AI: The Somnium Files is the latest science fiction visual novel masterpiece from Kotaro Uchikoshi, the veteran game designer who also wrote and directed the Zero Escape trilogy earlier this decade. AI is a murder mystery in which a detective named Date investigates a serial killer using special technology which allows Date to visit the dreams (or Somnium) of witnesses or suspects to uncover their secrets. Date (who is missing an eye and doesn't remember why) has an artificial intelligence partner named Aiba residing in a prosthetic eyeball that also gives Date enhanced vision and data processing abilities. Liberal use of the Somnium and Aiba across a story with five distinct endings results in 2019's best adventure game, a visual novel full of drama, intrigue, twists, and the power of dance.
Ostensibly a traditional RPG, Disco Elysium plays entirely like an adventure title. Like other modern landmark adventure titles, Disco Elysium brings something entirely new to the genre: stats that literally tell the story with you. With twenty-four different elements of the human psyche or physical persona to explore, relying on one's Endurance might take the story in a completely different direction as opposed to Logic or Authority. At any point during a conversation, the amnesia-stricken protagonist may have an internal dialogue reflecting on those involved. The kind of detective you want to be is truly in your hands, and don't expect to be the lion-maned, dashing hero who always has the right words to say. More often than not, you won't.
Though released late in the year, Disco Elysium clearly grabbed you, raking in almost half of this catagory’s votes. The other half? Those mostly went to the mind-bending AI, clearly a worthy follow-up to the Nonary Games trilogy.