The Princess, Stray Cat, and Matters of the Heart 2 was the first visual novel that I have played in over five years. The Princess, Stray Cat, and Matters of the Heart 2 was developed by the talented team at Harukaze. I want to also thank Fruitbat Factory for its passionate pursuit of help Japanese developers with localization and publishing. The localization team deserve praise as I enjoyed the whimsical humor and rich storytelling present within the game from the very beginning.
The game is set in a once-powerful kingdom in the netherworld – forgotten in time and covered in footstep erasing snow. A princess that wants to be remembered and a man cursed to be a cat. This is the tale of Nora in The Princess, Stray Cat, and Matters of the Heart 2. The story’s main heroine is Iris December Uncry. Iris is a unique character because you can not just describe her with one word. Iris is gullible, charming, serious, and passionate. Most of the main characters have layers similar to Iris, but with varying levels of character.
We join Iris in Uncry on the day that she officially becomes the princess. Iris’s mother instills revenge in her easily manipulated mind. The netherworld cast a spell on the kingdom preventing them from being seen on a map or in the history of the netherworld. Iris’s heartfelt wish and goal is to be remembered by people, restore the kingdom of Uncry to glory, and get an Olympic bid for the winter games.
Throughout the game, we are treated with flashbacks of Iris being forgotten. This places weight on her shoulders that is present throughout much of the game. Iris wants to go to the surface in an attempt to be remembered. Even if it’s just one person she will be content. Iris is joined by her butler Noel. Noel speaks via cassette tapes, which play a role throughout the entire game.
Iris awakes on a beach in Sakuragabuchi. The scene quickly transitions to our protagonist Nora! I was expecting someone a little taller and less furry. Jokes aside, Nora is a man cursed by the netherworld’s Princess Patricia. The curse resulted in Nora being transformed into a cat. Only a kiss can restore him to his human form. Nora’s goal is to stay human and never turn into a cat again.
The plot of this game transitions smoothly between both Iris & Nora’s goals. The pacing of The Princess, Stray Cat, and Matters of the Heart 2 is solid, which is rather impressive due to the fact that some games of this style can feel rushed in places. The pacing is broken up every so often with small Mewsing segments, which are short comedy segments that are rather humorous.
The sound quality of the music, sound effects, and voice acting is spectacular. The voice acting was impressive; I found myself going back and re-listening to the dialog on more than one occasion. The songs and soundtrack fit the atmosphere of the scenes they were in almost perfectly.
The character designs were well-presented and fit the theme of the game. The fact that most characters have at least two different outfits added a layer of depth to reflect the fact that each of the main cast members played a significant enough role that it was deemed necessary for them to have something else to wear for different scenes. The facial expressions were expressive and fit how the characters were feeling throughout the entire game.
There are a handful of fourth-wall-breaking moments within the story. These fourth wall breaking moments do not interfere with the plot or pacing of the game, but are fun little quips. The one that I liked the most was when it was hinted at that Uncry’s Castle was made in Photoshop. Small fourth wall breaking moments are good in my opinion, as they can add to the experience of playing games within certain genres.
There were only two things that I disliked about The Princess, Stray Cat, and Matters of the Heart 2. The first thing was the predictability of the game. The game itself felt extremely predictable. You could have predicted the outcome of the game after the first couple hours of it, but you can do the same with TV series as well so it is not a situation unique to this game or even the genre itself. This predictability didn’t ruin my enjoyment of Princess, Stray Cat, and Matters of the Heart 2. In fact, even though I had not played the first game I had little trouble adjusting to the flow of this well designed visual novel.
However, this leads me into the thing that I disliked the most about The Princess, Stray Cat, and Matters of the Heart 2. This was that there was no real character recap for people who are new to the series. I did not know who some of the characters were and what roles they played without looking up a few character descriptions from the first game. This can be fixed by adding character bios to the extras menu. The character descriptions do not have to be long -just a few sentences- to tell new players who certain characters are and what role they play in the story.
Finally, I am going to score The Princess, Stray Cat, and Matters of the Heart 2 an eight out of ten. Even with the predictability of the game, it was a fun visual novel experience. I want to play the first game in the series so I can see the big picture. I went into The Princess, Stray Cat, and Matters of the Heart 2 with a hesitant mindset, but finished it with a smile on my face. I can not wait to see what the talented team at Harukaze has in store for us in their next visual novel.
Final Score: 8/10