tsupertsundere

So you want to read a visual novel?

Last updated: 15 March 2019 - added Cece09’s Higurashi Chapter 1 review.

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        The visual novel genre can be pretty hard to get into for a myriad of reasons - it’s not really that ‘game-y’, they’re a fast way to make crappy games, they can look off-putting, there’s a lot of genre conventions that can be difficult to get used to, and a lot of them are just… they’re porn. It’s pretty much just porn. But there’s a lot of good stuff about the genre, too! Relaxing gameplay, in-depth worlds and characters, nice exploration of feelings and some pretty cute kissing scenes, too c;

There’s been a few people on BLAEO who seemed interested in visual novels, but perhaps started off with the wrong one. I’m hoping that this post can be a place I can link back to and continue to curate for people who want to get into visual novels but don’t quite know where to start. There are other worthwhile VNs than what I’ve posted here, but here are all the ones that I found somethin’ special.

Some context: I am a bisexual woman who does not find sexism, the exploitation of women ESPECIALLY underaged girls, and lack of consent appealing or sexy in the least. I have a preference for female narrators and emotional intimacy and a bias against male narrators and things that are clearly just there for erotic material. I like erotic material, but there has to be more effort put in than ‘titties and moaning’.

An additional note: I include ‘VN+’ games in this list. These are games with an additional gameplay mechanic beyond making choices and reading, like the investigation/trial mechanics in Ace Attorney or the drink mixing mechanic in Va11 Hall-A or the escape-the-room puzzles in the Zero Escape series.

Click the accompanying picture to be taken to each VN’s webpage. If you’d ever be interested in the full scope of VNs I’ve played, here’s my VNDB rankings.

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With that in mind, what VNs would I recommend? Well, in no particular order…

The List!

1bitHeart

“Welcome to 1bitHeart―the latest title from Alicemare and LiEat developer △○□× (Miwashiba). In this unique and endearing adventure game, take on the role of Nanashi, a lonely, agoraphobic boy, as you solve a slew of mysteries around town while also making friends.”
VN+ - Male protagonist - Friend Making Simulator! - Three endings + 1 post-game episode - Futuristic - Hip and Happenin’ - Great Production Value
tsuper review


Analogue: A Hate Story

“A dark visual mystery novel featuring transhumanism, traditional marriage, loneliness, and cosplay. Two pursuable characters. Five endings. Welcome to the future.”
Choose Your Gender - Two female routes - Sci-Fi - Story Heavy
See its sequel: Hate Plus

Asphyxia

“Samantha and Lillian are best friends. At least, they were, until everything fell apart. Now, Samantha has a day to repair their relationship – but is it already too late?”
Female Protagonist - One female route with a female side route - Light Romance - Young Adult - British as hell
Blue Ϟ Lightning’s review


BAD END

“It’s rumored that those who play ‘BAD END’- a Visual Novel will die in REAL LIFE if they make the wrong decision in the game itself.”
Male Protagonist - Multiple Bad Endings - School Life/Horror - Silly/Goofy/”Scary” - Short n Cheap
tsuper review


Choice of the Deathless

“Battle demons and undead attorneys, and win souls to pay back your student loans! At the elite demonic-law firm of Varkath Nebuchadnezzar Stone, you’ll depose a fallen god, find romance, and maybe even make partner, if you don’t lose your own soul first.”
Choose Your Gender - One main male and one main female route, a few additional side routes - Several different endings - Traditional Choose Your Own Adventure Story - Modern Fantasy - Story Heavy


Cinderella Phenomenon

“The Fairytale Curse was only the beginning…”
Female Protagonist - Five male routes - Fantasy / Fairytale Retelling - FREE!!
Tsuper Review


Cinders

“Cinders is a mature take on a classic fairytale with a heavy emphasis on player choices and role playing.”
Female Protagonist - Three male routes - Multiple endings - Crazy production value - Fairytale Retelling
ninglor03’s Review


CLANNAD

“From the world renowned visual novel studio Key, the highly rated story of CLANNAD is now available on Steam! Improved visuals, achievement integration, and Dangopedia make this the best version of CLANNAD to date.”
Male Protagonist - 8 female routes - TONS of endings - LONG AS HELL - Slice-of-life/School Life
Tsuper review - AshenOne’s review


CrossRoad

“Every granddaughter visits her grandmother for tea and something delicious to eat. Lumy is no different from millions of other girls.”
Female Protagonist - 5 male routes - Fairytale Retelling - Popcorn Read - Cute, Dumb, & Goofy - Tons of (Bad) Endings
Tsuper review


Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc

“Investigate murders, search for clues and talk to your classmates to prepare for trial. There, you’ll engage in deadly wordplay, going back and forth with suspects. Dissect their statements and fire their words back at them to expose their lies! There’s only one way to survive—pull the trigger.”
VN+ - Male Protagonist - No Romance - One Ending - School Life/Murder Mystery/Court Drama - Story Heavy
See its sequels: Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony


Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair

“Jabberwock Island—You and your classmates were ready for fun in the sun until Monokuma returned to restart his murderous game! Trapped in a kill-or-be-killed situation, your only hope rests in solving the island’s mysteries.”
VN+ - Male Protagonist - No Romance - One Ending - School Life/Murder Mystery/Court Drama - Story Heavy
See its prequel: Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, and its sequel: Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony


Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony

“A new cast of 16 characters find themselves kidnapped and imprisoned in a school. Inside, some will kill, some will die, and some will be punished. Reimagine what you thought high-stakes, fast-paced investigation was as you investigate twisted murder cases and condemn your new friends to death.”
VN+ - No Romance - One Ending - School Life/Murder Mystery/Court Drama - Story Heavy - Mega Production Value
See its prequels: Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair
Tsuper review


Doki Doki Literature Club!

