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This past week I was requested to turn my attention to Project ATMOSPHERE by Dr. Mad.

Although I do not usually review games that don’t have an ending, I made an exception for this one, and I’m glad that I did.

First, as a game originally made in Italy, I will NOT be talking about the English translation. There are indeed some localization issues, but those are easily fixed before the final English game is released.

What I will be focusing on is the gameplay, the art, and the plots of the different stories (yes, plural). There is a reason why this review is titled: A Tale of Two Games.

Getting Familiar with the Game

Before we dive into the game itself, there are a few elements in the game that will show up throughout the experience, and I have to address them first.

Typically, the interface of a game gives you some clues to the type of gameplay experience you can expect to have. In this case, I was surprised by a few things:

Open World Map

The game layout will remind any veteran adult game player of a sandbox game.

There is a world map, there are locations to visit on said map, there are specific girls at said locations.

There is not really a time when certain things happen, as each just looks for specific flags to be triggered. You don’t have to worry, every flag that needs to be triggered WILL be triggered and the relevant locations will appear on the world map:

The game itself is a straightforward narrative, and it is obvious that the dev team wants you to tackle the different events in a specific order.

To that end, I find it curious that they chose to give this straightforward story the UI of an open world game.

Forced Event System

That said, in the gameplay, the world map does not matter. The locations of the girls don’t matter, either.

If you need to talk to one of the girls, the game won’t let you NOT talk to them.

There is no going to bed early. There is no skipping a day of going to work and foregoing the chance to make your daily $60.

Heck, there isn’t even anything to spend your $60 a day on.

For an example of this forced event system:

Every morning, I – the MC – peek at my childhood friend as she takes a shower. This is not a personal preference thing; I’m just not allowed to complete the day or go to bed until I do.

Each morning, my personal friend is right there in the bathroom – and there they stay.

“Well bully to that!” I said to myself. I chose to ignore the fact that my friend was in the shower and went about my day.

Here are some of the tasks I accomplished:


  • I went to a store downtown and met the widowed shopkeep
  • Fixed a computer for a cute pharmacist
  • Made out with a cute pharmacist
  • Stopped by the cinema to check on renovations
  • Went to work as a Web Dev for several hours
  • Finally, I went back home after a very full day.

Pictured: I mean… I COULD just knock to find out. But… nah.

Well gosh darn, wouldn’t you know it, my friend was still in the shower.

I had finished literally every other task save peek at someone in the shower, eat breakfast with her, then go to bed – in that order.

Alas, the game has declared it mandatory for me to peek at her.

Let me be explicit: I literally cannot continue with the plot of the game unless I do so.

The Points System

This leads me to the next point: the Good Guy/Bad Guy system.

Certain actions will give you Good Guy Points (GP) while others give you Bad Guy Points (BP).

The weird thing is, there is no telling what choice will give you what!



Pictured: Max Sexual arousal = Most aroused he has ever been at all times!

To demonstrate this, let’s play a game.

I will list out four minor events that happen in the game, and you try to guess what gives you GP and what gives you BP:

1. Telling your landlord that you are going to continue to Peek at her while she changes despite her telling you not to (and making her hate you a little).

2. Installing Web Browsing Spy software onto a laptop so you can see what sites a young girl visits.

3. Telling your friend that you had oral sex with the girl he likes.

4. Accepting an invitation to visit a girl when she is feeling lonely at night and wants to see you.

If you said that everything gives you Good Guy points then you are correct!

You are well on your way to be a heroic paragon of virtue.

…except #4, visiting a consenting adult at night means you are a Bad Guy and should know better.

It may seem a bit capricious to harp on this so thoroughly, but these reminders of GP or BP gain are constant throughout the gameplay experience. There is nary a decision that you can make that doesn’t affect your GP/BP bar.

Pictured: Me only installing web browser spy software because I’m a Good Guy.

The entire system seems arbitrary.

The only thing that I see as being the consistent theme to gaining BP is to be polyamorous. Now, this isn’t a guarantee of what is intended, just something based on my observations of what assigns good and bad points.

In other words, it seems like the game is telling you: if your MC is Poly, then you are a bad guy and get bad guy points. Everything else is fine, but Polyamory is not.

In truth, it feels like a system that is not completely implemented.

