions you select have variable time costs, however time moves incredibly slowly while you're standing still. How you solve a Somnium section will also determine which path your story will proceed along.
The Somnium's mostly function in a similar fashion to the original game, but there've been enhancements made to improve variety such as expanded mobility like flying and swimming, and new features to cut down on the trial and error from the first game:
As the player explores through the Somnium various "keys" can be revealed which allows them to know more about the Somnium's dream logic.
- Conscious Antibodies
These are manifestation's of a Psync subjects mental alertness. They block access to important information and touching them greatly depletes Psync time.
In addition to the main adventure gameplay, some bonus modes have been added to nirvanA Initiative, participation in these modes is optional but they add some extra variety to the normal proceedings:
Eyeballie is a virtual pet raising minigame in the style of Tamagotchi. Every 20 minutes your Eyeballie will ask you a question, which of the four answers you select will determine how the creature develops.
- Aiba's Room and Tama's Room
While playing as Mizuki you can visit Aiba's Room, while playing as Ryuki you can visit Tama's room. Here you can dress your AI-Ball partner in various outfits that they'll also wear in the main game. You can also receive AI counseling service where Aiba or Tama address your life concerns.
9/10 - Screen Rant
AI: The Somnium Files - nirvanA Initiative, it's really a game that shouldn't be missed by anyone. A combination of maddening puzzles with satisfying solutions, a story that is as weird as it is excellent, and characters who make memorable impressions sees nirvanA Initiative establish itself as a worthy sequel to one of the better sleeper hits of the past several years. AI: The Somnium Files - nirvanA Initiative works very hard to keep your eyes focused on it at all times, and the reward is a rollercoaster ride that's superb from start to finish.
9/10 - Nintenderos
The incredible narrative and charismatic characters of AI: The Somnium Files - nirvanA Initiative make up for a unique experience that is only weighed down by some scenes that feel a bit out of place. Uchikoshi has managed to write one of his best games to date.
82/100 - Nintenduo
AI: The Somnium Files - nirvanA Initiative is a worthy sequel to its predecessor, improving in all areas and incorporating new features that fans will greatly appreciate. With a new story full of mysteries and plot twists, colorful characters and a refined gameplay, we have been delighted with a title that, although it is designed for a very specific niche of players, knows how to do things right.
7.5/10 - Nintendo World Report
NirvanA Initiative gets close to the levels of the original but just falls slightly short.
Noisy Pixel - 10/10
AI: The Somnium Files – Nirvana Initiative is an easy game of the year contender. The game features an improved presentation of animations, music, fantastic characters, and writing that left me in half reeling and desperate for more. The pacing throughout the mystery was stellar, and the build-up to the conclusion will keep you on your toes. If you’re into mystery, adventure games, or visual novels, this is the game to get. Just limit your hype, lest you be rendered in two minds.
Game Grin - 9/10
AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES- nirvanA Initiative is an amazing point-and-click adventure and an even better murder mystery. I truly believe that it belongs on the shelves of most gamers, but I really am mad about that one puzzle. Also, 9 is a really funny score if you’ve played the game.
Video Chums - 8.9/10
AI: The Somnium Files - nirvanA Initiative is a worthy sequel with a gripping story and an expanded cast of loveable characters. Plus, the new re-enactment mode adds an extra layer of gameplay to help keep things fresh and interesting but it still suffers from a lack of a hint system that can make progressing through the otherwise intriguing story occasionally feel like a chore.
A.V Club - No Score
As we said up top, there is a good mystery story at the core here, even if its complications aren’t quite as compelling as those of the first game’s. (And if you have a taste for the meta, Uchikoshi has you covered, as always.) And those Somnium sequences really are a major step up from the original. But if Uchikoshi’s work has always involved digging through the less savory or interesting elements to get to the treasure buried underneath, then Nirvana Initiative may be the biggest such pile of his career.
RPG Fan - 78/100
If you're an Uchikoshi fan, you're going to play this. And you probably should. Just don't expect the heights he's reached in the past.
Push Square - 7/10
While nirvanA Initiative doesn’t stray too far from the formula established in the original, the gritty sci-fi story and likeable characters mean that it is a compelling adventure. Piecing together all the threads of the story will lead you on a rollercoaster of a journey and keep you guessing until the very end.
