My Biggest Surprise of the Year

Posted by TheMasterDS (1860 posts) -

Earlier today I 100%ed Katawa Shoujo, the first visual novel I've ever had a genuine interest in after seeing it on Day[9]'s Metadating show a week back. While it's a game with fantastic relatable characters, solid writing and a pretty great premise however truth be told these weren't the things that hooked me. The thing that hooked me was that Day[9] and crew actually had genuine interest in not only playing the game for the show but also playing more of it beyond the 2 hours of the show. That's what got me to download it (it's free), that's what got me in the door. That's what got me over the fact that up until now I would never have imagined myself ever playing a Visual Novel or even being interested in one. I hope what I say here might inspire others to do the same.

This "game" ended up hitting me harder than any book, game, film or show I've seen in the last year. And I played Walking Dead. And I read the Steve Jobs Biography. Nothing made me more emotionally invested and, ultimately, more introspective this year. I related to characters more reading/playing this than I have done anywhere else all year. Even real life. Especially real life. Parts of this game make me wonder if I'm doing everything wrong. It makes me think about death, the future, insecurities, communication, everything really. I don't know. That's the end of that thought. I just don't know.

Katawa Shoujo jumped into my heart over the course of this week and jumped up into my top 10 for this year at #3 right behind Fez and Sound Shapes. I'm really glad I watched that episode of Metadating and I'm really glad I gave it a chance. I think you should too.

#1 Posted by TheMasterDS (1860 posts) -

Earlier today I 100%ed Katawa Shoujo, the first visual novel I've ever had a genuine interest in after seeing it on Day[9]'s Metadating show a week back. While it's a game with fantastic relatable characters, solid writing and a pretty great premise however truth be told these weren't the things that hooked me. The thing that hooked me was that Day[9] and crew actually had genuine interest in not only playing the game for the show but also playing more of it beyond the 2 hours of the show. That's what got me to download it (it's free), that's what got me in the door. That's what got me over the fact that up until now I would never have imagined myself ever playing a Visual Novel or even being interested in one. I hope what I say here might inspire others to do the same.

This "game" ended up hitting me harder than any book, game, film or show I've seen in the last year. And I played Walking Dead. And I read the Steve Jobs Biography. Nothing made me more emotionally invested and, ultimately, more introspective this year. I related to characters more reading/playing this than I have done anywhere else all year. Even real life. Especially real life. Parts of this game make me wonder if I'm doing everything wrong. It makes me think about death, the future, insecurities, communication, everything really. I don't know. That's the end of that thought. I just don't know.

Katawa Shoujo jumped into my heart over the course of this week and jumped up into my top 10 for this year at #3 right behind Fez and Sound Shapes. I'm really glad I watched that episode of Metadating and I'm really glad I gave it a chance. I think you should too.

#2 Posted by LordXavierBritish (6320 posts) -

You never forget your first.

#3 Posted by Milkman (16218 posts) -

This game seems like it could not be further away from my type of game and like most dating sims seems creepy as hell. But for some reason, I'm tempted to play it and I have no idea why. How long is it?

#4 Posted by TheMasterDS (1860 posts) -

@Milkman: I'd say about any ending is achievable in 6 hours or so based on the game clock after I finished any acts. Course outside of the 1st act the following 3 acts are specific to the girl you choose meaning even once you do finish the bulk of the "game" technically remains and is worth doing.

If you're unsure and want to be eased into it I might suggest watching the Metadating episode. Worked for me. It's 2 hours long but considering you're here at Giant Bomb, home of the long form video coverage, I'm thinking you may be down for that.

#5 Posted by ImmortalSaiyan (4655 posts) -

I am with you. Katawa Shoujo is my game of the year. Hands Down. Nothing got to me this year in the way Katawa Shoujo did.

#6 Posted by Milkman (16218 posts) -

Okay...this is going to sound dismissive and I apologize but I played this for about 40 minutes before I had to turn it off. And I use the term "played" VERY loosely. I guess I should have known what I was getting into but to my defense, I've never play a visual novel like this before and I had no idea there would be so little game to this. I expected to be picking dialog choices and stuff like that but in almost an hour, I interacted with the game twice. As for story, I can't say it really grabbed me out of the gate. It seemed like a pretty generic JRPG high school story with an admittedly interesting twist of being in a school for disabled kids. None of the characters jumped out as "oh, I NEED to see more of this person." Sorry, but yeah, not for me.

In short:

#7 Posted by MyNiceIceLife (601 posts) -

Oh man I totally forgot that this came out this year. Still haven't gone through Rin's path yet, but I may do that before the new year. I will say that KS wasn't my first visual novel, but it was one of the better ones that I've played.

#8 Edited by Cloudenvy (5890 posts) -

You guys...Should play other visual novels. D:

Better visual novels. : ( But cool that you liked it! As I said when Katawa Shoujo released, I hope this'll get a lot of people to broaden their horizons and play some of the classics.

#9 Posted by AndrewB (7187 posts) -

@Cloudenvy: No one listens to me! Why does no one listen to me! Not even Patrick listens to me!

Okay though... even for a visual novel, Katawa Shoujo is amazing in its own right. Especially considering its roots. Better than the majority of ones with an actual budget.

Online
#10 Posted by newhaap (409 posts) -

@Cloudenvy: What are some of the classics?

#11 Posted by Cloudenvy (5890 posts) -

@AndrewB: I still wouldn't call Katawa Shoujo amazing! It's impressive that it was done by such a small team, but I don't think their writing is any good. : (

@newhaap: Saya no Uta, Ever17, the stuff done by Key and so on.

