You talk to more robots than you probably realize. If you’ve ever gone to a corporate website and asked for help via text message, the first thing you’ll talk to is an artificial intelligence that will try to assist you. It won’t, but it’ll try, and that’s the important part.
We’re still trying to make a better chat robot–one that can’t be distinguished from another human being. We’re not quite there yet, but we are very close, and you can find out just how disturbingly close we are to conversing with robots by playing a new game from Superstring Studios.
Superstring likes to think outside the box for their games. Headspun, Superstring’s first offering, combined full-motion-video with an interesting narrative about a man recovering from a traumatic head injury, and now Acolyte does the same thing by combining advanced language processing AI with an augmented reality adventure.
In Acolyte, you play as a recently hired remote QA tester for Nanomax, a fictional company that’s recently produced a new digital assistant called Acolyte. Acolyte uses a very real AI developed by the real-life company Spirit AI to talk to players using conversational language–it’s like talking to a person rather than a robot.
There are no predefined conversation options. What you write to Acolyte determines what it says back and where you go in the game’s narrative.
Of course, this is a game, so there’s going to be a plot twist. Something strange is going on at Nanomax where there have been “unexplained firings, missing employees and a strange, highly-classified bug in the Acolyte code-base,” all of which point to a corporate conspiracy that you’ll have to uncover.
Or not. You could just play dress-up with Acolyte’s many cosmetic options if you prefer.
Acolyte: Prologue is available now on Itch.io and Steam for free. Consider it the demo for a larger game that will release in Q1 2021. It’s roughly the first third of the game, according to Superstring, although there’s no mention on whether or not you’ll be able to transfer over your save file once the full game comes out. Or if there even is a save file.
Currently, Acolyte: Prologue is only available for PC, but an Android and iOS release is planned for later. The game itself seems tailor-made for mobile, which explains the portrait resolutions. Since you’ll need to use your web browser to play the game, the PC version maintains this resolution to make it easy to alt-tab.
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