“The Literature Club is full of cute girls! Will you write the way into their heart? This game is not suitable for children or those who are easily disturbed.”
Male Protagonist - Fo – Three Female Routes - Two Endings - School Life - Dating Sim - Psychological Horror - Poetry Simulator - meta - FREE!!
Tsuper review - Ragnar’s review - Neku’s review - VitoStippkow’s review


don't take it personally, babe, it just ain't your story

“A spiritual sequel of sorts to Digital: A Love Story, set in a prestigious private high school, and on the social networks of 2027.

Seven students, three endings, one eavesdropping teacher. A full length visual novel about the erosion of privacy, gay drama, young sexuality, and the perils of modern online life for a high school literature class.”
Male Protagonist - Three endings - School Life but YOU’RE the teacher - Social Media Mechanic - Not on Steam - FREE!!



Dream Daddy: a Dad Dating Simulator

“Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator is a game where you play as a Dad and your goal is to meet and romance other hot Dads. Are you ready? Hi ready, I’m Dad.”
Male Protagonist - Seven male routes - Dad simulator - Sweet romance - PG rated
Tsuper review - ninglor03’s review


Dysfunctional Systems: Learning to Manage Chaos

“From Dischan Media, creators of the highly acclaimed Juniper’s Knot, comes Dysfunctional Systems: Learning to Manage Chaos.Dysfunctional Systems is a visual novel series featuring Winter Harrison, a student mediator from a utopian world.”
Female Protagonist - No Romance - Multiple Endings - Sci-Fi - Great Soundtrack
Tsuper Note: This game was the planned opening arc of a series that seems to now be defunct. I enjoyed my time with this game and the ideas put forward, and it stands as a testament of how good things can come to an end too soon. I still feel like it’s worth it to recommend, even if we’ll never get the full payoff. The soundtrack you get along with the game is worth it alone.
Tsuper Note Update: Within a few days of this post going live, Dischan Media released a prequel for this game, and the series seems to no longer be defunct!


Everlasting Summer

“Meeting Semyon, the game’s main character, you would’ve never paid attention to him. Just an ordinary young man with thousands, even hundreds of thousands of those like him in every ordinary city. But one day something completely unusual happens to him: he falls asleep in a bus in winter and wakes up… in the middle of a hot summer. In front of him is “Sovyonok” - a pioneer camp, behind him is his former life. To understand what happened to him, Semyon will have to get to know the local inhabitants (and maybe even find love), find his way in the complex labyrinth of human relationships and his own problems and solve the camp’s mysteries. And answer the main question - how to come back? Should he come back?”
Male Protagonist - Five female routes - Multiple Endings - Russian as hell - School Life - It Gets Sexy - FREE!
Tsuper Note: Everlasting Summer is a weird one for me. It’s hard for me to recommend it wholeheartedly but I also can’t… not recommend it? Go into it with a grain of salt, but there’s something about Everlasting Summer that won’t go away.


fault - milestone one

“fault is a series of Science Fantasy Cinematic Novels using a unique 3D Camera system for a visually immersive reading experience. Follow Selphine, the bubbly Princess and her sharp-witted Royal Guardian, Ritona, on their journey of a lifetime back to their homeland of Rughzenhaide.”
Female Protagonist - No Romance - One Ending - Great Production Value - Fantasy/Adventure
See its sequel: fault - milestone two side:above


fault - milestone two side:above

“fault - milestone two side:above is a Cinematic Visual Novel that takes place right after the events of milestone one. Please note that this novel is a direct sequel to fault - milestone one and contains massive spoilers of the first story. Play through of the first title is highly advised.”
Female Protagonist - No Romance - One Ending - Great Production Value - Fantasy/Adventure
See its prequel: fault - milestone one


Forget Me Not: My Organic Garden

““Master, Master! I did it!!” “I can hear you, no need to shout! Oh, my! This is a rather firm Kidney.” My Organic Garden is an avant-garde organ-clicking game. Whether it’s to get Master’s praise, or to please the customer, click away and ship those organs!”
VN+ - Female Protagonist - No Romance - One Ending - Clicker Game - Slick as hell
Tsuper Note: This is pretty much a straight clicker game with story layered overtop, but I love it so much and the story is really interesting. It’s a self-described ‘avant-garde clicker game’ and god does it work.
RileyHisbert’s Review - gazimply’s review


Hate Plus

“Let’s spend the next three real-time days together uncovering the mystery of what went horribly wrong on a derelict generation ship, with the help of a spunky/more-than-slightly-traumatized AI sidekick! A sequel to Analogue: A Hate Story that tells a whole new hate story of its own.”
Choose Your Gender - Two female routes - Sci Fi - Political Intrigue - Story Heavy
See its prequel: Analogue: a Hate Story


Hatoful Boyfriend

“Congratulations! You’ve been accepted as the only human student at the prestigious St. PigeoNation’s Institute, a school for talented birds! Roam the halls and find love in between classes as a sophomore student at the world’s greatest pigeon high school.”
Female Protagonist - 9 male routes - Multiple Endings - School Life - Psychological Horror
Tsuper Note: Play. This. Game.
See its sequel: Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star
stef’s review


Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star

“The loveable birds of Hatoful Boyfriend are back in the remastered holiday-themed sequel Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star!”
Female Protagonist - 9 male routes - Multiple Endings - School Life - Psychological Horror - Christmas!!
See its prequel: Hatoful Boyfriend


