A lone ResetERA user has review bombed the Metacritic user review score of AI: The Somnium Files the latest game from Zero Escape-series writer Kotaro Uchikoshi, to generally unfavorable levels after taking offense to the game’s treatment of their favorite character, virtual YouTuber A-Set.
Users across social media recently began to notice that the Metacritic aggregate user score for AI: The Somnium Files had suffered a massive drop in rating, with one member of the ResetERA forum noting that, at the time of their post, the game had been “heavily review bombed on Metacritic with the User Score of the Switch version tanking from 8.2 to 1.9 in just a single day, gaining 311 review ratings in the process (from 77 to 388)”.
Amidst the confusion, some Reddit users began to offer up various theories speculating as to whom was targeting the game, ranging from a user using bots to review bomb games they personally disliked, citing a similar bombing of scores in the Megaten (Shin Megami Tensei/Persona) series, to homophobes who were taking issue with a scene featuring a complimentary, albeit awkwardly written, exchange of dialogue discussing the LGBT community:
The review bombing was soon noticed by the game’s director, Kotaro Uchikoshi, and assistant director, Okada Akira, who were dismayed at the low score and asked the public for assistance in fixing the issue:
— おかだ (@akrokada) February 5, 2020
A translation via Twitter reads, “Metacritic’s user score is being bombed…? Until yesterday, there were more than eight reviews for 77 review score, but today I saw that it was 3.2 in 198 reviews. 😭 It’s a little bit silly, but let’s do our best.”
Would you please help us…? -> AI: The Somnium Files was review bombed on Metacritic (From 8.2 to 1.9 in 1 day) https://t.co/NyV0ppCu6p
— Kotaro Uchikoshi Eng (@Uchikoshi_Eng) February 11, 2020
On February 8th, now-banned ResetERA user Krvavi Abadas took responsibility for the bombing, initially claiming to have been “deliberately demonstrating how utterly busted the site is.”
“FYI, it’s someone deliberately demonstrating how utterly busted the site is.
You might want to take a closer look at the Internet Archive. The first entry for that fateful day, on 08:38:05. Shows the score before it was “bombed”
By 09:51:35, the game had dropped into the yellow.
Then once 11:33:15 rolled around, three hours later. The game had reached the “Generally unfavorable” level.”
Krvavi Abadas then revealed that they had also altered the scores of other Spike Chunsoft published games and left cryptic reviews in an attempt to “[call] them out for treating A-set (The adorable Vtuber they used to promote the game, at the expense of everything else they released that year.) like utter garbage in-game.”
“Other games have had their reviews screwed up, in a way that explicitly ties them to this incident.
Crystar went from an average rated game to being the highest rated Spike Chunsoft game ever. The top review names the reason why they chose AI as their first example, calling them out for treating A-set (The adorable Vtuber they used to promote the game, at the expense of everything else they released that year.) like utter garbage in-game.
and an Obscure DSiware game known as “Metal Torrent” was (and still is.) the highest rated game on the site. If you take the first letter of each paragraph in the sole review. You get “A-set”. and the username is an obscure spoiler that’s only really recognizable if you have some knowledge about the game.”
The user’s review on Crystar, left under a username which uses missing letters and an anagram of ‘A-Set’ to distort the message “A-Set Deserved Better,” described the game as a “dreadful Net Idol Torture Porn game.”
“A masterpiece in every sense of the word, beautiful graphics, a delightful piano soundtrack, and brilliant writing.
The fact the Western branch decided to completely ignore this in exchange for promoting the dreadful Net Idol Torture Porn game called “AI: The Somnium Files” is proof that their marketing team is incompetent in every possible way.”
On Metal Torrent, as stated by the user, the opening letter of each sentence in the review spells out “A-SET”:
“A rather brilliant lost hidden gem made by Nintendo.
Score attack action has never been this amazing.
Evidently they brought their A-game for the music, it’s just as wonderful as you’d expect.
They really knew what they were doing when they made this! It’s 5 bucks well spent!”
A-Set, a main character in AI: The Somnium Files, is a Virtual YouTuber who finds herself involved in the Cyclops Serial Killings. Though created specifically for the game, A-Set was brought to life as an actual Virtual YouTuber, publishing a series of videos on YouTube which served as an Alternate Reality Game (ARG) tie-in to AI: The Somnium Files. Throughout the game the idol is subject to abductions, an eye removal, and even death.
They then explained how they were able to accomplish the extreme alterations to the review scores and claimed that they were taking issue with how disingenuous reviews could potentially be:
“In case you’re wondering how absurdly easy it is for one person to screw everything up so easily, it turns out they
1. Don’t block every “temp e-mail” site out there, the “E-mail Alias” feature on sites like Gmail might also have the same effect.
2. Have zero protection against people making multiple accounts at the same IP address.
3. Doesn’t even verify if you own the damn game.
The main lesson here is that Metacritic is utterly worthless when it comes to user reviews, remember when people review bombed Portal 2, now considered to be one of the best games ever made, because the game had a tiny, completely unobstructive, hat store?
As a reminder, Steam, which actively protects against this sort of thing and requires you to own the game before reviewing it. Still has “Very Positive” reviews.”
Krvavi Abadas claimed the catalyst for this alleged ‘experiment’ was “Warcraft 3 Reforged, becoming the “worst reviewed game on Metacritic,” misrepresenting the many, many complaints against the rerelease as being solely focused on how “they decided not to completely redo the cutscenes.” and disingenuously stated that these bombs were merely “tests.”
“Since this post is starting to get spread around (What baggage is saying is indeed the case.) because Uchikoshi himself linked the thread. I’d like to quickly note that this was not “done out of nowhere” like people are suggesting. It was specifically in response to the recent discourse of Warcraft 3 Reforged, becoming the “worst reviewed game on Metacritic”. Which i found to be a bit ridiculous considering the countless cases of people similarly damaging review scores of perfectly good games (Reforged isn’t even that bad of a remaster IMO, a lot of the “controversy” surrounding it is that they decided not to completely redo the cutscenes. Which they stated multiple times pre-release that they were scaling back on.)
The plan was to make a proper thread a few days after my tests were finished, demonstrating 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. Hence why i ended up archiving everything each step of the way. 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, in the next paragraph, Krvavi Abadas admits that the Spike Chunsoft games were chosen as targets due to them “developing a massive crush on [A-Set] due to my general attachment issues” and how they “hated how her game turned out.”
[SPOILER WARNING: The following quote contains spoilers for AI: The Somnium Files]
“To reiterate my thoughts on the game from previous threads. I loved most of the A-set videos and found them to be incredibly endearing, even developing a massive crush on her due to my general attachment issues. But i hated the actual game for how it basically ignores everything said videos were trying to build up, to the point that it takes Naixatloz, the proper antagonist of said videos. and tosses it aside by cruelly making them a hallucination caused by A-set having a brain tumor, with barely any foreshadowing. and even requires you to rip her f****** eye out yourself, as part of a bullshit “One of the Psync machines requires you to remove an eye!” plotline that other characters get to conveniently ignore, all part of a route that’s specifically about her.
the protagonist being a unlikable asshole who’s sole character trait is “hehe funny sex joke” + basically spends 90% of the game completely abandoning his adoptive daughter, and the fact that i personally find the storyline it uses instead to be complete and utter nonsense filled with plot holes and ridiculous logic.”
They concluded their confession by reiterating “that A-set means a lot to me” and admitting that they had gotten themselves into an “unfortunate situation”:
“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.”
In the aftermath of the smear campaign, the Metacritic score for AI: The Somnium Files has begun to slowly recover, sitting at a 4.4 user score at the time of writing.