It currently has an average score of 3/10 on the platform. This makes it one of Steam’s lowest-rating games with only 13 percent of users giving it a positive score.
The Ai Tech Demo
The Protopia Serial Murder Case sees players working with Detective Yasu to solve a murder mystery. In the original 1983 game, this was done in the traditional visual novel style of selecting different sentence prompts to converse with the NPCs. This new AI demo remake however now has you typing in different inputs that will be interpreted by the AI using “Natural Language Understanding”.
The reason this has been so badly received is that it works very poorly. The AI often does not respond properly to the simplest of phrases from the player. The general reception from users has been one of frustration and disappointment with many finding the AI to be unworkable.
Steam User Warble says “Yasu stonewalls you from the very beginning, where he literally starts going “Hmm” and makes me think he’s thinking of an answer to a simple question like “Let’s search for suspects”. I spent 15 seconds waiting for an answer only to realize he has no answer. It’s a whole string of frustrating and repetitive generic answers from Yasu when you say something that he can’t recognize and it’s utterly impossible to play if you have zero knowledge of the original game like I didn’t”.
Sackchief on Twitter further says that the AI just “parses text responses that already exist in the game” which may undermine the entire point of writing your own answers to the AI.
So this Portopia Serial Murder Case powered by Natural AI seems to be complete snake oil so far. The characters aren’t actually intelligent at all, the AI just parses text responses that already exist in the game, its basically the exact same game as the 1983 version. pic.twitter.com/9LxdTQjUKt
— sackchief 🍂 (@sackchief) April 23, 2023
The Importance of Portopia
It should be noted that the original 1983 Porptopia Serial Murder Case is one of the most important games in the Japanese gaming industry. It was one of the first visual novels ever created and started the murder mystery subgenre that games like Ace Attorney, Zero Escape, and Danganronpa would take inspiration from.
The game’s designer and writer Yuji Horii has also cited the game’s emphasis on story and character choice options as influencing his next big creation: Dragon Quest. This means the game also played a part in creating the JRPG genre.
This release also marks the first time the game was officially localized so it’s a shame to see it release in such a poor state and having such a negative reception.
The Portopia Serial Murder Case AI Tech Demo is available for free on Steam.