Xbox Era - 9/10
With a mixture of wit, humor, and above all else heart this game is something no one should miss. Whether a fan of the Visual Novel genre or not this is a damn near perfect follow-up to the original.
PSX Brazil - 9/10
AI: The Somnium Files - nirvanA Initiative is yet another huge hit from Kotaro Uchikoshi. The plot captivates you from the beginning, leaving you practically unable to let go by the constant desire to know what else is coming. That's thanks to the captivating mystery and well-written characters that make even the little glitches in the exploration parts go unnoticed.
Twinfinite - 4.5/5
Ultimately, AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative is a detective story that needs to be experienced. If you’re a fan of Japanese mystery games such as the Zero Escape series or the Danganronpa games (by the same developer/publisher), Nirvana Initiative is definitely something you shouldn’t pass up. The only thing better is that if you haven’t experienced the first game in the series, you get to go back and experience another terrific detective tale.
Nintendo Wire - 9.5/10
I’ve been an Uchikoshi fan for almost a decade at this point, and nirvanA Initiative might be his most singularly satisfying experience yet – blissfully complete and fully itself. In an age where more and more media feels homogenized into a singular paste, there is nothing else like it. Its personality is so strong that you’ll find it either utterly repulsive or intoxicatingly magnetic. There are parts I hate, but so much more that I love. And accepting it for its flaws and everything that makes me roll my eyes or grit my teeth, alongside its deeply, deeply affecting moments and enticingly endless web of a plot – that feels truly enlightening.
Final Weapon - 4.5/5
AI: The Somnium Files was excellent for providing the exact same thing, but AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative fulfills the tradition of building upon the original’s concepts for a more comprehensive experience. A well-executed mystery, a host of laughter inducing moments, and a memorable cast of characters round out a really satisfying single-player adventure game.
wccftech - 8/10
Whether you’re familiar with the original SOMNIUM FILES or not, AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES – nirvanA Initiative is a fantastic murder mystery that is impossible to put down. It’s subversive in all of the right ways and will keep players guessing right up until the final credits roll.
FTW USA Today - No Score
Yes, it is thoroughly mad and nearing obnoxiously horny, especially in the early stages. No, it doesn’t have the budget or motion-capture of The Quarry or Detroit. It doesn’t need it, everything for which you may play those games is better here – better characters, stronger storylines, funnier jokes, a more satisfying ending, a better universe. When Nirvana Initiative is good, it is ridiculously, almost unbeatably good.
GamePitt - 10/10
So far we’re six months in 2022 and AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES – nirvanA Initiative is already at the top of my GOTY list for this year. The story is very funny, mysterious, and exciting, the gameplay is intuitive, there are a lot of things to look out for and unlock, and there’s a great balance of serious and immaturely pervy humour throughout. If you liked the first game, you’re going to love the sequel – although they aren’t related so prior knowledge isn’t required. My only disappointment is that there’s no current-gen version, the loading times and low-resolution visuals would have really benefited from it.
Hardcore Gamer - 4.5/5
The original Somnium Files was a delight in every way and Nirvana Initiative follows that up without missing a beat. It’s hard to even say which one could be considered better because they both manage to nail exactly the sort of narrative and approach they’re going for. The characters and story are the life blood of an adventure title and they knock it out of the park here. Fans of the original will want to see where the story goes and pick up this sequel. It’s accessible to newcomers, but we’d still recommend checking out the first entry if only because it’s a brilliant story that also shouldn’t be missed out on. Much like the original, AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative is an innovative take on the genre that must be experienced and is well worth picking up.
COGconnected - 84/100
All in all, AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative is another complex and twisting murder mystery with a strong cyberpunk flavor. If you crave bizarre philosophies, high-tech conspiracies, and mind-bending puzzles, add this game to your list. Just make you aren’t photosensitive first.
ZTGD - 9/10
With added quality of life features and improved pacing, AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES – nirvanA Initiative is an impressive follow up to an underrated gem and one that should be on the radar of anyone who appreciates compelling stories in their video games.
RPG Site - 9/10
Just like its predecessor, AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative is full of heart, hilariously self-aware, and reflective on the style of writing that built the foundation that built the Somnium Files series. Both AI games are deeply personal, subversive, and reflective works, some of my favorite games in the genre. Now that we have one miracle sequel that ended up great, I could go for another one in a few years.