The House in Fata Morgana

“A gothic suspense tale set in a cursed mansion. “The House in Fata Morgana” is a full-length visual novel spanning nearly a millennium that deals in tragedy, human nature, and insanity.”
Gothic Horror/Suspense - Romance - DARK - Great production value - So so so so good so very very very very good play this game
See its prequel: the House in Fata Morgana: A Requiem for Innocence (but PLAY THIS GAME FIRST)
tsuper review - gazimply’s review


The House in Fata Morgana: A Requiem for Innocence

"”A Requiem for Innocence” is a companion to the visual novel “The House in Fata Morgana.” It tells the tale of a young man dragged down by his ambitions and a girl both worshiped as a saint and maligned as a witch. For them, there is no happily ever after.”
Gothic Action/Tragedy - It’s Time for Pain - DARK - Great production value - So so so so good so very very very very good play this game
See its sequel: the House in Fata Morgana (but PLAY THAT GAME FIRST)
tsuper review


Highway Blossoms

“The gold rush has struck the west for a second time. Highway Blossoms is the story of Amber, a girl trying her best to be alone on the road until she stumbles upon a young hitchhiker and the journal of a prospector from long ago.”
Female Protagonist - One female route - Modern Romance - It (Might) Gets Sexy!! (adult patch available) - Treasure Hunt!! - Road Trip!!
tsuper review - Blue Ϟ Lightning’s review - Kaleith’s review


Higurashi When They Cry

“Higurashi When They Cry is a sound novel. The music, backgrounds and characters work together to create a world that is the stage of a novel for the user to read. They laugh and cry and get angry. The user takes the point of view of the protagonist to experience the story.”
Male Protagonist - No Romance - One Ending - School Life - Psychological Horror - Mystery - LONG AS HELL
Tsuper Note: Higurashi is comprised of 8 arcs, five of which are out on steam. They are sicknasty and I love them. I recommend you download a mod that replaces the weird-looking mangagamer sprites with the PS3 versions.
tsuper chapter 5 review - tsuper chapter 6 review - Cece09’s chapter 1 review


If My Heart Had Wings

“If My Heart Had Wings is an animated visual novel that tells the tale of a refreshing yet bittersweet youth story. With elements of both romance and comedy, play as Aoi Minase as he meets female companions, working with them to revive the Soaring Club in order to realise their dream.”
Male Protagonist - Five female routes - School Life - LONG AS HELL - Aviation


Katawa Shoujo

“Katawa Shoujo is a bishoujo-style visual novel set in the fictional Yamaku High School for disabled children, located somewhere in modern Japan. Hisao Nakai, a normal boy living a normal life, has his life turned upside down when a congenital heart defect forces him to move to a new school after a long hospitalization. Despite his difficulties, Hisao is able to find friends—and perhaps love, if he plays his cards right. There are five main paths corresponding to the 5 main female characters, each path following the storyline pertaining to that character. “
Male Protagonist - Five female routes - School Life - It Gets Sexy! - Not on Steam - FREE!! - Medical Drama
Tsuper Note: Katawa Shoujo is, I think, the first straight-up visual novel I played (not counting Ace Attorney) and I really, actually love it. It takes what I dislike about the genre (you play a boy n fuck gurls, thassit) and turns it into really great, interesting, deep relationships. It’s not about pursuing your favored girl, it’s about getting to know them and helping them work through their problems - and yours, too. Emotional AND physical intimacy? Yeah boy!! Also, some of the h-scenes actually… go wrong? And the two characters laugh about it and it is so, so sweet.


Kindred Spirits on the Roof

“During lunch one day, Toomi Yuna meets two “Kindred Spirits” on the roof of her school. When they insist she help them nurture young love, Yuna finds herself playing “yuri cupid” to six unique and adorable couples. Can she remain aloof or will the promise of a “yuritopia” reach her too?”
Female Protagonist - Seven female couples - School Life - It Gets Sexy! - YURITOPIA!!! - Long as Hell
tsuper review


A Kiss for the Petals - Remembering How We Met

“A brand new entry in the landmark yuri game series, “A Kiss For The Petals!” The story of how fan-favorite couple Risa and Miya first met is now available on the PC!”
Female Protagonist - Female romantic interest - School Life - Everything is fluff and nothing hurts
Tsuper Review


the Lion's Song

“„The Lion’s Song: Episode 1 – Silence” draws the player into the life of a talented young composer, Wilma, preparing for her breakthrough concert, the defining moment of her career. Searching for inspiration she escapes from the pressure for success to the solitude of the Austrian Alps.”
VN+ - 2 Female and 2 Male Protagonists - Historical Fiction - Early 20th Century Vienna - Great Soundtrack - Choices matter!! - The Creative Struggle - (the first episode is) FREE!!
Tsuper review - Lengray’s review - 86maylin’s review


Long Live the Queen

“Rule the world or die trying!Being a Princess is not an easy job. Being a Queen is even harder. Especially when you’re only fourteen years old, and the reason you’ve inherited the throne is that your royal mother has just met an untimely end. Now power is up for grabs.”
VN+ - Female Protagonist - A couple male routes - Fantasy - TONS OF WAYS TO DIE - Multiple Endings - Political Intrigue


the Mind's Eclipse

“The CORE, a private research station, 2352. A celebrity scientist must rely on a mysterious companion to help him find his loved ones in the ruins of a fallen utopia. The Mind’s Eclipse is a science-fiction tale featuring beautiful hand-drawn scenes & emotional narrative-driven gameplay.”
VN+ - Male Protagonist - Sci-Fi - Point ‘n Click - Exploration - Heavy Themes - TONS of CGs - Black and White
tsuper review


narcissu 1st & 2nd

“This is a story of disease and suffering; of medication and adverse effects; of thoracotomy scars and cellular poisons; of the living who cannot help but to die and of the dying who cannot help but to live; of a resting place other than “on 7F” or “at home”.”
Male Protagonist - One Female Romance - One ending - Medical Drama - exquisite sadness - Beautiful soundtrack - FREE!!


