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Thursday, June 30, 2022

Nintendo eShop's Big Ol' Super Sale... with AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - I'll pick something up. Will you?

For a week now and for a week longer, Nintendo has a “Big Ol' Super Sale” on the Nintendo eShop. This features over 2200 games on sale ranging from 30% off very recommendable Nintendo-published games like Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age and Paper Mario: The Origami King to 83% off extremely recommendable games published by other companies, like CAPCOM. ...You know, 83% off Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies, 83% off Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice, 75% off Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, and 33% off the Ace Attorney Turnabout Collection. (The first three of those are on the 3DS; the last one on the Switch.) Experience the great story and character designs of the franchise yourself by playing it.

But what I'm looking at right now for my own purchasing purposes is AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES, which is another adventure game like Ace Attorney, but published by Spike Chunsoft. It's directed and written by Kotaro Uchikoshi, who also directed and wrote the three Nonary Games titles, such as Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors which I featured in the KoopaTV nine-year anniversary article last month. AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES is a whopping 80% off ($40→$8) and has a demo on the Switch eShop. It's also recommended by friends of mine.

So for the rest of this article, I'm going to go through my demo experience and at the end, let you know if I bought AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES or not!

The demo opens up by saying that it's identical to the main game, but saving is disabled. ...I suppose my progress won't transfer, then, which might be annoying depending on how long this demo is (or how far apart I actually play the game compared to when I purchase it). It opened up with some folks observing a tied-up woman in one of those amusement park horse merry-go-rounds in the rain, called Bloom Park. Those folks are... the protagonists/main characters, Date (pronounced Dah-tay) and Boss. We must investigate what's evidently a crime scene. Date is a Special Agent detective of the Advanced Brain Investigation Squad (ABIS), so it's his job to do investigations. Sometimes the game introduces new characters as if I'm supposed to know who they already are, and the way it does that makes me feel like AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES is a sequel to something. (Even though it's not, though it just got a sequel released last week called AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES – nirvanA Initiative.)

AI THE SOMNIUM FILES Aiba profile file
The game has profiles and a glossary of terms, though by the end of the demo I still don't know who Pewter is.
1010000011110101 is “ õ”. That...doesn't mean anything? Or is it supposed to look like an eye?
But then why the non-breaking space? Does that represent where the other eye would be?

The game obviously takes place in Japan and the game doesn't hide that by airbrushing out Japanese text; though the dialogue is voice-acted in English with the English language setting (with an auto-scrolling button that actually goes at a pretty brisk speed). The game also takes place in... the future, with hologrammed police tape. (Though maybe that's something they do in Japan right now? The technology exists today!) The game lets you examine the scene and talk to people with the cursor... and it already expresses a sense of humour by letting me ask the Inspector his name SEVERAL times (it's Kagami). Kagami gets increasingly frustrated the more you ask. Examined options with more dialogue have green text as opposed to being greyed out. It's...still a bit of a pixel hunt. But I'm used to that.

AI The Somnium Files Inspector Kagami learned his name
This is far from the last dialogue that happens when you ask the Inspector what his name is.
Date is a jerk and knows that it's Kagami.

Date has a fake eyeball (named Aiba) that has artificial intelligence and can talk, which allows him to also have X-Ray and Zoom powers. Oh, and, um, he can Psync into people's minds for six minutes (longer if you stand still), which is... a place called Somnia. You explore a dream to discover hidden memories. I guess it's like a combination of Psyche-Locks and Athena's therapy skills from the Ace Attorney series, especially since there are literally things called "Mental Locks" that are progress barriers. Aiba becomes a nearly naked attractive woman and the controllable character in Somnia. Aiba walks around and interacts with this dream world, and actions cost seconds. You choose which actions to take with an object, and sometimes you get objects called TIMIEs that can overwrite or modify how long an action's given time taken is. So if hugging a character takes 50 seconds, but you have a 30-second TIMIE, it'll make any action take 30 seconds. There are right decisions and wrong decisions (that waste time), and you need to just vibe with the dream world's logic—since it isn't grounded in real-world physics or cause and effect (I had a feeling the spinning parasol could be related to the spinning merry-go-round, but there's no logic behind why stopping the parasol would stop the merry-go-round)—in order to choose the right thing. Proper use of TIMIEs let me finish the segment without failing even after choosing the wrong options several times... and there's amusing dialogue incentives to choosing the obviously wrong options.

