I had planned to start the New Year by making a big-ass blog post.
And as soon as I found out that Katawa Shoujo was to be released on the 4th, I said “Great! I can start the year by reviewing the game!”
So I start playing the game.
And after a day, I realize one thing: This review is not gonna happen, at least not the way I envisioned.
You see, I had a Plan.
And like every person with a Plan, I committed to following through with it.
Here is the Plan:
- Play the game’s paths in Specific Order until achieving 100% completion.
- Write a blog post detailing Pros and Cons, as well as highlighting some interesting stuff about it, with Spoilers behind the appropriate spoiler curtains.
The Specific order was devised shortly after playing the Act 1 Demo.
I ordered the girls from Most Interesting to Least Interesting:
Rin > Shizune > Hanako > Lilly > Emi
And for the final playthrough, I decided to do their paths in order from Least Interesting to Most Interesting.
Thus, I started with Emi.
To make things more interesting, I started commenting my impressions on G+, mostly out of fun than anything.
This is how the Review broke: By playing the Emi path.
Let’s see what happened to me:
Katawa Shoujo, First playthrough: Decided to go for the Emi route first, because she's not popular, she's even # 5 on my list. # 1 thing to do after finishing all routes: Reconsidering putting Emi higher on the list. :3 #katawashoujo (Also, I hate the writer of this scenario, because he gave Emi some of the personality traits that seriously disarm me. And by hate I mean "HATE", because it's making me enjoy this game a whole lot more) ----- "There. Science would approve, right?" AAAHAHAHAHAH ----- ECCHI SCENE! And it was awesome. AND OH GOD RIN WHAT ARE YOU DOING!! XD ---- And the morning after... Man. ---- Seriously, I had low expectations for the adult content of this game... But so far, it's been... Unexpectedly Cute. Not the sort of thing you'd find on these games. Which, IMHO, gives this game extra points in the #awesome department. ---- Cute AND comical. Writer of the Emi scenario, I tip my hat to you: It's the first time I go from "How Cute > LOL > That is quite real / accurate" in an Ecchi Scene, and not feeling any ridiculous eroticism whatsoever. Which makes it extra successful as part of a story IMHO
It’s a very tasteful game.
By this point, I had been bitten, but it was barely starting to show in my comments.
At night, before going to sleep after finishing Emi’s path, I started recollecting…
Emi’s path scared me a little. Its story reminded me of things that laid hidden in my psyche, things that have popped their heads in my dreams.
Do your dreams ever have recurring characters?
Mine do, sometimes.
And it’s always this girl, with this attitude, and a very particular gaze.
Emi fit the mold almost to a T. (Hair is different)
I wanted more. Lilly was next.
Katawa Shoujo Lily Act 3: Mmh. Conflicted about this. It's still sweet, but so far, Emi's story feels better IMHO. #katawashoujo ----- Despite Emi's straightforwardness, Lilly's path does come out as more erotic, so far. Also, no references to marine life yet, so we're good!! ----- Now that's an interesting H scene. I seriously don't know where Lilly's path is going. EDIT: NEVERMIND!! 😀 ----- Good development. Almost exactly as expected, which is good. Path has redeemed itself. Still: Emi > Lilly. ----- Lilly Path: 100% Complete. Not too bad. Some good moments in the end, but, like I said before, I played Emi's AWESOME path first, so Lilly's seriously pales in comparison, IMHO. Now, let's start Hanako's and call it a day...
So far, still business.
Emi still lingers, in the back of my head, like a point of comparison.
I start playing Hanako’s path, but don’t manage to finish Act 2 before something else happens…
The more I think about it, the more I realize that life is just a string of coincidences. Whether these are good or bad, it's up to how we look at it. But I like to think that even bad experiences can give us something good, so I try to be optimistic, despite my own very negative nature. And it's hard. Really hard. The world does make a huge effort in showing that my negative views are correct... And yet, even then, I still think that something good will happen eventually. I wasn't like this before, you know? I used to have a lot of bottled up anger, frustration, negativity. Maybe I still do. I don't know what or how it happened, but I know I can use all that inner turmoil for good. And that's why I feel good today. Because I feel sad, conflicted, a tad lonely, worried about the future, confused, wishing I could move forward, a bit scared. Also, appy, and healthy enough, hopeful. Is it funny? I don't know. Part of me says it is, but part of me says it doesn't have to be. I used to rant a lot like this, back in the day. But the rants were very negative, very frustrating. Now, well... I feel fine. Neither good, nor bad. Just fine. And I think that's awesome. And so are you, person reading this. I don't circle just about anyone, you know? Be grateful! ( #tsundere? XD )
Interesting. Ranting again. It’s been a while, ranting. Good to see you’re healthy.
