Log in or sign up to comment
317 Comments
Posted by Apathylad

Interesting review. I might give the game a try. Conceptually, I really like Visual Novels. Games will often try to balance gameplay with story, or in some cases, story with gameplay. There are many variations to that structure, and in many cases, some of the greatest video games focus exclusively on gameplay. What intrigues me about Visual Novels is that they are on the opposite side of that spectrum, and I do think there's a lot of potential to be explored in that genre, but unfortunately you don't see many mainstream titles takes advantage of it.

I've played a few visual novels, like the Phoenix Wright games, although the format of a VN is typically more like Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, which I also own. A few people on here already mentioned "Digital: A Love Story" and "Don't Take it Personally, Babe, It just Ain't Your Story", but I didn't particularly like either of those. I also played a few by Sakevisual, and they were okay. I suppose my problem with VNs are that so many of them focus on romance, and I would be more interested in seeing them explore other themes.

if you would like to look into another highly-regarded hentai VN, you should read Leigh Alexander's post on Kana: Little Sister. It's on another taboo subject, and your blog does overlap a lot with hers.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/issues/issue_108/1315-Heart-wrenching-Hentai

Edited by Chemin
@Lykos said:

Yeah, Katawa Shoujo is pretty great. I knew about this game for a while, but didn't know what to expect in terms of quality. Thankfully, it surprised me in the best way possible. I'm currently going through Hanako's route so far, but aside from that, I think in order of how much I liked the routes, it would be:

Lily (My fave girl so far)

Emi

Rin

Shizune

Also, if you want a visual novel that's pretty much a darker, more gruesome version of Phoenix Wright, try Kara no Shoujo. Lemme warn you though, some of the images in the game are gruesome, and there are sex scenes, but the murder mystery story was very engaging, enough for me to stomach the gruesome images to get to the end. The art is also pretty good too:

GIve it a shot if you have an iron will for gruesome murder scenes.

 
I second Kara no Shoujo. Really enjoyed it. Pretty gruesome, sure, but it also adds to the tone being more serious - well, most of the time at least - which is a-ok in my book as it then adds to emotion and tension. Also, the art is sweet indeed.
Edited by Sinclose

Well written piece Matty. I can see you've managed to convince a few to go and give the game a shot, so kudos to ya for that!

It's silly really, a lot of popular VNs that are actually quite popular have got 'eroge' as a label for them, and a lot of people end up dismissing them entirely because they figure it's a hentai game with sex being the primary content. When, in fact, those games would be nowhere near as popular as they are if it was sex that was the primary content. Heck, there's a VN that sounded great on Wikipedia, but the page omitted it was also an eroge. And I'm glad they did, or I would have probably ended up avoiding it. That game ended up having one of the more memorable stories I've ever read >.>

@MattyFTM said: 


Of course, Katawa Shojou isn't perfect. For a start, I greatly disliked the sex scenes. Two of them were OK. They were believable and seemed like situations that Hisao and Emi could find themselves in, and were reasonably tasteful. It still felt creepy to me. While the game insists that all the girls are over 18, Emi looks really young. But I could believe the situations and it wasn't too explicit, so it wasn't that bad. But there was another sex scene. The middle sex scene. It featured... lemon scented lube. It was totally weird and extremely out of place. Everything from the reasoning why they were doing it, to where they were doing it and their reaction during and after was downright weird. There was nothing "sexy" about the scene at all. I get that they are young and don't know what they're doing. It's supposed to be clumsy and mechanical. But it's not supposed to be like that.

I should note that it is possible to these scenes off in the settings if you wish. That seems like it might be a good option, although they didn't detract from my overall experience with the game. They are all short and certainly not the focus of the game. The other annoying thing in the game is Kenji, a comic relief character who lives in the dorm room next door to Hisao. Simply put, he's a complete nutter who keeps going on about a "feminist conspiracy" he believes in. At the best of times it's a bit annoying, and when you're emotionally invested in the story and you want to continue with it, Kenji showing up is the last thing you want. I found myself saying "fuck off Kenji" aloud during the game once or twice, and then frantically clicking past his dialogue, barely reading a word.

Yeah, totally agree with you there. Kenji is an annoying character and some of the sex scenes are pretty out of place, despite their efforts to integrate it to the overall meaning and direction of the plot. 

@PixelPrinny said:

Not gonna lie, jumped to the same "oh its a disabled chick banging sim" conclusion you did and haven't considered it since... Great read, but your caveats involving the sex scenes don't really sell me on your point that "nothing could be farther from the truth".... But I gave Dark Souls a go, so hell, I'll give this a shot, too.

@AhmadMetallic said:

Fucking hentai. Since you and Swoxx wouldn't stop talking about it, eh, I'll try it :P Fucking hentai.