Once on a Windswept Night

“A yuri (GxG) VN about a traveller who runs across two nuns in an abandoned church.”
Female Protagonist - Two female routes - Multiple Endings - Fantasy - Meta - FREE!


planetarian reverie of a little planet

“In time for the 10th anniversary since its original release in Japan, planetarian is an engaging and emotional visual novel from legendary game studio, Key. A sub-brand of VisualArts, Key are also famed for creating Kanon, AIR, CLANNAD, Little Busters!, Rewrite, and Angel Beats!”
Male Protagonist - One Ending - Sci Fi - Post-Apocalyptic - exquisite sadness
Ceildric’s review


Rose of Winter

“Rose of Winter is a charming visual novel with adventure, romance, and heartbreak. Choose one of four princes to take on your adventure, and make decisions to unlock multiple endings.”
Female Protagonist - Four male routes - Fantasy - Dating Sim - Cute n Sweet - Plus Size Protag
tsuper review


Solstice

“Solstice is a dystopian mystery thriller about small personal disasters that turn into great catastrophes.”
Male and Female Protagonist - Two m/m routes, two f/m routes - Multiple Endings - Fantasy - Political Intrigue - Great Production Value


Starlight Vega

“Play as Aria and romance the two sultry demon girls, Lyria and Scherza, or your best friend Melody in this yuri (girl x girl) visual novel where your choices will ultimately decide the fate of this spellbound girl.”
Female Protagonist - Three female routes, one harem ending - School Life/Fantasy - It Gets Sexy!!
Tsuper review


Strawberry Vinegar

"”Feed me, or I’ll reap your soul!” And with those ridiculous words, my whole life was turned upside down. Sakuraba Rie, aged nine, is a cynical and grumpy girl who cares little for her fellow classmates, and does not have a single friend.”
Female Protagonist - One female route - Multiple Endings - So sweet you’ll die - School Life / Fantasy elements - Light cute blossoming romance - they like hold hands bc they’re young girls
adil’s review


Subsurface Circular

“When the truth is buried, go underground. Step into this new take on text-based adventure from the award-winning team behind Thomas Was Alone and Volume. A short story that hands you the fate of the world above, as a detective looking for answers on the Subsurface Circular.”

VN+ - Choose Your Gender - One route - Sci-Fi - Noir - Robot - Nice Production Value
tsuper review - stef’s review


The Royal Trap: the Confines of the Crown

“Madeleine Valois is a prince’s companion. It is her responsibility to keep him out of trouble - not to let him walk blindly into a political minefield, not to let him get arrested for a crime he didn’t commit, and definitely not to let him fall in love with her…”
Female Protagonist - Four male routes, one female route - Political intrigue - Fantasy - Multiple Endings


the Sad Story of Emmeline Burns

“A free game created by Ebi-Hime, author of Asphyxia, The Way We ALL GO, and Strawberry Vinegar. TSSofEB is a free yuri (girls’ love) game created for a game jam. As the saying goes, dead men tell no tales. They only leave tales behind.”
Female Protagonist - One female route - School life - Historical fiction - GHOSTS! - FREE!! - sad n sweet - light romance


To Be or Not To Be

“Guide Hamlet, Ophelia and Hamlet Sr. to hundreds of hilarious deaths in Ryan North’s chooseable-path edition of Shakespeare’s Hamlet!”
Two Male and One Female Protagonist - Traditional Choose Your Own Adventure Story - HYSTERICAL - Shakespeare retelling - Multiple Endings
Tsuper Note: Some people might be put off by the particular humor style, but I loved this game and played it through to 100% completion, getting all 70-something(!) endings.

VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action

“VA-11 HALL-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action is a booze em’ up about waifus, technology, and post-dystopia life.”
VN+ - Female Protagonist - Bartender sim - Slick style - Multiple non-romance routes and a few different endings


When Our Journey Ends

“Follow Mariko as she boards a train to a completely different world - A world of unbelievable beings and happenings.”
Female Protagonist - No Romance - Fantasy Journey - Short, Sweet, and Cute!
Tsuper review


Umineko When They Cry

“Welcome to the world of “Umineko When They Cry” (When Seagulls Cry) Welcome to the Rokkenjima of October 4, 1986. You have been given a chance to catch a glimpse of the family conference held annually by the Ushiromiya family. The remaining life in the old family head who has built up a vast fortune is very slim. To his children, the greatest point of contention at this family conference is the distribution of his inheritance. Everyone desires all that money, no one relents, and no one believes. Who will gain the old head’s vast inheritance? Where is the 10 tons of gold that the old head is said to have hidden? Can the unnerving riddle of the epitaph which is said to point to the location of that gold be solved? In the midst of this, a suspicious letter is sent from one claiming to be a witch. The presence of a 19th person on this island, which should only have 18, begins to hang in the air. Brutal murders repeat, and unsolvable riddles are left at the scene. How many will die? How many will live? Or will everyone die? Is the culprit one of the 18, or not? Is the culprit a “human”, or a “witch”?”
Huge cast of characters - Kinetic novel - LONG AS HELL - Murder mystery/fantasy/whodunnit/psychological thriller - Guts n Gore n Tears n Stuffed Lions - Story Heavy
Tsuper review for Question Arcs - Blue Ϟ Lightning’s review for Question Arcs


