AI: Somnium Files: The Rational I

So I am back with AI: Somnium Files content. This time, I am not going to omit spoilers since it’s hard to explain a concept without putting things into to context for readers to understand. So, if you want a non-spoiler-free review, you can click here.

In my previous blog post, I wanted to discuss the eye metaphor, but at the time, my mind was still wrapping around all the complex ideas surrounding the game. I highly doubt that this game, which is a product of its time will ever go mainstream, so I want to write my thoughts out here and explain the writer’s thesis on AI a little bit more in detail since I find this subject quite relevant to the time we are in. Without a doubt, Kotaro Uchikoshi, the writer of this game is in favor of Artificial Intelligence. In this game, he explains his argument pretty well and made some very valid points done creatively. So, let’s dive into the story.

Six years ago, there was a crime committed against 4 girls who happened to have their right eyes gouged out by the Cyclops Serial Killers. Fast forward, the story opens up into a new case–-a woman is found dead tied to a carousel horse at a theme park with her left eye gouged out.

Shoko sitting on a carousel horse with her left out missing
Not going to lie, the image is unsettling.

As the story unfolds, Kaname Date, the protagonist, learns the new criminal case is unrelated to the old case because of two facts: the side of the eyeball that has been removed, and the fact that the old Cyclops Serial Killers have been arrested. It turns out that the new serial killer is one of the old Cyclops Serial Killers who has been body-swapping with his victims through the use of a machine called Pysncer. His motive is to get his original body back which happens to be the protagonist’s body. Somewhere in the story timeline, Date had his body switched with the killer, which I won’t go into the plot’s detail because that will derail from the topic of this blog post.

Pulling eyeball out
To use the Pysncer Machine to swap bodies, the left eye is removed and then connected to the machine, enabling the pysncer to dive into the participant’s dream for more than 6 minutes. Hence, the reason why solving each somnium file has a time limit.
Date lying down using the pysncer machine
Date connected to the Pysncer Machine.

However, I will explain why it’s important: the Cyclops Serial Killer suffers from oxytocin disorder, a condition where he cannot bond with other people in a healthy, positive manner. It’s the pleasure of killing people that gives him the dopamine and that sense of aliveness. And it’s in his original body that gives him the fullest pleasure in killing. The one he has makes him feel depressed more than happy when he commits murder.

Date’s real body. The Cyclops Serial Killer is not too fond of being in this body.

As the story progresses, Date learns about his past, he remembers why his body has been switched with the serial killer and how it has caused him to lose his memories. It is his boss, the head of ABIS from the police detective department, who has given him a new name and an artificial eye called AI-Ball (Also referred to as Aiba for short). Since Aiba lives inside the Date’s left socket, she helps him keep in check by acting as a voice of reason. Think of Aiba as the rational eye that removes all biases and emotions, although she is more like “good news” and “hope”, according to the game’s double wordplay on Iris.

Aiba is confused to which Iris Date is referring to because Iris is also the name of an internet idol streamer.

Without AI, he doesn’t have that second pair of eyes to help him do his job effectively. But more importantly, stop him from making decisions based on impulse: the worst-case scenario is killing for the sake of killing.

The order in which the story is presented fits like a puzzle, and it helps me understand the writer’s strong thesis: AIs can be an invaluable asset to mankind. Take WiFi for an example, there are pros and cons to connecting online. But we need it. You can’t argue that the accessibility to online is more detrimental than good, do you?

Aiba screaming she can't live without wifi
I can’t argue with that statement…haha. I used WiFi to write and publish this awesome blog post!

The only drawback is the lack of meaningful, human connection. Well, it’s not like society hasn’t been glued to their smartphones and other technology gadgets. But I highly doubt normal people like me will have access to an AI like Aiba anytime soon. I can only imagine having an AI-Ball implanted in me. Say goodbye to humanity! I don’t need anyone. I will be too busy entertaining my very own eyeball! So, I suppose it is kind of scary, but at the same time it could be useful–especially if it helps those who suffer from some form of severe mental illness.

date staring at the mirror
You cannot deny there are some crazy people out there

AI: Somnium Files Review

I enjoyed AI: Somnium Files developed and published by Spike Chunsoft Co., Ltd. It’s a visual novel with a strong detective murder mystery with some science fiction elements. Yes, like any typical game, there is a lot of saving to do because young girls do need help even when they are bratty and acting all tough! After all, being killed by a sadistic rapist is the worst nightmare that can happen to any girl! You can’t expect a psychopath to have empathy? Do you?

Misuki praying
Poor Mizuki who is only 12, tried so hard to be strong when she is actually mourning for the loss of her mother.


