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AI: The Somnium Files - nirvanA Initiative Director Talks New Gameplay Features

Vampire On Titus

Gold Member
Nintendo Life interviewed Nirvana Initiative's director Akira Okada about the new gameplay mechanics in the upcoming sequel. (BTW if you have any interest in the original Somnium Files and haven't played it yet, it's on sale for 8 dollars on Steam. So there's no better time to dive in) Some highlights:

What feedback did you take from fans of the first game, and how did it change your approach to the Investigation and Somnium segments?

After the release of the last game, I was name-searching like a maniac, at work and at home, and I took the liberty of collecting the opinions of fans. I was grateful for the many opinions and feedback. If you are reading this, maybe even your feedback will be reflected in the game.
For the Investigation part, it was already simple and complete from the first game, so little has changed in regards to appearance. However, we have made many minor adjustments.

One major improvement in terms of direction was the introduction of motion capture. The action in the previous game was stiff, so taking the character animations to the next level was a real challenge.

Motion capture was the only way to make Mizuki, a powerful character, look good in motion. I think it was very difficult for the motion capture actors to play that superhuman. But as a result, we were able to create many scenes that are fun to watch.

On the other hand, the Somnium parts were improved in a number of ways.

Many people commented that there were not enough hints and that the game was too random. When I saw that, I couldn't help but cry because I sympathized with them so much. After the sobbing subsided, we devised a system called "Keys" in which the number of clues would keep increasing. The more you investigate the Somnium world, the more clues you would get and the easier it becomes to explore.

Also, people often commented that there was not enough time and that it was too difficult, and I shared their opinion, so I went back to the past to scold myself from three years ago. I was rebuked, and after returning to the present day, I asked the programmer to create difficulty level settings. As with the previous game, you can play with a focus on the scenario.

Another comment was that they wanted to be able to explore freely without time limits, to which I nodded strongly in complete agreement (as I later found out, I had a broken neck at the time). I had to rush to work, so with my neck bent at a right angle, I wrote up the specifications for an "unlimited Psync" in which a Somnium, once cleared, could be played without a time limit. After a bit of ego-boosting, I called an ambulance.

We also added a navigation function because the map was confusing, added a "Lock Info" screen that records hints, and made many other minor functional modifications.
How do the two new Investigation gameplay elements, "Virtual Reality" and "Wink Psync", change up gameplay, and are these unique to Mizuki and Ryuki, respectively?

Both Mizuki and Ryuki can use them.

I think the "Virtual Reality" offers a new style of deduction that is unique to this game. The game world has expanded compared to the previous game, and you can use Aiba's and Tama's special vision modes freely in the virtual reality space and move around in it. The world seen through X-rays and the world seen with thermal imaging are as different as they can be. A case is always multifaceted. Clues are hidden in the most unexpected places, and I want people to be immersed in the fun of discovering them.

"Wink Psync" is a feature that allows you to delve deeper into the personalities of the characters. Like cases, people are multifaceted. Their likes, their anxieties, are they lying...?Wouldn't you like to take a peek inside their heads to see their true nature? It would be terrible this were real...(laughing)
I think that by learning more about the fascinating characters that Uchikoshi-san creates, we will come to like them even more.
The Somnium sequences were the first game's most unique feature, how have these been improved for the sequel?

Although I mentioned system-related improvements above, there are actually many more improvements of all kinds.

What I was most conscious of when designing Somnia was the "individuality" of the Psync subject. In the previous game I would sometimes wonder, "Is this really the right way to beat this character's Somnium?" I was left with several questions in my mind.

I did like the excessive punching and tackling commands...it showed the irrationality of dreams perfectly. (laughs)

In this game, we made sure the strategy would align with the personality of the Psync subject. It was not an easy task to balance the character's personality versus playability, and it took a long time. I felt like I was Psyncing with the characters and looking inside their heads.

Perhaps it was because of this persistence that we were able to create a rich variety of spaces, effects, and gimmicks that give a unique impression in each stage of the game.

There was also a new two page spread for Nirvana Initiative in Famitsu this week. It mostly reiterates the same details but gives some new visuals so I OCR'd it and used DeepL to translate:

New elements introduced in the investigation part - In the investigation part, the story is told by visiting various locations, examining, and interviewing people at the scene. Two new elements have been added to this title.

(left side)
Augmented reality part - In this part, the "Ai-Ball," the eye in Mizuki's left eye socket, reproduces a 3D scan of the crime scene as a virtual space in which the investigation takes place. As in the Somnium part, you will search for clues to the case by actually moving your character. In addition to collecting evidence, it is likely that there will be times when you will have to solve riddles and puzzles set up at the scene of the crime.

