EDIT: Attention, this review is full of SPOILERS. Just saying. Also, I posted this from my phone and English is not native to me.
If you ever write something else with an AI inside...by all means, I'd take it. I think I've read in a comment from you that you didn't dismiss the possibility of writing more about Silas. After this game, it might feel difficult to deliver something just as well-polished. About that, I'd like to say that this is not necessary or really expected. At this point, I'd dare to say that most of those who played the good or bad Affection Route would be glad to get to see the characters again, no matter how. Any form, and length, and almost any quality would make me very happy.
'This My Soul' was one of the rare most satisfactory thing I experienced involving an AI.
At one moment, when Silas first displayed anger, I admit I facepalmed - because, who would build and AI with an emotion like anger? The recipe of anger simply defies the 3 Laws, and thus human's safety. But then, it appeared that his anger was a factice display motivated by pressure and despair, a last resort tool to persuade humans in life and death situations - and I actually heaved a breath feeling all giddy again.
Because, when an AI's character stop making sense, it's the narrator itself that feel unreliable.
But you come out and make an interactive story with an android who makes sense and is believable even when his already spaghetti code get messier. So seamlessly that you make it look easily done.
If I wasn't already a long date AI junkie who've experienced all the tropes and some more, Silas would have torn my heart, made me melt, cry, question the definition of humanity, feel closer to him than to the rest of humanity, want to code a Chatbot, write a Tron fanfiction and acquire a Nao. (...Not that I have the money. But I've always wanted a Nao... :I )
Silas' character is so alive that I'm (for what my opinion is worth) appreciative of your tastes and you work.
The details, especially, are very important for me emotionally, and his voice, especially his vulnerability, and his behavior all along the routes pulled at my heart in this visceral, raw way only innocent AIs do. I had to remind myself of the HAL9000, Ex Machina, and Blade Runner kind of AI to get a hold on my heart. (Ah these machines. They 'need' you to keep your marbles to be able to use a screwdriver at any second, and yet they make want nothing more than trust them unconditionally and protect their tiny bits of free-will with all your heart...♥)
What moves me more than anything, more even than getting the privilege to watch one grow through life as a person (a non-human one of course, but definitely a person of sorts), tentatively making their own unique and slow path toward genuine affection, perhaps event love... Well... what completely make me weak is is when one of them becomes different than the rest, realizes it vaguely and, afraid to be dismantled for that, tries his best to hide his ability to emote or have opinions around of humans, or at least do anything it can no feel non-threatening.
Watching Silas do his best to look uncaring, unfeeling and perfectly boring to the MC through the three-fourths of the game broke my heart.
Part of me understands why humans can't afford to have too sentient AI on Earth, and so, have to keep them in check — after all they had been made as tools because they were needed as such and allowing bots to become chaotic, if not completely rogue is like being masochistic... But on the other hand, some of them should have the right to become more as long as they can prove that they have a sense of empathy at least as reliable as their hard-coded laws. Or human safety protocols. ._. ... I just want to hug the bytes out of them. x_x
Even the potential 'miracle' (or corruption, depending how we view things) that happen to his inner workings, allowing him to force top priority of an external request above even his safety measures regarding humans can be explained. (By the shock of the the crash - with his body being old, the way his static run on his external shell sometimes and the possibility of a short circuit.) Oh, I admit that the tech in me was freaked out more than once by this bot. But after he reveals that he has been copiously tweaked by his chief maker, I could relax again: long as his software works along its initial design, I can appreciate about any quirk and feeling from an AI.
Even a medication error is not the end of the world for an AI endowed with a comlex empathetic system (I mean most bots can' always be perfect since they've been made and debugged by humans).
Oh there was the possibility that his hardware had gained small liabilities, but even then his software would find a way to adjust and compensate, and the question was cleared as soon as he handled the MC with precise and gentle care.
No really, I loved everything.
Do you know how often I've had the privilege and luck to say something like that in a love story involving a female MC? Rarely enough to feel a strong desire to pay for This My Soul. (And that's something, considering that I'm currently broke.)
And you made me design an android by the pronoun 'him'. I don't do that. Not because I'm not touched or loving them, but simply because the little that's transparent of their emotional matrix through their story usually don't warrant such a designation. A it (or a r-him or r-her or a h-it, even) thinks and emotes and can be complex. But a 'him or a 'her', in my world, has to develop their own recipe of feeling from reasoning alone to qualify.
