Any long-term fan of visual novels and other aspects of Japanese popular culture knows that catgirls are a staple trope. For example, catgirls are the main attraction in the Nekopara series of visual novels.
VN dev team TaleChaser Games set out to make a VN revolving around catgirls, but with a somewhat different approach.
This is OmOneko
“A story about cat girls … with bite.”
Nekos are not “people with cat ears.”
These humanoid beings have evolved in the shadows of human society.
Beautiful. Mysterious. Chaotic. Dangerous.
And now, three of them live with you.
Will you be able to get past the stigma and grow closer to them?
A story of cat and mouse, but don’t worry about the rats.
The government says they aren’t a problem.
– Official OmOneko website
On March 19, 2023, TaleChaser Games released a free demo of OmOneko that covers Act 1 of Part 1 and gives readers a taste of what they can expect in the full release. The team considered it to be a “soft launch,” only announcing its release on their Discord server and itch.io page. The in-development project will also be released for free, as it was developed as a volunteer project.
The VN is labeled as a ‘Full-Spectrum Visual Novel.’ OmOneko‘s main character must navigate life with three nekos (catgirls), and overcome all the resulting challenges. The VN was made in Ren’Py, and uses text and sprites with a hybrid VN/NVL-styled text box. This current public build appears polished, and lends a cinematic feel to its presentation.
There are three story branches for each neko. The story is told from a first-person perspective. An optional True End leads to a Part 2. While the game doesn’t feature H-scenes (read Nekopara for that) it does contain adult themes.
The demo includes an FAQ that sheds more light on the title’s development, as well as what readers can expect from the full release.
Q: What is the project’s status?
A: The story is done. Shimi’s route is in Beta. The other routes are 90% written. What’s left is mostly coding and art.
Q: Is there a order the routes should be played in?
A: No. If you have a favorite neko, you can pretty easily get onto her route with Act 1 choices. The routes were written in the order of Shimi, Pepper, then Clawdia; but like all VNs, making your natural choices on your first playthrough is often the most immersive strategy.
Q: What is a “full-spectrum Visual Novel”?
A: OmOneko is several deep and nuanced stand-alone stories woven together. You can play a single Part 1 route to the ‘good-end’, and you’ll play a typical slice-of-life Romance VN. You can stop there and have a full experience. Each route gives additional insight to all the characters, and hints at the greater story that ties all the routes together.
Q: How many parts will there be?
A: There are two parts to the OmOneko story.
Q: Are there any major ideas that were cut?
A: Initially we had routes for both Veronika and the Waitress. We also considered but discarded mini-games like: “Pepper’s Whack-A-Rat” (like whack-a-mole), “StarCheckers” (opponents: Clawdia plays slowly and methodically, Pepper is aggressive and teases, Shimi occasionally appears and steals a random marble – or adds one, Goro cheats, Waitress, Veronica, Mia, etc). A “Part 3” was outlined, but never intended to be made, it exists only as part of ensuring all aspects of the story were fully considered. We also had some very bad ideas. Our lawyers have advised us not to elaborate further.
Q: “It’s weird that… Why does… Shouldn’t they… How come this doesn’t…”
A: Good, you’re paying attention! Questions like these are natural, we crafted in hints that should make you go “hrmmm…” in places for what’s to come later in the story.
Q: What do we mean by soft-launch?
A: Basically, we’re making the playable Act 1 available to everyone, but without any fanfare. We’re telling you but no announcements other than here on the discord.
You can share the link if you like, and if people stumble across it that’s fine too.
Once OmOneko Part 1 is done in its entirety, we will have a formal launch with big announcements everywhere.
Q: Can I stream / YouTube it?
A: Of course! Though we’d prefer you add your own commentary/voice/read it, and not just a silent let’s play.
Q: What’s the next project for TaleChaser Games?
A: Seriously, let us finish this one first, and then, for most of us it will be retirement! “One and done.” It’s taken years of work making OmOneko, and there is still a lot to do and polish. For the true masochists (like Matty), hrmmmm… Something for sure. Possibly an episodic or serialized VN/manga (like a SinKitty spinoff). No promises.
Q: How did you get the Katawa Shoujo devs to work with you?
A: Feet pics. Lots and lots of feet pics.
Q: I don’t like catgirls.
A: First, that’s not a question. Second, congratulations, you’re our target audience.
You see, these aren’t the catgirls you’re looking for…
Be sure to check out OmOneko’s official website, as well as its Twitter page. TaleChaser Games also has a Discord server where you can get sneak peeks of the VN’s development, and chat with fans and devs. OmOneko doesn’t yet have a release date, but you can expect us at Fuwanovel to cover it when more announcements are made!