AI The Somnium Files NirvAna Initiative 2022 05 30 22 005
Image: Spike Chunsoft

With AI: The Somnium Files - nirvanA Initiative launching next month, we're taking another dive into the minds of Spike Chunsoft to see what improvements are being made to the game.

Unique to this detective game is the ability to dive into a character's "Somnium", a dream world where a person's memories manifest. You must search for the truth deep inside that person's memories within a limited amount of time, no matter how painful it may be. This was a key part of the first game, and it makes its return in the sequel with some added tweaks.

While mental locks make a return in the follow-up, two new aspects to Somniums have been added for nirvanA Initiative — Keys and Conscious Antibodies. Keys give hints as to what action you need to do next to progress, but you must uncover the key itself first to fully understand its meaning. Conscious Antibodies need to be eliminated effectively or else they will greatly reduce the time you have in the Somnium.

Here's a rundown of these elements, straight from Spike Chunsoft.

A Closer Look at Somnium: Searching for Clues in the Dream World
The game system consists of "Investigation" and "Somnium". The "Investigation" part takes place in the real world. Here players will examine crime scenes and listen to testimonies. In the "Somnium" part, players enter the dream worlds of suspects and key witnesses.

During a Somnium, players have a limited amount of time to search for the truth deep in the subject's memories. Aiba and Tama appear in human form and assist their agents by exploring the dream world and uncovering new clues. At ABIS headquarters an Agent or “Psyncer” uses the Psync machine to enter a witness's dream world. The device can only be used by Agents with the ability to adapt to the dream world.

A Somnium is uniquely based on the memories of the Psync subject, so each dream landscape is completely different. The sequel introduces new underwater and aerial Somnia, allowing players to experience more varied worlds. Somnia are comprised of multiple levels, and "mental locks" that must be unlocked in order to advance to the next level. Depending on the Somnium, there are multiple ways to remove mental locks, so the story may diverge depending on what method was used.

To remove a mental lock, players must examine and act on various objects, but every action consumes its own set amount of time. With only six minutes to complete a Somnium, players must take into account the remaining time and choose each action carefully. While taking action time flows at a normal speed. Remaining stationary causes time to pass more slowly.

Somnium "Keys" and "Conscious Antibodies"

In a Somnium, common sense and laws of the real world do not apply, but there are "Keys," or rules based on the Psync subject's consciousness and memories. Once Keys are revealed, it becomes easier to narrow down the actions and choices to be taken in that Somnium. Initially, most of the Keys are hidden, but as you explore and begin to understand the Somnium, Keys will be revealed.

Conscious Antibodies
A Conscious Antibody is the alertness of the Psync subject embodied in the Somnium. Conscious Antibodies block access to important information and, when touched, greatly reduce the amount of time one can safely remain in a Somnium. If a Conscious Antibody is blocking the way, find a way to eliminate it and move on.

These new features aren't the only thing we get to have a look at though. Spike Chunsoft has also introduced three more characters who will likely be under the microscope during the Half Body investigation. Two are brand new to the sequel, with one being promoted to a main member of the supporting cast!


Gen Somnium Files
Image: Spike Chunsoft

Owner of Brahman World Cuisine. He runs a restaurant called Brahman in Golden Yokocho. Always wears a mask for some reason. His cooking is excellent. The restaurant is frequented by members of ABIS.


Amame Somnium Files
Image: Spike Chunsoft

Made Café Maid. A Sekiba High Senior and "Mermaid" at Sunfish Pocket. She has a sharp tongue, but is never really malicious. She's in the school dance club with Iris and Kizuna. A regular at Brahman and close with Gen.


Shoma Somnium Files
Image: Spike Chunsoft

6th Grader. Komeji’s son. His parents are divorced. He lives with his poor comedian dad, but despises him. In the same grade as Mizuki, but doesn't seem to have much contact with her.

If you're itching to find out more about the cast, we've only got to wait until 24th June to get out hands on the investigation, or 8th July in Europe/Oceania. In the meantime, you can get a look at some of the cast, and also check out our interview with the game's director — Akira Okada — to see what elements have changed and how Okada approached designing the game.

Further reading:

Who are you looking forward to meeting in AI: The Somnium Files - nirvanA Initiative? Let us know!