Katawa Shoujo: a rather unusual romp with a cast of several disabled girls, created with no budget by a bunch of 4channers. It’s certainly an interesting experiment, but does it actually work? Kotaku reader Ben Latimore shares his thoughts on the game.
The Disabilities Do Not Matter: The story and general tone of Katawa Shoujo treats disabilities in the best way possible – they have no real impact on what’s happening – they do not insult the disabled. The story focuses on the personalities of the individual girls, not on their disabilities. This part of the storytelling simply couldn’t be handled better.
Individuality: Each of the main heroines is completely different – each of them has their own personality with unique traits and differences. Each storyline reveals something new about the characters and there is never a shortage of plot twists.
Adult Themes: Like the rest of the game, the adult side of everything is handled extremely well in three ways. First, an option allows you to turn off adult scenes entirely. Second, as I’ve already said, the disabilities do not matter, making no real differences to the scenes in general. Third, like I’ve also said, the scenes focus on the individual traits of each girl.
Collect All The Things: The game tracks every individual scene, artwork, music or FMV shown to you, and at any time you can go back and see everything you’ve already done. It’s a minor thing, but in a visual novel being able to skip to parts of it like a normal book is definitely worth a few bonus points.
Speaking of Presentation: All of the game’s backdrop art is lovingly crafted and the game’s soundtrack is relaxing and fun. It’s not the biggest thing to worry about in a visual novel, but the presentation of graphics and sound feels right. And the anime-styled cut-scenes at the beginning of each story path are quite impressive too, considering this game had a budget of $0.
Not Much of a Tree: The previous two visual novels that I reviewed had approximately ten times more choice than this. While there are plenty of choices in the first act (which determines which girl you go out with), the paths become relatively straightforward afterwards. For example, one path only has one choice to make throughout the rest of the game (which determines what ending you get) and another path gives you several choices, but only the last one you make matters anyway.
Katawa Shoujo is a unique, entertaining piece of literature. It’s cute, funny and one of a kind among most of the internet. And it’s totally free to boot. Go give it a try.