999 and Virtue's Last Reward

“Kidnapped and taken to an unfamiliar location, nine people find themselves forced to participate in a diabolical Nonary Game by an enigmatic mastermind called Zero. Why were they there? Why were they chosen to put their lives on the line? And more importantly, who can be trusted?”
VN+ - Male Protagonist - One Ending - Escape the Room puzzles - Mystery - These games are sooo goood
Tsuper Note: The third installment, ‘Zero Time Dilemma’, is also on steam. It is awful. Play at your own risk.
Neku’s review for 999 - Neku’s review for Virtue’s Last Reward

EvilBlackSheep

A list that includes both Danganronpas AND VA-11 HALL-A is clearly a sign of quality :D I’m gonna look into the ones that I don’t have either in my library or in my wishlist, and play the ones I haven’t yet in my library, thanks for the recs ;) No Steins;gate, is it because you didn’t play it or you didn’t like it?

tsupertsundere

I haven’t read it yet! Same with Umineko - I read the whole series like two years ago (and it took me literally SEVEN MONTHS) but I want to wait to put it on until I reread the steam version. Once I get and play Steins;gate, I’m positive it’ll show up here, too c:

Selby

This is so great!
Thank you for this

tsupertsundere

Of course!! Thank you for your nice comment. I hope you get something out of it!

stef

Thanks for this. I’ve tried to get into Visual Novels but I’ve only ever been able to complete one (and I still didn’t really care for it much.)
I’ll continue to explore the genre so I appreciate the great suggestions!

tsupertsundere

lol stef I actually think it WAS your post (you made it within the last week, right?) that made me be like ‘I need to help people get started on the right foot’ that made me start making this, so thank you for being my inspiration!

stef

Yep if you are talking about when I tried Amnesia. I’m glad to be the inspiration and get some great recs out of it!

Kaleith

I own and haven’t read some of the games, like Fault M2 S:A because I want to wait for the rest of the series to come out. I read the first one and absolutely loved it, but I got heavily burned by the cliffhanger ending. I can’t cope with their release date being pushed over and over, Sekai please T_T

To Be or Not To Be
that game is hilarious, I played the phone version and loved it. I think it was in a mobile bundle ages ago and that’s how I got it
999 and Virtue’s Last Reward - These games are sooo goood
Zero Escape is my favorite VN series, despite the third entry which isn’t up to par. It’s weird to look back and think about how the first 2 complement each other, then look at the 3rd and see it doesn’t come close neither in writing nor in puzzle design.
At least it brought some closure, I’m not ashamed to say I cried when it was announced after all of what happened, I can’t believe Operation Bluebird worked :D
I got many times the recommendation to go read Ever17 which was written by Kotaro Uchikoshi too, but other people say he recycles a lot of plot devices, meaning that it wouldn’t have the same impact on people who already read other VNs by him.
Hatoful Boyfriend - Play. This. Game.
Double thumbs up for that recommendation, I always try to convince people to go beyond the appearance and just read it. The hardest part is the fact that you need to read a lot of routes before it gets REALLY good and that takes a lot of time, it’s a major roadblock for people who try it :/
planetarian: reverie of a little planet - exquisite sadness
Such a simple story, such clinical precision in targeting your tear-production facilities (what am I writing? D:). Loved it, another one of those game that has a song that makes me instantly want to cry, just like VLR above
Everlasting Summer - Russian as hell
10/10 description, it’s just… WEIRD :D
If My Heart Had Wings - hella long
I laughed :D Hella long even skipping the text already read, pretty sweet story though ^^

tsupertsundere

Hi, Kalieth! I’m glad you liked my tags! I wanted them to be both informational but also a little personal - a little ‘me’ in them.

Re: Zero Escape: I KNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW!!!!! I WAS SO disappointed in Zero Time Dilemma, especially because I purposefully waited to play it until right after I played 999/VLR. So I went DIRECTLY from a game a really like and a game I really ADORE to…… whatever the hell that was. I think the game was just so so so so so badly planned and managed. Why the fuck did they think having the entire game be FULL! LENGTH! CUTSCENES! when sprites managed just fine before? When they were struggling so hard with their budget in the first place?
I don’t want to pat my own ass, but I went to school to learn 3D animation, so I know enough about the technical stuff to judge how difficult doing something would be, and they set a HUGE burden on their shoulders for no reason! All of the animation is stiff and bad and they have NO LIP SYNC and this is because they had so much animation to do, there was no way a team of that size could do it right.
Beyond that, the writing just took a huge hit in quality and nothing made SENSE and was so CONTRIVED and Delta is the dumbest character EVER and my god, I’m so sorry this turned into a rant I just dislike the 3rd game so much. So much. Gab, Phi’s outfit, and the scene where Junpei fucks up proposing to Akane are the only worthwhile things in this game.

/exhales

I tried reading Ever17 (or Ever11? whichever one was in the underwater theme park) but I gave up pretty fast. It was just… I dunno. Kinda dumb? It didn’t click with me, I didn’t care about any of the characters, so I stopped.

Kaleith

they set a HUGE burden on their shoulders for no reason! All of the animation is stiff and bad and they have NO LIP SYNC and this is because they had so much animation to do, there was no way a team of that size could do it right.