Haha yeah pretty much this.

A lot of popular VNs have shoehorned nudity and sex scenes which earn them the label of 'eroge'. The key word being 'shoehorned', because they wouldn't end up being anywhere near as popular as they are if they focused on being hentai. Heck, Fate/Stay Night originated as an eroge, with nudity and sex scenes with characters that have become popular by now, but at this point in time most of those familiar with the franchise don't really have 'hentai' cross their minds when they're told about Fate/Stay Night. It's moved on from that, because it never was the primary substance to begin with.

I mean I was discouraged by that 'eroge' label too, but the 2 popular VNs with that label that I've played, Kawata Shoujo included, proved me otherwise. It's funny because most of the time eroge VNs with meaningful plot and dialogue have got sex scenes that are shoehorned in garbage just for the sake of putting sex appeal in the game, which lead to some people believing it's simply a hentai game -- when, as Matty pointed out, things couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, the sex is usually the worst part of those stories, because it feels out of place and like gratuitous forced nonsense most of the time. 

Katawa Shoujo is less guilty of that, although it still has its share of nonsense. But hey, at least its minimal.

Posted by MattyFTM

I just wanted to post and say thanks for the response guys. I woke up this morning with 99 PMs, all from blog notifications. I've only had time to skim read the responses this morning. I've got to go to work now, so I'll read your responses in more detail and reply to them tonight.

Moderator
Posted by PandaShake

I second anyone who mentioned Kana Little Sister, a heart wrenching vn that is completely fine without sex scenes. My personal favorite might be Private Nurse. It might be dated now, but it was moving and had great piano scores. Check them out, fumoffu mod.

Posted by Catfish666

So cool to see KS getting love at respect at GB, kinda expected it to get just ignored due to the prevalent anime bias.

I downloaded the chapter one sometimes during 2010 after bumping into Raita's original picture that inspired the whole thing and the impact it had. I then too went in to the game to reaffirm my expectations of it being a twisted fuck simulator of those creepy 4channers, only to end up doing a full 180°, finding myself oddly enamored of this touching and well written story. At the same time I also felt as though I had befriended a magical dragon; I've found something rare and pretty cool, but I can't go around telling people about its awesomeness without them either not believing me or just thinking I'm nuts.

Now having went through the full experience I can say that KS met or even topped my expectations. I went through Rin's and Lilly's paths, and felt it was appropriate time to put it down for now that I still feel some afterglow of the latter (Rin's story was good as well, but very grueling). The writing handles the disability subject matter with maturity and even makes good metaphorical use of it. The developing attraction between Hisao and girl(s) has good balance of sweetness and awkwardness of young love, I felt both sorrow and joy and found myself reflecting on my own past relationships. I don't usually even like romantic movies! Now I occasionally open the game to look at a picture of Hisao and Lilly in a field just to go awwww.

Oh, and on the subject of Kenji: I could not stand him at all. I felt he was an unnecessary comic relief. The way I coped with him was that I at some point decided that he's most likely blocking some major psychological trauma with made up stories to distance himself from reality, which is further escalated by an unnamed substance abuse problem (loaning money, wild mood swings, conspiracy theories = hallmark signals!)

Posted by GunslingerPanda

I hate VNs but I love amputee girls (a lot) so I should really play this.

Posted by Cloudenvy

@Sinclose: Bringing up Fate/Stay Night, I wish they had gone with the original premise for that one.

Pretty much the whole thing was rewritten and characters were all redone to fit what people expected from a VN and not what the creator wanted to do which is a shame.

Posted by Bocam

The artist who did the original concept art is also the character designer for the Valkyria Chronicles Games.

Also if guys like having sex with disabled girls, then I recommend Swan Song

Posted by GunslingerPanda

@Bocam: ZMG the leg amputee is a redhead too. Downloading fucking immediately.

Posted by LordXavierBritish
@Bocam: Wow, that's the firs time I've looked at that since I played through Katawa Shoujo and I never realized how close they stuck to the original material despite how little was there.
 
Except for Shizune having the big boobs, Lilly has the biggest boobs.
Posted by Cloudenvy

@Bocam: I would've liked to see how it would've turned out if they had stuck with the dating sim approach.

Edited by NTM

I know almost nothing about it, but my brother downloaded it and was and still is playing it through. I didn't really like it, it was like kiddie hentai to a smaller extent or something. Actually, I know (a little) more about it than I let on, but very little.

Posted by Swoxx

@NTM said:

I know almost nothing about it, but my brother downloaded it and was and still is playing it through. I didn't really like it, it was like kiddie hentai to a smaller extent or something.

