AI: The Somnium Files – NirvanA Initiative’s Hidden Bats ARG Concludes Second Round

The second round of the Hidden Bats ARG connected to the upcoming AI: The Somnium Files- NirvanA Initiative concluded on Monday night. After the end of the first round, the Twitter account hosting the experiment announced that there would be more to come. This latest round started on May 18th and ended on May 30th.

This time, the story centered around two university-aged girls, named Mariha Monzen and Lumina Rikujo. Like in the first round, the girls revealed that they had been kidnapped and locked in rooms, each containing boxes requiring a number code to open, as well as clues to open the boxes using the cipher from the initial Bats489 video. Once again, the characters needed to post their puzzle clues to Twitter, and get help decoding the answers to open their boxes from the Twitter community. While primarily utilizing the code from the video, the puzzles this time also used elements from other languages or ciphers, like Hieroglyphics and Pigpen ciphers.

Hidden Bats puzzle using Pigpen cipher
One of the puzzles, utilizing both ciphers from the ARG’s video as well as a Pigpen cipher.


However, this time there were a few new elements to the experiment. The biggest change was that, unlike the first two participants, Mariha and Lumina knew each other prior to their kidnapping—they were childhood friends who drifted apart. The girls also had additional puzzles that relied on each other. For example, one day, Lumina had been given three buttons of different colors, with one button giving water to one girl, one the other, and one to both. Mariha had the key in her room, and had to tell Lumina which button to press by replying to her Tweet.

These new cooperation puzzles are where the conflicts started this time. Unlike in the first round of the ARG, the characters weren’t revealed to have done any unsavory things before their kidnapping. Instead, the girls’ true colors were revealed through being trapped. It was clear that the two characters resented each other, despite their claims to be friends. In order to get water, Lumina was ordered to tell Mariha her birthdate, so the latter could inform the contact on her phone. However, Lumina made a mistake in sending the message—she wrote “2001/5/1” instead of “2001/5/11”. Mariha immediately assumed Lumina was lying, but sent the numbers she was given to her contact. Angry at being lied to, Mariha started critiquing Lumina, eventually deciding that she was probably behind the kidnapping since she appeared calm in her requests for help. As Mariha sent the wrong numbers, Lumina did not receive any water. This confused Lumina, as she knew that Mariha knew her correct birthday and yet didn’t send it. Mariha, fed up with Lumina, decided to block her Twitter, despite it being her only way of contacting her during their test and knowing that she would have to cooperate with Lumina again. On the final day, Lumina received a blank box that only Mariha had been told how to open, but upon learning she had been blocked, grew furious, ranting about how she had been ‘abandoned’, ending with how she “wouldn’t let [Mariha] get away with this”.

With the community seeing the unraveling of this next set of characters, it was finally time for the final step—the Balance Experiment. Once again, the community was asked to vote for which character they wanted to see rescued. Whichever of the two girls’ Twitter accounts had the most followers would be rescued. And, just like before, a tie would result in both girls’ rescue. The community, after failing to balance the votes during the first round, worked harder than before to get the follower accounts to be equal, and their hard work paid off—they managed to equalize the follower accounts by the deadline. After announcing the results of the second balance experiment, the Hidden Bats Twitter account posted that both Lumina and Mariha had been rescued from their confinement. Mariha and Lumiha both admitted on their private Twitter accounts that they let their emotions get the best of them, but they still aren’t sure if they can face each other yet.

The community didn’t have long to celebrate, however. The Hidden Bats Twitter announced that the next round of Hidden Bats will begin on Thursday, June 2nd at 7pm PDT. On May 31st, the next two ‘participants’ of the game were revealed. Fans of the series were shocked to see that Iris Sagan, a character from the first AI: The Somnium Files who features prominently both in the story of the first game and in the series’ first ARG, is one of the characters trapped for this next round. Iris has already appeared in trailers for NirvanA Initiative, so fans are currently wondering what could happen to the story of the upcoming game if the character isn’t rescued in the ARG universe. This is most likely the final round of the Hidden Bats experiment, based on the display on their website having room for only two more character names, as well as the fact that the game is releasing at the end of this month. Each of the previous rounds took roughly 2 weeks, which sets this round to end a few weeks before AI: The Somnium Files- NirvanA Initiative releases on June 24th. It is also thematically appropriate, with a character set to feature in the game being a participant this time. Only time will tell what new twists and turns await in this round of the Hidden Bats ARG.

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