AI: The Somnium Files - Nirvana Initiative

released on Jun 23, 2022

Newly-appointed Special Agent Mizuki and her AI partner Aiba are tasked to solve the bizarre Half Body serial killings in this sequel to the critically acclaimed AI: The Somnium Files.


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I was 3/4 through the game when a certain plot twist hits and then it went downhill. I was utterly confused and find the twist to be unnecessary to the story itself. Yes, I know the hidden ending. I don't care, I didn't like it. Sue me.
Like I never really had a chance to understand anything bc the game basically lied to me about something fundamental.
It's a cool idea- just...it came a bit late.
What I DID like were the Somniums, the characters and the heartfelt relationships they had with each other.
I never played a game that would teach my quantum physics after making some really unnecessary sex jokes! Didn't expect it, wasn't mad about it!

This review contains spoilers

Peter içeriden çıkıyor ama Amame çıkamıyor öyle mi OROSPU ÇOCUĞU ABIS

This game's a giant mess but its a giant mess with good characters and mostly improved somniums. Unfortunately the game's Uchikoshi twist drags it down a lot and we miss out on some of the better character interactions from the last game.

Must a game be 'good'. Is it not enough to watch a bisexual man descend into madness while a bunch of girls kick ass.

This review contains spoilers

This contains spoilers for AI: The Somnium Files - Nirvana Initiative and the original AI: The Somnium Files.
This going to be very rambly
Story:
I’m going to start with the negatives I have with the story.
The HB serial killings is an interesting mystery from the start but it doesn’t keep the interest by the end. This is due to the game’s biggest twist: the timeline you are shown is inaccurate, and the events are actually switching between Ryuki and Mizuki each day in both the present and the past. This twist ruins the mystery for me since it makes the mystery of how half of someone’s body shows up 6 years later not a mystery. Why is it a mystery in the first place? No reason is given for why you are told the story in a way to make you think half a body travelled in time; it’s a mystery that only exists for the player, which is unsatisfying.
The game’s way of hiding this twist creates problems in other areas as well, including some of its characters. Due to this twist, Bibi, a character who has a completely different upbringing, age, and circumstances, is a carbon copy of Mizuki beyond just physical appearance. She has to be a copy so the player doesn’t know that when they are playing as Mizuki, it is actually Bibi at some points. Bibi does show slight differences in personality when she is the masked woman and after the twist is revealed, but it still isn’t satisfying. Ultimately, I like Bibi, but she is hurt by the story. Shoma also has a similar issue where he does not physically age to hide the twist, which really isn’t an issue with the explanation given, but it still feels weird.
I don’t know how to feel about the revelation that Mizuki was actually a genetic experiment and that Renju and Shoko are not her real parents. I feel like it takes a bit of the bite out of how badly Shoko treated Mizuki. I am fine with Mizuki being an experiment, but I wish they found a way to keep Renju and Shoko as her real parents, as I feel that was important to the found family/blood not being as important as bonds theme that exists in the previous title with her and Date as well as Iris and Hitomi.
Other minor issues include the treatment of the legacy characters. It's a stretch for Boss to have a secret daughter, but it's fine; however, the fact that she looks exactly like Mizuki and it's never brought up is where it crosses the line into stupidity. Date being missing for 6 years due to memory loss by itself isn’t great, but it becomes dumb when you remember that Date having memory loss was already a plot point in the original AI: The Somnium Files. They also give Aiba memory loss, which, like many parts of this game, is intended to hide the twist of Bibi and the actual timeline of events. I’m really not a fan of this over-reliance on amnesia as a plot device here, especially since I’m not too hot on the twist. On the topic of old characters that return, So Sejima should not have been in this game. He is barely in this game and is given a similar plot point of an illegitimate child like he had in the original AI: The Somnium Files, and it doesn’t really add anything. Also, why the fuck was the old Psync machine still in the abandoned factory? Why didn’t the police confiscate it? It's a secret technology. My only real problem with the ending is that it repeats the Aiba "dying" and coming back part from the last game with Ryuki "dying" and coming back.
Now I’m going to talk about the story parts I like
As I said earlier, the HB serial killings is an interesting mystery from the start. You are given a lot to chew on as you try to solve the serial killings. I never felt like I knew where this game was going until around ¾ in.
Characters play off each other really well, especially the dynamics of Ryuki and Tama and Mizuki and Aiba. The game does a really good job of making you want to click on the environmental items just so you can hear all the characters talk more. Naix was really interesting to deal with as a cult built around the idea of simulation theory. It’s an interesting spin on something overdone, like a regular old death cult.
Not all of the returning characters had issues; one was even given substantial development: Amame. Amame goes from being a borderline background character with a cute design in the original AI: The Somnium Files to one of the most fleshed-out characters in Nirvana Initiative.
All the new characters are fun and interesting. Many of the characters are very sympathetic, like Amame, Komeji, Shoma, and Gen. The dynamic between Kizuna and Lien was something I expected to despise or at least find annoying, but it turned out to be a highlight of the game. It's also entertaining learning over time how much of an abject piece of shit Chikawa was.
It may seem like I’m more negative than positive on the Nirvana Initiative so far, but that’s because the positives can be more easily summarised as good vibes, dialogue and characters.
Gameplay:
Gameplay-wise I think Nirvana Initiative blows the original out of the water with improvements and new modes of gameplay.
Somniums have vastly been improved, a problem with the original AI: The Somnium Files was that Somniums relied heavily on dream logic. A lot of the solutions felt random and could only be solved through trial and error. Nirvana Initiative doesn’t abandon the dream-like weirdness of a somnium but gives you the logic within a somnium to help you solve it. Every solution makes sense; you never left with the feeling of "how the fuck was I supposed to know that?" Also in a Somnium, you are given hints to help you solve the current lock you are on, and interacting with more things within a Somnium can expand on the given hint if you are still having trouble. All of this makes the Somnium sections a much more enjoyable experience.