Except for the fact that it's really not at all?

Posted by NTM

@Swoxx: Yeah, I know that, but it makes no difference. I'm still probably not going to play it. I'm pointing to the very small parts that had that girls breast showing, I thought it was awkward. Though, I guess that's why they didn't want it rated?

Edited by benjaebe

@NTM said:

@Swoxx: Yeah, I know that, but it makes no difference. I'm still probably not going to play it. I'm pointing to the very small parts that had that girls breast showing, I thought it was awkward. Though, I guess that's why they didn't want it rated?

The nudity isn't really all that awkward and takes up maybe five minutes total of a several hour game. And they didn't need it rated because they released it for free.

Posted by Death_Unicorn

I tried it.

I CRIED EVERYTIME :(

Posted by Hailinel

@NTM said:

@Swoxx: Yeah, I know that, but it makes no difference. I'm still probably not going to play it. I'm pointing to the very small parts that had that girls breast showing, I thought it was awkward. Though, I guess that's why they didn't want it rated?

They released it for free; they had no need to go through the ESRB.

Posted by Cloudenvy

@Death_Unicorn said:

I tried it.

I CRIED EVERYTIME :(

D'awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. D:

Posted by NTM

@benjaebe said:

@NTM said:

@Swoxx: Yeah, I know that, but it makes no difference. I'm still probably not going to play it. I'm pointing to the very small parts that had that girls breast showing, I thought it was awkward. Though, I guess that's why they didn't want it rated?

The nudity isn't really all that awkward and takes up maybe five minutes total of a several hour game. And they didn't need it rated because they released it for free.

@Hailinel said:

@NTM said:

@Swoxx: Yeah, I know that, but it makes no difference. I'm still probably not going to play it. I'm pointing to the very small parts that had that girls breast showing, I thought it was awkward. Though, I guess that's why they didn't want it rated?

They released it for free; they had no need to go through the ESRB.

I know, and I know.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@LordXavierBritish said:

@Bocam: Wow, that's the firs time I've looked at that since I played through Katawa Shoujo and I never realized how close they stuck to the original material despite how little was there. Except for Shizune having the big boobs, Lilly has the biggest boobs.

That doesn't mean Shizune can't have big boobs. Hell, Shizune's route could have just as easily been called "Big Boobs: The Visual Novel."

Posted by StarvingGamer

I like the girl with the hat.

Maybe I'll give it a try.

Online
Posted by yoshimitz707

@MattyFTM: If you want to play another VN, I highly recommend 999 for the DS. Really great game and it has 0 sex scenes!

Posted by AndrewB

I'm downloading this now.

Now everyone reading this should try two other visual novels. Ever17 and Remember11. Just do it.

Posted by Sjupp

@Swoxx: YOU WEIRD WEEABOO HENTAI LOVERS

Posted by Cloudenvy

@AndrewB said:

I'm downloading this now.

Now everyone reading this should try two other visual novels. Ever17 and Remember11. Just do it.

I support this statement, Ever17 is awesome.

Posted by Beforet

If any of you guys want to scratch the VN itch without all the weirdness, I recommend Umineko No Naku Koro Ni, When they Cry: Umineko. I can't speak for the ending, but it starts pretty strong.

Posted by MattyFTM

Thanks for all the replies guys. To be honest I was pretty apprehensive about posting this and I was expecting quite a few more responses like this:

@Sjupp said:

@Swoxx: YOU WEIRD WEEABOO HENTAI LOVERS

It turns out in reality that nearly everyone is pretty open minded. I get that Katawa Shoujo isn't for everyone. Some of you might play it and hate it. Some of you might find the idea of the sexual aspects too off putting and you not want to play it at all. That's all fine. I don't expect everyone to like this game to the same degree I do. But I am thrilled at the willingness of this community to not just read to the end of the second paragraph and instantly post a scolding reply calling everyone who plays the game a pervert.

Also, thanks for all your Visual Novel suggestions. I'll be sure to take a look at them sometime. I definitely want to explore the genre more. Right now I'm still debating whether or not to replay Katawa Shoujo again. I'm leaning towards doing so. I'd love to play more of the game and get to know more about the other characters.

Moderator
Posted by Video_Game_King

@MattyFTM said:

Thanks for all the replies guys. To be honest I was pretty apprehensive about posting this and I was expecting quite a few more responses like this:

@Sjupp said:

@Swoxx: YOU WEIRD WEEABOO HENTAI LOVERS

You do realize that me, , , and all frequent this site, right?

Posted by Xpgamer7

This is your first VN isn't it? Almost every one I've played is a deep story with light sex. It's a series patented as Porn but much more focused on story than sex. Like a 9/1 ratio of story to sex. Try Swan Song if you like this stuff Matt.