Let’s see those impressions about Hanako, shall we?
Katawa Shoujo: Hanako Path, Act 3. Goddammit... Hanako does remind me a lot of someone I used to know, frequent and care about. From her shy nature, to her affinity to chess, her mannerisms... Heck, even the "hairstyle that covers one eye". It's kinda scary. #katawashoujo ----- Still, let's see how this is all managed. My prediction ability is in full gear, with some scenarios having higher probabilities than others... I have good expectations for this. ----- The... Flashbacks. My own. Hanako is giving me flashbacks. Her personality, mannerisms, even her hobbies remind me so much of a girl I once knew... And it makes me wonder... Why did we drift apart? Why did we just stop talking to each other? How can a friendship end in such a low note? I do not know. And it had been a while since I last let these thoughts into my mind, and now they resonate more than ever, due to a "simple" story in a visual novel. I don't believe this game will answer any of my questions, but if anything, it gives more credence to the game and its story. Girls like Hanako are real. ----- "She runs her hand down one of her bangs as I try to think of something to say" GODDAMN YOU, KATAWA SHOUJO! * assumes fetal position * ----- And now, a different kind of flashback... This game is hitting too many nerves... To many sensitive things about myself, my past and my life. Quite unusual. ----- Hanako really does remind me of her. That shy girl with a very... Profound world within her. Powerful stuff. The kind of person that could eventually accomplish any and everything, if they set their minds to it. I saw her do just that, and I felt her frustration, her anger, her happiness... But I was... Always... Away. Disconnected. Maybe she was, too. Maybe that's what happened. Our mental walls remained... But not the friendship. It's been... so long.... ----- [ Audience: D'AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWW ] That was good. Really Good. Adorably Sweet. Despite all the... Baggage... It dredged in me. Hanako Path - Good End: COMPLETE. And now, to get those missing scenes.... EDIT: Wow.. Normal End. And the BAD END. WOW. It's time for some Shizune!
As you can see, my past begins to haunt me.
I had already lost the battle.
The Review was not meant to be by this point.
How could I review it, when this game brought up so many things I thought forgotten/buried/overcome?
Let’s see if Shizune does not make me want to feel again:
Katawa Shoujo: Started Shizune Act 2. As always, the Shizune ending of Act 1 makes me shiver. It's one of those things. Those awesome things. The FMV Intro hints at... Something I like. A lot. This is gonna be quite a ride. #katawashoujo ----- "Sociopathic lesbian supremacists" Kenji, u so funny XD ----- BUSH CHENEY 2004 ----- SPOILER: Shizune's Dad is called Huge Man, and is a Ronin samurai hawaiian werewolf. He kills bears for a living. #notreally #orisit ----- MISHA?!?!?!? ----- Mmmh. Sexy time. Conceptually interesting. Very conceptually interesting. Also, very sexy, without feeling vulgar. ----- Finally! A decision!! And it's... A good one. Now, I know that is the right path... But I ain't takin' it! Not this time! The nature of the decision forces my hand! EDIT: WHAT I DO TO GET 100%!!! This will not end well ; __ ; ----- This reminds me of a manga I read once. Darn. ----- Wait... It was not a bad end? What the hell man?! ----- Dat Huge Man... Is an even bigger troll than me dad. ----- Yup. Shizune's path is almost exactly what I expected. Almost, because it's better. It also reminds me of people I do know, though not exactly the same genders. People I really care about. ----- There, done. Now let's see if there's something missing here... Shizune's path is the easiest. It only has one big split. ----- It was a good path, all in all. Shizune is very likeable, reminds me of people.
Nope! It merely reminds me of people.
Also, myself and my obsession with trying to debate every little thing, even if the argument is stupidly childish.
This path I forced into a Bad End but never finished it. Loaded the original save and decided to go for the Good End instead.
Only Rin’s path is left. The weird artist girl. I can make it out unscathed, right?
