AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative [Good grief – Ed] is the sequel to the 2019 detective-themed adventure game and things are just as crazy and weird as ever. This time around you play as a detective called Ryuki as he tries to solve a series of gruesome murders known as the Half Body Serial Killings.
Ryuki is a rookie but thankfully isn’t tackling this case alone: he also has a very voluptuous partner called Tama. She’s an extremely advanced artificial intelligence who is plugged directly into his eye socket and can supply him with lots of useful information as well as giving him the ability to use things like thermal and X-ray vision. Considering the dark subject matter of the story things are kept surprisingly light thanks to the steady stream of jokes and puns. While Tama and Ryuki aren’t quite as likable as the main characters from the previous game, it won’t take too long before their silly senses of humor start to win you over.
Much of your time will be spent investigating crime scenes and talking to potential suspects and witnesses. They’ll chat away in visual novel sections, while you occasionally get to ask questions and make dialogue choices. The intriguing story and endearing oddball characters mean that you’re always keen to see what happens next.
Occasionally a suspect or witness will not be forthcoming with information and so Ryuki will have to enter their subconscious using a futuristic Psync machine to try to get the answers that he needs. These dream-like sequences will see Tama walking around and exploring strange environments to try to unlock memories or information.
You only get six minutes to solve these sequences and every action takes up a little chunk of that time limit. At times it falls into the same trap as the original game, where the dream logic used can make the solutions feel a bit random – you’ll end up having to rely on trial and error to succeed. However, the more you get to know each character the more sense these dreams make.
While nirvanA Initiative does not 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.