Note: Review Copy was provided by Date Nighto.
It is time to visit “A Cat’s Paw” and see if this cafe or coffee shop is a five-star establishment or a one-star dud. This is Date Nighto‘s Hustle Cat.
Genres: Slice of Life, Drama, Romance, Magic, Visual Novel
Themes: Cats, Cafe/Coffee Shop, Yaoi, Yuri
Length: 10-15 hours, meaning all routes. Not just the yuri ones.
Plot Summary: You finally got a job in the big city. But your coworkers at this cat cafe disappear at weird times, and there’s something peculiar about your new boss, too…
You are Avery Grey, the newest employee at a popular cat cafe called A Cat’s Paw. The coffee’s good and the staff is friendly (and kinda cute!) but mysterious. One day, you find a strange book in the basement, with letters you can’t quite read…
You’ll work hard at A Cat’s Paw, but there’s still time to get to know your new coworkers! Who’s your favorite? The brusque, but devoted cook Mason? Or maybe Reese, the fashion-obsessed waiter who knows more than he says? And there’s always your strange-eyed boss, the enigmatic Graves.
First of all let us talk about the protagonist, Avery Grey. The “plreader” (play-read) can choose both its outer and inner appearance as Avery can be either a man, woman or transgender person complete with three skin color choices. The tansgender part comes in the pronouns where the “plreader” can choose between he/she/they. It does not matter which body is chosen, the pronouns can be applied to either one. Not only that but it has an effect on how Avery is addressed during the game based on gender and pronoun combination. It is a pretty cool way to welcome many “plreaders”. As for Avery as a character, he/she/they is/are cool and reacts to situations as one would expect a down to Earth, kindhearted college level young adult to do.
Now how is the game as a whole? I would say it is a neat. It is set in a coffee shop or cafe filled with cats so it is very inviting to cat lovers. Because of this the setting has a relaxing ambiance to it as one would expect from a coffee shop or cafe. But as the summary shows there is more to “A Cat’s Paw” than meets the eye. Most of the story revolves around Avery chatting with her coworkers/potential love interests and the main plot slowly unraveling as Avery discovers more secrets pertaining to the establishment and its owner, Graves. Without mentioning spoilers both the fun times with coworkers and the main plot are interesting. Nothing revolutionary but definitely worth getting invested in till the end.
The game plays as any visual novel with the usual multiple choices. In Hustle Cat the goal is to make the right choices pertaining to the desired romantic interest out of 5. If the right choices were made the rest of the story will star Avery and his/her/their chosen one as Avery hangs out with and learns more about said chosen one but also eventually makes interesting discoveries. The game tackles topics such as social anxiety and even cyber bullying and it does not take the issues it covers lightly. Not super deep but not quickly brushing them off either. Since there are five main routes and each one has its differences it explains the game’s length. Also something interesting awaits after completing all five routes. What it is is up to the interested to find out. Let us just say it is amusing.
The character art, CGs and soundtrack all fit the calming mood the game wants to convey. Nothing extravagant, just chill looking people with diverse personalities. Speaking of the soundtrack the OP has auto-tune in it but it is not that bad. The rest of the soundtrack has no auto-tune so yeah.
Source of concept art here.
While there are three male interests (all cool lads worth courting afterward imo, especially for “plreaders” interested in getting the extra goodie), for the sake of this blog I will briefly discuss the two ladies, Finley and Mason. Finely is the happy go lucky lass who has enough appeal and charm to woo any Avery out there. Mason is a badass of few words and even when she does open up she does not fool around and gets to the point. Both have their talents and appeals and worth courting by female Averies, though the game allows any Avery to hunt any of the five prey.
Overall Hustle Cat is a neat visual novel for “plreaders” who enjoy a relaxing atmosphere with a quirky and lovable cast with an interesting and slowly unraveling plot. It has a protagonist who can be either a he/she/they and for yuri fans the two ladies are worth courting and for said fans who no problem checking out the other routes and the extra one it is worthwhile. I am certain otome and yaoi fans will also be delighted by this title. It is not an amazing tale but it does not have to be in order to be appealing.
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