Switching between modes that can apply special vision, such as x-ray or thermal vision. (screenshot caption)

(right side)
Truth part - When enough clues are gathered in the extended vision part, the game moves on to the "Truth" part. In this part, the player must look back at the sequence of events and apply those clues to the questions that have emerged, deduce the truth, and clarify the situation. If you are able to deduce the truth without contradiction, you will be able to see a reconstruction of the case through the protagonist's convincing (?) performance. The interaction with Al-Ball and the other characters is sure to be a lot of fun.

New elements introduced in the investigation part!?

In the investigation part, the story is advanced by visiting various locations, investigating and interviewing people at the scene. Two new elements have been added to this title. (screenshot caption)

From the interview it seems like they're addressing all of the issues I had with the first one, which is already a fantastic game IMO. I feel better about the Somniums already from reading Okada talk about the strategy aligning with the personality of the Psync subject. The best Somniums in the first game were the ones where the dream logic still conferred back to things you knew about the character, like the one for Ota's mother.

The end of the interview also has a tease about the interrogations. Which makes me think they may have made some improvements there as well. I still think you could do a lot with the interrogations by incorporation the dual protagonist mechanic into it.

Also repeating this again. The first game, AI The Somnium Files, is on sale for 8 dollars currently.
 

Vampire On Titus

Gold Member
Man I cant wait for this!! First game was severely underrated and I really hope this one does better sale wise.

Already pre-ordered!


https://www.youtube.com/shorts/QGbNFDzb7uc
https://www.youtube.com/shorts/Dljp7fe0fJs

There's actually some reason for hope on that front. The first Famitsu feature on NirvanAI did mention that the sequel was greenlit because the game eventually sold better via word of mouth. They didn't drop any hard numbers, though.

I'm hoping that 3 years of people recommending the game, new fans from gamepass, and sales like this current one will mean that there's a sizable baked-in audience for AI2. In a perfect world AI2 and Enigma Archives both do incredibly and Spike Chunsoft can put even more resources into future mystery adventure titles.
 

Danjin44

The nicest person on this forum
There's actually some reason for hope on that front. The first Famitsu feature on NirvanAI did mention that the sequel was greenlit because the game eventually sold better via word of mouth. They didn't drop any hard numbers, though.

I'm hoping that 3 years of people recommending the game, new fans from gamepass, and sales like this current one will mean that there's a sizable baked-in audience for AI2. In a perfect world AI2 and Enigma Archives both do incredibly and Spike Chunsoft can put even more resources into future mystery adventure titles.
I hope same way 13 Sentinels started selling well in Japan from word of mouth, same thing happens with AI2. I never want to see Japanese adventure/VN games disappear.
 

drganon

Member
I'll definitely be getting this. I really enjoyed the first one. It wrapped up its story in a satisfying way, but still leaving room for a sequel. Its the exact opposite of the zero escape games, which without spoiling anything, ended things in a somewhat unsatisfying way.
 

ANDS

Thought gaf was racist. Now knows better, honorary gaffer 2022
Is that entire interview just a middle finger to some of the "passionate" fans (as well as a cheeky acknowledgment of some of the first games failings)?

Also, I only found one part in the first beyond my abilities where I had to look the solution up online. Beyond that I thought it was a good puzzle-visual-novel, though the Somnium was not as fun as the 999 puzzles (they're still good and challenging), and kept the wackado out of sequence storytelling of Virtues Last Reward. Kinda bummed it sounds like the puzzling hasn't been updated, but the default was still fun.
 

Vampire On Titus

Gold Member
Kinda bummed it sounds like the puzzling hasn't been updated, but the default was still fun.

Not sure what you mean. They've added new puzzle mechanics to the investigation part like Virtual Reality, Truth Reenactment and Wink Psync. Conscious antibodies were added to the Somnium parts and Okada teased updates to the interrogation parts. IMO they've updated a lot. Do you just mean that the way Somnium's work in general is the same?
 

Vampire On Titus

Gold Member
Did the first one bomb that hard on release?
It failed to chart for its launch week in Japan and sold under 5k across both PS4 and Switch versions. I don't know the numbers for its overseas launch but from everything I'd seen it was initially regarded as a sales disappointment in 2019. According to the Famitsu interview it sold well enough for Spike Chunsoft to greenlight the sequel since then, but again no concrete numbers. Estimating with the NB number method (Which estimates 1 purchase per 63 Steam reviews on average) you get 281,925 copies sold on PC. Supposing the PS4 & Switch versions had good lifetime sales it wouldn't surprise me if the game went on to clear half a million.
 

manfestival

Member
The first game was alright. It gets a ton of hype from this type of fanbase. Got kinda bored throughout the game experience. Eventually when I got to the end it felt like things were dragged out. The plot twists were very interesting though. I guess as far full on narrative stuff goes(ignoring combat from other narrative driven type of games), I much preferred the way 13 sentinels went.
Side note: I did find the game to be hilarious at times. Which was one of my main reasons for continuing the story. Date was easily the best.
 

