Winner: AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative
The sequel to Kotaro Uchikoshi’s 2019 murder mystery, AI: The Somnium Files, is still full of murder and mystery, but this time presented in twos. Two protagonists investigating, two time periods connecting the two parts of the story, and a serial killer with a grisly MO of dividing their victims in half.
nirvanA Initiative‘s story goes to some wild places that I shouldn’t divulge here, but getting there is just as exciting as the reveals, because most of the time you’re entering the subconscious minds of different persons of interest to find out what they know. These puzzles are both clever and emotionally charged, including, but not limited to, a cooking show about one character’s self-loathing and a fairy tale storybook about another character’s childhood regrets. For its narrative drama and ingenious puzzles, AI: The Somnium Files – nivanA Initiative shouldn’t be missed, unless you have (very valid) concerns about blood and gore. There’s quite a lot of that.
Written by Michael Sollosi
Nothing puts a beat in my step quite like a near-futuristic dystopian tale about missing persons and fever dream storytelling. If that sounds like fun to you, too, you should check out NORCO. NORCO‘s not going to hit you in the feels the way a good JRPG or J-adventure title is going to, but it’ll make you think. So, your choice: think or feel? Specifically, NORCO comments on the stomach-churning impact of late-stage capitalism on small towns, families, and homeless people. What starts off as a missing person case turns into rancid hot dog consumption and fighting a multi-headed bird robot. There’s also a detective whose burps are well-timed. Only a confident, exceptional writer can pull off something like that.
Written by Bob Richardson