Nekopara Vol.0 is a game that acts as a prequel to the main Nekopara franchise of Vol.1 to 3. The series’ mainstay being kinetic novels, a style of visual novel without player choices. The story revolves around the Minaduki family, following Kashou in the main series. Vol.0 revolves more around around the family’s day-to-day shenanigans of the six Nekos (Japanese for cat) and Shigure (Kashou’s younger sister). Taking place chronologically before Vol.1, this game serves more as fanservice to the Nekopara fanbase as opposed to being a raw standalone game. If jumping in for the first time, this may prove slightly daunting and unnerving. But with how polished the overall experience is, with all its trapping of being a tropey Anime, this kinetic novel welcomes even the strangest of the strange as family, for better or worse if you can bare with the imouto love (Spoilers: not a fan of this).
First and foremost, this game is ridiculously polish like a pair of fresh pair of premium shoes. From the weird jiggling boobs physics and sliders to overall animated quality of the characters. It screams “I do everything properly!” with bold and proud intonation. Even for its slight lack of depth, it made the game feel so premium it became the instant gold standard of Visual Novels when comparing features and quality of life improvements. Nothing in the entire experience felt like a corner was cut, from the transitions of the scenes, to the overall art style, and sheer consistency of it. High praise has to be given in this slightly brief, but, well executed premise.
Whilst having some previous experiences with the Nekopara franchise as a whole, this being a first foray into the series proved eventful in many ways. Whilst certain characters felt rather cookie-cutter in some regards, the character interactions with the Japanese voice acting helped elevate an element of familiarity that made the overall experience feel like a well-oiled machine. Which this game, having come after Vol.1, is to be expected in some regards.
For some people the thought of a game classified as a Kinetic Novel might say this isn’t a “game”, or pushing the limits of it. Even with the “gamey” elements, such as the fourth wall breaking for the jiggle physics and use of visual novel staple options of auto, skip, backlog and so forth. This as a “game” would be better described as an experience than anything else. What can’t be understated though is the polish, initially lacking a timing system for autoplay felt off. Most Visual Novels have their timings really off, or are sometimes imprecise on a moment to moment basis. But somehow, through whatever weird techno magicry Neko Works has. This managed to pull off the right pacing. And if left on autoplay, it feels more akin to watching a less animated Anime, than playing a game. When reviewing this, was left on the side of the bed and watching it like the usual Netflix/Anime routine. Which is ironic, considering this game features more animation than a standard VN or KN as stated before.
But does this game even work when viewed as a standalone game? Kinda is the initial response. Because depending on your tastes and experiences with well-written, animated and polished Anime-like games (or in general). This is a game that most avid watchers could comfortably settle into. Unless you’re an imouto hater, in which case sharpen your pitchforks on sight. Whilst cookie-cutters are present as stated earlier, this is a game that gives a warm welcome to a well-written (and translated) family of Nekos. But then there’s the caveat, this caters to the R18 crowd so some tropes were to be expected. Although, for the purposes of review I didn’t investigate the R18 in this scenario.
NEKOPARA Vol. 0 (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is good, with a few negatives.
Honestly, if this was a slightly longer experience this could easily top my expectations of what a gold standard of VNs should be. But, when factoring the length and cost, as well as the main demographic. This is a fanservice game through and through. For better or worse.