SlimeGooGoo

Party Gooper
It failed to chart for its launch week in Japan and sold under 5k across both PS4 and Switch versions. I don't know the numbers for its overseas launch but from everything I'd seen it was initially regarded as a sales disappointment in 2019. According to the Famitsu interview it sold well enough for Spike Chunsoft to greenlight the sequel since then, but again no concrete numbers. Estimating with the NB number method (Which estimates 1 purchase per 63 Steam reviews on average) you get 281,925 copies sold on PC. Supposing the PS4 & Switch versions had good lifetime sales it wouldn't surprise me if the game went on to clear half a million.
I guess that sends a message for japanese devs that is worth to port their games to PC.
 

BlakeofT

Member
The first game is on Game Pass and it's on my to play list. But who knows if I'll get around to it before it leaves the service??? Is there any way to know when game pass games are leaving besides the leaving soon section of game pass?
 
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ANDS

Thought gaf was racist. Now knows better, honorary gaffer 2022
Not sure what you mean. They've added new puzzle mechanics to the investigation part like Virtual Reality, Truth Reenactment and Wink Psync. Conscious antibodies were added to the Somnium parts and Okada teased updates to the interrogation parts. IMO they've updated a lot. Do you just mean that the way Somnium's work in general is the same?

I'm only talking about the Somnia parts; nothing outside of those was particularly challenging. And it doesn't sound like the puzzles in the Somnium have changed, which is fine, because it is just fine, but nowhere near 999 level of engagement.
 

Vampire On Titus

Gold Member

Spike Chunsoft, Inc. today released details about AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES - nirvanA Initiative including new characters, new investigative elements, and a story drawn from two perspectives, past and present.

AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES - nirvanA Initiative comes to Nintendo Switch™, PlayStation®4, Xbox One, Windows 10, and Steam® on June 24, 2022 in North America and Europe.

A story where the present and the past intersect. A story told from two perspectives.
The story opens with the discovery of the left half of the body of a victim from the Half Body serial killings which occurred six years ago. Even more bizarre, the body shows no sign of decomposition. Mizuki seeks the assistance of Ryuki, the agent once assigned to the serial killings.

Mizuki's Story: The Present
This story is told from the perspective of Mizuki, a newly appointed ABIS agent. Guided by a mysterious message she is the one who discovers the left half of the body. In order to solve the case, she seeks out Ryuki.


Ryuki's Story: The Past
Here we see the story of the Half Body serial killings from Ryuki's perspective. The investigation begins when only the right half of a body suddenly appears in a studio during a game show. Mizuki also appears here as a 12-year-old girl.


New Investigation Elements
The game consists of two parts: Investigation and Somnium. During Investigation, the story unfolds as players navigate the real world, examine crime scenes, and conduct interviews with suspects and witnesses. Here the objective is to gather information and collect evidence.

The main protagonists Mizuki and Ryuki both have a prosthesis in their left eye. This prosthesis or “AI-Ball” is equipped with advanced artificial intelligence, as well as visual functions such as X-ray, thermal imaging, and night vision that can help them uncover clues. Mizuki and Ryuki have used the AI-Ball to secretly see what's behind a wall or inside a closed box, and even changes in body temperature; something not possible with the naked eye. For the sequel, AI-Ball’s new functions include "Wink Psync", "Virtual Reality", and "Truth Reenactment".


Wink Psync
When conversation yields little results, Wink Psync allows agents to easily read the thoughts of others. Wink Psync displays strong memories as dreams to reveal the lies and concerns of other parties.


Virtual Reality
With Virtual Reality, agents use a recreated virtual space to gather clues. The virtual space includes information scanned from X-rays and thermal imaging. By switching modes, special views can be applied to an entire space for investigation. Using Virtual Reality also involves solving puzzles or codes placed at a scene.


Truth Reenactment
When enough clues are gathered in Virtual Reality, the game moves on to Truth Reenactment. While reviewing the flow of an incident, clues are applied to questions that have emerged, to clarify the truth. If the truth can be revealed without contradiction, agents will be able to see a visual reenactment of the incident.



Iris Returns and Introducing New Characters



Iris
VA: Jackie Lastra
Japanese VA: Nao Shiraki
Internet Idol
An internet idol affiliated with the talent agency Lemniscate. Her idol name is A-set, but her fans call her Tesa. She loves the occult and urban legends. Iris is a senior at Sekiba High, and a member of the dance club.

Iris and Mizuki were present at the studio when the right half of a body suddenly appeared during the webcast of a game show.