Uchikoshi definitely had to accept some compromises and give away some of his artistic freedom to please the investors and make the game happen.
I’m sure the focus on cinematics and 3D animation come from a request from the higher-ups as well, they probably believed it would make it more palatable to the western audience.
As I said I’m still glad it came out as it gave some closure but eh :d
also sorry for adding you, I did it on a whim when I read that you thought the Dysfunctional Systems series was dead even though the new game had released literally hours prior to that :D

tsupertsundere

Oh word? God, that makes sense. I thought the man was too smart to make such an obvious ‘this… is a bad idea…..’ choice. Oh…. no… I would not have wanted to be on that team, or be him during that decision and its aftermath. I’m sure it took up a LOT of resources.
Poor… Poor Uchikoshi.
Okay my heart is softened some toward this. I agree w/the closure, too. Although the mystery of ‘what if…’ is always more tantalizing than the reality would be if said reality is unsatisfying. This is why I both am dying for and terrified of Half-Life 3’s release. I want to believe!!!

Also lol that’s fine I HADN’T CHECKED MY STEAM QUEUE ALL DAY, KALEITH, GOD! Oh, shit, I gotta update that note

TopDeer

Great post! I’m looking forward to the additions to it =)

I’m currently reading Clannad, and I like it, even though I know the story from the anime I watched about 10 years ago. The writing is relaxing, it’s fun when it’s needed, and it’s pretty dramatic at times - there weren’t any moments I wanted to skip the text. Also, some things from the game, like VHS and tape cassettes, were a part of my school years, so the game doesn’t seem outdated for me =)
Everlasting Summer is packed with references to soviet movies which were very popular in Russia, but completely unknown outside it, so I imagine many things may seem weird =) In any case, this is one of my favorite VNs, along with Katawa Shoujo. I think there are six female routes, and I also love Semyon’s bad ending =)
Fault series is great, it feels like an epic RPG without actual RPG gameplay.
If My Heard Had Wings was way too long for my taste, and even that beautiful art style didn’t help. I lost my patience playing it.

From the ones I’ve played myself, I think G-senjou no Maou (another long as hell VN), Magical Eyes and Highway Blossoms might be interesting for you.

tsupertsundere

Re: Everlasting Summer - the weirdness was how the girls were written more than any reference I didn’t get. It walked juuuust on the border of ‘are you writing her like a person or like what you think a ‘girl’ is, which is clearly not a person’ but there was enough charm about it that I gave it a pass.

Re: If my Heart Had Wings - yeah, I agree, and it took me a WHILE to play through it, but I still have fond memories of it, and I like how cute it is and the premise so I gave it a pass. I also really liked that one girl’s route - the one who’s a super-senior and really smart but unfocused and unmotivated? That stuck out for me as something I really loved. The twins’ routes were really blah tho.

Thanks for your recs! Highway Blossoms I own and will play soon, and I’ll check out Magical Eyes - I don’t recall seeing that before but I’ll give it a shot. As For G-senjou no Maou, I tried it before and the main character is just too big of a dickhead and the writing was unsatisfying for me, so I stopped before I got too far into it. G-senjou and the Labyrinth of Grisaia are two VN series that, just… I think they’re just too ‘this is obviously For Boys’ for me.

Santa Was Here

Thanks for the list:)

I would suggest Steins;Gate and Highway Blossoms, which are two VNs that I enjoyed.

tsupertsundere

Thank you!

I own highway blossoms but haven’t played it yet, and while I played the first three chapters or so of steins;gate, I want to get it and play it all the way through.

- Giselle -

Just a heads up: Dischan Media, the developers of Dysfunctional Systems just came back!

And as always, I would personally recommend to whoever is reading this post The House in Fata Morgana. Others vn that I can recommend that also happen to be free are Cupid and Junipers Knot!

tsupertsundere

WHAT?! that’s awesome! Yaaay! I definitely will buy sequels to Dysfunctional Systems. I’ll keep an eye out for them.

I’m actually SUPER excited to play Fata Morgana - I bought it in the last steam sale when it wasn’t even discounted that steeply bc it looks sooo good. Expect to see that on here when I’ve finished.
I played Cupid and…. have no memories whatsoever about it, so I didn’t include it, and I haven’t heard of Juniper’s Knot! Thank you for the recs.

- Giselle -

Can’t wait for you to play Fata Morgana!

Btw Juniper’s Knot is made by Dischan Media! It’s a short kinetic novel but very impactful.

tsupertsundere

Oh man, me too!

And yes! I looked it up and DL’d it. It’s on my list of VNs to play, so RNGesus will decide when it’s time. I appreciate you letting me know everything.

Mskotor

Hatoful Boyfriend

Friend gave me it as haha try this, I know you like birds “prank gift”. And I was like “Srsly? Pigeon dating sim?” But after seeing all endings:

tsupertsundere

It’s awesome. It’s awesome.
I genuinely liked the pigeon dating sim parts because they were goofy in a cute way, but it is just a ROLLER COASTER of emotions and expectations and it takes a goofy premise and answers WHY you’re the ONLY human in a school for pigeon. I love good worldbuilding and Hatoful Boyfriend has good ass worldbuilding.

Who was your favorite pigeon? Mine was Nageki, the sad ghost one.

Mskotor

Same ; D

Friend also started with Nageki. Looks like nerdy librarian is too hard to resist ; D

And ofc Shuu was last one, I never liked him. Ha!

