VG Tribune

VGTribune Game of the Month: January 2012

February 1, 2012 / 12:00 AM

By: Roger DiLuigi III

January has always been an interesting time for gamers. Most big titles are released during the holiday season and then developers take January and February to re-group and begin work on their next big projects. Occasionally, one or two big games that missed their holiday deadlines will end up sliding into the early months of the following year but other than that, it’s rare that a game will manage to get the conversation moving so early, let alone a free game with an original story in a genre that most of us would never dare venture into. However, one game managed to do just that in January, even with some heavy competition.


Katawa Shoujo (Mac/PC)

An English visual novel/dating sim by Four Leaf Studios (a development team comprised of game designers from around the world who met on the popular image board 4chan), Katawa Shoujo puts players in the shoes of Hisao, a young man who suffers a heart attack following a love confession, is diagnosed with a terminal arrhythmia and is forced to enroll at Yamaku, a school designated for people with physical disabilities. While at school, Hisao meets five (technically six) girls, each with a different disability, and falls for one of them by the end of the game’s first act (depending on the choices that the player made earlier in the game).

When I first heard the title of this game, I was completely shocked. The idea of a dating sim that seemingly fetishized missing limbs and scars sounded downright disturbing. It wasn’t until I actually played the game for myself, after the heavy insistence of many of my Twitter followers, that I realized Katawa Shoujo is not fetishizing these disabilities but instead, teaching people to understand and find beauty in the women trapped behind them. Keep in mind, this is a dating sim and by industry standards would probably be rated AO for its sexual themes. However, these aspects of the game are entirely skippable.

Unlike most games in its genre, most everything in Katawa Shoujo is tasteful and, for a free game, the level of quality exhibited is remarkable. Everything from the game’s original soundtrack to the sharp and quirky writing oozes excellence and by the end of the game, you’ll be hard-pressed to not have fallen for its lovable cast. I never thought the day would come that we’d be naming a visual novel/dating simulation as our “Game of the Month”, especially over a Soul Calibur game. Perhaps the apocalypse truly is upon us. Either that, or we’ve gotten soft.


1) Final Fantasy XIII-2 (PS3, 360)

2) Soul Calibur V (PS3, 360)

About the author /

Roger is probably best known throughout the “interwebs” as the man behind TopHatProfessor in the Professor Layton Twitter viral marketing campaign. Roger is a Chicago-based actor and Theatre/English graduate at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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