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Review of AI: The Somnium Files

SubjectAI: The Somnium Files
ByVote: 6belgand on 2021-10-16
ReviewA huge step down from the Zero Escape series, but still enjoyable.

The mystery is a bit too easy and obvious, the characters are often flat, the world feels oddly small (and everyone in the small cast seems to have a connection for what feels more like keeping the cast size down than anything reasonable), and the ending sequence is so painfully cliche that it might as well revolve around the power of friendship. But the really lacking element is that unlike the Zero Escape games, it does little to involve the meta elements of playing the game. You just happen to have multiple routes with a tiny bit of flimsy hand waving instead of anything that directly relates to the plot.

The somnium sections aren't terrible or especially difficult. Unfortunately the solutions tend to range from "painfully obvious" to "get lucky while guessing", but you'll rarely find yourself being held back for long. For what should be surreal dreamscapes they tend to be slight reworkings of the regular settings you've already seen. And you'll get plenty of time to familiarize yourself with those locations since the same dozen or so are used endlessly. It ends up making the game feel kind of cheap. Like they're always trying to fit everything into using existing location and character assets.

Not that surprisingly for an Uchikoshi game there are also a number of allusions and thematic background that don't end up amounting to anything. It's just window dressing.

But despite all of this, it is fun to play through. I found myself binging it whenever I had free time. The comedy often had me laughing out loud, although it's going to depend heavily on your sense of humor and appreciation of puns and double entendres.

Just lower your expectations. If you don't go in hoping for another twisty, meta story and are instead fine with a relatively straightforward murder mystery, you'll probably enjoy it more. Buy it, but wait until it goes on sale.