Zachtronics is making a sci-fi visual novel about AI-informed therapy

Zachtronics, known for intricate puzzle games like Opus Magnum and Shenzhen I/O, will release a sci-fi visual novel on Steam later this month.

You might know (or fear) Zachtronics for their puzzle games that revolve around intricate engineering and programming gameplay. Now, it seems the studio is working on a visual novel with a very intriguing sci-fi plot. It’s titled Eliza, and it will be out right this month on Steam. Eliza will be available on PC, Mac, and Linux.

Here’s a look at the game:

Eliza appears to deal with technology and mental illness, and how the two intertwine. Here’s what the story is about:

After abandoning her high-powered tech career and a mysterious three-year absence, Evelyn Ishino-Aubrey resurfaces working as a proxy for a virtual counseling app called Eliza. Her job consists solely of reading a script provided to her in real-time by an AI, leaving her no autonomy over what she says. Is Eliza a technological marvel that brings therapy to those who otherwise couldn’t access it? Or is it an ineffective replacement and another vector for technology companies to gain control over our lives and humanity?

As she reconnects with people from her past and gets to know the ordinary people of Seattle who use Eliza for counseling, Evelyn finds herself caught in the middle between differing sides of the argument— and as she begins to question everything about her past life and future purpose in the world, it becomes clear she must confront the turmoil and darkness inside.

For more information on Eliza, have a look at the game’s official website here. You’ll find the game on Steam here.

Also have a look at Spiritfarer, if what you seek is thoughtful video games. If you’d rather just build complex systems like Zachtronics’ classic games, have a look at the robot builder Main Assembly.

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