Title: Nekopara Vol. 0
Genre: Slice-of-life, Comedy (Kinetic Novel)
Developer: Neko Works (Localized by Sekai Project)
System: PC (Steam Store)
Length: 1 hr or less
Following in the footsteps of the progenitor, Nekopara Vol. 0 serves as a prequel (or more like a side story) as it explores the daily routine of the Minaduki family. For those wholly familiar with the original, the same lighthearted brand of humor and saccharine mood applies, but is contained in a smaller package. With the entire scenario clocking in at around an hour it probably isn’t as lengthy as many returning readers would like, but fair enough when it comes to many curious newcomers that might be interested. However, regardless of familiarity, Nekopara Vol. 0 does still have an issue of selling its self when it comes to substance – something both parties might find lacking. Sure, we do learn more about other Minaduki household members quirks such as: Maple and Azuki constantly bickering with each other or Cinnamon still…well, being Cinnamon (read: pervert), the character personalities still don’t feel as if they offer anything worth while seeing and the “slice-of-life” events seem too sane. For a series of this nature, all the wacky antics and heart-warming moments is a notable deal and you sure will get that here, but not as succinctly laid out as it could be.
In any event, while I do think this prequel is a farcry from establishing anything noteworthy about the successor and absolute fandisc material, as alluded to earlier, I still do believe that is a nice fit for those new to the series. Again, the characterization does fall slightly short of the mark and the short vignettes not as well-written as they could be, but does offer newbies a sizable view into what they can expect if they do want to start from the beginning in earnest. That might be a hard case to sell with the content not up to snuff or all that interesting, yet can see this snagging maybe one or two new converts if nothing else and something of a valuable measuring tool for the undecided.
Where Nekopara might fail to bring anything new in terms of story content, the animation and notorious “E-mote” system seems to be an exception as it shows off a few new tricks. Besides adding a layer of interactive for the player (you can actually pet the characters), the sprite movements and transitions do seem to run a great deal smoother than they have before. There are a few minor hiccups I noticed during the games duration, but nothing that looked out of place. While it is neat to watch a characters facial expressions change when they reach a certain piece of dialogue or see how the game deals with multiple characters on the screen at any given time, part of me does feel like this is a technical demo of sorts of what to look forward when and if Volume 2 comes around. This is not a bad thing, and actually welcome given how lifelike and interactive the E-mote system makes things. Hooray for the uncanny valley! Aside from that, all other assets such as the artwork and music are largely the same or taken from the Volume 1, yet still fit in without any issue. Oh, and if you are hoping there will be an age 18+ version…I don’t see any information on that or even think it will happen, so shame on you for even making me bring it up. Bad visual novel reader!
Nekopara was originally a game for a certain audience and don’t think that this fandisc will change much anything. It might convince a few fresh faces to jump aboard, but don’t see it picking up very many. Given the short reading time and sparse material, it is bound to be a disappointment or confuse many not familiar with the aim of a fandisc, yet considering the price it is worth trying. Either way, take it or leave it, you won’t be missing out on much and safely can wait on sequel to arrive…presumably this December.
Pros: Very short to finish, animation receives a slight upgrade and new feature, nice start for newbies to gauge interest of the series.
Cons: Offers a very little of interest as a fandisc, character personalities are different from the original.
Disclaimer: In no way, shape, or form was I compensated for the composition or publication of this review. This by my own volition. A review copy of the game was kindly provided by Sekai Project. All images and rights to them belong to Neko Works and for review purposes only.