We’ve Translated The AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative Developer Interview From Famitsu

We’ve Translated The AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative Developer Interview From Famitsu

In the latest issue of Weekly Famitsu, an interview with the developers of AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative was published. This time, the ones being interviewed are Okada Akira, the director of the series, and Kotaro Uchikoshi, the scenario writer. The interview contained a lot of juicy info that made me more excited for this title.

Here are some questions from the interview, translated to English by yours truly. Unfortunately, Famitsu does not allow us to show the contents of the pages since it is paid for.

Interviewer: When did development for Nirvana Initiative begin? 

Uchikoshi: The concept for this game was finished as early as the first game’s release. However, development truly began in the Spring of 2020.

Interviewer: What do you feel has changed in terms of developing the first game?

Okada: We were experimenting with new methods of movement in the overworld, such as having the Somnium work in mid-air. “What would happen if we did ‘field inspections’ in a virtual space?” We were exploring with the programmers and graphic artists about how to express the visuals in such cases.

According to the interviewer’s notes, the Investigation part has a “Wink Psync” function, which does not provide core information, but allows the player to determine whether the other party is lying or not. In the Somnium, more variation was added to the stages, such as aerial and underwater segments. New types of movement, such as floating or diving, seem to have been added, allowing for a more varied dream world experience.

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The objective in this image says to move a statue of some kind.

Interviewer: What does “Nirvana Initiative” mean?

Both Uchikoshi and Okada’s answers are vague, and mostly resume to “it will make sense when you play the game.”

But nirvanA Initiative does feature two puns within its name. The first being the final letter of “Nirvana” being “A”, and “I” being the first letter of “Initiative”, forming the word “AI”. The other pun is if you take the first letters of both words, you’ll get NI, which means “two” in Japanese.

nirvana initiative logo

What was the main reason that Nirvana Initiative was rated CERO C (15+ age rating), instead of CERO Z (18+ age rating), the rating of the previous game?

We took a more mild approach, but just because we got a slightly lower age rating doesn’t mean we’ve reduced the quality of the animations and cutscenes, and we hope that a wider range of fans enjoy the game.

Interviewer: By the way, in the previous title, the characters were shown with their full names, but this time, we only got their first names. Is there a particular reason for that?

Uchikoshi: There’s no deeper meaning to it. Those who’ve played the first game might know those names already, and might know that in that game, Mizuki’s name changes a bit. This was done in order to not spoil anyone who might’ve not played the first game.

How far in development is the Nirvana Initiative game?

Okada stated that development is roughly 95% complete. All of the scenarios have been written and inserted, and the only aspect that has yet to conclude is the debugging phase.

nirvana initiative progress

What was the reason to include double protagonists (In this case, Mizuki and Ryuki)?

The theme of this game is to have two halves of the same. Similar to how there’s yin and yang or how there are two halves to each person’s DNA. Therefore, it made sense to include two protagonists. Furthermore, old characters from the previous game, such as Date and Iris, will all be making an appearance in this new title, but they may be a bit different.

You don’t strictly NEED to have played the first game in order to understand Nirvana. Even though the story takes place 6 years after the first game, the developers tried to make it not rely too heavily on its implications. However, it’s true that the concept did plan on just calling it AI: The Somnium Files 2.

The following information is from a series of questions regarding the new characters, Ryuki and Tama.

Uchikoshi states that initially, Tama was written to be similar to Aiba, but as development progressed, we decided to tweak her greatly to make her a completely different personality to Aiba.

Her design is inspired to look like a “sexy female American police officer”. He remembers that one day, Kozaki Yusuke (Tama’s character designer) asked him “what kind of clothes do you like in women?”, and he remembers being caught so off-guard by it, that he vaguely answered.

Regarding Tama’s personality, instead of going the same pathway as the first game, where Date was constantly trying to boss Aiba around, the developers experimented with the inverse this time. That is to say, Ryuki gets bossed around by Tama, whether he likes it or not.

AI The Somnium Files – NirvanA Initiative

The following information is from a series of questions regarding the new mechanics and information about the story.

According to Uchikoshi, there are about 50% more Somnium segments compared to the previous game. Furthermore, he also goes on to state that the story has way more “thrill” compared to the previous, down to the BGM. Additionally, the UI and mechanics of the Investigation segments remain practically the same compared to the first game, with the only difference being that like the Somnium segments, their volume of content is greater.

And that’s it! While there were further questions in the interview, they mostly comprised of information already disclosed to us in previous announcements, such as the fact the game takes place 6 years after the first, or that there would be new characters and new scenarios. 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.

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.

One of the screenshots featured in this issue contains a QR Code. In the dialogue, Tama says: “At the same time, I think the criminal wanted as many humans as possible to see this sign.” Scanning said QR Code leads to a rather unsettling video that was published in December of last year, which is as follows:

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