Neko Secret Room: oddly compelling rubbish

With how admirably open a lot of platforms are about allowing sexual content these days, it’s tempting to want to celebrate and support each and every game that includes adult content, just to show that there’s a market for it. But, unfortunately, the fact is that a lot of that adult content is cheap, shallow rubbish that doesn’t really warrant more than a few minutes’ attention at most. Neko Secret Room — originally known as Neko Hacker Plus on PC and ported to Switch by eastasiasoft — certainly falls into that category.

Neko Secret Room is absolute pap. Pure, unadulterated rubbish. And yet for some inexplicable reason, I found myself playing it for two hours non-stop. Granted, in those two hours I completed literally everything the game had to offer and have absolutely no desire whatsoever to return to it ever again — but the fact remains that despite my brain constantly telling me “this is absolute garbage, why are you wasting your time on this when you could be playing Seven Pirates H?” I found myself continuing to play.

Part of the reason for this is that I was just curious as to whether it actually had anything more to offer beyond what it initially appeared to provide. The answer to that is an emphatic “no” — “completing” the game offers nothing in the way of rewards, so once you’re done, you really are done.

Neko Secret Room’s concept is a potentially interesting one. Playing as a cheeky catgirl, you’re presented as breaking into your photographer friend’s apartment to have a poke around and see what you can find. There are several things you can do in the room: you can stand by your friend’s bed and dance (non-interactively — it just plays an animation); you can change into a few different sets of clothes (in the bathroom, weirdly); you can play darts against the computer (with one of the worst control schemes ever implemented for a darts game); or you can engage with the main attraction, which is “hacking” your friend’s computer and going through their images.

This “hacking” aspect is supposedly the main point of Neko Secret Room, and it involves going through two folders on your friend’s desktop, picking from the images within and then completing simple tile-swap puzzles to reassemble the image into its correct form. Complete an image once and you can do it again with more tiles plus the subject will have her tits out; complete it twice and you can do it again with even more pieces, plus the subject will have her bum out (albeit with any visible frontal naughty bits obscured by a cloud). Once you’ve done that, that’s it.

Neko Secret Room

Now, this is Steam shovelware-tier “hentai puzzling”, but I will admit that it’s oddly entertaining and relaxing for the most part. The images are quite nicely designed to give you a few “hints” with their borders that lie outside of the main puzzle tiles, though there are several puzzles where you’re expected to figure out the correct placement of three or four near-identical sky or ground tiles, which can be a bit annoying.

The images themselves are reasonable quality, though very obviously sourced from a variety of different artists, giving a somewhat inconsistent look and feel to the game as a whole. Seeing a variety of different art styles in a game like this always makes me a little uneasy, also, as there are myriad examples on Steam of games making use of sexy artwork without crediting the original artist or offering them any compensation. Indeed, with seemingly no credits section in this game, it’s hard to tell where the art is from, one way or another.

As sexy content the images are fairly underwhelming, though there are a variety of different subjects and styles covered, including bikini girls on the beach, sporty girls in gym wear, slutty selfie addicts, kinky police girls and more. Devoid of any sort of context of who these girls actually are, though, they’re just images; there’s no feeling of attachment or interest in any of them. The puzzles might as well be pictures of farming equipment.

Neko Secret Room

I think the most egregious issue with Neko Secret Room is the fact that the 3D “explore the room” element is so woefully underbaked as to be pretty much pointless. There’s an absolute ton of potential in an immersive sim-like game where you’d be able to rifle through someone’s cupboards, cabinets and drawers to see what you might be able to find — and yet the opportunities for interaction in Neko Secret Room are so limited that they might as well not be there.

We learn nothing about who our character is, nor who her photographer friend is — and definitely not why the former feels the need to break into the latter’s apartment. There’s just no point to any of it, and that, I think, is the most frustrating thing about Neko Secret Room. There’s the germ of a good game idea here — but the second I fired up the in-game computer and discovered that, at heart, this is just a “hentai puzzle” game that we see flooding Steam on a literally daily basis, my heart sank, because I knew absolutely nothing interesting was going to happen.

And, indeed, after two hours of playing through each and every puzzle and beating the stupid computer opponent at darts, absolutely nothing interesting happened. But I will say again, I think the fact I did spend two hours playing this without stopping means something. Probably not anything complimentary about me. But it’s worth bearing in mind, at least.

Neko Secret Room

Either way, this is probably one to skip. Eastasiasoft has much better lewd fare in their catalogue, so I would highly recommend that you go enjoy literally any of those instead of this.

Neko Secret Room is available now for Nintendo Switch. Thanks to eastasiasoft for the review copy.

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Pete Davison
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