Report – AI: The Somnium Files Review Bombed by ResetEra User Obsessed with A-Set “Testing” Metacritic

AI: The Somnium Files

Users of gaming forum ResetEra condemned the review bombing of AI: The Somnium Files on Metacritic, seemingly over LGBT content. It was then revealed to be one of their own members with an obsession with the character A-set from the game “testing” how easily someone could manipulate the userscore.

The Review Bombing

The incident first occurred around February 8th, as members of ResetEra noticed AI: The Somnium Files on Nintendo Switch was being “review bombed” on Metacritic, allegedly falling from 8.2 to 1.9 out of 10 within a single day, via 311 new user reviews [1, 2, 3, 4].

The game currently stands at a user score of 4.3 out of 562 ratings (though some users have now rated the game specifically to counter the negative scores).

The individual who created that thread speculated it was due to the game’s content, where a character speaks positively about LGBT people. You can find screencaptures of that scene below:

For those of you who are using machine translation for this article, the character Mizuki says the following:

“The LGBT community is rich in sensibility, has excellent taste, and is full of talented, artistic people.

And they share a common struggle… It makes them more sensitive and capable of sympathy. That’s why so many of them are kind and caring.

And they chose how to live their lives, on their own terms. It means they have a strong backbone.

So because of all of that, I really respect them. They’re even kinda cool…”

Some players did find the scene out of place, while others felt it was in character for Mizuki (a young girl who is surprisingly mature for her age, and kind-hearted despite what she has endured).

It is also worth pointing out the scene takes place in a seedy bar, owned by “Mama”- a transgender character voiced by a male voice actor in both Japanese and English dubs. The character also flirts with male characters, much to their disgust or horror.

At the time of the game’s release (September 2019) some did try to claim the scene was a net positive, or negative representing LGBT people and topics.

Users of ResetEra believed the review bombing was over the positive LGBT comments, some even blaming GamerGate members- believing that “consumer revolt” against poor games journalism was to drive women out of the video games industry (and otherwise bigoted to other groups).

The thread even caught the attention of Kotaro Uchikoshi, the game’s Director and Scenario Writer. Linking to the thread, he pleaded to users on Twitter “Would you please help us…?

One user by the name of Krvavi Abadas posted their “findings” to the thread, claiming that the negative reviews were all orchestrated by one person, and that they had also boosted the review scores of Crystar and Metal Torrent. The user had used allegedly used the first line of each paragraph in some reviews to spell out “A-Set”, the name of one of the characters in AI: The Somnium Files.

They claim the user abused Metacritic’s lack of methods to filter out multiple accounts owned by the same user (via multiple email accounts) and no means to prove someone played the game they are reviewing.

Discontent continued to swell, with even the game’s lead designer Akira Okada noticing and posting the following to Twitter:

“Metricri’s user score has been devastated …? Until yesterday, there were only 77 cases and 8 or more, but today it is 198 cases and 3.2 … [Crying Emoji] It’s a bit strange, but let’s do our best.”

Translation: Twitter.

The Culprit Revealed

However, one Twitter user “Maxigregrze” pointed the blame squarely back at Krvavi- claiming he confessed to orchestrating the review bombing.

“Hey, that guy did not “investigate”, he totally did it. He always hated the game and the fanbase since release, and admitted doing it on discord.”

While the profile images match, that image alone would not have been enough to prove Krvavi did it. However, Krvavi then proceeded to confess across of series of ranting tweets.

“You mean the “fanbase” that
1. Kicked me for getting incredibly stressed out of Zanki Zero, and blocked me when i tried to apologize.
2. Gave someone that DMed a shitty rape “joke” to Ota admin rights.
3. Has done nothing but CONSTANTLY shit on me for my crush on A-set.
4. Couldn’t give less of a shit about the possibility of Death March Club containing pedo content.

The ENTIRE point of the experiment was to demonstrate how easy it is for one person to screw with the entire site, I picked AI because it only took a few hours of work to change.}

If you checked literally ANYWHERE ELSE on the entire internet, it wouldn’t be hard to realize my opinion on it isn’t popular, But NO, you had to throw a fit over it.

Nevermind my attachment to Tesa, or what the fanbase has done. All you care about is the fact that the easily reversible user score was “too low”. “

Editor’s Note: We have removed the use of curly brackets from the quote, along with spoilers for AI: The Somnium Files. The final line has Krvavi complain a character did not have a “proper route” in the game’s branching story, and implied Maxigregrze was one of the “assholes” who would not want that character to receive a happy ending.

Krvavi also linked to a Twitlonger post, though none of the Twitter users discussed therein seem to be involved.

The Twitlonger Post

Editor’s Note: The following may contain spoilers for Zanki Zero: Last Beginning and Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls.

The post is seemingly from an account that loathed works by Spike Chunsoft (the developer of AI: The Somnium Files), including Zanki Zero: Last Beginning and Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls over allegedly “pedophilic content.”

