Visual novels are an excellent way to tell a story interactively without having to create actual gameplay. Katawa Shoujo is especially great for this, and while it's hard to recommend, it's a charming experience. There are many characters and while there are many translation issues, the stories are nice and warm.
We know that Japanese visual novels tend to be slices of life, scoring with chicks and going out with big-breasted women. But this game is about what's on the inside, and how the hardships of life change the way the characters see the world.
The main characters in the game represent different disabilities, and by getting to know them you also get to understand them a bit better. This title is meant to make you reconsider and inspire a new love for yourself and your body.
You can choose different paths for which relationship you will build and that also adds to the replay value. Once you start a relationship path with any of the characters, you get to talk more and understand them better.
It's not all about the looks
Even though the game repeatedly reminds us that what matters is on the inside, it has some beautiful art. This is also a nice thing to add to a game where you'll mostly see still scenes.
It's hard to recommend, but it's still a great story, told nicely with great art. Even though you don't really get to play much, the choices you make matter.
Download Katawa Shoujo
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
Katawa Shoujo is a game that I had not heard a great deal about before a friend of mine started raving about and telling anyone who would listen they had to play it. Katawa Shoujo is a visual novel style game that is set in a Japanese school. I know what you are thinking, but Katawa Shoujo has more heart than almost any other visual novel style game I have played.
An Interesting Twist
Many games in this style are about you just trying your hardest to score with various chicks and that is what people love about them. That has always gotten a little annoying for me to be honest. Katawa Shoujo has a very unique twist in that while relationships are at the forefront of the game. The setting is that of a school for disabled kids. All of the main characters have some kind of disability and the game actually handles it with a lot of taste and that is something I really liked. You play as Hisao Nakia, who has a heart attack that results in him being hospitalized. Upon release, he is then sent to this school that looks after kids who have disabilities.
It Is All About The Story
As you would expect, Hisao Nakia needs to talk to his classmates. What is interesting about the way that Katawa Shoujo handles its store is that while you are trying to strike up a relationship with one of the girls. The story is also about Hisao coming to terms with his disability and how it can impact his life. Most of the game is spent reading text boxes and looking at the art. The story is very well written and I think the characters are really neat, with Emi Ibarazaki and her pouty face being my favorite. I really am impressed with the way that Katawa Shoujo handles its story. Of course, you get the chance to respond at certain parts of the story and that is where the gameplay comes in.
Ok so calling it gameplay might be a bit of a stretch. However, you have to make choices when you talk to the ladies and throughout the acts, the choices you make will eventually take you down a specific story path. There are good and bad endings so you might want to play through it a few times to try and see the different endings. I got the good ending my first playthrough on all the acts and I was very pleased with myself. I then went and on purpose got the bad ending and man, what a bummer of an ending! I was not ready for that, but to be fair the reason for this was that I did take a real shine to the characters and when what happened did happen I was rather shocked.
I will be honest and say that Katawa Shoujo is not the kind of game that I would normally play, but I really did have a good time with it. I was very impressed with how the game handled the characters various disabilities and it did make the game stand out from other similar anime style games. While it does not have the gameplay of a game like Life is Strange or The Walking Dead. I do think that if you like the narrative structure that those style of games have, you will really get a lot out of the way that Katawa Shoujo tells its story.
- Storytelling is excellent
- The choices you make feel like they matter
- Different endings for you to discover
- The girls are genuinely lovely (well some of them!)
- You care about the characters
- Not much in the way of gameplay
- Not great if you do not like to read