This violent, yuri-themed VN about American gangsters is definitely on the wacky side, so make sure you know what you’re getting into!
Title: ATOM GRRRL!!
Publisher: Sekai Project
Playtime: Around 3 hours
Buy ATOM GRRRL!! here on Steam.
I received a review copy from the publisher.
ATOM GRRRL!! is a short yuri kinetic novel from Japanese indie VN developer Cosmillica. It’s been described as “pulp fiction with lesbians”, and I definitely get that as the intended vibe. Within its around three hours of playtime, a crazy story of low life thugs and cute girl gang members unfolds on the crime-ridden streets of Las Vegas (although seen from a Japanese perspective!).
This is not a gritty, realistic look at gang life; it’s a crazy story where the violence is wacky and over-the-top and you have to suspend your sense of disbelief for the duration of the ride. The story may not have been what I personally enjoy, but I could still appreciate how well-written it was, and I really liked how everything came together at the end. The best bit is the no-holds-barred humour and the back-and-forths between the characters, and I found myself laughing out loud at some points.
The English translation takes some liberties with the original Japanese, but I think it effectively recreates the intended tone. There are some hilariously creative insults, but bear in mind that a lot of the language used is extremely crude and what some might consider offensive, including racial slurs. If you don’t like cursing, then this isn’t the game for you.
There are four main female characters, each of them very distinctive. Jessica is the short, plucky West Coast gang leader who’s just returned from a stint in Yamato (i.e. Japan). Her friend Anna acts as the cooler voice of reason to Jessica’s hot-headed, happy-go-lucky ways, and clearly cares very much about her. Big E, sometimes referred to as “that crazy Kung Fu bitch” is a mafia boss with a foul mouth who’d as soon shoot as look at you, and has some of the most creatively crass dialogue in the game. Jessica’s fancier sister, Very, is jealous and resentful of her younger sister for being chosen as the family successor and has set her own business plans in motion.
The various crisscrossing relationships and backstories are interwoven well, and each character has their own motivations and is interesting in their own right. However, I didn’t feel like I cared that much about any of them, probably due to the wacky tone of the story which ensures that none of the violence is accompanied by any sense of danger.
ATOM GRRRL!! is a yuri VN, but without the 18+ content there isn’t that much girl-love going on, other than some implied sexing. Usually I might see that as a negative aspect, but in this case it actually made perfect sense as this isn’t predominantly a romance story. The scene where Jessica and Anna discussed their relationship was touching, but there was a glaring problem in that, before that scene, I didn’t realize they were supposed to have any kind of relationship other than friendship. I’ll be checking out the 18+ version soon to see if this fills in some of the blanks.
In terms of art and sound design, I thought the (Japanese) voice actresses generally did a great job, but the male parts were quite weak and hard to hear in comparision. The music was fun and funky and suits the all-American vibe that’s going on, and the opening video was super snappy and stylish. Character sprites and art in general were decent, if nothing to rave about, and I liked the diversity of the character designs.
One complaint I had about the game was about the addition of weird sex-slave Kittens (very similar to the concept of the catgirls in Nekopara), an idea which wasn’t explained and was completely unnecessary to the story as a whole. I would have preferred if this aspect wasn’t included.
ATOM GRRRL!! is a lot of fun, but its content and themes might limit its potential audience. If you’re looking for sweet and sensitive yuri romance you won’t find it here, but what you will find is plenty of mayhem, murder, and crazy ass bitches. If that’s your jam, then go for it: on the other hand, if crass humour isn’t your cup of tea, you might want to avoid this game for the sake of your sanity!
Review of the 18+ version to come.