Geeky: 3/5 – On the fence with this score… Production values are fairly low and it shows, also not much “gameplay” as is the nature of visual novels. But it does earn a few points for geeky internet “meme-like” humor.
Sweetie: 5/5 – High marks for being an otome game (a game with a female protagonist) and for having cute cats. Also has pretty good character development and surprisingly good writing.
Concept: 8/10 Cat President is an otome game in which you get to help one of 6 different cat candidates (spoiler: one of them is a dog) become the nominee of their political party. You might also fall in love with your chosen candidate by the end of the game. Like most visual novels there is little to do aside from click and read. I like this genre of games a lot, but if you’re not used to this format, it may not be your cup of tea. On the plus side, Cat President takes a fun, whimsical, and light hearted approach to the visual novel genre. Most of the routes are short (around 2 hours each). There are multiple endings including normal, good, and bad endings which adds some more replay time. If you get all of your desired endings in one try, I estimate this game will take 12-15 hours to complete. Because of the light hearted nature, and short length of this game, it may be a purrfect game to give visual novels a try. However, if you’re a visual novel veteran, you might be disappointed by the “fluffy” nature of the plot, or by the somewhat amateur artwork, especially given the lack of poses of each sprite.
Story: 9/10 You play as a young girl who has been out of work for some time when she decides to attend a debate with her best friend and you are called upon to give a question to the candidates. You mention how you’ve lost your job and want to know how the candidates will help people like you. They all have the purrfect answer, by offering you a spot on their campaign team. These are no ordinary candidates however, as they are all cats (and a dog). This is how the game opens. The backstory explains that politics became so corrupt 20 years ago that humans are no longer allowed to hold any type of political office. It’s also eluded to pretty early on that cats can (and most do) become human (if they can afford it). Although the story does take itself lightly, and has some genuinely WTF moments, it’s not without more serious and delicate moments as well such as relationship drama, political scandals, and very likeable characters who have very human-like flaws. I was very surprised by how relateable the characters felt to me. I could see qualities in them and in myself, in my cats, and surprisingly most of all, in my past relationships with other humans. I went into this not expecting much other than comedy, so I was really surprised when I felt myself identifying with or nodding in understanding/agreement with many of the characters and situations in this game. Plus, if you like comedy (who doesn’t like comedy right?) and even more-so if you like cats, and are familiar with the internet memes, then you will really appreciate the humor in this game.
Gameplay: 5/10 – Unfortunately, as is the nature of visual novels, there’s really no “gameplay” per say, however the game does have all of the basic functions one expects in a visual novel such as being able to review different scenes or endings and gallery items. It does feature a lot of different endings and have high replay value. I’m not really so much of a fan of the “choose which route you want at the begining of the game” it seems to me only cheap “mobile games” use this mechanic, while “real” visual novels like Clannad for example, let you dip in and out of different characters’ routes, so you might experience different parts of the game each time you play. Locking into a route right out of the chute, limits then which stories and experiences you can enjoy in each play through. I’ve noticed this mechanic becoming increasingly popular, but I’m just not a fan of it. I like the “challenge” in trying to get with the guy (or cat in this case) that I want to be with, and putting me on his route right away takes away this challenge, and therefore, in my opinion, diminishes the fun a little bit for me.
Graphics: 5/10 – This is probably my biggest complaint with this novel. The game could have been really “cute” I think if it had “anime” style drawings for the characters and cats in the game, similar to Dandelion Wishes Brought to You, or other Otome games featuring cats and animals. The photographs of the cats are cute, but my biggest complaint is they are COMPLETELY static, they needed to have more photos in different poses, or different expressions. As a cat lover and owner, I find my own cats and those we watch on youtube etc to be extremely expressive. These static sprite images don’t capture much emotion or charm of these cats. They could have used different poses or angles, or tried to get their cats to be more expressive for some of the shoots (but well cats do what they wanna do so I understand maybe it was more difficult lol). I did critique the artwork when I left a brief steam review, and I was told that it was intentional to be more humorous and fit the theme and feeling of the game, and also because the creator wanted to include his friends’ real life cats. I did write back and suggest maybe just adding some more varied photos/poses would help – but I still think anime, ultimately is the way to go – it’s what the target audience wants, and what we expect. I am not a “graphics whore” – and I play all sorts of indie games (sprite based etc) and retro 8 bit and 16 bit games — but with a Visual Novel, the art work becomes highly important, because you don’t have that “gameplay” you need the artwork to help tell the story, hence the name “VISUAL” Novel, right? So the art was disapointing, if for no other reason, than it felt too still / stiff and wasn’t emotive or expressive. Although the writing was full of charm and did a great job defining the characters, the art didn’t help draw out that charm in any way.
Music: 6/10 – Music “gets the job done”, the main track is Hail to the Chief, the official presidential anthem of the USA. It’s really the only track I remember hearing consistently throughout, but I do remember hearing different tracks, including a vocal track even, but they’re ultimately not very memorable. The good news is, since each route is short, they can get by with a very limited number of music tracks, and the music itself does its job by providing background noise while not distracting or detracting anything from the focus of the story.
Replay Value: 10/10 – The replay value is exceptional here due to there being 6 dateable candidates, and each one having multiple endings. The characters are also diverse enough that each route feels like a fun and unique experience. The relatively short nature of each route makes multiple playthroughs easy and enjoyable.
Overall: 51/70 73% “C Good Game for Girls” – If you love games like Hatoful Boyfriend, and love cats, furries, internet humor, memes, youtube, or just want a fun, light hearted visual novel with great characters and a surprisingly warm and touching, though ultimately hilarious story, then you need to check out Cat President – a More Purrfect Union.