AI Nirvana Initiative ending explained: Who is Dahlia Boat?
It’s not really a name.
Leave now if you hate spoilers. AI: The Somnium Files - nirvanA Initiative, Kotaro Uchikoshi’s latest mystery masterpiece, has a particular tidbit that left fans scratching their heads at the end of the game. Who is Dahlia Boat? Rather, what does it mean? Murder mystery games typically leave some loose threads hanging, but not one that might have a meaning outside of the story.
It’d be easy if Dahlia Boat was just a name, but it isn’t. It’s the code used to unlock the second half of the story during Ryuki’s Somnium at the beginning of the game. It asks, “Do you know the name of the culprit?” If you enter “Dahlia Boat,” you continue into Mizuki’s Route. What is most confusing is the fact that Dahlia Boat is not the name of the culprit. Not even close.
It raises the question: Why Dahlia Boat? If it’s not the name of the culprit, why does it exist? Ryuki doesn’t even bring it up, except when he’s chanting it inside his Somnium. Tearer, the murder mastermind’s codename, doesn’t even give the name “Dahlia Boat” at once. Players can only get both sides of the name by reaching both endings in Ryuki’s route. One side will tell the player the culprit’s true name is Dahlia. The other will say it’s Boat. You put that together to get Dahlia Boat.
Those who’ve made it to the end of the game might know about the “nil number” or “nil code” for unlocking the secret ending. Many believe Dahlia Boat is a similar code — a name just used to unlock the next part of the story and “break the seams” of that world.
Simulation is one of the main themes in AI Nirvana. Naix, the cult that believes the world is a simulation, strives to reach “Moksha.” Moksha is the name of their state of enlightenment, which can only be found once they break the “seams” of the world and go outside of it.
Tokiko, the organization leader, explains the “bugs” in this world to Ryuki, which correspond with these so-called “seams.” For example, the Bernstein Bears phenomenon where many mistakenly remember the incorrect name of the popular children’s series. Also, in the game, they bring up the discrepancy between Liberty Island and Ellis Island. Many misremember which one actually houses the Statue of Liberty. All of it relates to bugs in the game of our world.
Many have discussed the meaning behind “Dahlia Boat” and come to different conclusions. The most popular theory is the one about tearing the world at the seams. It creates a paradox. Ryuki shouldn’t know both “Dahlia” and “Boat” because Tearer offers the names in different timelines. Thus, it’s something that exists but shouldn’t.
“I believe it was to create a tear at the seams,” one Redditor wrote. “If [Ryuki] survived, at some point he would refer to him as Dahlia Boat when he only ever told him his name is Boat, which would have the same effect as the Nil number in the secret ending so he could reach Moksha.”
However, since there’s no “word of god” about what it really means, others have their own interpretations.
“My theory is that it’s related to the escape game (Zero Escape) that Uru liked to play on the computer. ‘Boat’ for the ship in 999, ‘Dahlia’ for the black dahlia Phi wears in her hair,” another person suggested. For context, Mizuki found a reference to Zero Escape (another one of Uchikoshi’s works) on Uru’s computer when she investigated beneath the Institute where he was kept as a child.
Dahlia Boat also translates to “HELPME FSEX” when decoded with ROT22 cipher code. It seems weirdly intentional, considering how it translates into a mostly readable phrase. “Help me” is more straightforward, but “fsex” still has many decoders confused. Many interpret it as F for female, a.k.a. “female sex” put together. One Redditor pointed out that it could relate to an Oedipus complex, considering Uru really loved his adoptive mother.
So there’s no consensus on who or what Dahlia Boat really is. What we do know is that it’s used to reference Uru Somezeki, the real Tearer, and it’s a code that has a meaning beyond a name.
AI: The Somnium Files - nirvanA Initiative is available for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.