The Nekopara series is one that is often talked about among visual novel fans as one of the most adorable visual novels out there. This might have something to do with the fact the series revolves around running a cafe with the help of catgirls who live alongside humans as pets. In addition, the series has a range of romantic scenes between characters which pretty much seals the deal for western visual novel fans.
Now, Neko Works and Sekai Project have released Nekopara Vol. 3 for western fans to enjoy. However, whether it lives up to the high standards of Nekopara fans is left to be seen. Spoilers: it absolutely does and features every element that the series is known for while introducing a side of the characters that has yet to be discovered – but please, read on.
The opening scene in the game allows time to reintroduce the growing cast of catgirl characters. Each of them are now employees of Patisserie “La Soleil,” a cafe owned and run by the main protagonist Kashou Minaduk. I enjoyed the intro as it provided a nice update as to what each character has been up to from the conclusion of Nekopara Vol. 2.
Over time, the story moves its focus over to Maple and Cinnamon who haven’t received enough time to properly show their personalities in the previous games. With Nekopara Vol. 3 putting them in the spotlight, they each improved as characters, whereas before they didn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the cast. However, even with the character growth they show in Nekopara Vol. 3, Maple and Cinnamon still retain the quirks they are known for from the previous volumes.
Even though the story is focused on two characters, I was glad to find out that there’s plenty of scenes with the rest of the cast. Although these are brief arcs within the story, I was glad they were given time to weigh in on various situations and catch the player up on what’s been going on in their lives.
The main arc is quite touching and revolves around friendship and loyalty: there is an extremely fan service moment between Maple and Cinnamon that I personally didn’t think needed to be included. The story ends up trying to justify it and it works to some degree, but the moment that it happened felt out of place and threw me off guard.
This being the 18+ version of the game, there are some romantic scenes between Kashou and the catgirls. The game handles these relationship scenes well as they never felt rushed or shoehorned in, aside from the aforementioned fan service-y scene. The romance between the characters comes off as genuine and fits in with the story, which is something the entire series has been exceptional at from the start.
The art and character design is some of the best I’ve seen from a lighthearted visual novel. Each character is animated using the e-mote system that thankfully doesn’t make them look animatronic, but instead brings life to the characters so they aren’t represented by static images. Throughout the game, the cast visits a variety of locations, which keeps the entire story feeling fresh and makes it so it doesn’t feel like it’s just taking place in one area for the entire visual novel.
Other than multiple moments throughout the game, where an option is given to the player to “pet” a catgirl, there isn’t any player interaction. The game is fully voiced so it’s possible to just leave the game in auto-mode and watch it play out as you would an anime. The story holds enough comedic and emotional elements to consistently be interesting, while the main arc is supported at a steady pace throughout the 6-8 hour story.
Nekopara Vol. 3 is a welcome addition to the series. It holds everything great about the previous entries, while giving it a plot with real character development. I enjoyed my time with the visual novel and can’t wait to see the wonderful characters and story beats that Sayori brings to the series in the future.