Erroll is a writer with an enthusiastic love of Japanese monsters and the games which feature them, from Pokemon to Power Rangers to Pacific Rim and everything in between. You can learn more about this and plenty of other games and nerdy things by following @errollm
At GDC 2019, we got the chance to interview director Kotaro Uchikoshi and designer Akira Okada about their upcoming investigative adventure game, AI: The Somnium Files. Interestingly enough, they had both me and Managing Editor of MonsterVine, Spencer Legacy, conduct our interviews at the same time allowing us only to ask a few questions each. We asked the developers about characters, themes, dreams & memories, and using social media to promote the game.
Parallax Media: So we’ve learned a lot about A-set in the past few months, but can you tell us anything about what Kaname Date is like as a character?
Kotaro Uchikoshi: “There’s not much that I can talk about but he is the main character of the game and he is a detective. Date has an artificial eye on him in his left eye and it has special powers and he uses that to go investigate murder crime.”
Spencer Legacy: For this game, you’re doing this “viral marketing” with YouTube and social media. Is that brand new to you? Was it an interesting experience, and would you think of doing it again?
KU: “In our story, A-set actually is a YouTuber, which is why this idea came up. It is actually pretty fun using it as promotional material, and it’s still going to go on a little bit longer. I think it came out really well, so if I get another chance, maybe I might do this kind of marketing again.”
PM: You previously stated the theme of Ai was “Love” (Ai also means love in Japanese), so what inspired you to have it revolve around that theme?
KU: “There’s multiple types of love, there’s family love, brothers and sisters, of course women and men too, so we put all those different essences of love into this game and I hope you guys really like it.”
SL: Were there any specific challenges in developing AI when compared to previous games you directed, whether because of the story or themes, or was it pretty familiar?
KU: “All-in-all, it was a little more different than difficult story-wise. I think that the Somnium parts are the harder parts. Okada-san?”
Akira Okada: “In the Somnium parts, you actually go into a suspect’s mind to look through their eyes, to see their memories to get some information about the case. It’s actually a puzzling sort of thing, so for me that part was difficult because we had twists and turns, but some twists and turns didn’t work, and we’d have to start from scratch again. So those were my difficulties in creating this game.”
PM: To go along with that, how did this out of the box idea of exploring and investigating these dreams, memories, and somniums come about?
KU: “I always thought dreams were all interesting. Not to be proud but all of my dreams that I have are really funny so I wanted to kind of share my dreams with you guys and then put it into an investigation theme and mix it together.”
AO: “Well what I did was I wanted to present Uchikoshi- San’s fun dreams into the game so that’s what I worked the hardest on.”
SL: The idea of a story based around YouTubers or social media influencers hasn’t been done very often in gaming. What inspired you to approach this more modern concept when you were creating this story?
KU: “I actually wrote this story before the boom in Japan of V-Tubers happened. So this was a real coincidence that this boom happened and was working well, so we decided to use YouTube as a platform for PR. Even though we say she(A-set)’s a V-tuber, she’s actually a real person doing a YouTube video. And that’s what we wanted to push.”
I’d like to thank Spike Chunsoft for giving me this opportunity as well as Uchikoshi-San and Okada-San for letting me ask them a few questions although it was brief. A special thanks to Spencer Legacy for letting me include his thoughtful questions. To learn more about AI: The Somnium Files, you can check out Spencer’s preview over on MonsterVine.
AI: The Somnium Files is expected to launch for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC on July 25. A Special Agent edition including a THOUGHTS REMaiN BELOW art book, a REVERIES IN THE RaiN soundtrack, an A-set acryllic stand, A-set’s #1 fan stickers, and an outer box with exclusive artwork. Both the standard edition and Special Agent edition are available to pre-order for $59.99 and $89.99, respectively. Be sure to look out for more coverage closer to launch .