Friday, January 13, 2012

Katawa Shojou Review

Name: Katawa Shoujo
Type: Visual Novel
Studio : Four Leaf Studios

Let me start off by saying that i normally don't "play" visual novels. I don't really consider them games and was contemplating not doing this review as it's not really what this blog is about. But seeing as this is something as unique as a 4chan community project which actually worked out, as well as a free game, i feel it deserves attention. So i downloaded it, played it and reviewed it. This will probably be the only pure VN ever to be posted on this blog, so enjoy! Also, this review contains NO STORY SPOILERS!

Katawa Shoujo is all about a guy named Hisao and his new life at a school for disabled individuals. These disabilities range from eye problems and deafness to lost limbs and burn injuries. The five girls that you can pursue are all disabled in some way, some more drastically than others. As i started playing this game i expected there to be a fair amount of mockery against the disabled, seeing as it was a project that originated on 4chan and all, but i was pleasantly surprised when i realized that particular subject was handled very maturely. It's a very serious and emotional game, just like a good book it keeps you reading to find out what happens next.

The game consists of four acts, the first act decides which girls route you get for the remaining acts. It felt a bit random which girl you got as some decisions wasn't very indicative on the consequences it would bring. When you enter act 2 you are locked to that girls route, if you want another girl you will have to restart or load a save from act 1. There is a great flowchart of the decisions you need to make to get a specific girls route at the end of this post.

From Left to Right: Lilly, Shizune, Emi, Rin & Hanako
The characters are pretty much your standard ensemble, you got the shy girl and the bossy girl and so on, basically there is something for everyone. They do have the added depth of a disability which affects their personality and actions in some ways. A for their routes there are some that are longer and more rich in content than others, but overall the quality is very high. Apparently they used different writers for each route which would explain the differences.

My only real problem with this game is the h-scenes. They are nicely drawn and all but since this game takes such an emotional toll on you can't help but feel they are a bit out of place. They are usually very awkward and innocent instead of sexy, which goes well into the style of the game, but as for erotic content it's pretty weak. It could just be personal tastes, but when there is a h-scene in this game it's more of a emotional feel-good moment than a physical feel-self moment.

In summary it's a game that focuses on story and does that well, the h-scenes should be considered a bonus feature. Production value is great and the game as whole is well designed. It does try a bit hard to get emotional at times, but overall it maintains a good level.

Categories are judged on a scale from 1-10 where a 1 is considered abysmal and a 10 is considered perfect.
Graphics: 9
Sound: 7
GameplayStory : 7
Lasting Appeal : 6

7 out of 10

You can download the game from the official site

And here's a decision flowchart (CAN CONTAIN SPOILERS!). Right-click and save-as, its too big for blogger picture viewer. Mad credits to Feuver for creating it.


  1. Hey, random google passerby here. I'm pretty sure I looked for Iris Action but I can't remember anymore. Anyway, I also played Katawa Shoujo after having played the demo about 2 or 3 (?) years ago. I agree that the h-scenes are completely unnecessary and in some cases barely there anyway.

    What I'd like to add (spoilers ahead) is that I felt that Rin kind of stood out compared to the others as far as personality goes. At first I thought she's simply spaced out and just makes me laugh with her responses, that's why I picked her. But her scenario threw kind of a curveball with her major disability not being the lack of arms but rather her mental dysfunction, not sure if it's Autism or Asperger's, I'm no internet doctor. So yeah, a visual novel character who literally can't express her emotions or understand those of others was pretty novel to me.

    1. Right, forgot to add that I only went for Rin, Hanako and Lilly, I had zero interest in the other two from the get-go. I guess I'd like to know how much I'm missing and if it's even worth checking the other ones out.

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