AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative Review – The Murder Mystery Game of the Year


When AI: The Somnium Files was first launched back in 2019, the game surprised the Western market with an amazingly well-intricated story written by none other than Kotaro Uchikoshi, the creator of the Zero Escape series, though the response in Japan was not as good as expected. I myself played the game two years ago and absolutely loved how engaging the story was, so of course, I was very excited about the launch of AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative, a long-awaited sequel to this suspense adventure game.

AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative takes place a few months after the first game, where 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…how is that possible? And after playing the game for over 50 hours, I can say, without a doubt, that this sequel delivered what it promised in spades, with a heavier story in both quality and difficulty.

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Do You Truly Know The First Game?

While starting AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative, you’ll immediately be greeted with what I like to call “Spoiler Mode”. This will change the story, as the game will assume you have total knowledge of the events of the first game. Even if the games can be played separately, enabling Spoiler Mode will let you see more references that were otherwise, well, spoilers.

This mode cannot be enabled accidentally or on purpose by people who lie, as you must answer two questions that pertain to the first game’s ending, and even though the second question involves a character name, the first will ask you a very specific detail that, honestly, even as someone who played the first game, it was rather hard to recall specifically.

AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative Review - The Murder Mystery Game of the Year
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The question was removed to prevent spoilers.

More Substantial Somniuns

The signature of AI: The Somnium Files were the Psync sections, where you go inside a person’s dream, or Somnium (that’s Latin for “dream” if you were wondering), and try to glance out the truth within a six-minute time limit. Many mechanics and quality of life improvements were added from the first game, which is very much welcome.

The first of those additions is Keys, which is a phrase that will hint you towards what you need to do in order to clear specific Somnium Sections. The more objects you interact with, the more and more of the phrase is revealed, eventually giving you a complete phrase.

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The more you interact with objects, the more this phrase is revealed.

Drive, unlock, manipulate, combine, hide…those are just some of the actions you can expect to do in each Somnium, and their puzzles have also increased in difficulty. But don’t worry, because there’s also a Story Mode which will greatly reduce your time penalties and also give you infinite retries.

I’ll be honest when I say the puzzles have increased greatly in difficulty. Seriously! A specific Somnium left me trying to solve its puzzles for almost a full hour, and it took a lot of Retries until I managed to do it. If you aren’t the puzzle type, then well, this might not be a game for you, but the hints are able to help you if you are willing to take the time penalty.

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New Ways to Investigate

The Investigation segments in AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative have been severely rehauled with a new section called Virtual Reality, where you will have to explore a recreation of the crime scene and try to figure out what happened there. By using the different view modes, such as Thermo, and X-Ray, you may be able to see something that was otherwise impossible to view by the naked eye.

And of course, you cannot forget the Quick Time events, where you must be ready to press a button input as fast as possible, or you’ll be forced to restart from the beginning. Once again, Story Mode will also increase the amount of time you’ll have for your inputs, as well as the delay you have before the action is considered to be failed.

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Unlock Bonus Content With Eyeballs!

As you go through the Investigations and Somnium sections, you’ll be able to obtain Eyeballs, a currency that will unlock additional bonuses from the main menu, such as concept art and even some outfits for both Aiba and Tama!

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You can also raise your very own Eyeballie pet, which is sort of like a Tamagotchi-style pet. Every 20 minutes (or 0, once you clear the game), it will ask you a question, and depending on how you answer, you’ll have it grow into different characters. This is a really cute thing that adds some extra playtime.

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Lastly, you can also dress up Aiba and Tama, the protagonists’ partners with tons of different costumes. Those costumes will also reflect the main story’s models. This allows for greater customization and is a nice bonus. There are even some DLC costumes in AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative, but I haven’t obtained those so I can’t really judge if they’re worth it or not.

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Is AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative Worth a Try?

AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative is truly an amazing sequel. The fact I’ve been playing it with almost 40 hours of playtime as of the time I’m writing this show just how much content and twist there is, even compared to the first game.

With that said, do you need to play the first game to understand this one? Absolutely not, especially since the game was designed to accommodate both player kinds thanks to the addition of Spoiler Mode, which blocks the spoilers and makes the story completely detached so that anyone can enjoy it.

If you have even the slightest interest in a murder mystery game that will take you for a ride with its twists and turns, I totally recommend it. When you think the mysteries are done, the game brings more, much more than what it promises. I wish I could say more, but this is one of those games where it’s just better to go completely blind, without someone telling you much about what happens. And for that reason, I have to give AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative a 5 out of 5 grade.

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AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative
AI THE SOMNIUM FILES nirvanA Initiative
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