As an aside, a young character in Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls has a backstory where she was sexually abused. The Twitlonger post author claimed this was designed to be erotic for the game’s fans, as oppose to revolting, shocking, or making players feel pity for the character.

Meanwhile, Zanki Zero: Last Beginning has tragic back-stories for all their characters, all if then centering around the murder of a child. Some characters had backstories with sexual abusive events happening to them at young ages.

These include a character who traded sex to a teacher for protection from bullies at middle school, an older man stating his sexual interest to a younger boy, a child discovering they were the result of an incestuous relationship, and a character who was forced into an incestuous relationship with their own father.

The revelation at the game’s content caused the Twitlonger author to become “exceptionally upset.” When they were “crying about it on the AI discord,” an assumed moderator kicked them.

The rest of the post discusses how the user was kicked from another Discord server prior (focused around the Dangan Ronpa series).

When the moderator who kicked them due to their outburst acted in a manner the author deemed inappropriate (“She retweeted a really shitty joke about Ota getting raped while cross-dressing”) they attempted to reveal this to other members of the Discord server. They were kicked again. 

The Confession

It seems Krvavi may either be the author of that Twitlonger post (now under a different Twitter account), or “taking up the cause” to sabotage Spike Chunsoft games’ reputation on behalf of that author.

Krvavi edited their original post with additional information, and attempted to explain why they did it. Initially they claimed they did it specifically to prove how easy it was to manipulate a userscore on Metacritic, citing how Warcraft III: Reforged became the lowest rated game on Metacritic.

While many users felt the game was an extremely disappointing remaster (some even saying it used false advertising), Krvavi stated they “found to be a bit ridiculous considering the countless cases of people similarly damaging review scores of perfectly good games,” and that Warcraft III: Reforged “isn’t even that bad of a remaster.”

They claimed they intended to reveal this in a thread “a few days after my tests were finished,” to demonstrate “how you can easily turn any obscure game into one of the best or worst games of all time with just a few hours of work.” Krvavi also revealed they were the ones to make the WaybackMachine archives, to catalog each step as evidence.

Krvavi claimed that this was an investigative piece. “Anyone who’s familiar with my previous threads (Or watched the Gamexplain video on Tomohiro Kawasae) knows i like doing investigative articles on Gaming, and this was going to be no different.” However, Akira’s discovery of the game’s low userscore caused the whole incident to “blow up.”

The claim about it being purely investigative is then undercut, as Krvavi then discusses how they loved the promotional A-Set videos on YouTube and developed “a massive crush on her due to my general attachment issues.” However, they hated the game because of “how it basically ignores everything said videos were trying to build up.”

Without going into spoilers, Krvavi was unhappy with how A-Set (also known as Tesa) was used in the plot, and that the storyline was “complete and utter nonsense filled with plot holes and ridiculous logic.”

However some of the videos (including those prior to the game’s release) heavily imply that A-Set is not so endearing and innocent as she appears, and that something horrific would happen to them in the story [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7].

Editor’s Note: While these are promotional videos, some users may deem the above videos spoilers for AI: The Somnium Files. 

It would seem strange someone with “attachment issues” to the character would not notice these videos, not be upset by what they imply, or acting months after the game’s release.

In addition, Ota is the name of one of the characters in AI: The Somnium Files, and is associated with the character A-set. He is an otaku, and major fan of hers. This may further explain why the Twitlonger author (possibly Krvavi) loathed the joke the Discord moderator retweeted- seeing it as thinly veiled mockery directed at them (who would share Ota’s obsessive characteristics).

However, if Krvavi and the Twitlonger author are one and the same person, it brings up another question. It would make little sense as to why a person who had such negative experiences with Spike Chunsoft games in the past would think AI: The Somnium Files would feature a less grim tone- especially when the game’s plot is centered around a murder investigation.

Krvavi also seemed to loath the main character Kaname Date, who they felt was an “unlikable asshole who’s sole character trait is “hehe funny sex joke” + basically spends 90% of the game completely abandoning his adoptive daughter.”

Concluding, Krvavi stated they “feel pretty bad” for Akira getting upset over what happened to the game’s user score “especially considering that despite everything, he seems to be the person running the Japanese A-set account.” Krvavi then encouraged other users to enjoy AI: The Somnium Files, in a round-about way.

“Honestly, if there’s one takeaway you should get from this unfortunate situation i’ve gotten myself into. It’s that A-set means a lot to me. Even though i hated how her game turned out, it still makes me really happy to see people doing things like creating fanart, and hopefully this encourages you (and Spike Chunsoft themselves, i really wish they’d make more videos!) to continue supporting her.

…Even it does end with you acquiring Somnium Files and actually enjoying it.”

We will attempt to reach out to Kotaro Uchikoshi and Akira Okada to explain the situation, and any comments they wish to provide.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments below!

AI: The Somnium Files is now available for Windows PC (via Steam), Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation 4. In case you missed it, you can find our thorough review for the game here (we highly recommend it!).

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Ryan was a former Niche Gamer contributor.

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