Katawa Shoujo is a visual novel created by Four Leaf Studios, a group initially formed from the 4Chan forums. For those of you who don’t know what a visual novel is, I let you in. It is a sort of game that is mainly story over anything else. What Four Leaf Studios created was a very large and interesting VN. The name itself means Disability Girl and you would think that with that title coming from the 4Chan community it would be entirely depraved, but it really isn’t.
First off as a VN this is not a game for those who seek adventure or action packed gameplay. No, you are looking at a lot of reading, making some choices that will affect events, and watching the events unfold to create a story. I had never played a VN until Katawa Shoujo and it was a great introduction to the genre.
The idea of the game is you play a teen who has a heart attack and is sent to a school for disabled teens. The story tells how he comes to terms with his own weakness and that of others, all the while finding love. Although you can fail at getting the girl you are attempting to woo, and get a not so good ending. I found an ending that was the absolute worse possible while attempting to get on one of the girls’ path. Within Katawa Shoujo there are 5 girls you can attempt to have a relationship with; Emi, Hanako, Lilly, Rin, and Shizune each with their own story and endings. This is a feature common in VN’s, giving you multiple paths and endings adding reply value to the game as you seek to see the story of the other girls.
Now don’t get me wrong as much as I enjoyed this game and have completed 3 of the 5 paths as of this moment, this is not a game I can see a large majority of people being interested in. I should say it is a niche genre. If you like reading and those old choose your own adventure books this game has that feel to it. The animations, character art, and music are all well done. I wasn’t a fan of the photograph backgrounds used for many scenes, but at least they fit the scenes well.
Katawa Shoujo is a free game, so if you’re mildly interested I really recommend giving it a go. I rate this game a 4 out of 5 and only do so because it is a game that many would find hard to get into.