By Quentin H. / April 8th, 2019
In AI: The Somnium Files, you play as Detective Kaname Date in a Tokyo that is set in the future. As more and more victims turn up dead, Detective Date must investigate the crime scenes and extract information by entering the memories of people in order to catch the killer. AI: The Somnium Files is written/directed by Kotaro Uchikoshi, who previously directed/wrote the Zero Escape franchise, and designed by Akira Okada. At GDC 2019, I caught up with them both and talked with them about where the game concept came from, what of themselves they see in AI: The Somnium Files, and more.
You can check out AI: The Somnium Files’ teaser site. You can also visit Spike Chunsoft’s website, follow them on Instagram, view them on Twitch, subscribe to them on YouTube, tweet them at Twitter, and like them on Facebook.
AI: The Somnium Files is currently available for preorder in the Standard Edition (Nintendo Switch/PlayStation 4) and the Special Agent Edition, which comes with an acrylic stand of A-set, an artbook, a soundtrack, three vinyl stickers, and an outer box designed by character designer Yusuke Kozaki (Nintendo Switch/PlayStation 4). The game is set to be released worldwide on July 25, 2019.
This interview has been edited for clarity and content.
Operation Rainfall: I am Quentin H. with Operation Rainfall, and you all are?
Kotaro Uchikoshi: I am Kotaro Uchikoshi, the director and writer of this project.
Akira Okada: My name is Okada Akira, I was the lead planner for this project. I was doing the Somnium parts.
[The interpreter also introduced himself.]
“For the characters I created are basically copies of myself from [AI: The Somnium Files]. Even the culprit. The culprit’s ideas, how they thought to go make these murder mysteries. And games are a great platform to show who I am inside.”
OR: You previously worked on the Zero Escape series. Did that work influence AI: The Somnium Files?
KU: To be honest, I actually wanted to make a different project from Zero Escape. It is, yes, an adventure game- the backbone is an adventure game- but if I said I was influenced by Zero Escape, [it] would be I actually wanted to do something different. So that would be my influence from the game.
OR: Can you tell us a little about the storyline of AI: The Somnium Files?
KU: So the setting is located in Tokyo. It starts with finding the corpse of a woman with her eye missing. The main character, Detective Date, has an artificial eye in his left eye. That left eye has special powers, and you use those special powers to investigate the story to find clues. And also, when there’s a suspect, there’s a way to jump into their dreams and find clues in there to go on for the investigation.
OR: Where did the idea of going into people’s memories to exact information come from?
KU: [I] had some fun dreams, so I thought that if I could bring those fun dreams to real life, then that was how it started as an idea to jump into dreams.
OR: Donald M. Murray once wrote “All my writing –and yours- is autobiographical.” What of yourself do you see in AI: The Somnium Files?
KU: I actually agree with that quote. For the characters I created are basically copies of myself from this game. Even the culprit. The culprit’s ideas, how they thought to go make these murder mysteries. And games are a great platform to show who I am inside. If I didn’t have any games to show it, then maybe I would have been a criminal too and go out and kill people. But luckily, since I have games, I am able to support myself and pay off the loans on my house.
AO: To show my part in this, I think Uchikoshi’s story is a little hard to understand at times. I wanted to make it so people easily understand– to see it my way. So [those] are the parts that I put myself into. The UI and the game design- that were the parts that I showed myself [in].
“The story is really, really fun.“
OR: Which came first? The storyline, the mechanics, or the world itself? Did one influence the other?
KU: The story came first, and then I worked on the characters settings. And then with the character settings, I changed the story. And with the story getting tweaked, I changed the character settings. So it was a back and forth.
OR: In the game, there is a YouTube star, A-set. Where did that concept come from, and why did you all choose to implement her into the game?
KU: So first, my daughter liked YouTubers, especially Hajime. I actually started watching it too. So I got hooked a little, so that’s the reason I started to want to have a YouTuber as a character in the game. And that’s why we happened to use A-set as a real YouTuber, and have her post her own videos. And that became our own promotion.
OR: On the practical level- how long do you anticipate [AI: The Somnium Files] to be?
KU: It’s probably different from [person to person], but about twenty to thirty hours.
OR: Oh wow, that’s a lot of content. To someone who may not have heard of AI: The Somnium Files until the big announcement just recently, but is interested in picking it up when the game comes out July 25, 2019, what do you have to say to them?
KU: I think, since the story is really fun to play, I would just let them play. And people who like anime or people who like games, they would both be attracted to it. The story is really, really fun.
AO: First, I agree that the story is really, really fun. And also, for people who don’t know Mr. Uchikoshi, they will kind of see if a Japanese scenario writer maybe turn[s] into a murderer. You can kind of see that face and maybe think ‘Woah, Japanese people are crazy” and then just have fun with that.
OR: Thank you very much.
AI: The Somnium Files is currently available for preorder in the Standard Edition (Nintendo Switch/PlayStation 4) and the Special Agent Edition (Nintendo Switch/PlayStation 4). The game is set to be released worldwide on July 25, 2019.
Are you excited for AI: The Somnium Files? What do you think of A-set’s YouTube videos?
Let us know in the comments below!
A-setAI: The Somnium FilesAkira OkadaGDCGDC 2019HajimeKotaro UchikoshiPlayStation 4Spike ChunsoftSwitch