ALRIGHT! Rin's Path, STARTED!! #katawashoujo ----- I haven't commented much on Rin's path. Mostly because... I don't know what to make of it. I actually like Rin... But at the same time, I understand... The part of me that is an artist, feels it... That disorder, those thoughts that cannot be conveyed through words, and sometimes not even pictures. It's hard. Very hard. I also remember how the pressure breaks that... How it transforms you. How responsibilities and emotional turmoil can drive you into extremes. It reminds me of the times I tried to jump into traffic, or the times I have, repeatedly and literally, hit my head against the wall because I cannot take the pressure building inside me. Weird, hard to explain emotions. And it's even harder to find someone who can understand them, even if it's just a little. You drive the people around you crazy, because they don't get why are you angry, or sad, or acting just plain weird. The anger, confusion, and sometimes disdain of your loved ones, all because your mind is actually working in another place, a place very different from what they call Reality. It's tough. You seek to be understood, to not stand alone all the time... But... You cannot. There's a wall... Between you and the rest of the world. A wall that is made of impossibilities, of contradictions, of disorganized ideas, of pure raw creation, that makes you live at least a part of your life in a place where things don't actually exist. Nothing can bring that wall down. Absolutely nothing. Because it's what makes you tick, what makes you work. and the closer they try to get to you, the more it will hurt them because its a wall that is made of broken things of you ----- ALSO I hate Nomiya the art teacher. Because he's full of it. I got lucky, my art teacher is awesome. A mind open to everything, observing everything, accepting everything. I can't describe how helpful he was in my artistic development. He's the only person I personally call "Master". He's a master of art, to me. ----- "I think I want someone to see what's inside me." But... Even if you try, it never comes out just right, it's always imperfect, and it's never as complete. It's always in piecees, orsomting like that. ----- God... In so many ways, I am so very Rin... ----- But just like I am ddriven by passion, I am also grounded with logic. A middle path. So, in a way, Rin's words ring true: "You have to stop worrying." "You have to learn to let go." Again with the eye descriptions... Again with the color green. Were her eyes green too? Green, blue, something in the middle. It was not a flame behind them, but lightning. The first time, a challenge unmet. The second, an invitation... And those same words: "Let yourself go". But I can't. Because that was just a dream. I haven't found her, nor her eyes, again, outside, in what everyone calls Reality. Maybe it's for the best. ----- TT___TT
Rin’s path hit me like a truck full of bricks.
Her thought processes, I found intriguing in the demo…
But her emotional progress, her commitment, that… sacrifice, that madness…
Too familiar. Way too familiar.
I’ve been in that place. Places.
It’s not easy.
I’ve read comments about how many people who played this game found something in a particular character, something to love…
But in my case, playing Rin’s path confronted me with something far more terrible, something deeper, more dangerous than anything else:
Myself. My own distorted, damaged, malformed feelings.
The ones I deny constantly.
The ones I’ve kept bottled because I cannot find the right way to let them out or express them or simply say I am sorry for all thebad things I’ve done to you, or you, or you.
Rin’s questions ring in my head still.
Her questions are also my questions.
And she never finds much in the way of answers.
Is there even an answer? To them? I don’t know. Quite probably not.
But she manages to do what I couldn’t, and in the end faces her fear, her “disconnection”, even if it means never understanding (Because that’s what it all boils down to), and comes out the other side.
I am still on this sid.e
Trying to make sense of it all.
And there’s nothing on the other side.
There’s never been anything.
There almost was, a couple of times.
Once, I was broken.
Twice, I broke myself further.
Thrice, I was trying to fix myself without working through the pain.
Now I can feel all that again.
I haven’t been running away.
I had merely sealed it all, waiting for the right time to open it.
This was not the right time.
But it was the perfect opportunity to maybe see.
I always look at myself almost mechanically.
To me, everything is combinations, formulas, optimization.
It’s the only way to cope, to atone, to wake up every day feeling like I can make the world a better place.
It did not break me.
But it shed some light into the little pieces that are not in the right place, or that move in the wrong direction, or that I have to replace before I can move again.
A bright, sincere light.
Finished Katawa Shoujo. I think I found it again. Something I had lost.
Now I know.
That I can love.
I am still… Seriously broken.
But now I know I can move on.
Now I know what was missing.
Can I find it?
I hope I can.
I am not as blind as I was when I first broke.
And not as afraid as I was when I broke myself.
And not as isolated as I was when I first tried to fix myself.
In the end,
the art is OK,
the writing is OK,
the music is OK,
but the story…
is made of Passion.
And it’s all that matters.
I won’t recommend you to play this game.
I am no longer in a position in which I can say, for certain, that anyone can enjoy this.
But if you’re willing to give this game a chance, please, play it.
Even if it doesn’t touch you in the way it has touched a lot of the people who’ve played it, you may enjoy it a lot.
And, who knows? Maybe it will brighten up your life a little.
Let yourself go.