After clearing the three Mental Locks and seeing the back of a strange figure, the demo ended. ...Like, after only ~35 minutes. I don't feel like that was enough for me to get a purchase decision on whether to get the game or not. It wasn't long enough to get invested in the story! If the demo is that short, does that mean it's a pretty short game? Is the rest of the game like that? As in, was the demo fairly representative of the experience? Will the Psync segments be more complicated and guess-based on how to proceed? Will they continue to have a generous time limit or will it be a lot of resetting? I'd like to get an idea of the answers to those questions and if this whole thing would be worth it!

As for you reading this... YOUR main priority is to get the Ace Attorney series if you haven't already.

Round 44 of the KoopaTV Loyalty Rewards Program is about to end, and the winner is going to receive a $10 Nintendo eShop gift card code! They'll receive it while the Big Ol' Super Sale is going on, so they can benefit from the reduced prices and their prize will be able to be stretched further than normal. As for Ludwig's game playing experience, if you have answers to his questions or recommendations, please provide them in the comments section.

The last Ace Attorney sale happened April 2022. Ludwig coupled it with an article about attention whores.
Ludwig makes a plug for getting ŌKAMI HD during this sale as well.
The next Ace Attorney sale is just a few weeks later.
AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES – nirvanA Initiative is 30% off by November 2022.
Ludwig later learns who Pewter is, and even cites him in another article about dreams to prove his point.


  1. Wait. If saving is disabled. Couldn’t you just beat the game in its entirety? I mean turning the switch off while a game is in motion will pause it with little to no effect on the game. Unless of course there are surprise deaths when you perform a wrong action, you should be able to beat the game without actually buying it.

    You would of course only be able to play this game for the duration of its 20-40 hour playtime. But I don’t think that’s the worst thing in the world. Especially if you go back and play some 3DS/WiiU games for when you need a pallete cleanser.

    1. Saving is disabled, but there's a hard stop after the first Somnia sequence where the demo is done. I can't use the save feature to save my game and come back to a certain point in-between the start and finish, and as far as I can tell, there were branching paths with the Mental Locks. I was on the "left" path.

  2. The full game is about 20-30 hours long.

    You seem to have enjoyed the sense of humor shown in the demo, in which case I think you will likely enjoy the humor throughout the game. It sounds as though the demo didn't show much of the story since it's such an early part of the game, but I enjoyed the story a lot.

    As for the Somniums, they do get more complicated and continue to rely on dream logic, and I found that strategically using Timies became a big part of it. (For example, there were some later Somniums where I'd perform a useless action that only cost a few seconds to get a good Timie for a required part up ahead.) I had to use my retries sometimes, but there were only a handful of times I had to restart the entire Somnium.

    I'd say if you enjoyed the humor and the dynamic between Date and Aiba, and if you didn't dislike the Somnium, you'll probably enjoy the game.

    (On a separate note, physical copies of The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles are also on sale, and I convinced a friend to get it.)

    1. Well, that's a pretty good re-endorsement from you. ^_^
      I didn't dislike the Somnium, though I'm wondering if I'll grow to dislike it later on depending if I find dream logic to be annoying or to be funny. Though I figure that since the demo didn't allow saving, you could probably save-scum it. (Or I could just reset and deal with it.)

      (I'm surprised, given the company, that physical copies of TGAAC still...exist in retail a year later.)

    2. If you run out of time in a Somnium, you can restart from a previous lock, although you only get 3 total retries. That's often better than save-scumming, because you often know more about how to approach the Somnium and can zip through it more efficiently.

      By the way, the sequel's Somniums are much less focused on dream logic and more on puzzle-solving.

      (Maybe Capcom loves us again.)

    3. Ah hah... Alright, then it doesn't sound bad at all. ^_^

      I figure I should... want to play the first one before playing the sequel.

      (Maybe! Anyway, good job getting your friend to do the right thing!)

  3. 'kay, I just bought the game on sale.


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