Yesterday saw the release of Nekopara – Catboys Paradise, the free otome entry in the Nekopara series.
Catboys Paradise started as an April Fools’ joke, but it got such a positive response that they turned it into a real visual novel. So, what is it like?
You play a young woman who recently inherited a café and needs to learn how to manage it along with four catboys who are there to help her, all of whom are eager to win her affections.
If you go into it expecting strictly a gender-swapped Nekopara, that’s not exactly what you’ll be getting. Instead of the animated sprites that always impress me in Nekopara, this one features regular still sprites (so no, you can’t pat your catboys’ heads whenever you want to). It is also split across four routes, with a common route leading up to a single choice where you need to pick which character’s route you want to follow.
Instead of the harem setup of the main Nekopara stories, Catboys Paradise instead has you focus on one catboy to get closer to in his route, with a few comments that suggest a true harem is impossible (although it’s also emphasized that the protagonist wants all four to be her “housecats” eventually).
Each of the four heroes is entertaining and loveable, and it’s a really cute story with some pretty funny moments. However, it feels more like an introduction to a story than a complete story in its own right.
You learn a little bit about the characters and grow closer to them, but it never makes it all the way to romance and ends feeling like it’s the prologue to your story with these characters. I hope that means they intend to make a full catboy Nekopara game if this is popular enough, because I’d love to see more.
If they do, I hope they reverse their decision to have a silent protagonist. Unlike the Nekopara protagonist, who gets his own dialogue, the Catboys Paradise heroine only communicates through nods and emotes.
And that gets really awkward in conversations, since the catboys have to repeat whatever she “says” so the player knows what it is, and more involved conversations mean they’ve got to repeat quite a bit. She’s a silent protagonist in a story that wasn’t written to support a silent protagonist.
It’s still a cute story, and Nekopara – Catboys Paradise is worth checking out if you want a free, cute catboy otome. I just hoping it’s leading to a more complete experience later down the line.---
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