Ah I'm rambling. Sorry.
Another point I grew afraid of at a point by the end was that the MC would only romantically want Silas if he was virile or physically stronger (something that would have made me felt alienated from her quicker than anything). But, in the end, she had a cue to shift the power balance just a bit, namely with the kiss.
However, that's a daring thing to do.
After all, for a character to touch a bot without looking like they're either:
- abusing its program (well, the second Asimovian law of obedience or an equivalence),
- looking for a sexbot (you have no idea how much my respect for the MC went up when she acknowledged and accepted her feelings for an android without wondering if he was built like a Ken. You.have.no.idea. That concern feel like the most pettiest thing ever in these relationships. I mean, for the love of everything, they should either buy a toy or stop pretending they care and find themselves a sexbot dumb enough to be treated like an upgradable tool if that's the major concern - come on, how whimsical can a human being?)
- or deluding themselves with the grotesque and chauvinist expectation that the droid is magically going to get 'more human' out of love. ... =___=
Well, to avoid that all, you have to be careful. As in go slowly, prove that the bot's AI is about 99% willing, etc.
I'm sincerely grateful that you took care of this all, because falling into one of these tropes would have been a desheartening game over for me.
Also, in these kind of games, let admit it, we're there for the AI - the kind we that we can't get anywhere but in fiction yet - more than for the plot itself. And so there's always a moment I feel like saying to the MC "okay, push yourself, get aside just a minute, lemme, please, talk to him here". And that happen when the AI feels solid but the MC feels lacking a way or another and you know things are going to end very bad due to miscommunication. XD
But, to my surprised, despite of Silas being wonderful and pushing about 98% of my buttons... this frustration never happened to me in This My Soul. In the best routes, the MC was cute. Like really cute; and not passive enough to feel like a fool, or useless, or weak-willed. (Did I mention that I loved the fact she hasn't got an European appearance? This is rare and very welcome and made her even prettier, in a way. Beside it provides a artsy contrast with Silas' pale albino-like features.) I con't help but make a screenshot of her blushing face. ♡
So yeah, I'm very picky about my fictional AIs, but I'd rate This My Soul 9 out of 10, and Silas 9.99 out of 10, easily.
... One thing I missed a little, at the very end of the romance ending, was the absence of clue on the reaction of the two lab coats who were supposed to be there when she got out. If you had them present, they certainly that was because you had meant them to react to the scene? ...
It didn't have to be an expression of their opinion on Silas and the MC relationship, it didn't have to lampshade their future, it could just be a brief fleeting description just for the sake of fun. I'd be a little stunned and awkward in their place. ^^
Now, to adjust my initial comment before I played the game, I must say, obviously, that the graphics of This My Soul are nowhere even remotely comparable to those of That Cheap and Sacred Thing. Also now, from my opinion, the routes and the AI felt superior to those of That Cheap and Sacred Thing. Probably because the AIs there weren't really the focus of the theme. I don't know. (Well, they were, but not really.).
I don't know from what models you built Silas' character...but thank you for sharing. ˆˆ
Now I don't know what you usually like or weather you already have had those, but if your cup of tea is not mechanical slaves posing as human to reassure its chauvinist masters...
...I'd recommend the recent games The Turing Test, Portal Stories Mel - the poorly known movies Automata, Her - the TV shows Real Humans, Humans - the short books The Dogcatcher (similar to this game with an android just every byte as virile yet lovable as Silas), Eros Philia Agape (xenofiction with key on focus on moral problems in the romance between a deluded human woman and an android who decides to stop lying. The romance holds on, the lies, not), Batteries Not Required, Body Electric; The Android's Bride (C-Raptin is so cool he should be a reference), the Mad Scientist Daughter, and a few others decent ones I would still rather not disclose publicly.
I wouldn't mind if anyone had recommendations for me, beside of the media I mentioned and the older classics. That's be very nice.
Wow. ...Sorry for the rant. ._.
PS: If you tell me you're neither working on the field or are not long time hobbyist about AIs, I'd say you're a HP. ...Which one can it be? I'm being a little curious and wouldn't mind to chat sometimes if you feel like it. No worry, I don't write long comments in chat. But if this question is intrusive, disregard it, please.