Posted by Animasta

I'm sorry, the "game" is boring, and I am certainly not adverse to a VN style of game (though I do wish more had a female character's perspective) I think Leigh Alexander had the best analysis of it, because no matter how respectively they treat them, the writing is still bad and the branches barely branch.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

Man, now that someone respectable has plugged Kawata Shoujo I almost feel tempted to play it. But I feel like it would be the gateway drug to playing porn games for the story, and then where would I be?

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to continue playing The Witcher so I can collect all of the cards with pictures of naked women on them.

Posted by Hailinel

@Animasta: You have just confirmed that I can no longer see any mention of Leigh Alexander's name without pondering if she is currently drunk off her ass at this very moment.

Posted by Swoxx

I will totally try more VN's

However I'm worried about the "nothing will be as good as your first time" aspect.

(No, I'm not talking about sex)

Posted by Apathylad

@Hailinel:

Disregarding her awful appearances on the Bombcast, she's a good writer. Her blog on the hentai VN Kana: Little Sister has a lot of similarities to MattyFTM's analysis of Katawa Shoujo, mostly how both were moved by how the game dealt with mature subject matter.

Edited by Sweep

Lemon Jelly.ky? Alright, I'm back in.

Moderator
Posted by Bigheart711

Wait, you haven't tried much VN's until now too, right? I just started playing this game, so I won't have any further feedback on it 'til later.

(to all) Also, I would like to see more VN's that focus on the story, but are there some that are any good?

Posted by Sweep

@Sweep said:

Lemon Jelly.ky? Alright, I'm back in.

That's what she said!

Moderator
Edited by Sweep

EDIT: Fuck it.

I WILL NOT APOLOGISE FOR ART.

Moderator
Posted by lord_canti

i started it a week ago and im enjoying it

Posted by Moncole

I am downloading it now.

Posted by Hailinel

@Sweep said:

EDIT: Fuck it.

I WILL NOT APOLOGISE FOR ART.

That's APOLOGIZE, you silly British hamburger!

On topic: I am continually amazed by the number of people that have posted here saying that they were firmly in the camp of "lol cripple porn" before playing it and were legitimately moved by the game after playing it.

Edited by MikeFightNight

@Cloudenvy said:

Man, you guys should play some other VN's, there's some great stuff out there.

I thought Katawa Shoujo was okay! turned out way better than I expected it to. I had some issues with it though, mainly some uneven art, less than good writing and the MC..perhaps it doesn't help that I've played a buuuuuuuuuunch of high budget VN's.

It's great to see that people here enjoy the concept of VN's, if only they'd localize the majority of the Japanese releases.

What are some high budget VN's? I just got Katawa Shoujo today out of curiosity and am liking it, but I can see where it could be better. It has me thinking to try my own hand at making a VN, been looking at the Ren 'Py visual novel engine, seems neat.

Posted by Sjupp

I'm glad I could set an example and insult people in the process.

Posted by Moncole

How long is this game?

Posted by TobbRobb
@Moncole: There are 5 girls with about 5h worth of content each, and act 1 is about 2h in itself. So if you decide to go for all of the endings, you are looking at maybe 30h.
Ofcourse, this all depends on how fast you read.
Posted by TaliciaDragonsong

Might as well try it, you sound legit.

Online
Posted by Tim_the_Corsair

If you guys want cripple porn I happen to know a site...

Nah, all kidding aside the talk of the plot in this game made me want to give it a go, somehow making me overcome my inherent dislike of anime and dating sims/visual novels (admittedly I was young and they were basically pure sex games)...

...and I was pretty unimpressed.

Don't get me wrong, I admire the attempt at telling a unique story with a setting that came across as a legitimate, heartfelt attempt at presenting something no other form of media really touches on all that often. That alone is worthy of accolade.

But oh my fucking God that writing!

Purple prose, repetitive dialogue/themes, poor characterisation, and very lopsided writing quality (a combination of amateur authors and the division of labour, perhaps?).

I understand it is a somewhat amateurish production, and that's cool, but I find all the praise for the writing and dialogue to be somewhat baffling, especially when there is no gameplay to speak of to redeem it. It may be good for a visual novel, but it comes up woefully short compared to any remotely similar story or script I have ever seen.

Posted by NakAttack

Alright i'll try it, but i'm not expecting much tbh.

Edited by MikeFightNight

So far the main character can say some dumb stuff that can take you out of the moment. More choices of how to respond would also be welcome, but I know it takes time to do all that stuff and it was made by a small group of people. It also feels drawn out at times but still manges to be interesting so far. If nothing else as someone new to VN's it makes you aware of some really cool stuff people could do with the genre.