From the moment you wake up to ask Siri about today’s weather to watching the Internet instantaneously load the newest chapter of that fanfiction, manga or webtoon you’ve been dying to read since last week, today’s technology uses A.I. (or artificial intelligence) in completing these tasks and more.
IBN defines A.I. as “the ability for a computer to mimic the capabilities of the human mind.” A.I. can remember our preferences by analyzing and recognizing our search phrases and keywords, understanding and responding back through verbal and written language, problem-solving, and the scariest ability of all, decision-making.
With that in mind, imagine a future where A.I. manages our lives completely, so that humankind remains happy and people would no longer hate each other.
Everyone would be the same.
Having the same moralistic standards and the same understanding of each others’ words so sadness, misunderstandings and disputes no longer occur. All would be perfectly harmonious by establishing PEACE: Predictable Earth for Autonomous Collective Entity.
Despite how wonderful this future may sound, what do our individual ideal futures really look like?
In that particular future… would we remain human?
I.B. ~The Future, Destined by Unsociable Me~ introduces us to Kazuto Sorai, a tech-savvy unsociable teenage hacker who desires to change the world. He develops a communication support A.I. (and ultimate cutie-pie) named I.B. for a contest held by a reputable communications company. A member of the acting committee of said contest, bubbly and a little wacky, Rin Kikuchi visits Kazuto to help teach I.B. the complexities of human relationships in different scenarios, ranging from topics about love, respect and malice.
The dynamic between the title’s main trio, Rin, Kazuto and I.B. is interesting since they grow close and become a small family, caring for each other in the visual novel’s seven chapters.
The character growth in the story is well-done and I liked how Kazuto doesn’t resist change. In the game, we discover how Kazuto isn’t a terrible person. Because of the trauma he faced as a child, he perceived himself as being inept, pushing him to distance himself from others. Although the experience may not seem dramatic and seems small in the grand scheme of things, it’s realistic for a child to be heavily affected by strong negative thoughts and emotions no matter what event they experience them in.
The character designs for the main trio make them unique. I personally love I.B. because of its rotund body and rabbit-like features, its large oval “ears” perched on the top of its body, paw-like arms and a large white circle attached to its back to emulate a fluffy tail. I.B.’s colour palette is a mix of off-white tints, orange, turquoise, light blue and lime green, making the A.I. stand out against the colourful backgrounds. Its face-visor reminds me of the late 90s robot dog toy, Poo-chi. I think it would have been even cuter if I.B. had a larger range of cute emoticon eye changes to express its feelings.
The fun part of the visual novel is its multiple endings.
For example, “Chapter 2: Infatuation and Love” features a romance story out of a shoujo manga (including a confession scene) between two high school students, Shiho Miyama and Tomoya Ogata. The “incorrect” ending of the chapter has the couple bouldering on their first date which leads the girlfriend, Shiho, to become “a sports climbing Olympian.”
We hate others
Because we have a reason for that.
We feel a “sense of inferiority” when we feel inferior to others under the clarified standards and reasons that they have.
That’s the true colour of hatred.”Introduction, Chapter 4: Malice
“Chapter 4: Malice” is my favourite chapter of the visual novel because it involves an urban legend about a cursed response app starring a murderous clown and the deaths of high school girls.
Once downloaded onto a person’s cell phone, the app prompts them with a question. The clown asks how the person would like to die. If the person responds, the clown will agree to kill the person in the manner they described. If the person fails to respond, the clown decides for them.
The tense build-up from saving the victim, attaining access to the so-called “cursed-app” to dealing with the true villain behind the murders is delicious. The moment the dark figure appears in the elevator with the protagonists on their way to the police and nearly stabs Kazuto to death makes goosebumps run down my back. The example of having a murderous hacker stealing personal information from a cell-phone and randomly picking and planning their targets makes me sick to my stomach. Despite the idea sounding absurd, it’s a plausible reality given how advanced A.I. is nowadays.
I noted that this visual novel has the same strengths and weaknesses as the previous visual novel I played (which was also created by Entabridge).
I.B. ~The Future, Destined by Unsociable Me~ is a science-fiction visual novel mobile game available on Android/iOs. Japanese indie developer Entabridge created the game and also made the horror visual novel, Mysterious Forum and 7 Rumours. You can read the review I wrote for it here. Uploaded onto Google Play in January 2019, the visual novel is free to download and free to play.