Komeji
VA: Brent Mukai
Japanese VA: Shinobu Matsumoto
Comedian
A former "Quiz King" turned comedian. His stage name is Andes Komeji. He has made some TV appearances but isn’t very successful.

He was the host of the game show when the right half of a body suddenly appeared in the studio during the webcast. The appearance of the half body marked the beginning of the Half Body serial killings case.






Kizuna
VA: AmaLee
Japanese VA: Emiri Suyama
Sekiba High Senior
The daughter of the uber-rich Chieda family. A senior at Sekiba High, she is a member of the same dance club as Iris: she's even won a contest before. Kizuna is good friends with Iris. Through Iris she is also freinds with Mizuki.




About AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES - nirvanA Initiative
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…

AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES - nirvanA Initiative will be available for Nintendo Switch™, PlayStation®4, Xbox One, Windows 10, and Steam® on June 24, 2022 in North America and Europe.

Players can pre-order AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES - nirvanA Initiative now. For details visit: https://www.spike-chunsoft.co.jp/ai-nirvana/en/

Physical versions published in European regions by Numskull Games.

ll;
New update from Spike Chunsoft's website going over some new story details and recapping some of the added gameplay elements we've been hearing about in recent interviews. Alongside a fresh batch of screenshots that are looking quite good IMO. It's subtle with some of the returning character designs but I actually think the quality of the details & expressiveness is a noticeable improvement over the first game. Which also gets me excited for what Spike Chunsoft is cooking up with Enigma Archives.
 

Danjin44

The nicest person on this forum
New update from Spike Chunsoft's website going over some new story details and recapping some of the added gameplay elements we've been hearing about in recent interviews. Alongside a fresh batch of screenshots that are looking quite good IMO. It's subtle with some of the returning character designs but I actually think the quality of the details & expressiveness is a noticeable improvement over the first game. Which also gets me excited for what Spike Chunsoft is cooking up with Enigma Archives.
Character models and some of animation definitely looks improved from the first game. They definitely learned their lesson from Zero Time Dilemma when it comes to 3D models and animation.
 
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Vampire On Titus

Gold Member
Character models and some of animation definitely looks improved from the first game. They definitely learned their lesson from Zero Time Dilemma when it comes to 3D models and animation.
The game's title is actually a reference to how long the Spike Chunsoft artists spent learning Blender before the game's development.
 

lh032

I cry about Xbox and hate PlayStation.
Japanese gamers are very weird, sometimes some weird games sells alot in Japan, but sometimes amazing games made by japanese like this wont sell in Japan as well.
 

Danjin44

The nicest person on this forum
The game's title is actually a reference to how long the Spike Chunsoft artists spent learning Blender before the game's development.
Even tho that game's 3D models wasn't very good, it thanks to that they were able to improve the 3D model for AI: The Somnium Files games.
 

Vampire On Titus

Gold Member
Just joking around with the title. In reality I stan Zero Time Dilemma more than any Zero Escape fan I know. I love how over the top that game is, the chainsaw scene with Akane and Carlos is god tier to me. The old man was just off camera the whole time twist that every hates, I love it.

I get why other people don't like it, because Uchikoshi games like 999 or AI balance the insanity with a tone that you can take more seriously as a story. But ZTD is a schlock masterpiece and the fact that the animations are so busted looking makes it even funnier IMO.
 

Danjin44

The nicest person on this forum
Just joking around with the title. In reality I stan Zero Time Dilemma more than any Zero Escape fan I know. I love how over the top that game is, the chainsaw scene with Akane and Carlos is god tier to me. The old man was just off camera the whole time twist that every hates, I love it.

I get why other people don't like it, because Uchikoshi games like 999 or AI balance the insanity with a tone that you can take more seriously as a story. But ZTD is a schlock masterpiece and the fact that the animations are so busted looking makes it even funnier IMO.
I dont mind after AI: The Somnium Files, he would make a new IP with over the top story like ZTD and because its new IP people going with no expectations.
 
For the first time in a long time I loaded up a new game and immediately fell in love with the characters, the humor, and the casual gameplay. I was so happy with my experience playing the first title that I immediately preordered the collectors edition for the sequel. I’m hyped for the release of this one.
 

Danjin44

The nicest person on this forum
For the first time in a long time I loaded up a new game and immediately fell in love with the characters, the humor, and the casual gameplay. I was so happy with my experience playing the first title that I immediately preordered the collectors edition for the sequel. I’m hyped for the release of this one.
 

Vampire On Titus

Gold Member
I dont mind after AI: The Somnium Files, he would make a new IP with over the top story like ZTD and because its new IP people going with no expectations.
Uchikoshi and Kodaka still have that mutual project in development, one of the big projects they announced when they formed TooKyo. Although I suspect we won't be hearing much about it until AI2 and Enigma Archives launch.
 
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