AI: The Somnium Files has the most interesting marketing I've seen in a while

A little less than year ago Kotaru Uchikoshi, the creator of Zero Escape and several other Visual Novel/Adventure Game classics, showed off the announcement trailer for his new game - AI: The Somnium Files. That trailer had precious little info, and since then there’s been absolutely no news on the game. Now on a completely unrelated note (at least according to him) let’s fast forward to a few weeks ago, where Uchikoshi is in the first video of a new Youtube channel. There he announces that while he is still working on AI, he has a new project to announce: the Virtual Idol A-Set.

Virtual Idols are actually something that are gaining quite a bit of steam in Japan, Square Enix even has their own group. They’re different than Vocaloids or anime Idol Groups in that they are real people “in fiction”. They have their own twitters and such, posting regularly as the kind of person you can root for to succeed.

What sets A-Set apart from this is that she is actually a character from AI. So while we have next to no informaion about this game, each of her vlogs are revealing more and more characters and hints from the game. They’ve even created twitters for other characters in the game who are her friends. I think this is such a cool way to slowly reveal more and more info about the game, it’s much more entertaining than a weekly 30 second trailer or dev blog.

It’s such a shame that no one’s really picked up on it, I didn’t even hear about it until I saw an article on Gamespot about it just a few days ago. I really hope this type of marketing succeeds, I want to see more of its kind in the future.

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I don’t know how I’ve only been just hearing about all this over the last few days, given how much I adored (?) the Zero Escape series, so the idea of AR marketing like this has got me pumped as heck, even if it’s more than likely going to end in this sweet cinnamon roll’s brutal murder.

Part of what I’m digging is Uchikoshi’s commitment to the bit, which I found highlighted in this Gamespot interview (w/ “both” Uchikoshi and A-Set):

What do you say to those who are skeptical of virtual idols? How do you help open their minds to the idea?
A-set: Well, I wouldn’t know much about that. I’m a real idol, not virtual. But anyway, I put my heart and soul into everything that I do. I know that, if you just give me a chance, I can make my way into your heart and soul! laughs
Uchikoshi: When you get home, fill your bathtub with hot water, sink in, and then chug three gallons of tequila. If you do, your neocortex will go numb and you’ll be more willing to accept idols like A-set. If your pupils dilate, so will your heart. Please give it a try.

Let it show for the record that should I ever find myself on a wild and out-of-character tequila bender, I want “If your pupils dilate, so will your heart” inked indelibly into my flesh before the end of the night.

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Thought I’d return to this topic once more as it seems the campaign has ended, although still quite a while before the game releases due to its delay. Tesa’s been through a lot the past few months. She’s been missing and presumed dead, cloned (?), met her AU Japanese language self, entered the dream world, met multiple supernatural beings who gave her quizzes, and so much more. I have to say it has been a real pleasure to watch her and her friends on youtube and twitter through it all. In her final video, she reflects on the nature of her existence. If she’s just a virtual idol, does she exist? Do her viewers experiences watching her matter? It’s a credit to Uchikoshi’s, Jackie Lastra’s, and the rest of the crews’ skill that this final sendoff from someone who doesn’t even exist made me well up. I’m going to miss Tesa, and I can’t wait to see her again when the game releases.