Nekopara is a kinetic visual novel developed by Neko Works and published by Sekai Project. There has been a lot of hype about this series since its release in 2014 and I have finally decided to give it a chance to see how it lives up to all the praise. There are a total of four volumes and a prequel in this series so I have chosen to start with the first game that was released, volume 1.
Kashou Minazuki is the son of a long line of Japanese confection makers. One day, he decides to move out and start his own bakery called La Soleil. When he arrives at his new location, two large boxes appear and upon opening them, he found two catgirls named Chocola and Vanilla packed inside. Originally, they were at Kashou’s old home and owned by his younger sister Shigure Minaduki. The two catgirls feel that Kashou is their true owner and followed him to his new location.
Kashou tried to send them back but they begged and pleaded until he eventually gave in to their pleas. The two catgirls at hand, who really love their master, will try their best to help run the bakery and will do their very best with varying results.
Pros and Cons
-A cute kinetic VN with cute catgirls
-Interesting characters that show development throughout the story
-Beautiful art style that is very pleasing to look at
-The story is very bland and lacks excitement
-I do have some issues with the characters
-Some people may be turned off by some of the sexual storyline aspects
Every catgirl you meet is cute and has a different personality. They learn and grow in the world around them. Chocola and Vanilla particularly are new to the outside world so their interactions tend to be very childlike at first. There are a group of characters that you will meet but this volume focuses on Chocola and Vanilla so I’ll be covering those two respectively.
You follow in the footsteps of Kashou and we are in his perspective throughout the story. He is easygoing and is willing to lend a hand whenever he can, however, at times he can be a bit dense. Sometimes he is incapable of getting hints and has to be told directly what's on someone's mind.
Chocola is cheerful, has a dog-like personality, and is very fond of her master Kashou so much that she wants his attention. At the same time, she is energetic, friendly, and well-loved by those around her. Chocola has a hard time doing difficult tasks and tends to leap into action without thinking of the consequences.
Vanilla is the twin sister of Chocola and is the exact opposite in terms of personality as she is quiet and calm. She can be smart but does prefer to do things on her own, however, she does remain kind-hearted and well-liked.
Out of the two, Vanilla is my personal favorite due to her quiet nature and I would personally like to hang around her more than her hyper sister.
Problems with the story
The story is good but unfortunately, it falls short in many areas that prevent it from being anything more than average. There are no events that would serve to add excitement to the story instead I found myself more just waiting for the spicy scenes to happen as the primary focus. We do get to see Kashou’s bakery gain gradual success, but it is not much else there.
Next, I have issues with two characters. Now I should point out that I do not hate these two in any shape or form but I still have problems with them.
Chocola is the first character that I found issues with. While I didn't hate her character, I found her to be a big attention magnet in general. This is subjective of course, but I did not like how more attention was put on her compared to her twin sister Vanilla. I understand that Vanilla is meant to be the quiet one, but characters like that typically get their very own big moment and story segment. Unfortunately, this never happens so she becomes more of a background character being completely taken over by Chocola. I feel some more time would have been nice on the other cat girl, especially when they did such a good job making her equally as interesting.
Then, there is Kashou, he falls flat in terms of character development. He does not really do much outside his focus on the bakery. There was a moment where he did talk about leaving his family due to some issues, however, this was not touched upon further in the story. I don’t know if this is tackled in the other volumes but it’s left untouched in this volume leaving us with a boring main protagonist.
The final issue I have is that some of the sexual story elements may be a turnoff for some people. If you are looking for a cute kind of VN, then Nekopara does offer that, however, it will be drowned out with the spicy scenes later on.
Artstyle, Performance, and Soundtrack
The art style is something that I was really impressed with. There are some really beautiful scenes that you will be able to see throughout the game and each is very detailed. Nekopara should run fine on any computer due to this being mostly pictures, music, and text. I came across no issues while I was playing. I tested the game on an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 3GB, AMD Ryzen 5 1500X Quad-Core Processor 3.50, with16 GB of RAM.
The soundtrack is an area that could have been shown some more love. There were no tracks that were bad or distracting, but also none that stood out or were memorable. The music choices simply fit the requirement of having background music while you play through the story.
There is an 18+ patch that is available for 11.49 CDN through Steam. This adds adult content that further shows how the relationship between Kashou and the girls develops. The patch includes three segments of H-scenes that are animated and fully voiced that are very well done. Personally I believe these scenes help complete the experience and should absolutely be picked up if you enjoy adult content in visual novels.
I also recommend going into the options settings and maxing out the chest jiggle physics. After that, press the "P" button on your keyboard during the regular dialogue scenes as you are in for a cute treat. This function will work with or without the patch.
If you like are looking to play a visual novel with cute catgirls, then Nekopara will most definitely meet your needs in this area. It has a nice charm with standout art in both the character and background scenes. As this is a kinetic visual novel, there aren't any dialogue choices that will change the routes or endings of the game, so be sure to temper your expectations as you are getting more of a story with cute cat girls more than something that will feel like a game.
I recommend Nekopara volume 1 to anyone who loves catgirls as I feel that even after looking at the shortcomings of the novel, developer NEKO WORKs absolutely knows how to do catgirls. ;3
I also recommend getting the 18+ patch, you get the full experience of the story, and don’t forget to max the chest jiggle.