If you looked at the writer of this post, you did not misread it. Gangrelion didn’t play Nekopara, I DID. Yes, this time around I am the one writing a review about the game with super cute girls. Even better, the game with super cute CATGIRLS!Oh boy, it has been a long time since I last played a galge. “How long?” you ask? Welp, how about this:Yeah, I am getting old. To be fair, I did take a look at others since then, but the last one I really played for real reals was, indeed, Sakura Seasons (or Season of Sakura). But I kept being an otaku, so the current state of the genre is not unknown to me. But, this old story is not what you are here for, let’s go to the cat-girls!Nekopara is a light hearted galge about a guy who loves western style bakery and decided to leave his family to open his own patisserie, La Soleil. After he gets to his new place, he receives a delivery which contains his life changer company for the next years to come: his two cat girls, Chocola and Vanilla.The game’s story is all about his daily life and how the pet girls evolve from innocent infants who know just about nothing from human culture to full fledged cat-girls who can help at his workplace and, even, get a very special spot in his heart.
Minadzuki Kashou is our main character and, for how much I hear Gangrelion complaining on how many of those are “high schoolers with no special talent”, he is quite different. Kashou is an adult, he owns his life, having a house and a business to run by himself. But, let me tell you something I like to say a lot: Just like not all clichés are bad, not everything original can be good. And, yes, I disliked Kashou.Let me take a problem I had with this game out of the way, going step by step over it. Kashou has no voice. Ok, we get many games like these. It is seen as a way to help the player to have an easier time putting himself in that character’s place. But, in Nekopara, we can’t mold the main character at all, you just read about him, with zero interaction, so this point is useless. You never interact with the game, you never choose any option. I can go with that, but why use a voiceless character when I can’t play the game putting myself on his shoes?And, even worse, I end up doing so anyway. And, since I can’t stop him from doing all the stupid things he does in the story, I ended up being annoyed by it a lot more this way. As an example, at the beginning he wants the catgirls to leave and go back to his old house. Sounds understandable, except by the fact that they are actually very useful. They were helping him from the start and he still wanted them to go, despite how much they wanted to stay and help. Man, this protagonist isn’t really, really, kind.Now, let’s start with the good stuff, the cat-girls. I think most people would like them just for how cute they are. I don’t.Let me explain. I think that being cute in this genre is not a feature, it is a given. The whole idea is to give a story about appealing girls we can fantasize about, so they are always cute unless the game is doing something gimmick (or wrong). And that is totally fine, every genre has it’s own givens. But, as I write this for a review, I want to help you to decide if your money will be well spent here, and talking about something you know you will get in just any game of the genre by obligation is not how I want to do it. By all means, I will judge them as much like I would judge an ugly dude as possible.Does that mean I disliked the girls? Not at all. I actually liked them. They are not just cute.Chocola is our first heroine. She is a happy and agitated cat-girl, who loves her master and will do anything she can to help him, despite him not always deserving it. She is one of those people who is so glad about enjoying her time that she ends up rubbing some of that happiness on us. She treats her master well, she is helpful and hard-working. A very likeable character.Vanilla is the smart one. She acts like she wants to be tsundere, but is very clear that she is not just following chocola when she goes to Kashou’s house. She has a good sense of duty and can be quite funny from time to time. She also makes a very interesting contrast with chocola.Usually, hetare characters are used to flash out the girls around him. His problems reflect to the reader how much better the heroines can do everything he can’t. But, there is another way to accomplish a similar effect. When you want to flash out the traits of a character, you can put him besides a contrasting character, like Chocola and Vanilla. They look and act very different, so that Chocola’s eternal excitement full of clumsiness can flash Vanilla’s calm and effective slow pace, and vice versa. This is smart and well done. I liked that well-placed effect a lot in this game. That is good character composition.There are other characters, but they appear so little that I am not going deep into it. Expect more of them in Volume 2.
Except by a song that makes me snap my fingers for how much it resembles the Addam’s Family theme at a certain part, I liked the songs. They are not remarkable, but do a good job and fit the game atmosphere well. The voices are good and do a decent job. The damn silent protagonist still annoys me to the bones.
Gangrelion made a tweet about how angry I got with Nekopara at a certain day. And is totally true. I got very, VERY, pissed with it. Because this game has a problem I have been complaining since a long time ago. The sex is not used to develop it’s characters, instead the game goes through the trouble of worsening the story so we can have some sex. The fact that I played the all-ages version and didn’t get any sex probably did not help at all in that.As I have said before, I have been an otaku for a very long time. The whole sex with cute little girls may not turn me on, but I learned to live with it long ago. If it is with a totally fictional character, I am ok with it. It is a trait of the genre and it is not going away. But lazy writing is something I am never ok with.
Oh, before I forget, SPOILERS:I was wondering how the nice relationship of father and daughters the characters had would change to that of love. I knew it would happen. I expected an interesting development, full of conflict and a big taboo to overcome in name of this new love. The hardships that would takes us there, the quest, the… Cat heat period. Yes, I just said it, the cat-girl goes into heat period. There you go. Now, sex. What the hell, you gotta be shiting me, how lazy can those stupid writers be with this whole fuc…Ok, ok. I am calm now. But it was such a disappointment. The fact that the game had me invested so far made it all worse. I HATED this development, it was lazy and cheap. It was foreshadowed and obvious, but that doesn’t make it good. Besides, they even do (a little) better with the second catgirl… Why? Why couldn’t they make the characters have some development prior to the matting season to lead to that point? No, just heat and sex. Go on, pick your tissue box now. I was pissed off. Not because my precious cat-girls went into sex life, but by how it was done in this game. If you are looking for a great game, with an awesome story, this is not it. I think galges can do much more, it is a genre full of potential. Since it is so much about reading, the writing can go super deep and the reader will pay attention instead of asking for the next battle. Sadly, many Galges as this one are ok with having just a simple story that gets there by showing cute girls. I want more from the Steam games I pay 20 bucks for, and I want this genre to have it’s games on Steam to be compared with the likes of The Binding of Isaac, not with The Slaughtering Grounds. Nekopara is solid, but we need better stuff to show what galges can really do.Did I hate the game? No. Just a part. Nekopara was still fun to watch. Do I recommend? If you like this kind of happy and light story, yes, very much. If you want a reason to enjoy it one handed (or with both hands, don’t really care about how you enjoy yourself…) don’t go for the Steam version, for as much as I joked about it not being really all-ages, it is super tamed. If you are like me, and expect great stuff, Nekopara is not quite there, but it is not trying to. So, at what it is trying to do, I think it is good enough.