Typically, visual novels tend to provide an empty shell protagonist that allows players to insert themselves into the character for added immersion. For some titles, it works out well, but I tend to enjoy the games that offer a protagonist with a few layers of depth. The Frontwing developed visual novel ATRI: My Dear Moments introduces not only a unique and complex main lead but also presents some exciting story developments that will inevitably shape the later hours of gameplay.
ATRI: My Dear Moments introduces Ikaruga Natsuki who is suffering from a troubled past after losing his mother and his leg to an accident and being forced out of a prestigious school known as The Academy. However, the state of the world isn’t in the best shape either as rising temperatures caused towns to be completely flooded, one of which being Natsuki’s hometown.
Natsuki decides to go back home, or at least its relocated area, and live with his grandmother. Sadly, she dies, but she leaves him a ship and a submarine along with a bunch of debt. After learning of a treasure hidden in his old home underwater, he teams up with a debt collector to split the reward and get a new leg. Well, it turns out this treasure is a humanoid girl named Atri. The story then explores the possibilities of selling her as well as recovering her memories for something that is supposed to happen in 45 days.
What I want to focus my preview on is Natsuki. He has so many different layers to him that are slowly revealed throughout the opening narrative. He is in pain, but not afraid to ask for help when he needs it. He’s not perfect and doesn’t always have the best ideas, but that’s what makes him capable of leading this story. Interestingly, the writers seem to know this about his as they even give him an illustration during certain scenes.
I was genuinely moved by the way he deals with the struggles of his past and how he does his best to look towards a brighter future even though it may be difficult. His prosthetic leg often hinders his ability to perform various tasks, but that’s when Atri steps up to tell him that she will be his leg. It’s rather romantic, but the story doesn’t rely on perverted comments or character tropes. Even the “childhood friend” doesn’t act like a jealous mess when Atri enters Natsuki’s life or gets weirded out by her living in a boat with him. Cliches in visual novels that you’ve come to expect don’t show up, and you’re left with a unique narrative.
The character designs are some of Frontwing’s best, and there are plenty of CGs that show key moments of the story. Still, I really wish Natsuki was voice acted, but I’ll settle for a protagonist that I actually want to follow. I should also mention that supporting cast is quite good, but I’d like to see their growth in the later hours of the story.
ATRI: My Dear Moments rejuvenated my appreciation for lighthearted visual novels. The opening moments create an excellent foundation for these characters to grow and succeed in this world by relying on each other. I have a feeling I’m probably going to be crying by the end. Still, it’s something that I’m eagerly waiting to see play out when the game launches in the west on PC-via Steam in June.
This post may contain Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate Noisy Pixel earns from qualifying purchases.