#12 Posted by UlquioKani (932 posts) -

I tried to play through it when It first came out. I really didn't like the main character and was sort of bored of the events unfolding infront of me. The pacing was one of the things that killed it the most and I guess this is my own fault but I was expecting to make more choices than I did. The again, if this was presented in the form of a book I don't think I would have even heard about it.

That being said, everyone else seemed to like it so I guess it's me.

#13 Edited by TheMasterDS (1860 posts) -

@Milkman: As much as I've wanted to give all games and all types of games a shot since I started following Giant Bomb devoutly years ago I find it's important to do due diligence before giving any game a shot to make sure I've seen it in Quick Look/TNT/Whatever form or heard about it on a Bombcast and that it speaks to me or overcomes issues I have with the genre in some way. A good example of this was Diablo 3 whose skill system made me happy because the mucking about with points in Torchlight was a total turn off. Basically what I'm saying is going in blind and taking praise on face value is a bad idea. Know what to expect and know that what you expect sounds like it could work for you.

Your reactions are perfectly reasonable. Like I said in my first post I'd like to think it was the qualities of the "game" that drew me to actually giving it a shot but in reality it was more because Day[9], an internet person I trust, was genuinely enjoying it and genuinely interested in playing more. Going in I had expected it to be 3 guys drinking beer laughing at a crap game like the last time they did a Visual Novel for an episode. Instead they were positive. Which I didn't realize was intentional for a while. I don't think I wouldn't necessarily realized on my own. All I can say is sorry for wasting your time, perhaps should've leaned less into pushing it, all I wanted to do was say holy shit this came out of nowhere and I have these thoughts on it.

#14 Posted by awesomeusername (4056 posts) -

Help me!

What do I open this with? I can't download it because it says somethings not installed or whatever. Sorry about my PC noobishness

#15 Posted by TheMasterDS (1860 posts) -

@awesomeusername: Since it's a (legal) torrent you'll need something like a uTorrent. You know, a thing for torrenting.

#16 Posted by TobbRobb (4401 posts) -

@TheMasterDS: Day9 played Katawa Shoujo on stream and liked it?

I need to look this up. BRB

#17 Posted by awesomeusername (4056 posts) -

@TheMasterDS: I guess I'll have to Google and download that. Thanks for letting me know duder.

#18 Posted by Hailinel (22677 posts) -

@Cloudenvy said:

You guys...Should play other visual novels. D:

Better visual novels. : ( But cool that you liked it! As I said when Katawa Shoujo released, I hope this'll get a lot of people to broaden their horizons and play some of the classics.

I put a visual novel on my top ten list of the year and it wasn't even Katawa Shoujo!

#19 Posted by JoyfullOFrockets (1175 posts) -

So many feels bro. That's all I can say. I got Emi's good end on my first run and got Lilly's good end on my second. Are the others worth seeing? Emi's was great and all but Lilly's hit so close to home I'd be hard pressed to think any other route would have me emotionally invested as much.

#20 Posted by TheMasterDS (1860 posts) -

@JoyfullOFrockets: I'd say so, yeah. I think that Lilly probably has the best end result (e.g. most positive impact for 3/5 girls & a pretty well mapped out future) but I relate more to the stuff along Rin's path personally. I'd also say you need to see Shizune's path, there's a thing at the end of Act 3 which is a real bummer I think needs to be seen. Hanako is alright though if you've seen her come into her own on Lilly's path you might be a bit let down by the Hanako path. Hard to say, probably should give it a shot anyway. I think there are reasons to see every path.

#21 Posted by JoyfullOFrockets (1175 posts) -

@TheMasterDS said:

@JoyfullOFrockets: I'd say so, yeah. I think that Lilly probably has the best end result (e.g. most positive impact for 3/5 girls & a pretty well mapped out future) but I relate more to the stuff along Rin's path personally. I'd also say you need to see Shizune's path, there's a thing at the end of Act 3 which is a real bummer I think needs to be seen. Hanako is alright though if you've seen her come into her own on Lilly's path you might be a bit let down by the Hanako path. Hard to say, probably should give it a shot anyway. I think there are reasons to see every path.

I see. I was thinking probably if I'd start up again I'd go for Shizune since I wanted more about the conflict between her and Lilly. Also, is there some special hidden entirely comedy-driven route in the game?

#22 Posted by TheMasterDS (1860 posts) -

@JoyfullOFrockets: Yes. Fail to get a girl in act 1 and you'll see it.

#23 Posted by JoyfullOFrockets (1175 posts) -

@TheMasterDS said:

@JoyfullOFrockets: Yes. Fail to get a girl in act 1 and you'll see it.

Oh, I've seen that one on youtube, I just dismissed it as a bad end since in essence it was kinda sad.

#24 Edited by Generic_username (477 posts) -

I realize that this game is old news by now, but I just got around to playing it, and it had a pretty powerful impact on me. I wound up going down the Hanako path (which no one seems to be talking about, but I digress) and man, it hit really close to home. I'm actually a burn victim myself, though lucky enough to not have the scarring on my face, and I know that someone on that team had to have spoken to someone who had gone through that. There's bits and pieces of the dialogue that just nail some of my feelings perfectly, not to mention the way it touches on my anxiety problems.

I understand why people are dismissive of it, but this game really got to me. I'm still mildly freaking out about it, actually.

#25 Posted by TrulyAlive (897 posts) -

@generic_username: Although I'm not a burn victim or anything, I think I know what you mean.

I played this game after reading a Leigh Alexander article defending it around about the time it was released, but to be completely honest I didn't trust her opinion and was just curious how fucked up it would be.

To this day, I have no qualms about having included it on my best of 2012 list. It's certainly not perfect in any regards, but it's miles better than it has any right to be and maybe I'm just a sentimental sap but I personally found it to be shockingly affecting.

Fuck. Now I need to play it again.

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