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Square Enix's AI-Supported Detective Game Leaves Players Struggling to Phrase the Questions

By Weilin Li
Apr. 26, 2023 updated 12:30

On April 23rd, Square Enix launched its AI-supported detective game, Square Enix AI Tech Preview: The Portopia Serial Murder Case, on Steam. However, the game has received a Very Negative review rate (with only 11% positive feedback) from players due to the subpar quality of its AI-powered responses. Many players have reported that the poor AI hinders their progress in the game, making it difficult to get clues and progress through the storyline.

Despite being categorized as software, the game's content is actually based on the classic adventure game “The Portopia Serial Murder Case”, which was created by Yuji Horii, the creator of Dragon Quest. The original game was first published in Japan in 1983. Now, players can try the game in both Japanese and English.

The game's Steam page states that its goal is to deepen players' understanding of NLP (Natural Language Processing) technologies. NLP enables computers to understand and interpret the meaning behind natural language, which is the type of language we use in daily communication.

In addition to NLP, the game also incorporates other technologies, such as Natural Language Understanding (NLU) and Speech-To-Text (STT).

Screenshots showcasing the conversations between Yasu, a junior detective, and the player in SE's AI Tech Preview.Screenshots showcasing the conversations between Yasu, a junior detective, and the player in SE's AI Tech Preview.

The story seems to be a fully developed experience, at least in the trailer, and some players had high expectations for the game based on previous media reports.

It’s available for free on Steam, and we tried it out. However, we soon discovered that it did not live up to our expectations. The AI’s language comprehension in the game was surprisingly inadequate.

Some simple commands, such as "Go to the Headquarters," can initiate scene transitions. Players can also call people related to the victim. But when asking for basic information about the crime scene and other locations, searching for related evidence, or questioning pedestrians, the responses from Yasu, the junior detective we encounter, are often limited to "Hmm..." or "I'm not sure what to say about that." Being stuck in this loop can be a frustrating experience.

As some media reports show, The AI's level of understanding in the game is not sufficient, possibly due to SE not using Natural Language Generation (NLG). On the official website, SE explained that this omission was because they were concerned that the AI would generate unethical responses.

So far, despite some players providing guidance on how to find the clues and get answers, the game has left many feeling frustrated. To provide a better game experience, Square Enix should consider this feedback rather than leave players with a bad taste in their mouths.