Nintendo Life 9/10
AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative is one of the most interesting visual novels we’ve played through in a while. The murder mystery at its heart is brought to life by some great writing and quirky characters alongside the satisfyingly integrated, beautifully balanced Psync puzzle elements. Even with some minor control issues, there is a lot to love in this game even if you never picked up the original. Highly recommended if you're even a little bit curious.
CGMagazine - 8.5/10
While AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES – nirvanA Initiative is enjoyable in both story and gameplay, at times it’s a hard game to recommend to anyone going in blind who doesn’t enjoy the puzzle aspect of games, so having a guide to get past certain moments will only help.
Digitally Downloaded 4.5/5
AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative is an exceptional game that hits the same beats as the original, while introducing plenty of fun new characters and a winding, complex plot that is going to keep you second-guessing right to the end. If only we had more games that respected the intelligence of their players like this one does.
Gaming Trend - 95/100
Spike Chunsoft has done it again with AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES nirvanA Initiative. They tell an incredible murder mystery that's a ton of fun to figure out, all while solving brain-bending puzzles and talking to a colorful cast of endearing characters. There are a lot of performance issues and bugs, but those are nitpicks compared to just the sheer joy of diving into people's minds to solve the case.
Siliconerea - 8/10
AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative, like AI: The Somnium Files, is simply a fantastic adventure. Its plot is fascinating, and I love how it handles its investigations. It is absolutely a worthy successor, though I very much recommend people play both games.
PCInvasion - 9/10
AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative takes some time to get going, but it emerges as one of the best of its ilk. The story is wonderful, the game elements are highly improved, and even the action sequences are more impressive (and ridiculous) than they were before. Any fan of narrative games, murder mysteries, or, hell, anime should really consider giving the game a go. Preferably after playing the first one, though. And if you played the first one, yeah, you’re going to need to play this.
Inverse - 9/10
It’s not perfect, but it is memorable in a way that’ll have me playing its ending song on repeat for weeks. This game gave me such an adrenaline rush that I was able to pull my first all-nighter in months without an issue. If Special Agent Date’s powerup is a porno mag, this is mine.
Niche Gamer - 10/10
The cast in AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative is full of interesting and fleshed out characters that you’ll care about. Everyone’s motivations are deftly defined and everyone gets a moment to shine. AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative is as perfect as a visual novel can get and receives our highest recommendation. Even ignoring its engrossing story, the gameplay alone is novel and explores concepts rarely seen in games.
Destructoid - 8.5/10
If you’re looking for a compelling detective adventure with heart and smarts, it’s easy to recommend AI: The Sominum Files – nirvanA Initiative. It feels like the realization of what this world can be, and a promising step forward from its predecessor. It might still have a few wrinkles, but by the final credits roll, it’ll likely win over any investigator’s heart.
AI: The Somnium Files was a unique game that blended a wacky sense of humor with a dark murder mystery and unexpected twists, making it a tough act to follow. Nevertheless, its sequel rises to the challenge. The scale and scope of Nirvana Initiative are different, but the story, humor, characters, and gameplay additions all come together to make it a sequel worthy of the name. If you enjoyed the first game, you’ll likely enjoy AI: The Somnium Files – Nirvana
Checkpoint Gaming 8/10
AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES – nirvanA Initiative can throw a lot of information at you, and it will take some time to digest the tutorials and the events of the game. But once you manage to find your footing, you will be investigating an intriguing mystery that crosses different timelines with powerful tools. It’s a story that requires patience, understanding, and some outside-the-box thinking, but it pays off with a fantastic resolution when you reach the real conclusion.
The Mako Reactor - 9.5/10
AI: The Somnium Files nirvanA Initiative gets almost everything right. It adds accessibility and more options for newcomers, builds on the original in almost every way for fans of that, and is one of the best mystery adventure games in years thanks to its humor, characters, and narrative. This year has started out very strong with so many excellent releases like Elden Ring, Atelier Sophie 2, Gran Turismo 7, and more, but you would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t buy AI: The Somnium Files nirvanA Initiative. It is an easy game of the year contender, and I can’t wait to see what the team does next.
Meta Critic: PC, Switch, PS4