Artificial Superintelligence is a game about making choices. They’re binary choices — you can swipe left or right when you’ve got a decision to make. The outcome affects the comings and goings of the AI company that you’re the head of. It’s a game of balancing and making the right decisions.
It’s also a game about multiverses, the dangers of artificial intelligence, and a cute cat that wanders around your office making cute cat noises. It’s essentially another take on the Tinder-as-a-game play of Reigns, but with a sci-fi setting.
And while it’s fun, it’s not quite as fun as its inspiration. There’s some good writing here, and some nice ideas, but you never quite feel compelled enough to push on to the next universe to see what you can mess up this time round.
The game starts off with an AI you’ve built destroying the human race. From there you move from alternate universe to alternate universe, seeing if you can try and avoid making the same mistakes. Or, more likely, make a lot different ones.
The key to success is balancing four different bars. These represent your employees, your investors, the government and the tech press. Annoy one of them too much and it’s game over. But on the flip side of that, if you favour one of them too much, you’ll find your dreams crashing down too.
You have to make sure you’re not giving too much power to any of the factions. Every choice you make you’ll see how it’s going to change the meter of all the sides. But there’s a twist, you can see how powerful that change is going to be, but not what direction the bar is going to slide.
Some of the choices are pretty obvious. Others are a little less clear, and some of them don’t really make any sense. It can be frustrating when a decision you thought was definitely going to go well with one of your backers actually has the opposite reaction.
Sometimes you’ll get a second chance, with investors or the government stepping in at the last second to offer you a lifeline. Other times you’ll end up disemboweled because you tried to use a keyboard to defend yourself during an annual purge that your AI has set up.
Each of the universes has its own set of rules you need to contend with. Some are in the grip of a horrible virus that makes your skin fall off, others are populated by robots. Some of them have senators that really like dressing up as rabbits.
The whole thing plays out pretty well, but there’s frustration as well as fun here. Making the wrong choice can lead to disaster, and when it feels like you’ve been shortchanged by the game, it means you’re less likely to jump to the next universe and try again.
And that’s a bit of a shame. There’s some excellent writing here, and some interesting ideas, but after a while you’re going to stop caring that much and wander away to play something else.
Artificial Superintelligence could have been much better than it is, and who knows, maybe with a few tweaks down the line it’ll be worth a second look. As it stands it’s a very cautious recommendation. There’s definitely enjoyment to be sucked out of the game, but just be prepared for that enjoyment to be tempered with annoyance.