The indie visual novel Katawa Shoujo (translated as Disability Girls) is now available for free on the Jast USA store. This release coincides with the game’s 10th anniversary from its initial release on the 4th of January 2012.
Katawa Shoujo has always been available for free on its website but this will be the first time the indie game will be available on a more prominent launcher. The Jast version of the game will also come with bonus content including an art book, wallpapers, and the soundtrack.
Katawa Shoujo stars Hisao Nakai, a high school student who after receiving a confession from a classmate, ends up having a heart attack.
It turns out he has arrhythmia, a medical condition that causes his heart to beat irregularly. He is sent to Yamaku, a school that specializes in caring for students with disabilities, and medical staff on standby. Here, he meets five different girls with who he can gradually get close to and start to romance.
Katwa Shoujo is a fairly important game as one of the first prolific visual novels by a western studio. It was first conceived and developed by Four Leaf Studios, a team of 4Chan users who were inspired by concept art drawn by Japanese doujinshi artist Raita.
Despite 4Chan’s less than stellar reputation, Katawa Shoujo is known for its well-written representation of people with disabilities and their struggles as well as showing that they are people beyond that physical condition.
I personally consider it a must-read for any fan of visual novels. It should be noted that the game does have NSFW scenes, however, these can be turned off in the options if you would prefer to see them.
While the game has always been available for free, it is great to see it on a new platform where it can find a new audience.
Katawa Shoujo is available for free on PC, Mac, and Linux on Jast USA. Other well-known visual novels on the Jast USA store include titles like Steins;Gate and Huniepop.