So I was bored one day and decided to say "Eh screw it, lets try something new. And so I randomly choose to look up a game I had heard about before, a visual novel made by a team of amateur producers by the name of Katawa Shoujo..
A visual novel about a main protag with a major heart problem that is forced by his condition to transfer to a school designed for people with physical handicaps and the relationships he can form with five different girls there, all of whom have their own handicaps or physical deformity.
Never played a visual novel before, let alone one about something like this, so i went in expecting some poor writing, over focus on handicaps in relationship and a story about some main protag who has to "Fix some broken women" and anything like that, especially in the route where you romance a heavily scarred and extremely low self-esteemed girl.
And, much to my utter surprise, It's completely not that.
Each girl is fleshed out, unique and has their own lives, wills, feelings and ways of either dealing with, or outright not caring much for the disabilities they hold.
For a game that makes its premise based around the whole concept of all its girls having their own unique disability, it takes a major backseat to plainly just showing that they hardly matter in anyway when you enter their route. The two it most heavily being brought up in or alluded to within the route of the blind girl named Lilly, for the obvious need of showing that she lives pretty normally and fairly well off for someone whose never seen anything her entire life and Hanako, a girl who bares heavy physical and emotional scarring from a tragic accident... With the game much more focusing on the emotional over the physical.
One of the most excelling moments in this game is without a doubt the Hanako route, a shy and introverted to extremes, girl, who has lived with heavy scarring across her whole left side since childhood, after a fire that claimed both her parents lives.
So obviously this route is all about a manly man like our protag coming in and using his awesome powers of love to let her grow and protect her with all his... manliness... And maybe like, smooch her scars or reveal he's got this creepy scar fetish.*
Which is something seen in countless different mediums and similar examples in media. Just your standard and "Heartwarming" story yes?
Wrong. The game makes it entirely clear, throughout the interactions with other characters and the choices, that you, the male protag, well a source of support in her gaining new confidence, are NOT her savior, simply an anchor by which the girl herself, almost entirely by herself, can help HERSELF to grow up.
Near the end of her route, when the girl has shut herself in her room during her birthday, prefering to wallow away as a day she now loathes since her parent's death passes by.
Here your protag makes a big decision, listen to the advice of a close friend and leave your love interest be until she is able to leave her room herself, or try to force your views and wants to "Protect her" where you believe its needed.
So obviously you go to her, take her from her room and show her a happy loving world, solving everything right?
Nope, trying the latter option leads to the female protag, a quiet little girl, exploding at you, lashing out with scorn and hatred for your misguided attempts to mother and pity her and it leads to the total end of the route, ruining your fledgling love and friendship forever, all because you assumed yourself she needed pity and someone to save her from herself
But when you leave her be to deal with her own issues? It helps her make up her own mind and eventually helps her gain the confidence that allows you to enter a relationship.
I am seriously adoring this game, having already finished three of the 5 routes available in it and like all three, with the third outright making me feel horrible and in a constant state of thinking I had made all the wrong choices despite having made all the right ones.
It's free to download and play from the game's website and as someone who has never played a game like this before, I highly recommend it... Now to go replay the Hanako route...