Trent

I don’t think I’ve ever seen this full version of this famous gif/meme. So…thanks? :)

Trent

The furry chaos entity strikes again! :3

Narayan

Wow, you’ve put so much work into it - very commendable :)

Personally I dislike the VN genre (nicely put) because of many aspects associated with those (mechanics of constant repetition and/or low engagement clicking being main deterrent). I’m also an avid reader (over 800 books sitting on the shelves atm, and that despite not keeping everything I’ve read), so it’s about time allocation too - I always prefer to read a book, when I’m up for reading. It is almost always better written than a VN, and I can do it somewhere comfortable, not staring at the screen for hours (I work staring at the screen, I play games there too obviously, but I don’t need another activity chaining me there).

I do make exceptions from time to time (so I played some, and that’s why I know that’s stuff not for me). Nowadays I’m super selective though. In my library there is still Cinders waiting to be played, and another VN I’m interested outside of that, is by the same devs - Solstice. If they turn out to be like every other one for me, at least I’ll have really nice visuals to look at ;) Still, the devs are from Poland, like me so I’m counting on more relatable characters as well ;) The last one I’m interested in is Along the Edge.

@Choice of the Deathless - nothing visual about that “novel” ;) It’s a choose your adventure interactive text.

tsupertsundere

thank you, Narayan!

I do super recommend Cinders and Solstice - on terms of pure production value they’re through the roof and unique products, very unlike typical VNs what they cover.

I am glad you tried the genre, even if you eventually didn’t like it.

Re: Choice of the Deathless: I… I know! I tagged it as such. It’s on steam and you read and click stuff and make choices, and I actually really liked that story, so I figured it counted enough for the list. That and To Be or Not To Be - though the latter is more visual, though not by much.

Trent

Hi, tsupertsundere. First of all, thank you for putting this together. My VN interests have always been…narrow. And I’m so often turned off by the anime boobs and hentai in these games that I tend to discount the entire genre at times, but I know that’s not fair. And I just generally dislike the anime artstyle (blue hair, purple overlarge eyes, childlike appearance, yet often sexualized…).

That said, I try to keep an open mind and have played a few VNs with several more in my backlog. Most notably, I’m itching to play Cinders and I also have Solstice. I mostly liked An Octave Higher (and have the sequel in backlog) and Over the Hills and Far Away. I played but did not enjoy Two Steps Back.

Other VNs I have in my backlog– meaning I took a look at the store page and decided to give it a chance (even if I haven’t played them yet) are Bermuda, Blue Rose, fault - milestone one, It Comes Around - A Kinetic Novel, Last Days of Spring 1 and 2, and Shan Gui.

I’m interested in a well-written emotional story, perhaps with some interesting choices and character development, but without the secks or dating sim aspects, and without the Japanese anime artstyle. See, I warned you my interests were narrow. :D Do any of the games in my backlog– or ones I could pick up easily enough– strike you as a good fit for me? Thank you for any thoughts you might have.

tsupertsundere

” And I’m so often turned off by the anime boobs and hentai in these games that I tend to discount the entire genre at times, but I know that’s not fair. And I just generally dislike the anime artstyle (blue hair, purple overlarge eyes, childlike appearance, yet often sexualized…).”

I KNOW!!! (I mean, other than the blue hair thing bc I do have blue hair lol) but it’s just so creepy to me, like… why does this genre expect me to want to fuck twelve year old girls? why? why? what the fuck? guys, what the fuck?? Like, it’s a shame ‘wanting to fuck a child’ is something that isn’t unequivocally considered awful, ESP. in this genre.

Okay, so, let me answer in two parts:
I haven’t heard of Bermuda or It Comes Around - or I saw them and didn’t think much of them. I have but have not played yet Blue Rose or Last Days of Spring 1 or 2. Shan Gui is very short, but very anime (well, Chinese) and in a style I’m not THRILLED about, but it does not have any romance and actually is a sweet story. I didn’t include it bc it just wasn’t… like, it was okay. A solid 5 or 6. fault - milestone one is also pretty anime, but absolutely zero romance and is essentially an RPG story in a VN. I enjoy it a lot.

Cinders and Solstice are very Western and non-anime influenced, with incidental romance and more focus on the MC and their plots, it sounds like you’d like them. It’s a great place to start, when you get to play it.

Let me run through the list and see what ticks your boxes - + good story / - anime style / - romance focus

Analogue: a Hate Story and Hate Plus - Good story, has anime style, has romance options BUT they’re optional. You’re also not looking at the anime sprites all the time - there’s two girls and that’s it, and you’re looking through a ship’s log for the rest of the game. In the second game, there are actual ‘photographs’ of the people on the ship. (these photos are realistic paintings that look sick.)

The two Danganronpa games - Good story, good puzzles, has anime story, has no romance options. They’re like the Ace Attorney games where there is an investigate mechanic and a trial mechanic that keep the game really fun and lively.

To Be or Not To Be - Hilarious story, meaningful choices, no romance per se (it’s tongue in cheek) and is western styled! This is I think the closest I’ll get you to what you’re looking for.

narcissu - really, REALLY emotional story that I think you’ll like despite it being a romance AND anime story - it’s not just focused on the ‘dumb’ parts of romance (omgggg ur so hottt let’s make ouuuutt) but on a growing bond between two people in a hard place.

There’s a lot more I think fits your bill in my wishlist/own but haven’t played yet list, but I don’t want to recommend something I haven’t played through yet. I will keep you updated!

and one last note, re: anime style: - it’s a very, very broad category. Most of the games on this list, even ones made by western devs, have been influenced by ‘anime’ style. That said, the sprites can look soooo different, ranging from pretty normal looking but stylized into the really goofy style you don’t like. I would urge you to take a look at each individual novel you’re interested in bc each and every one of these games look different, and alltogether form a huge range of styles.

oh my god this comment is so long but trent I wish you so much luck into VN time!!