Nirvana Initiative introduces a new feature: virtual reality investigations. This is a welcome addition as it allows something closer to more traditional investigating outside of just point-and-clicking around a scene. Being able to use functions like thermal and x-ray are also nice additions. A straight up great edition to the series.
The QTE sequences are pretty much the same as the previous game; they are better directed and animated, though. There is not really much to say; they are pretty much excuses to have long action sequences while keeping the player involved. The only real nitpick I have is that some of them can be pretty long, and if you make a mistake, you've got to start from the beginning.
In short, AI: The Somnium Files - Nirvana Initiative is a massive improvement in gameplay in every way from the previous title.
Characters:
These are just more general thoughts about some characters. Not everyone, just characters I feel I have more to say than like or dislike (mostly).
Mizuki Date:
By the end of the game, I ended up liking Mizuki as a protagonist more than even Date. She plays off great with Aiba and is just all around cool while being just as much of a major weirdo as the rest of the cast. You can sense Date's influence on her because, like him, she is capable of being extremely stupid, albeit without the Date brand horiness. I think her English VA does a great job with performance and delivery, and I hope I hear her in more things. Mizuki’s new design is great too, yellow and black always work great together. The fact that I like her so much means I was disappointed to discover that you were actually playing as Bibi at multiple points instead of Mizuki. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter, as Bibi is pretty much a carbon copy of Mizuki, so she probably would have acted in the same way in the same situations. I would love it if the next AI game had you play as Mizuki again.
Aiba:
Aiba is pretty much the same as in the last game, meaning that she is still one of the best characters.
Kuruto Ryuki:
I like Ryuki, even though he won’t shut up about My Hero Academia. It is interesting playing as a character that mentally unwell. Sadly, I think he places third when it comes to AI protagonists. I think the game’s structure hurts him a little, as he pretty much spends the second half of the game clearly unwell and not really contributing to the main plot until around the end. It makes sense, but I think it still makes him the weakest of the three. Also, I hate his orange sweater thing; take it off.
Tama:
Tama works really well with Ryuki; there really isn't that much more to say. I was worried she was going to just be talking about horny and S&M stuff the whole time, but no, she has plenty more to her character. She’s a great character, but, like Ryuki, she doesn’t really contribute that much in the second half.
Kaname Date:
It makes sense why his presence isn’t as big in this game but I really wish that they came up with a better reason for him vanishing for 6 years. He's still a fantastic character, a living cringe compilation.
Iris Sagan:
She’s still a manic-pixie QAnon dream girl (positive). I think her time-skip design is great, and I like her hair more than the original.
Kizuna Chieda:
I like her dynamic with Lien, both pre- and post-mutual affection. I’m a fan of the character, who is very proper, friendly, and relatively harmless while being mean by being just really blunt. She kind of loses this trait after her accident, becoming a much more somber character. But, with Lien's assistance, she appears to regain some of her former self by the end.
Andes Komeji:
A lot of the Komeji stuff hurts, even if a lot of his situation was created by his own hands, I just feel really bad for him. They really twist the knife by giving you an early route where you see him and Shoma happy and on the verge of reconciling.
Amame Doi:
As I previously stated, she develops into a much more developed character in Nirvana Initiative. Her being one of the culprits works well, and I really like her somnium, where you see her torturing herself over "what-ifs."
Gen Ishiyagane:
I really like Gen, especially his relationship with Amame. He’s just a nice guy who deserved better.
Shoma Enda:
I was worried they'd insert a romance subplot involving him and Mizuki, which thankfully they didn't. I do like how, at the end, they make it clear that the death of his father is still an open wound, rather than him being over it and moving on.
Tokiko Shigure:
She’s so hot—one of the hottest 50-year-olds I’ve ever encountered in fiction. I don’t care that she is part of a weird simulation cult; I can work with that. I won’t fix her; whatever’s wrong with her adds to her attractiveness.
Chikara Horadori:
Fucking sixhead ass
Lien Twining:
I really didn’t expect to like Lien as much as I did since he’s the type of character that I usually have a hard time liking. I found myself growing endeared to him as I learned more about him. By the end, I just wanted him to be happy with Kizuna. The scene where he dances with/for Kizuna is really sweet.
Bibi:
I like Bibi mainly due to her just being Mizuki again. I wish she had more to make her stand out from Mizuki, like they should have made her really get along with Date or something. But why did she have to be barefoot?
Ota Matsushita:
Get a haircut
Boss:
Personality-wise, Boss is still Boss, but she does some really odd stuff in this game. I have already mentioned the stuff with her having a daughter, but there is stuff like letting Ryuki continue to be a cop while being clearly mentally unwell; Ryuki even shoots at a civilian at one point. There is also the case in the Gen and Amame route where she sends the SAT after Gen and Mizuki, which leads to that route ending tragically. I feel that there was missing context or information that should have been given other than that Gen and Mizuki are really strong.
Hitomi Sagan:
She’s in this so little that I don’t even know why she's there at all. The relationship between her and Date feels like it hasn’t developed at all; it may have gone backwards even.
Moma Kumakura:
He’s more of a freak in this one.
Conclusion:
While AI: The Somnium Files - Nirvana Initiative's story is not as strong as the previous title, it makes massive improvements to its gameplay and is loaded with a variety of fun characters, old and new, which help make up for some of the story’s shortcomings.
8/10

Grea game. The story and characters are great and the music goes really hard. Only complaint is that it could be longer