This feeling of incomplete implementation hits other aspects of the game as well – such as the Physical Condition stat, Love and Hate points, or the aforementioned lack of things to spend money on. This makes it seem like a contradictory or out of place mechanic in the first place.

Two Separate Storylines

I’m actually reviewing two separate games.

Both of these games take place within Project ATMOSPHERE.

It’s about time that I explained the title of this review: A Tale of Two Games

Here is a terrible analogy to really drive home the point I’m about to make:


  • I like hamburgers
  • I like peanut butter
  • I like Oreo cookies.
  • I do NOT want a peanut butter beef flavored Oreo thank-you-very-much.

Pictured: Our Hero, Ladies and Gentlemen. Definitely an Upstanding Individual.

You see, Project ATMOSPHERE wants to be two things at the same time, and each to the detriment of the other.

These two different things are entirely different games:

1. One game is a classic overworld sandbox adult visual novel dating sim

2. The other is an action-packed kinetic novel.

On one hand, it is a classic overworld/sandbox adult VN dating sim. There are many girls that you are able to woo and, as it to be expected, each of these girls has a number of scenes associated with them.

On the other hand, it is an action/suspense science fiction kinetic novel filled with fight scenes, exploration of the unknown, and combating a large, mostly faceless evil corporation that has already destroyed one world and is turning its attention to another.

The true weakness of Project ATMOSPHERE becomes very apparent once you realize that the adult dating VN and the Science Fiction Action VN do not mesh well together.

At times, the events and responsibilities placed on the MC from one side of the narrative are completely at odds with the actions required by the opposing side.

This is often humorous, and sometimes frustrating.

Pictured: Worst secret agent evar

Let me give you an example in as spoiler-free a manner as possible:

A key point of contact is in critical condition and needs an infusion of a rare blood type. There is only one person that we know of who could have the matching blood type to make this work.

We, the players, are told that unless the transfusion occurs within the next 24 hours, the point of contact will not make it.

We are then released from the scene to secure the blood transfusion as our next objective.

Our goals are clear, everything laid out.

So what does the MC do?

If you guessed “buy lingerie, sleep soundly, set up a sex party, and go the spa,” then you would be the lucky winner of this round.

Now, each of the above things that the MC does has context and reasoning behind it.

The actions make sense within the scope of the Adult VN, but not in the context of the action VN; the stories are now competing with each other.

While this is the example I’m giving, similar circumstances occur throughout the narrative that exists currently.

This is doubly-frustrating when the adult VN scenes you are going through are repeats – down to the exact dialogue – of previous days. It seems these repeat scenes were added in just so you can see the female characters in a state of being topless for a little longer.

What I mean by this is, these scenes seem shoehorned into places where they don’t really belong just so that they can check the “Adult VN” box.

But what about the science fiction storyline?

I do have to say that the science fiction action novel plays quite well and it is one of the strongest parts of the whole experience.

These sections are presented in a narrative format with a minimal amount of fuss or extra steps that are needed.

My only disappointment is that there currently isn’t more to experience of this until the full game comes out. I am personally excited to see where this will go, and how the story shapes up as it continues development – especially with the number of plot threads the developers have left dangling for us!

The Art of the Game – How to Show, Not Tell

I can tell that when the project was started, they began with a script then created the models/scenes around it, but they did not go back to edit the script in a manner that makes sense and seemingly implemented it wholesale.

What this means functionally for the player is that, instead of heeding the old adage of “Show, Don’t Tell”, the team behind Project ATMOSPHERE has decided to both show and tell.

This means that the writing in some spots is a bit superfluous to the action that is going on:

Here are two great examples where in both instances we, the player, can say, “Yup… I can see that.”


Pictured: Checks out. Is indeed a slender girl in a black jumpsuit.

Pictured: Those are her eyes, are they are indeed glowing white.

Why does this matter?

This mean that the writing in spots is superfluous to the players’ experience and, as such, it undercuts the impact of the action going on visually.

On top of this, the narrative perspective shifts from time to time within the script – sometimes multiple times within the same scene.

There were multiple occasions during gameplay that I was stuck wondering if I was listening to a character’s thoughts, the omniscient narrator, or even if it was the same speaker from the moment before.

Now, I’ve talked a lot about the writing, but what about the art?

Right from the get-go, you can tell that the artists on this team are incredibly talented when it comes to animation and lighting.

