Title: Nekopara: Catboys Paradise
Developer: NEKO WORKs
Release Date: July 15, 2021
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Sekai Project
What began as a simple April Fools joke has become a reality with this latest game from developer Nekoworks, Nekopara: Catboys Paradise. The game takes after the developer’s mainline Nekopara series but features a husbandos rather than waifus for the romance options. Being released as a free title on Steam mostly makes up for the sadness felt from the April Fools trick in 2019.
Nekopara: Catboys Paradise is an otome visual novel where the protagonist takes over a café previously managed by your grandfather. This all happens rather quickly after his death, and it falls onto you to make sure the café remains open. Running a café is tough work, though. After all, you’re fresh out of college and don’t even know the basics of running one.
But worry not because you’re greeted by four cat boys who work at the cafe, and they are more than willing to assist you in your trials and tribulations. Each of these feline husbandos has their own unique quirks and personalities that add to the charm of this visual novel.
One positive about this game is the light requirements needed to run it. You can pretty much run it on a toaster, and it is completely free to play. It also requires less than a gigabyte of disk space, so you shouldn’t have any trouble taking on the task of running a cafe and hanging out with catboys.
The free nature of the game does mean some general visual novel enhancements might not be present. Though it’s nothing that will turn you off from the experience. The UI is straightforward with standard font, and the catboys don’t have an added Live2D presence, but the developers did a phenomenal job with the subtle animations. Being a kinetic visual novel, you’re simply along for the ride of this lighthearted, charming adventure as there are no choices during dialogue.
The straightforward UI does have a few caveats, such as the Auto mode’s scrolling speed can’t be adjusted. As a result, it takes a while for the game to get to the next piece of dialogue, even after the audio finishes. Furthermore, when you select the three bars at the top right of the screen, symbols make up the menu selections, and it’s confusing what any of them do. Other missing quality-of-life features include an option to rewind or fast forward. Further, there are only six save slots available, but you’ll only need four for each route.
I also found some confusion in the controller layout not translating to the keyboard inputs as expected. I would have preferred a brief graphic on control inputs just to limit confusion. After getting through the introduction, you’re met with a choice of which catboy story you wish to read. After the route choice, you’ll go through the story and skip the introduction upon starting a new game to choose a new route.
Each route is rather short, but they provide you with a unique perspective on each catboy’s life and their likes and dislikes. You have the fashionable Dill who is always into the latest clothing trends and loves reading fashion magazines. The sleepyhead Laurier might seem lazy but can do a lot of things if he’s motivated. The hard-working Fennel, who’s very knowledgeable and makes sure everything goes perfectly. And finally, my personal favorite catboy, Sage, who loves to help people and enjoys Japanese-style food and clothing.
I suggest you get ready for the shower of cat puns during each route. Very frequently, the characters will wedge a cat pun such as “C’mon, lend us a paw,” or even “the cat’s meow.” I found myself laughing and enjoying how light-hearted and charming each route is, even with the short runtime.
Nekopara: Cat Boys Paradise is a fun visual novel that can be enjoyed by otome catboy lovers everywhere. The narrative doesn’t overstay its welcome and is only hurt by a lack of quality-of-life features. Each route provides enjoyable insight into the four main characters, which expands the Nekopara universe. The free nature of the visual novel also makes it an easy recommendation fur the purr-fect afternoon otome.
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