Trent

Thank you so much, tsuper! I really appreciate it.
Yeah, Analogue: a Hate Story has been borderline interesting for some time– I even entered some giveaways for it back in the day. I’ll add it to my trade page and to my tremorgames wishlist and see what happens… ;)
narcissu looks (and sounds) so…Japanese (sorry), but it’s free! so maybe I’ll give it a chance and worst case I’ll just uninstall it having lost nothing.
The Danganronpa games don’t look appealing to me as games, though.
I’ll let you know what I think of any new VNs I play– thanks again! =)

tsupertsundere

that’s totally fine! it’s your ultimate responsibility to know what and what not you’re about, and it’s good hat you know what that is.
And you’re quite welcome. Some genres just might not be for you - like there’s some not for me! Nobody can ask for more than that you give it a shot… or at least just leave people who like them alone*

*you’d think this would be easy…

Blue Ϟ Lightning

this is a nice post
rlly nice
thanku

_<

- Giselle -

Finally at last, Fata Morgana is where it rightfully belongs

haedaeso

Thank you so much for putting such effort into making a great list like this. Every game on here that I have already played, I have the same opinion on so that makes me feel really confident that I’ll like the ones I haven’t played that appear here.

I’ve completed quite a few but I’m also very new to the genre because like a lot of the others said, the (mostly) anime and hentai tropes made me avoid the genre as a whole for a long time. But I love to read and I love games and I’ve found in 2017 that I really quite enjoy the way VNs combine the two.

I found this list from your Fata Morgana post, and I’m moving it to the top of wishlist because of your review. <3

tsupertsundere

Ohhh man, thank you! That really means a lot to hear. I put the effort in to direct people to gems they might otherwise not have played, and I’m really glad people are appreciating it.

And I agree absolutely. It’s a real chore sometimes separating the wheat from the chaff (80% of my ‘not interested’ titles on steam are VN tiddygames). There’s so much more to the genre to discover! (and way more than on this list. I currently have something like 64 VNs I still have to play @_@ )

And that’s the best news of all! I’m so glad. Giselle encouraged me to get and play it, and now I can do the same to you! I hope you enjoy it like I did.

Bangledeschler

This list is awesome, so many I have played and so many I own that I have yet to play, it’s good to know I have goo VNs to look forward to. You did a great service and thank you for it. ^_^ Out of a slight curiousity, did you bake the cake for *Hyun-ae in Hate Plus?

tsupertsundere

Thank you so much! It was truly a labor of love, built from the fact I love making lists and LOVE giving my opinion on shit.

And hell YES I DID!!! It’s one of my favorite achievements I’ve ever gotten. It’s on my ‘featured achievements’ list and I don’t think I’ll ever find something to top it. Here is my picture, in which I am blurry and look like a goofy infant. I baked the cake with my then-boyfriend while drunk.

Bangledeschler

Very cool! I have all the ingredients, but keep putting it off :/. Hopefully mine will look as tasty as yours :o

stef

I just wanted to say that I love your visual novel reference list. Before you made it, I was sure that I hated Visual Novels, but I’ve been slowly playing some on your list and they are starting to grow on me.

Keep up the good work!

tsupertsundere

<3333333

Lucky Thirteen

Hey, went through your list and added the Nonary Games and House In Fata Morgana to my wishlist because I think I might enjoy reading/playing them (Solstice is already there).
If you don’t mind, I’d like to recommend another VN for you: A Foretold Affair.
I don’t like VNs all that much, but I really enjoyed this one, so maybe give it a try when you feel like reading a decent story with some choices again ;)

Edit: Oh, and thanks so much for noting if the games have M or F protagonist! I don’t know why, but I really tend to dislike female protagonists, hah :D

tsupertsundere

Those are great choices! If you like them with more game-y aspects, the next series I suggest after Nonary Games would be Danganronpa (bonus: male protagonists!).

Thank you for the recommendation - A Foretold Affair is a VN that’s pretty high on my wishlist, and I’ve been keeping my eye on it for a while. Unfortunately, the stars haven’t aligned enough for me to acquire it yet (despite how many times I enter a GA for it :c ) but I’ll move it up even higher on the list.

And you’re welcome! I find it’s information beneficial to have.

Zelrune

Thank you for the list! A ton of them look interesting, and I even found a few I wanted to play that were already in my library! (oops. )

tsupertsundere

I’m glad you liked it! c: I hope this is even a little but of an incentive to pick these out of your backlog to try. A new angle of attack, if you will. And whenever you get them done, I’m eager to hear what you think!

- Giselle -

I’ve been thinking of writing a visual novel masterpost too, but I don’t know how much time it’ll take me. How long did you put in the first draft of this post? I imagine a lot!!

tsupertsundere

I’d love to see your version! I also would love to link to it for another perspective.

I don’t have a solid answer as to how long it took me to do the first draft. It took me more than a few hours, spread over two or so days I think, but a lot of it was just split into different, smaller tasks - like, decide which games, decide the layout, then rinse and repeat to copy+paste each layout ‘entry’ and change the information for each new game. The descriptions are just copy and pasted from the steam store’s descriptions, and the tags took me half a minute or less to come up with.

I wish I could be more definite, but I just kind of disappeared into this project for a bit until it was done. That kind of rote organizational ‘every duck in a row’ kind of thing is zen for my brain, and it calms me down when I’m anxious. I just did it until it was done. Does that help any?