Just properly finished this game (most of the endings) and I have to say.. not what I expected from a game that came out of 4chan.
Despite the slightly ridiculous premise and somewhat morally wrong setting of the game (not that there shouldn’t be a game about disabled people, but im not sure it was made with the best intentions, at least initially), Katawa Shoujo is honestly one of the best ‘games’ i’ve played. Game in quotations because it’s more of a visual novel or book than a traditional dating sim, however there are a few choices here and there which change the path – though as I understand it, usually in eroge there are more choices to be made.
So what makes it so good? The story. While starting off fairly slow, and taking a while to get going, once you start rolling down a girls path, you’ll find yourself slowly sucked in by their backstory. It’s surprisingly easy to get emotionally invested when you spend a few hours reading through conversations from the first person perspective, and the writing does a fantastic job of setting the tone and pace of the story – rarely dragging you along for too much more than is necessary (though I did tire of Kenji fairly rapidly).
Most of the girls are very lovable, I say most because I found Rin (armless girl) to be on a completely different planet, her dialogue far too autistic for me (as well as my avatar, if dialogue is anything to go by) to form an emotional bond with. The remaining girls, Hanako, Lily, Shizune and Emi, all have an interesting backstory and an appropriate amount of emotional baggage for you to make your way through.
My personal favorite girl was Hanako, but Emi comes in not far behind at 2nd place – though I can honestly say I enjoyed Lily and Shizune’s paths as well.
I thought the friend pairings were pretty interesting as well – with each of the girls having a close friend, the blind girl and burnt girl, the girl with no legs and the girl with no arms, and a loud girl who probably has ADHD with the deaf girl.
The game is completely free and has some good options for text speed and auto text scroll rate if you don’t feel like hammering your space bar – the prologue lasts maybe an hour or two, and then each of the girl’s paths add another 2-5 hours (dependant on reading speed), be warned that there are ero scenes which can be optionally disabled – I thought they were quite tastefully done though
TLDR; Amazing 20 hour visual novel, completely free, surprisingly mature despite concept.