First off, I want to warn readers that I don’t recommend this game to those who don’t have a healthy sense of humor and who are quick to slap anything that has to do with sexuality as misogyny. Quite the contrary, the game is not even misogynistic. The sexual jokes are mild compared to what I see on Twitter and from the former U.S. president. Despite my defense for this game, it doesn’t mean I accept locker room talk. But the jokes are there to poke fun at the protagonist’s singleness. After all, you are playing as the nice, perverted guy who is possibly bi-sexual.

Date looks like a girl
C’mon, look at Date’s face (the protagonist). He can pass off as a pretty woman.

I think that is why I could laugh at the part where Date hit on the 36-year-old receptionist who looks like an idol but is too old to be one. I say as long you can afford anti-aging creams and live comfortably then you are set for life. The average women care more about their appearance and health than they actually would admit as the motivating factor to why they work on top of the fact no one wants to end up homeless. But of course, there are exceptions. So more power to the receptionist for learning how to enjoy life in the moment (as long as you live responsibly that is). It takes a lot of soul searching to find contentment.

I used to work with an older woman who said if she had big boobs she’d flaunt it off. Not to attract men, but for her own liveliness. She was drunk when she said it though.

But I do see how someone would call this game misogynist. I suppose when you analyze a piece of creative work, you got to learn how to put things into context. So don’t dismiss this game because of its humor. On a serious note, there are a lot of heavy subjects around the concept of dream, reality, and AIs and whole bunch other stuff. And what I noticed is that there is a sense of optimistic, progressive thinking about the future of society, or a sense of acceptance on the writer’s part. It’s not just the topic of AIs I am talking about, but also the LGBT community in general.This game is a product of its time.

Aiba looking content
Aiba, the AI who is Date’s detective partner, agrees that human intuition is good from time to time, which is something rational, logical AIs lack.
Mizuki at Marble Bar
Mizuki is accepting of the LGBT community but still shows a sign of uncomfortableness.

I think the balance between seriousness and humor in the game is well done, and that is what I look for when I rate a good game. Even when I completed the game (there are multiple endings) there are still many mysteries to solve and once you solve the remaining mysteries of the story, everything just blows up in your face like fireworks. Overall, the pacing of the story is nice just as much as the colorful cast. Great game for mystery fans.


I played the demo on PS4 so I knew what to expect when I bought the game for PC. There are some differences in terms of user experience obviously. I played with mouse and keyboard but you can also play with a controller. I just stick with mouse and keyboard. I also noticed the game on the PC tends to glitch out occasionally, but it doesn’t happen frequently when I changed the graphic setting. I don’t know what it’s like for PS4 and Nintendo Switch.

While solving a case…this happened. It’s kind of artistic!

Gameplay wise, it did great at creating urgency but can get annoying because it does not reward you based on your skills to solve a case in 6 minutes. It did however, reward you on basic arithmetic skills! You have to select Timie to save seconds from being used on the top left side of the screen. Failure to select Timie correctly and the correct choices will penalize you for using seconds in real time and some of them take big chunks!

I had crossed eyes or something when I was playing the game because I mistook TIMIE for TIME. For awhile I kept proceeding without selecting the TIMIE on top center of the screen.

I found myself several times retrying and restarting the case due to running out of time. Some cases can get pretty tough especially if you are trying to solve it within 1 second remaining to obtain one of the trophies. If that sounds complicated. Do not fret. It will take trials and errors to get it right. Getting all the trophies was worth it.

I pride myself on my determination. I did it!

Overall, I thought the mix of shooting, investigating and solving puzzles were interesting. Not one moment was I bored. The concept of pyscning into someone’s dream to uncover hidden clues seems pretty high tech and futuristic. Is it ethical? Not really! I already feel invaded by tech companies collecting my data. It’s like exposing your underwear for strangers to see. Ugh…

merc staring at underwear


I realized I don’t write much about sound production and voice acting. But they do make a difference in the quality of any video game. At the beginning of the game, I kept switching from English to Japanese language to see which voice cast I prefer to listen to. Eventually I stick with the Japanese voice cast because I prefer Aiba’s Japanese voice over the English voice because ironically she sounds more natural. Believe it or not Aiba is an evolved AI who has a personality of her own and who has the free agency to think for herself. It makes sense to personify her a bit even though she lives inside the protoganist’s eye and she is just an AI. She is also Date’s alter ego. But I won’t go into detail behind my reasoning. That will be another post for a different time if I decide to write about the eye metaphor.

Lastly, the soundtrack composed by Keisuke Ito is decent and the sound effects are seamless enough that I don’t even recognized the music sometimes. It’s great because I felt immersed in the game, but I can’t say I am all that into idol pop culture music though. So the soundtrack didn’t stood out to me as much as other quality story-driven games. However, I do enjoy the Ikume Shrine theme because I just like all things zen.


This game is far from boring and simplistic. It has good soundtrack, good story, fun gameplay and good humor. Who doesn’t enjoy laughing? It’s a great way to release stress. Time is well spent when you are doing something you enjoy especially if it is also thought-provoking.