The pursuit of artificial intelligence has given rise to real-world apps like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, which aim to help us organize our hectic lives. But what if, one day, your favorite virtual assistant asked for your help? Would you heed its call, or ignore the mystery it asks you to solve? This is the premise behind Acolyte, an upcoming “narrative detective-puzzle adventure” by Superstring, the creators of Headspun.
In Acolyte, players will take on the role of a new employee of Nanomax, a “well-funded tech start-up” looking to take the world by storm with its eponymous artificially intelligent virtual assistant. As a “remote QA tester for the company, you'll interact with its employees and absorb its culture” while putting Acolyte through its paces as the company readies for public release. Soon, however, “unexplained firings, missing employees and a strange, highly classified bug in the code-base point to something being very wrong.” In the playable prologue, this is where the mystery deepens, with your digital assistant pleading for help to understand the error and the strange effects it seems to have on the AI itself. Now, as you “work with your new assistant, who seems to be intrinsically caught up in the company’s problems, you’ll find yourself at the very heart of the conspiracy,” where office intrigues and software glitches belie more sinister issues at Nanomax.
One of Acolyte’s most intriguing features is its use of keyboard-driven “natural language input,” which allows players to use free-form language responses “as you would in a real conversation via a real-time text exchange.” This enables you to interact with the AI, advance the nonlinear narrative, and solve puzzles that sometimes require “out-of-the-box thinking.” The demo also gives players a taste of the ARG-style elements incorporated into the gameplay, such as real-world web sites and blog posts by in-game characters that hold the clues to certain puzzles. Further, as you complete more tasks, you will unlock new customizations for your mobile app-style client, allowing you to modify such features as the AI’s appearance and visual backgrounds.
Acolyte is slated for release on Steam for PC later this year, along with a mobile version for as-yet-unspecified platforms. For now, interested gamers can check out the official website for more information, and if you like what you see, you can already invest in the “Transcendent Edition” of the demo, which includes expanded content and the full game upon release.