The opening “this is our studio” screen is by far the best animated screen I have seen in one of the indie VN games; it all starts on a high note and doesn’t really diminish (with a few detail-oriented exceptions that I will get into in a moment.)

Seriously, just look at the detail on this image during the opening sequence:

Pictured: My name is Stranger and this is my surprised face

Most visual novels will just put character portraits in front of static backgrounds, but not Project ATMOSPHERE.

Every single scene that you will see is dynamically created with the characters placed right there in the action.

As you would imagine, this attention to detail pays off in a huge way, allowing us to see how characters move beyond five or six different stances.

This draws us into their world directly and makes everything feel a bit more real.

You can tell they put a lot of thought and energy into making this game as good-looking as possible. I’m honestly impressed. The art direction is by far one of my favorite parts!

Now that being said, I mentioned a few exceptions to this.

I am a stickler for details and right in the opening sequence a couple of things jumped out at me. Let me show you an example with something that happens in the first three minutes of gameplay.

To set the stage: the man with the hood in the above picture is running from the police who are about to arrive.

Just moments before that image, he was on the street and running down an alley.

In the time it takes for the shirtless man to jump twice, the hooded man is now on a second story catwalk.

Two clicks later we see another:

Pictured: I agree with you hooded man. He WAS being a jerk.

Let me ask you, dear readers, a very specific question:

How did the Hooded Man get onto the catwalk?

I mean this seriously.

Moments before the hooded man was running down an alley way. He certainly didn’t scale the side of the building, but there are no ladders or stairs leading to the catwalk.

The only reasonable conclusion that I can come to is that he:

  • Went inside the building behind him
  • Ran up to the second floor
  • Broke into and then ran through an apartment
  • Climbed out the window


  • Carefully turned around and took the time to close the window behind him to not let a draft into the apartment (Heating can be expensive).

I know that was given a bit of a dramatic flair, but it is small things like this that continue to crop up as we go through the story.

In fact, in one scene later in the gameplay, a character gets two bottles of medicine. They drop one, then pick it up, and then leave while only holding one bottle.

Where did the second bottle go?

A Cohesive Narrative

Now, the lack of object cohesion I mentioned a moment ago is not contained simply to the art, but it extends to the story as well.

There are times where character seem to simply forget what they are doing or remember things that never occurred.

Each day you are given a series of tasks that you have to accomplish in order for the sleep option to appear and usher you into the next day with more plot. We covered this a little bit when we discussed how our MC is required to peek at his friend in the shower.

There are times when tasks appear on your task list that I had no idea how they got there.

Monica never sent the MC a message, and the MC doesn’t know a Fred. At least, not yet?

Things tend to happen so suddenly, without much build-up, that it breaks the immersion that the beautiful art and animation work so hard to create.

Here are some other examples:

  • Training to become a special agent takes place over two days – and only part time in the mornings. By the end of it, you’re a fully-trained special agent.
  • You talk with a girl for the second time ever, and by the end of the interaction, you are being dominated in a sex scene, complete with full bondage gear.

These moments crop up time and time again. They come out of left field, hit us quickly, and then are not mentioned afterwards, or really given any additional thought in the storyline.

There are no training montages, either. The MC goes from kind of scrawny to jacked in less than two weeks. It really feels like everything is just a single-minded rush towards the “cool bits”.

Secretly, I wish that I could learn to be a combat-ready secret agent with just two days of training (part-time during the morning only).

Still, the plot is quite interesting and I can tell that it is still building up speed.

Overall: I’m Eager for the Full Release

Without getting too far into it, let me just say that if you enjoy close-quarters fighting, Shadowrun-esque dystopian cybernetic alternate realities, then you will love this game.

As of the time of this writing, my only major gripe is that I haven’t been able to get too far into the story the developers actually want to tell.

Since the game is still in development, you can see areas they are working on. I can tell there are good things coming down the road, and the cohesion between these two separate storylines will be refined and worked on as it gets closer to the full release.

This is definitely a game that I will – and I suggest that everyone reading this – keep an eye on as it develops.

I want to leave with a final thought:

Do not mistake me after everything I’ve said: the cool bits are REALLY cool bits!

I love the cool bits! They are truly excellent!

…I just wish they made a bit more sense.