AI: The Somnium Files (and also maybe Zero Escape)

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ChaseJxyz

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Has anyone else played these? And following the ARG for the new AI game? Please, I can't be the only one here!

For those who don't know these game (and this is my best attempt to pitch them to you): Zero Escape is a series of 3 games that are maybe 80% visual novel, 20% escape room (you're in a room, gotta find a key to get out, and you gotta do a bunch of puzzles to find them). Nine people find themselves trapped within some location, and the game master, Zero, says you need to follow the rules and play along or you'll die. And if you don't do [escape conditon], you'll die (or be trapped there forever, which is just as bad). They were originally on the Nintendo DS/3DS but you can get them on Steam and the PS4 now.

AI: The Somnium Files is made by the same guy. Both games are about a detective who works for a secret part of the Tokyo police department, where they have this cool machine where you can go into a somnium, which is a dream-like state of another person you're connected to. So it's an escape/puzzle room but based on dream logic and you use this to get information from witnesses. And you gotta find a serial killer who's doing Weird Stuff. Also the detective has an artificial eye that is a funky little AI and she helps you (she's the one who runs around the somnium). Also pretty much every iteration of wordplay for "AI" is used, in multiple languages lol. The first AI was okay, it didn't feel as cohesive or mindblowing as the Zero Escape games, but with what they're doing with the ARG for the next game (nirvanA Initiative)(see they did it again with the AI) makes me think it is going to be a lot more Zero Escape-y. And very Saw-y, and I love Saw. The first AI is available on Steam, Switch, PS4 and Xbone, as will the second when it comes out this summer.

If you read Gideon the Ninth and you liked the whole Lyctor Trials thing, well, you'll love Zero Escape! Because the book is just that.
 
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owlion

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I've played 999 and VLR and enjoyed them both (probably more the story of VLR, but the 2D sprites of 999 were so much better). Thanks to the pretty big gap between VLR and the third Zero Escape, I kind of got distracted by other games (Owlboy, Hollow Knight, Outer Wilds) and haven't had time to go back to it yet - plus I heard the third Zero Escape wasn't as good? I've seen some of Somnium Files from streams, but I unfortunately had the story spoiled for me so I don't know if I'll play it. I'll probably have a watch of the second one though!
 

Maggie Maxwell

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You're not missing much, owlion. AI is pretty good, and the gameplay for Zero Time Dilemma is probably fine, but according to friends who adore the first two games, ZTD massively overuses the music that was deeply sentimental in the earlier games and wears out the welcome, and the story twists (which I have seen because multiple friends have streamed it) are just absolutely awful. Like "yelling at the screen Are you kidding me?!" bad. The whole plot hinges on something that doesn't make sense logistically. There are some good elements to it, but the most important point does not work at all. You get people defending it fervently, but from a writing perspective, imo, it's a bad twist.
 
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owlion

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Ah, that's a shame - thanks for letting me know! I'd heard vague things about the third Zero Escape not being amazing, but never looked further in case I saw spoilers. Maybe I'll try watching a playthrough of it at some point just to see what happens, though it sounds like it'll be at least a bit disappointing.

It sounds weird to compare them (because one's a VN puzzle game and one's...a sort of exploration mystery game?), but I feel like people who enjoyed the first couple of Zero Escape would probably like Outer Wilds for the same sense of building mystery/narrative slowly coming together. The story in that game has about as perfect a pay-off as I've ever seen.
 
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Maggie Maxwell

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They're considerably smaller games, but I would recommend the Rusty Lake series. They're escape-room style puzzles with a great deal of absurdism. I've played and enjoyed all three.

I'm looking forward to seeing what they do with the AI sequel. The ending for the first one was really good, I thought. It'll be interesting to see how it ties in and builds off of it. I am sorry you had the first game spoiled for you, because it is quite good (though the main character is very dumb...but in fun ways XD)
 
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owlion

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Those games look good! I don't have a computer I can play them on at the moment, but I'll definitely keep them in mind for the future :D

Yeah, I haven't looked into the sequel yet, but it will be cool to see how they build off it. I remember enjoying the chunk of it I saw on stream a while back, it seemed fun!
 
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ChaseJxyz

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ZTD is......something. Full disclosure, I unironically like a lot of bad things, because they are bad. I find that you can learn a lot from bad stuff (like how not to do things). ZTD had lots of parts where characters were talking and I was putzing around on my phone because they're saying "oh no we have to get out of this situation" for the millionth time (like the scenes in VLR where theyre like "oh no we have to search for someone" and they run around the place and you see the dot move around the map and door opening animations). The thing that had me screaming was "oh noooo the two of us are stuck in here...forever....whatever are we going to do" and my immediate thought, as someone brainpoisned by fanfic is, oh no, are they gonna fuck? And are they gonna immediatelly get pregnant? Oh my god they're actually doing this!!!!! So even though the alien fax machine means the kids don't necessairly die....they still die in THIS timeline, along with Sigma + Diana. Also very funny to retroactively make Sigma/Phi incest. It was very fanfiction, but in an enjoyable way, because it is bad.

But, of course, the whole twist with as I call him, wheelchair Steve Jobs, that he's been there the entire time just out of frame but you can still see his shadow a little and the dialogue is vague is really stupid. Having Sean not actually be called Q was a clever bit but.......ugh, everything else lol It was very dumb. It also felt a little like they wanted to make a Palpatine-esque overarching villain at the last hour. Also we never learned more about Crashkeys and all of that stuff, which Uchikoshi said we would in ZE3 🥲

[This slideshow] goes over the ARG for nirvanA Initative so far, if you want to be caught up on that. And [this twitter list] has all the ARG/"in character" accoutns plus Uchikoshi's english account. And an AI fanartist? Just the one though. If you want to see all the tweets.
 
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Maggie Maxwell

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Yeah, the
Sean not being Q and his name never being said
is a good part of the twist that I liked as well as
Sean's head situation
but I just cannot believe or accept
that there was a 4th character to be the POV only for that one group who was never seen or acknowledged by any of the other team members. It's unrealistic and a bad twist, especially when moving between rooms because in theory they should be moving him too if he's there to see everything.
Ultimately it feels very poorly thrown together for the ending, which is a shame because the first two games are so highly lauded.
 

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