Strange Free Games: Katawa Shoujo

Warning!  I am about to introduce a Japanese-style erotic visual novel, better known as eroge.  While this game does offer an option to turn off the adult portions, be well aware that this is made for a far more mature audience. And by “mature,” I mean emotionally.

New week, new game.  This week is about Katawa Shoujo, a visual novel from the members of 4chan, no less.  As a love simulator, this game has one simple twist: every girl you can date is handicapped.  While I’m sure many of you will find the origins of this game uneasy, I can affirm that the subject matter is handled very delicately.  By the end of it, it’ll make you realize the truth behind a frequently told but rarely understood point: the difference between a normal person and a disabled one is only skin deep.

Katawa Shoujo is playable at their own website.

You play as Hisao Naoki, who one day collapses from a sudden heart attack.  Upon recovery, he learns he has a fatal condition called arrhythmia: a disorder that causes the heart to react erratically.  Forced to stay in the dreadful hospital for months, he’s finally given a decision one day to move to the Yamaku boarding high school, an educational school specialized in tending students with medical conditions.  In an attempt to start life anew again, Hisao agrees, and ventures into the high school for disabled students.  Little does he expect a huge emotional roller-coaster when trying to make friends in this initially-peculiar high school.

As the genre “visual novel” implies, Katawa Shoujo reads a lot like a choose-your-own-adventure novels. The majority of the game is devoted to characterizations and observations, but occasionally the game gives you a few branching choices that determines how the story progresses.  While that seems like a chore at first, several features in the game helps alleviate the hours-long text.  First there’s an auto-mode that automatically clicks through the text for you at an adjustable pace.  For the really impatient, there’s the skip-mode that fast-forwards to the next multiple-choice question.
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