Posted by Retrokaiser On Thursday, December 3, 2015 0 comments
Nekopara Vol.0 (Volume Zero) is a visual novel comedy drama, also a side-story to the main Nekopara series. The story in this game is about a group of catgirls named Chocola, Vanilla, Maple, Azuki, Cinnamon, and their trainer, Shigure, a little girl with a weird obsession over her older brother, Kashou (oh, incest themes). The story starts off with Shigure, Chocola, and Vanilla waking up in shock to see that Kashou has gone to work at the La Soleil Cafe (see my review of Nekopara Volume One for more details) and have to spend the whole day without him. What will they do to pass away the time? Simple, all they do is simple everyday stuff like making meals, cleaning the house, and watching the television. Yep, there's nothing much to the story of this game but does that mean that this game is bad? (Click on "Read More" to read the full review).
The story in this game is a very simplistic comedic drama and if you were a fan of the original Nekopara, you'll find the story to be very disappointing due to it neither continuing or expanding the main story, thus it comes off as filler. If this is the first Nekopara game you've experienced, you will find yourself dazed and confused as there is a lot of nonsense humor, you are also expected to know who the characters are at this point, so a lot of things will just go over your head. The story is also really, really paper thin and really lacks the simplest of depth and barely anything goes on, that can leave you feeling very unsatisfied and uninterested due to the shallowness.
Just because this installment doesn't expand on the story of the series, doesn't mean that this installment doesn't expand on the Nekopara universe as it does, barely. The only thing this instalment expands on is that you get to see the Minaduki Mansion, that's actually pretty cool to see as I've always wanted to know a little bit more about that place. The drama in this game isn't very serious nor is it interesting, it is very dull and annoying. The comedy in this game has its moments but most of the humor very dumb, dull, and tries too hard to be funny with its randomness. The comedy can also be quite cheesecakey with some jokes being about the *cough cough* lady parts and some of it was funny, some of it was dull, and some of it was just plain creepy and awkward.
The format of the story is that you are reading though short scenes that all take place during a certain hour of the day, like the 1pm scene will be about our main characters having lunch, while the 11am scene will be about them cleaning house just like that of the average person. The format for this game is uninteresting and very linear to where it isn't very enjoyable but with the exceptions of a very few scenes. The story is also very short and can be read though in between one to two hours, so this story can be read in one sitting. I am sad to see this series take this turn as I was really looking forward to how the cafe will go, plus how will the relationship between Kashou, Chocola, and Vanilla will expand and/or decrease after the events from the previous game.
I found the characters in this game to be not as good in this installment, while they have cute personalities, the use of the characters was very weak and pointless. The thing I really can't stand about the characters is that they act very creepy in some scenes and it got to the point where I felt very uncomfortable playing though this. If this was your fist experience with Nekopara, you'll be so turned off and never even bother to check out the quite decent Nekopara Vol.1. I know that this was released as a special side story that originally came out aside Nekopara Vol.1 and I could be being overly harsh, however I'm just being honest, I'm a reviewer after all, I'm supposed to be honest and free from being biased.
The thing that makes this installment especially creepy is the new feature that was added to this series though this installment. The new feature allows you to pet all of the characters found in this game and they'll act differently depending on the part you touch. Petting the cat girls on the head I found to be appropriate, petting all their other parts was just creepy. An especially creepy thing is that you even get to pet Shigure, I know she is a perverted character but that's a tad bit too much. The most creepy thing about this feature is that who on Earth is even petting them in the first place? In the first game you play as Kashou, in this game you aren't playing as anyone, so being able to pet the characters doesn't even make sense being part of this game to begin with.
Graphics in this game are the exact same as the previous game and I am mixed on the designs. The characters are very cute but are also weird looking at the same time due to the characters being made from a mixture of 2D and 3D art. The 2D art is used for the characters faces and the body, while the 3D art is used for the breasts to help add depth to the look of the characters and to help sell Vaseline to the teenage boys (kidding about the Vaseline quip). The 2D art is just fine but the 3D art doesn't blend in well due to the art styles clashing, it looks like two plates of jelly stuck onto a Sports Illustrated cardboard cut-out. I really wished that the character art was either one or the other as opposed to being mixed up as it would've looked better that way. There are some still scenes that use just 2D artwork and they look much better than the designs that used the weird hybrid style.
The backgrounds in this game look good but the designs themselves are very generic, it does help build up an atmosphere though. There is a scene in this game where there's a bunch of softcore nudity, by softcore I mean that the nipples and part I dare not mention were all covered up by the environment. This scene might make some people feel uncomfortable but after playing this game from the start, I really needed the fan service to calm me down. On a serious note, the fan service in this game is nothing that you wouldn't see in an M15+ rated anime series (TV14 for Americans) and I personally liked most of that scene but again, there's also a part where the game got creepy and ruined it for me.
The animation in this game is half and half, the facial animations are good and you can tell what emotion they were in just by the way they looked, while the moving around of the character is lazy due to all they do is slide around like a puppet on a popsicle stick. The animation in this game is actually an improvement over the first game as they've added more emotions to the characters faces and it does help to make them more lively. The voice acting in this game is in Japanese only and it is a pretty decent dub, the characters have suitable voices and the acting was pretty good, didn't save the story one bit though. If for some reason you do not like any of the characters voices, you can turn off the voice of that said character but the game is weird when all characters voices aren't on. Music in this game is really forgettable and I for the life of me could not remember a single track from the game.
Overall, this is not a very good visual novel and a terrible instalment to the Nekopara series and should've just been packaged as a bonus story in the original Nekopara. I am recommending that you avoid this installment entirely and stick with Nekopara Vol.1 until we get a proper sequel to the series. Unentertaining, uninteresting, unintelligent visual novel.
Game: Nekopara Vol.0
Developer: NEKO WORKs
Publisher: Sekai Project
Genre: Visual Novel, Drama, Comedy
Price: $2.99 (Steam)