In the leadup to the original AI: The Somnium Files, there was an ARG that took the form of the in-universe character, net idol A-Set (Iris Sagan), who would post weekly videos.
They were a lot of fun, really fleshed out Iris’ personality and had their own sequence of lore surrounding them, leading to some great community moments where people would try to figure out what was going on.
Ever since the announcement of the sequel, AI: The Somnium Files – Nirvana Initiative, fans were hanging out for another one to pass the time. The original announcement had a puzzle, but that was all, up until a Famitsu article for the sequel had a QR code in it, that led to a strange cryptic video called ‘Fray To Free’. This QR code also made it’s way into the next trailer which mentioned something called ‘bats four ninety’.
And then a mystery ARG was officially announced, complete with press releases even.
The in-universe website for the Sunaiku Foundation, a group of former police officers who have dedicated themselves to solving missing persons cases, has a collection of articles for their founding, and notably their own founder going missing, alongside reports for two teenagers, Aine Ichirai and Binato Sotobara.
It also holds a <patrons> link, which leads to a website called Hidden Bats, which contains a video called ‘Bats489’, links to twitter accounts for the two teenagers, an <about page and a page for ‘spells’ to be inserted.
Here’s what’s on the about page:
This is a case, a plan, an experiment.
Aine Ichirai and Binato Sotobara are locked up in hidden rooms.
Placed in each room is a smartphone which is only activated for 21 minutes, at a fixed time, once every two days and a box with a 9-digit lock.
The phone cannot be used freely.
The box cannot be opened without solving a riddle
Please help us save them both. With your help, we can resolve this in the best possible way.
Compare information from the missing person and the Bats489 video .
The Answer is the Nirvana Spell.
If the Nirvana Spell is correct, a 9-digit number will be displayed.
When that number is communicated directly to the missing person, the plan will proceed.
For each day over the last six days, Aine Ichirai and Binato Sotobara‘s accounts have posted for help, along with a puzzle they need assistance to solve. The answers of which, can be worked out with clues in the ‘Bats489‘ video. These posts are later amplified by the Hidden Bat’s twitter account as well as Iris herself.
Wasn't this a part of that weird site, the one with the 9 tvs? One more day on the countdown… https://t.co/03auemDr96
— Iris Sagan/左岸イリス (@Lemniscate_Aset) May 7, 2022
Even without a whole lot of time for us to get to know these captive two, fans very quickly warmed up to them. With many memes about the what the answers have been, or Binato’s visual similarities to Rindo from NEO: The World Ends With You.
If you haven’t been paying attention and are curious right now, feel free to check them out before I dive into what I’m calling spoiler territory.
Today, Aine didn’t have a puzzle, instead, simply a sheet of paper with STALKER on it.
Another note. This one says "stalker"? There are no more boxes though. Is this the last one? pic.twitter.com/IpYuPjPEnm
— Aine Ichirai/壱来アイネ (@Aine_Ichirai) May 14, 2022
Putting STALKER into the answer part of the Hidden Bats website revealed that the answers to Binato’s puzzles, Test, Escape, and Game, together formed the twitter handle @TESTGAMEESCAPE, an alt account that Binato had, asking people to be aware of his true nature when the time comes.
This twitter account, is well, someone being very up front about their stalking habits. It’s a whole lot, but feel free to peruse.
I don't have a perfect record some girls do reject me but all you gotta do is wear 'em down. bump into them a few times and you'll get a chance. it's easy if you know where they live
— ooaaiao (@TESTESCAPEGAME) April 20, 2022
And also they apparently killed someone?
I pushed her and she fell
— ooaaiao (@TESTESCAPEGAME) May 2, 2022
These tweets end just four days, before the Sanaiku Foundation’s article about them missing.
At the same time, Aine mentioned that there were photos behind the stalker sheet, and she didn’t take too kindly to them.
What does the kidnapper want with me?! Get me out of here! You have to get me out!!!
— Aine Ichirai/壱来アイネ (@Aine_Ichirai) May 14, 2022
However, what works for Binato should go both ways right?
So if one were to fuse the answers for Aine’s puzzles, they’d end up with @PANCAKESHOES
Which belongs to someone with a severe case of kleptomania.
The first time I visit a house I plan on what to take. I don't want them to know I was there. Books or cosmetics maybe. It can't be anything too obvious. Plus if you try to sell something unique it might get traced back to you.
— Pacpac (@PANCAKE_SHOES) April 23, 2022
And also apparently killed someone.
I fucked up and woke up whoever was inside. Good thing I had a hammer. Hit them right on the head. Don't think they saw my face.
— Pacpac (@PANCAKE_SHOES) April 30, 2022
These tweets again, end just four days, before the Sanaiku Foundation’s article about Aine and Binato going missing. Does this mean that the photos are of Aine being caught in the act?
So it’s more than likely that tomorrow, Binato’s post will be something along the lines of ‘Thief’ or ‘Klepto’. Which will net us a link to this.
And then we’ll get to find out whatever the hell this post means.
There will be an announcement regarding the future of Aine Ichirai on 5/15 7:00 PM PDT#HiddenBats
— Hidden Bats/カクレコウモリ (@HiddenBats) May 14, 2022
In two days, there will be an announcement about the future of an apparent murderer, likely a day after we will ‘officially’ find out this information about Aine. And before even that, Binato is able to post tomorrow.
Will he spot anything about Aine, or will he see pictures of that have caught him in the act of murder or stalking?
And what the hell is Hidden Bat’s case/plan/experiment?
It’s anybody’s guess.
And how does it tie into Nirvana Initiative?
What the f
AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative shows an event where the right half of a corpse was discovered, but the left half was never found until six years later. However, the body has shown no signs of decay, as though it’s only a day old. New, special agent Mizuki and her AI partner Aiba are tasked to solve the Half Body serial killings. Kotaro Uchikoshi is confirmed to be the Scenario Writer. Hardcore fans can pre-order the game’s Collector’s Edition, which has a bunch of goodies.
AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative is releasing for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Nintendo Switch, and PC on June 24, 2022 in the US and Japan. The game has been delayed to July 8th in other parts of the world.
The title will however launch on Steam worldwide June 24th.
AI: The Somnium Files is currently available for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam.
If you missed it, check out our review of the game’s initial release.
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