Enjoy it? There is no word to describe just how much I liked it!
Technically, this is an eroge. I’ll refrain from calling it that as it doesn’t do the greatness of this game justice. To me, this is a visual novel with a little adult content.
Katawa Shoujo is the only game of it’s kind I’ve played after Fate/Stay-night. I loved and still love Fate, but this… this eclipses Fate by far. I can only write about the Hanako route, mind you. The game experience may differ greatly with the other routes, as each girl had her own writer. The game itself apparently has been a community project that took 5 years to complete. 5 years that paid off, I’d say, though I only learned about it after it’s completion, thanks to Shuugo. There is even a Linux version of it and the game is free.
In the beginning, I played this game only to kill some time, and intended to play a little every now and then until the end. I got so absorbed by this game that, in the end, I ended up beating the Hanako route in one go, losing both track of time and any awareness about my surroundings. For way over 8 hours, I’ve not moved an inch away from my computer, experiencing a multitude of emotions while I clicked away at the dialogues and thoughts of the main character. It was only after I was done that I realized just how hungry I was – and that the temperature had dropped well below 10°C in my room, low enough that my fingers actually ached from the cold.
The game begins with the main character, Hisao, having a heart attack in a very bad moment (not going to go into detail there). Due to his condition, his parents decide that he will be going to a special school for disabled people and live on campus there. The school is really just like any other school, only equipped for the special needs of some students. Still, for Hisao, this means his current life is more or less over, you could say he really died when he had that heart attack.
In any case, this game has a point. As small and widely known it may be – few actually act like they get it and this game beautifully illustrates this. While playing I’d often catch myself grinning, feeling pity or simply sad about what happens in the story. Other times I’d almost throw a fit in disbelief, feel happy or simply relate to what happens. While this games does offer you different routes (one for Emi, Hanako, Lilly, Rin and Shizune respectively) and several bad and neutral as well as death endings, most of the time this game will read much like a light novel, so don’t expect flashy action with 100% control of what happens. Think of it as a dynamic book, if you will.
As far as I am concerned, Katawa Shoujo has definitely left a strong impression on me and made me think about my way of doing things in my life in general, too. No matter if this changes anything for me after I spend some time thinking, the fact that you do question yourself once in a while already makes the game worth it, not to mention that it’s very entertaining.
Katawa Shoujo gets 5/5 Kurisus: