Title: ATRI -My Dear Moments-
Release Date: June 18, 2020
Reviewed On: PC
Genre: Visual Novel
Stories about what it means to be human are an age-old concept. We’ve had stories about robots with human-like intelligence since Erewhon (1872) or even earlier if you want to include man-made creatures like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818). This idea finds its way into modern media in some form or another with varying results. Frontwing’s newest visual novel ATRI -My Dear Moments- introduces us to a robot girl, and thus we are taken on a whimsical journey of self-discovery and relatable human interaction.
ATRI -My Dear Moments- stars Ikaruga Natsuki, a high schooler with a prosthetic leg who is trying to salvage the works of his late grandmother, an ocean geologist. He may have inherited ownership of her stuff, but he also inherited her massive debt, so he’s teamed up with a “self-proclaimed” collector to get rid of it. The world is in a bad state as parts of it now exist underwater, which means Team Aqua succeeded, I kid. However, under the sea, treasure exists that may help our young protagonist with his debts so he can be on his way.
In a routine search, Natsuki finally manages to make it into an underwater warehouse to find a mysterious pod holding a girl. This girl, an android named Atri, was owned by his grandmother, and Natsuki initially plans to sell her for an ungodly amount of money to split with the collector. Like he’s actually going to go through with that though.
As a visual novel, you’ll find very minimal interactivity outside of a couple of choices. These choices ultimately impact whether or not you’ll be able to get the true ending, but they are incredibly obvious, so you don’t need to worry about that at all. Additionally, this is a Frontwing title, so you can literally just use the progress controls to jump between scenes and choices at the push of a button.
Like other Frontwing titles, there are some great menus for players full of convenient options. They’re absolutely fantastic in terms of both choice and aesthetic. The options give you full control over how you want to experience the game, and you can have it show Japanese and English text simultaneously if you want to be especially weeby.
I’d like to add that this title screams quality through and through. The team didn’t skimp on the character illustration or the multiple backgrounds that you’ll visit throughout the narrative. The CGs are also top class and break up the dialogue scenes brilliantly. If that wasn’t enough, there are some needlessly flash special effects just to really drive scenes home.
ATRI -My Dear Moments- tells an extremely unorthodox story for the type of visual novel it styles itself as. While, technically, a romance story, the romance actually takes a back seat for a majority of the story instead preferring to focus on exploring the identities of the titular android, ATRI, and Natsuki. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a voice, but he does have a portrait that is used quite liberally, as well as a multitude of facial expressions. He also gets some really good CGs that focus on him and only him. How many CGs you get of the protagonist’s face could probably make for a good litmus test for whether or not a VN protagonist is a self-insert, which Natsuki certainly isn’t.
Natsuki actually makes for a fascinating protagonist as many others will leave unkempt lifestyles due to sheer lack of virtue; for Natsuki, it’s not for lack of trying. Natsuki’s disability, the missing leg, makes it incredibly difficult for him to do many things, even with a prosthetic. Disabled protagonists are a rarity in visual novels, so it’s nice to see one who isn’t just there for a checkbox.
The set up is quite lovely as you have Natsuki, a boy who relies on a barely functioning prosthetic in a world that’s already fallen apart develops a relationship with an older model android girl who is seeing this new world for the first time. It’s a strong foundation for the narrative, but the ease and the effortless way their relationship grows makes for some compelling moments of storytelling.
Sure, the story does an excellent job with these two leads, but it doesn’t stop there. There’s actually a relatively strong supporting cast, and the interactions with them make up the actual bulk of the story. That bulk, however, has the one major flaw found in the overall pacing. Many of these plot sequences feel little more than filler, and there are only so many skits you can put between essential plot points before it can feel tiring. Luckily though, the final beats are absolutely fantastic and make this 15-hour journey quite rewarding.
ATRI -My Dear Moments- is a beautiful visual novel about people trying to figure out how to live in a world that has been literally sinking around them. It plays on the environment of a nigh apocalyptic setting with cautious optimism, defying the angst that would usually permeate tales such as these without just ignoring the traumatic past of the protagonist. It’s a solid recommendation for any visual novel fan who wants a hopeful story with a unique delivery.
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