(...boy, it's been a while since I was on one of these phpbb forums...)
Ahem, hi there! I'm about six years late to the party, but I wanted, first and foremost, to thank all of you at 4LS for producing this game. 4chan has a notorious reputation, especially to outsiders like me who mainly know it from Anonymous and DDoS hax, so I'm pleased that something of such craft and beauty could also come from there.
I knew about Katawa Shoujo since it launched in 2012, but only got into it now on the back of Doki Doki Literature Club, the first visual novel I ever completed. I played that at the end of last year, loved it, read about all of its hidden secrets and Easter eggs and conspiracy theories and loved it even more. Then this 4chan project came to the back of my mind shortly into the new year, and I thought it wouldn't hurt to try another free-to-play anime dating sim with a twist (I'm also a lonely singleton, perhaps unsurprisingly).
Having read the bios and pored over a few of the artbooks, I thought I'd be most likely to go for Lilly, being a sucker for blonde-haired blue-eyed Mary Sue types ( ). As it goes, I and wound up on Emi's route instead. I got through the first hours fairly detached, giving the characters silly voices in my head as I read along (Emi was a Randy Savage-style gruff macho, Rin was Eeyore, Shizune and Misha were Beaker and Dr Honeydew from The Muppets, etc), and generally going with the flow.
Somewhere in Emi's third Act, it gripped me. I suspect a big factor in this was how eerily similar she is to my first ex-girlfriend, bar her disability. They have a similar name (Eva), are the same height, similar weight, body type, eye colour, hair colour and style. They also match in her bubbly personality, athletic interests, and even in her story, right down to, I kid you not, . I felt, really felt, the warm affection of befriending her, the blossoming into something else, the painful peril when it seemed like I'd screwed up, before the air-punching triumph of "winning" the happily-ever-after.
I'm one of those completionist kind of people when it comes to games, wanting to see all possible routes and endings. But having got Emi's good ending, I rewound a bit, made two different decisions, and ended up with her . The ending I got after that was The One With Kenji. I needed a breather after that.
I persevered though, and achieved 100% completion over the next two-and-a-half weeks, in this order. Rin was an entertaining character, if a little repetitive in some exchanges, but frustrating to try to progress with as a romance, in part because Hisao's narrative choices weren't always obviously helpful. I liked the corresponding plot of her , so I was content with the end of her story arc, if not delighted.
Lilly's, as I expected, was much more up my street. I felt that the reveal of , and are ancient clichés, but they were well executed and I like her so much I was happy to let that slide.
Hanako's route felt like a different game altogether, in terms of overall atmosphere. I was engrossed with it, "enjoyed" wouldn't be right. was not exactly comfortable, though I think that's half the point, and the ending didn't give the same sense of resolution that the others did, somehow. The choice you face when was so difficult for me that I actually gave it a day and asked a couple of female friends their opinions on it. They pointed me in the correct direction, which I had been gradually leaning towards anyway. In fact, I'm kinda proud to say I reached the "good" ending of every character first time around, except for Shizune, last of all.
Thing is, I knew I wouldn't in Shizune's case and didn't care, because I can't stand her on so many levels. I know it likely comes from , but if I could , I'd do it in a heartbeat (ba-dum-tsh).
Of course, for 100% I needed to go back and explore all the alternative paths as well, and having achieved all the "good" endings, I thought this would be a chore. But even these endings are like a punch to the psyche. Rin's "neutral" ending struck me more than her "bad" one, interestingly, but the last one I unlocked, of all the ones it could be, was Hanako's "bad" ending. I spent that entire final scene gripping my laptop, leaning as far away from the screen as possible. It's up there with the "Sayori Event" in DDLC. Holy schmidt.
I've already splurged enough here, so I'll try and fit the remaining thoughts into one paragraph. Lilly > Emi >>> Hanako >> Misha (away from Shizune) > Rin >> literally everyone else including Kenji >>>> Shizune (fight me). I don't know much about anime art so all I can say is it's "nice" (props to whoever designed Hanako's casual outfit, girl's got style), and I really liked the cinematic intros to each character. The music is wonderful, and impressively un-repetitive - my favourite track, after much difficult consideration, is "Innocence", but every one is a gem in its own right.
And... I guess that's it, unless I find something else to add later. Once again, thank you to 4Leaf Studios for this beautiful game, and hello to anyone and everyone else who still frequents these forums - I see it's still relatively busy, which is further testament to what a phenomenon this is. For now, though, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to write poems dedicated to each girl, and then possibly some exploratory DDLC x KS fanfic crossover material. Stay tuned.
PS: pls shift to a generic "thank you" thread if appropriate, fine by me!
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