Anime Expo was an incredible experience. One of the stand-out publishers to attend was Spike Chunsoft of America. What’s even more incredible is that they are so new, only founded in December of 2017. With three panels and a fantastic booth and guests from Japan, they were the highlight of the expo by far. We’ll write about that at a later date though. Today, we want to focus on Kotaro Uchikoshi and his new game, AI: The Somnium Files. Uchikoshi-san is the mind behind the masterful Zero Escape trilogy. For those who aren’t familiar with Zero Escape, it is a story about a group of people (on three separate occasions) who are trapped in isolation and have to solve puzzles and make a series of moral decisions in order to escape. It’s more complicated than that, but, it incorporates quantum theory, philosophy, psychological musings (such as those of Carl Jung), and a form of time travel. It’s one of the masterpieces of our time. In typical Uchikoshi fashion, The Somnium Files is both an adventure game and a visual novel, like Zero Escape. Uchikoshi-san fully unveiled his highly-anticipated game at Anime Expo 2018. It’s called AI: The Somnium Files. The game takes place in Tokyo and focuses on a detective Kaname Date as he chases a serial killer who gouges out people’s eyes (grotesque!). In contrast, Date’s eyes are two different colors, as his left eye is artificial with AI tech. AI is pronounced “eye”, referencing the AI in Date’s eye, Date’s eye itself, and the Japanese word for love, which is Ai. There are many types of love and these are expressed in the game, becoming a focal point throughout Date’s journey. One of the crucial ideas in the game is everybody lies (This is very interesting as it’s a reference to one of my favorite shows, House, intentional or not.) Because of this, Date uses his advanced technology to delve into people’s memory-like dreamscapes in order to ascertain clues to solve the string of murders, as people, again, lie, even in their subconscious. Dreamscapes are called Somnium. One very interesting reference, which is in perfect harmony with Uchikoshi’s style, is the fact that Somnium is the Latin word for “dream.” Each dreamscape is unique depending on the person you’re encountering which will keep the player engaged. There is a diverse group of characters who play a pertinent role in the story. Although Uchikoshi didn’t necessarily intend to reveal a second character during he panel, she was too irresistible to leave back home in Japan. Her name is Sagan Iris and she’s an 18-year-old high school student. Better yet, she’s contemporary; she’s a YouTuber who is the epitome of a Japanese idol. She’s had several videos go viral, she dances and sings, and better yet she also does Let’s Plays! Her bright and colorful demeanor may seem at odds with such a dark game, but more will be revealed as time goes on. Uchikoshi actually said he prefers Iris to the main character Date! A short video was shown of Iris at the panel where she introduced herself and she’s everything you’d imagine. Spike Chunsoft retained the services of renowned artist Kozaki Yusuke for the character design in the game. His works include No More Heroes, the Fire Emblem series, trainer designs in Pokemon GO, and character designs in the Godzilla anime series, among others. The very last thing announced at Spike Chunsoft’s Uchikoshi panel were the systems the game would be coming to. Interestingly enough, after they announced it would come out on the PlayStation 4 and PC/Steam (pretty obvious), there was a brief silence, as there was one more slot left. Uchikoshi-san then lamented that he kept on getting requests for the game to be released on X system. Then came one of the most magical moments I have experienced in my gaming journalism career, and this is not out of bias, but because of the reactions of fans, journalists, and industry attendees alike. Uchikoshi announced the game will be released on the Nintendo Switch. The crowd gave unanimous ovations, cheers, and claps. Not for the PlayStation 4 and PC releases, but for the Nintendo Switch release. Extraordinary. They had a Q&A afterward, and a very interesting question came up that all Zero Escape fans will be familiar with: what happened to Kyle? Uchikoshi’s answer? He’s “Everyone!” So now we have our answer, although some will never be satisfied (a fact of life.) While no release date has been announced for AI: The Somnium Files, hopefully, it will come out within the next year. Regardless, it will be worth the wait, as Uchikoshi’s games ooze with creativity and with all the unique ideas in the game (which we were only privy to a small portion of), it is sure to live up to his legacy as both a master storyteller and game developer.