Visual Novel Elements in non-VN games

I’m a little late to the party, but a friend finally convinced me to start playing Persona 5 over the weekend. I was expecting an overwhelming jrpg, but about 10 hours in I realized that while the game is labeled as an rpg, it is at least 50% visual novel. The majority of my 18 hours in the game has not been spent in a dungeon.

I was reminded of reviews talking about how Pyre form Supergiant Games was a Visual Novel crossed with an action game. Pyre was one of my favorite games of last year and a lot of that was because of the deep character work. But I also really appreciate having those story/dialogue segments broken up by gameplay. Or vice versa.

Does anyone have other good examples of really strong visual novel elements popping up in games that aren’t really thought of as visual novel? I’m interested to check some out. Especially because I’m liking a lot of the ideas in Persona 5, but have been underwhelmed by the writing and characters (seriously, can anyone have a reasonable interaction with Ann?).

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Most if not all of the Persona games have the visual novel-esque elements that you’re talking about. I think Atlus’s writing has a lot of capital-p Problems but that’s a whole other bigger topic.

Similar to that is the JRPG Blue Reflection (which I think is wildly underrated) has a very similar system of hanging out and talking to your friends between adventuring/combat sections and raising some friendship meters to unlock more story with them.

And now that I think about it, Toukiden 2 has some Persona-esque ‘talking to your allies between hunting missions’ stuff in it. Although it’s very light in all of that and is basically just a bit of story leading up to a special mission with that particular ally.

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the ace attorney games are very good and they’re essentially just a visual novel series with some puzzle mechanics slapped on! i’m not sure if they fall under the category of “not thought of being a visual novel” because the similarities between that genre and those games are blatantly obvious but they came to the west long before visual novel style games became popular here, so it kiiiiind of still counts?

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I’d highly recommend Loren the Amazon Princess from Winter Wolves. They do a lot of dating sims and VNs, but Loren stood out to me because it’'s an RPG in a visual novel structure, and that actually makes it way more addictive at points. The battle system is genuinely fantastic, having you focus on creating status aliments to gain access to your best move set and such, but the visual novel bits are all entertaining and have great character art to go alongside.

It’s more on the simplistic side, but it’s really fun while it lasts. It’s also rife for replay because you can make decisions that lock you out of entire scenarios.

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Persona was totally the first thing to come to mind.
The newer Fire Emblem games also have a lot of this. The plots are pretty basic but the character interactions and relationships are a lot of fun.
Professor Layton is also a series that’s almost primarily a visual novel with a bunch of one-off brain teasers thrown in.

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Valkyria Chronicles series
SEGA’s cult turn based tactic game series uses Visual Novel style cut scene that one needs to click through as its narrative norm. Full cinematics can be seen as “money shots” in those games. Though there is no player choices to speak of in those segments. If you can dig up another SEGA cult favorite, Sakura Wars series installment, those are hybrids of VN daing sim and turn based tactics games.

Speak of which, I post here mainly to say: I hope that SEGA would reboot Sakura Wars in the reasonably near future, with Valkyria Chronicles style combat (The one with action game element.), minus the prema death. Though I doubt the state funded, mostly female(Well, the player character and team leader is always a young man.) Power Rangers vibe SEGA’s SW series has would land well in this day and age. To be honest, I would play a SW game with female protagonist, even if it went down the Otome(The subgenre of dating sim in which one plays a girl choosing from multiple boys.) path, and I am a straight man.

EDIT: According to Sakura Wars series page on Wikipedia, something coded named “Shin Sakura Taisen” (Literally “new Sakura Wars”) is in development at SEGA. Wonder if it’s going to have Valkyria Chronicle combat.

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Shame almost the entrie series lacks an official translations. However, we did get five as Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love, and that’s just really damn good (<3 Subaru). Probably one of my favorite games ever, I’d second recommending that particular entry.

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I’ve never played Ace Attorney, but I’ve always thought of the series as puzzle/adventure games. Which makes me wonder where the distinction between VN mechanics and adventure game mechanics would be.

you’re right, those two genres do seem to share some DNA! i guess the distinction i make is that visual novels, while they can have puzzle/adventure game mechanics, tend to be heavily focused around narrative and character interaction, while puzzle/adventure games can have those things but don’t always need them. VNs can also be completely devoid of “game mechanics” and just straight up be novels with pictures and (sometimes) voice acting in, or have the only mechanic be the ability to choose between dialogue options at key moments.

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I really like visual novels in theory, but have trouble keeping my attention on them. Games like Pyre are a perfect mix for me, and I would love to see more games like it.

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I’m almost tempted to put Torment: Tides of Numenera on the hybrid visual novel list (although hybrid text adventure might be the more apt description). While there’s plenty of CRPG-standard walking around, interacting with the world, and dialog-tree systems, it also has a ludicrous amount of narrative text. Entire scenes will play out as a more-or-less Choose Your Own Adventure style story, completely told via text box/voice-over narration.

More than once during that game I thought it would’ve been better if they had completely stripped out the direct interaction and made it entirely text-based.

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I’m the same. I feel like I have about 1 maybe 2 visual novels/walking sims in my per year.
But a game like Pyre is great!

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