Reader Review: Katawa Shoujo

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.

Liked:

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.

Hated:

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.

Verdict

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.


Comments

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      I'm guessing the anal scene did it for you. I couldn't stop laughing at that scene.

        Ssshhh... that is meant to be a secret!

      Yep, accelerating the games community into the future. Right here. -_-

        This comment has been reported for inappropriate content and is awaiting review.

          I know you are trolling dude but i am going to bite

          Please don't do that firstly it is unkind and secondly its downright rude. I am aware that you probably are just doing that to be funny or to catch all the regulars on your big Troll hook i will call it, but please just think a little about how people interpret your comment, surely you have better things to do with your time then go on a gaming website and make people mad at you.

            Rocketman i am going to add you to my collection.

              :/
              You win this round mr Smack but i will return
              *Throws smoke pellet on the ground , starts coughing and throws up. Ambulance comes and drags me away.

                Not going to lie but that really made me LOL

            a concern about a comment on a game review that has 'adult themes' because of little people.... right...

            I'm more concern that the review didn't go into detail about the adult themes, but instead all they offer is "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." as if it was an inconvenience.

      Can you please show some respect to Ben and his review?

      This is a great community piece that deserves more than this puerile trolling.

    My friends don't get it when I say I love this game (they refuse to try it), but seriously its all I'm playing at the moment. Sex aside, I'm really interested in all the characters stories - going through Hanako's arc atm and have cried more than once...

    I find it odd that the header picture is using the Lilly design that got dropped back in 2009.
    I liked Katawa Shoujo, although it did disapoint me with my favourite character's path (the one mentioned to have only one choice in it).

    Trolling an article on this site is a bit like pleasuring yourself with a Target catalogue's underwear models but geez, this is a community piece. Fair go.

    The Photoshopped backgrounds don't match the rest of the art style.

      They match well enough ingame. To the point at which you don't notice them all that much at least which is kind of the point. They could have been far worse really and it's amazing that the art styles seem to mesh at all given the myriad (unpaid) artists involved, especially given that a few were pretty close to amateurs when they first joined 4 leaf Studios.

    Great review Ben, I totally agree with what you've written.

    This is quite an amazing game. Even more so when you consider the fact that this is entirely fan made, with no real studio behind them. I found it to be much more enjoyable than most other VNs out there. I just finished playing Little Busters, from heavyweight studio Key and I thought this trumped that well and truly. Even more impressive are the animations clips. Great stuff all around. And it's free!

    Nearly every character's route is memorable but Hanako's held a special place for me. While it could of had a few more choices I thought that it was a good length and the individual stories really help you attach to the characters. Second favourite VN i've played and i've played maybe 20 of them.

      Agree re Hanako - just finsihed her arc tonight and feel on cloud 9. What a very sweet girl!

    I'd heard about this game, but I finally decided to download it because of this review! :D

    I can get all the disabled girls I want IRL, why make a game about it?

    Good Job Ben.
    That is all.

    Great VN, my first. The review could have been a little more verbose but as it's about the only one I've seen I'm not about to complain. Thanks Tracer.

    I think this VN stands along side the blockbuster games of 2011 for entertainment. It gets in and it doesn't let go till you've read and reread all of the girls storylines, providing an emotional workout that other games studios can only dream of providing.

    This VN will stay with the reader long after it's played and will generate an upsurge in virtual weddings as players everywhere discover their new "mai waifus". (I'm proposing to Lilly on Valentines day, shhhhhhh).

    I'm halfway through Rin, after finishing every other girl. I agree, it was pretty well written. And man that Bad End if you fail to get a girl is a nasty way to go.

      I'll fight you for her.

      But if you win I think I'd be happy to go with Emi instead :P

      Fantastic game, keep forgetting to go back for the final lot of missed scenes though. Just gotta do all the alternate paths to Lilly's track.

    Yeah I agree with the reviewer Ben. I thought it was great too. I love how beautifully it handled such a sensitive topic and presented the girls as people first and disabled second. Brilliant stuff for a game with no budget.

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