Rather than repeat myself, I’ll direct you to this bit I wrote back in 2010 – if you’re confused, horrified, don’t get why Katawa Shoujo exists or who would want to play it, et cetera, you should read it. Bearing in mind that the game is a crowdsourced fan project, it’s sort of incredible that it exists, is finished, in the first place. And it’s absolutely, inarguably incredible how much polish there is on it.
Overall, it’s not just “good for a fan project”, it has elements that would stand out in its genre if it were a commercial release. The game also seems genuinely interested in exploring the challenges of relationships among people with compromising illnesses and disabilities (Hisao, the game’s protagonist, has a heart condition and feels uncertain whether it’s worth planning for his future after school).
You can’t help but have a little compassion for that.
I heard the early criticism of 4 Leaf Studios’ Katawa Shoujo.
Most people don’t understand the genre and it isn’t for them.Background characters are unsettling, given grating “quirks” that make me wonder if the creators intended to imply that people with mental and social illness are being treated at the special school, too. There is absolutely nothing pleasurable or compelling about Katawa Shoujo, save for the fact it exists.Hisao bonds with girlfriends through jaw-droppingly dull and repetitive conversations and behaviors; runs at the track, visits to the nurse, trips to a teashop, shopping for groceries. I mean, maybe the game wants to make a statement that those routines are… It hardly even matters that the game gives you so few choices to branch the plot. Yet that’s no small thing, its existence, that it was born entirely from a strange internet culture nebula and the dogged effort of those devoted to bringing it to life.The anal scene Walker described in his impressions is even more ridiculous than it sounds: good thing Emi’s track captain is gay, because there’s flavored lubricant in the gym supply shed! The descriptions are too mechanical to be emotionally intimate, and too focused on function to be arousing to anyone.For example, I’m all for safe sex and everything, but I would hazard a guess that even when the staff of Planned Parenthood describe their sex fantasies, nobody pauses to describe the fetching, unwrapping and application of a condom the way Katawa Shoujo, in a jarring show of social responsibility, does. Katawa Shoujo doesn’t know what it wants to be, either.
The result of this structure is you can have games where, say, a young detective learning to stick up for himself rescues a bunny maid by having really rough sex with her, which bestows upon her the emotional wherewithal to finally quit the abusive sex café where she’s been working, and the game ends with them falling in love and getting married and having kids. ), but that’s actually a plausible scenario for this kind of game.