8/10. Short and to the point, but could have added more details.
I like to think of japanese style visual novels as related to manga/anime, so while I wait for the go ahead to post it on its own thread, heres a review for Katawa Shoujo. I like to refrain from using numbered scores as it adds an unnecessary aspect to the review, it just doesn't seem to fit, However I would give it an over-all around 7.5-8.5
Katawa Shoujo ReviewKatawa Shoujo is a bishoujo style visual novel developed by Four Leaf Studios beginning in 2007 and finally releasing its full version at the start of 2012. With a 5 year development cycle Katawa Shoujo shows that persistence and a genuine and sensitive approach to its subject matter pays off
“Are you able to seize the day?”
Around the new year of 2007, A post on 4Chan showcasing works by RAITA detailing art and concepts dubbed “Katawa Shoujo”, Which sparked like wildfire on the /a/ 4Chan board, with different scenarios, love stories, and ideas being thrown about, and soon an entire game based off of a single picture, began development with a team of a amateur developers began.
Katawa Shoujo puts you in the shoes of Hisao Nakai, A normal boy who was leading a normal life until suffering from a heart attack and a long hospitalization. Following his attack he is sent to Yamaku Academy for Physically Disabled Children (It is mentioned by teachers that Yamaku does not take in Mental Disabilities) under doctor’s recommendations. Hisao must leave his past behind him and cope with his new life and surroundings while dealing with new friends and a heart condition that can prove fatal at any moment.
Katawa Shoujo has a good variety of love interests with different personalities and ideals, and their own story. Depending on the choices you make, the friends you have, your love interest, and even your own personality change and continue the story. Each path has its own values and characteristics that keep the same visual novel continuously refreshing, and always gives you a reason to return to Yamaku Academy
Lily was born blind, and despite this has adapted to life without vision. She is wise and is a motherly figure to her friend Hanako
Hanako is a very shy and reclusive girl who is covered in scars on one side of her body from a fire, she is best friends with Lily
Emi is a very cheerful person who, despite being amputated below the knee on both legs, runs on the track team with the best of them. She is friends with Rin
Rin is an accomplished artist at school, and is a very strange and philosophical person. Born with a defect that left her without arms, she wears a boy’s uniform. She is friends with Emi
Shizune is strong willed and a skilled manipulator, she loves pulling other people into her life and takes charge in any situation despite being deaf and mute. Her best friend and interpreter is Misha
Music and Art
Katawa Shoujo uses simplistic traditional sprite-based art, backgrounds, and occasionally special images and scenes, together with a sound track that leaves many games in the dust with its quality and quantity to tell the story. The artists have different art, sprites, and images for each character with a unique watercolor style that isn’t often found in other visual novels or anime though not necessarily polished or high quality it has its own unique charm that separates it from the more common art styles, and the music is perfect for fitting any mood for any moment. For those who love the soundtrack, it’s free to download on the Katawa Shoujo official website
Replayability and Completion
With multiple endings, routes, music, and other hidden extras, Katawa Shoujo encourages the player to play the game over, and over again, to collect Movies, Images, Scenes, Music, and even pieces of the story to complete the gallery, and the game. With the use of save states built into the game it makes it easier to get back to your previous spot to choose another option to keep the ball rolling. Some extras require x% completion to find which may seem like a pain, and are indeed sometimes confusing as you won’t exactly know what you’re missing to look for, but it’s worth it when it’s finally unlocked for later on-demand viewing. As you complete more, and more of the story the main menu changes accordingly as a small token for completing a specific section of the game, There aren’t any secret endings or anything like hidden secrets (Though originally semi-implemented in the alpha and beta builds), So the reward may not be appealing to everyone.
Katawa Shoujo may have been made by a small staff of self-proclaimed “Amateur Developers”, from 4Chan, But Katawa Shoujo is able to take sensitive subject matter, and make a Genuine and Sensitive approach accordingly. While the subject matter may be off-putting it’s definitely worth giving a try. With good Replayability, Unlockable Galleries, a touching heartfelt story, good character development, and at no cost. Katawa Shoujo deserves a spot in anyone’s game folder, but it’s more recommended to mature audiences to fully enjoy, otherwise play with mature scenes off. Katawa Shoujo is available free of cost, along with a Soundtrack, and an Unofficial Android Port available as well.
PositivesLots of Content for Free, Great stories and flow variation, genuine feelings toward subject matter, Easy to use save state and skip system, Free to download game and soundtrack, Controller controls optional, Low spec requirements
Unlockable Gallery feels convoluted at times, difficult to convince other people to play it due to the subject matter, Android port has a long start-up time and menu does not work properly with some devices and consumes steady battery
Final WordsKatawa Shoujo was the visual novel that didn’t require work to obtain, but could easily charge money and would still be worth picking up. While I haven’t 100% completed it (yet) I always enjoy coming back to it. Trying for Lily’s or Emi’s path may be a good start to get you into the feeling of how the more sensitive subject matter is handled.
Download the game and soundtrack, as well as other extras here: http://www.Katawa-shoujo.com
Unofficial Android Port available here (With Instructions) http://pastebin.com/ZyRkVY5W
[Id of course add images, video, etc to its own thread, but i didnt want to be too flashy with this one.]
[Update 11/20/2014 Since the original posting of this, i have made a full fledged review of Katawa Shoujo in the video games section of the forums which can be found here; http://www.animeforum.com/showthread...o#post2835809]