Uchikoshi games (namely the ZeroEscape and AI: The Somnium Files series) need way more love. They are some of the best visual novel games I’ve ever played, and each one provides a great, mind-boggling mystery with multiple timelines to explore.
I’ll be ranking all five games based on personal preference and how well the story has stuck with me. I know Uchikoshi has done others, but these five are all that I’ve played (and they’re his most famous by far).
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5 – ZeroEscape – Zero Time Dilemma
The final game in the ZeroEscape trilogy, and sadly the weakest Uchikoshi game of all. I reckon most other fans of the series would agree.
You can tell the budget was non-existant, and the writers were grasping at straws trying to tie things together. The middle bit was engaging, but the beginning, finale and cast of characters all left a lot to be desired. Last place by a wide margin.
4 – AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative
The most recent Uchikoshi game at the time of writing, and it’s a game I have mixed feelings about. It continues a lot of the elements I liked about the original, whilst also doubling down on some of its worst.
The timeline / Mizuki / culprit twists were all really weak, the resolution felt unsatisfying, and the QTEs / dancing and singing segments were annoying as hell. At least the dialogue and zany characters, as well as the fantastical somniums, did enough to make it an enjoyable experience on the whole.
3 – ZeroEscape – Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors
As a point of reference, these top three entries were extremely tricky to separate. They all nailed the assignment, and I had a fantastic time exploring every timeline in each one.
Uchikoshi’s first game, which I’ll abbreviate to “999”, could have come in first place for its atmosphere and story alone. It has the strongest plot of any in this list, and the twists and turns were all expertly handled.
If I had to nit-pick, I’d say that 999’s gameplay hasn’t aged so well – especially when compared to the other ZeroEscape games. Also, the replayability of the various timelines is more of a chore than a fun exploration of possibility.
2 – AI: The Somnium Files
After the ZeroEscape trilogy came to a natural conclusion, fans were chomping at the bit for Uchikoshi’s next adventure. What we got was an unexpectedly solid take on the Sci-Fi / mystery genre, and a game with similar beats to ZeroEscape whilst still boasting its own identity.
“AI: The Somnium Files” has a great cast of characters, and a plot that kept me invested and second-guessing myself for hours on end. Like with the sequel, I disliked the QTEs and the dance breaks, and the plot was a little too overly complex for it to be an all-timer.
1 – ZeroEscape – Virtue’s Last Reward
When I really think about it, pitting the series’ strengths against each other to decide which game reigns supreme, there could only ever be one winner.
“Virtue’s Last Reward” is a perfect sequel to “999”, expanding the story and cast of characters whilst also going bigger and bolder with its timelines. The twists were fantastic, the escape rooms still hold up today, and the experience was like no other visual novel I’ve ever played.
Aaand that’s my list! You can check out some of my latest blog posts below:
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