Visual Novel Recommendations


#1

Hello Waypointers!

If you’ve ever got into VNs you’ll know that there’s loads out there, from free game jam projects to double-digit hours long mega productions. But most of the fun comes down to the writing, which can be pretty variable in quality. Are there any you really liked that you’d like to talk about?


'Doki Doki Literature Club' Fits in a Tradition of Subversive Visual Novels
#2

Anything by Christine Love is excellent, though I’d recommend “Digital: A Love Story” most


#3

I’ma just copy-paste a post of mine from the Slept-on Titles thread because I guess it’s more relevant here:

Toko The Reject Demon is a cute romance with a whole lot more going on to boot. The first chapter is all there is right now, but it’s got a VO patch imminent, and the makers are just finishing up on their current, much bigger project Mutiny(which is a much more, uh, risque undertaking, NSFW to say the least) and are getting down to business with the rest right about now, so good time to jump on board. plus it looks lovely. Ace soundtrack too.
Dysfunctional Systems: Learning to Manage Chaos is an ill-fated thing, the first part of a planned series that will unfortunately never be continued. The devs got over ambitious and eventually cancelled, which is a shame, because it’s one Hell of a premise, hella beautiful and has a brilliant ending for a first episode. Well worth checking out on cheap if you can stand not seeing more. Also, again, amazing soundtrack and art.
Highway Blossoms is a brilliant romance with some of the best, most down-to-earth writing I’ve experienced in a long time. Besides some awkward exposition at the begining about the treasure hunt that drives the protagonists for the bulk of the story, it’s incredibly natural and brilliantly observed. And, as is a bit of a theme, it’s got a great soundtrack and lovely art. I don’t know if I can do this justice without way more words, but it’s really something special.
And finally, on mobile devices there’s Juniper’s Knot, by the same people that did Dysfunctional Systems. It’s a very short, but also free thing with only two characters and it’s well worth a look. Again, gorgeous music and art. Particularly here I think, the style really lends itself to the setting.

I’d also add World End Economica too, though the first episode is very slow and I haven’t read the second yet. It’ll last you a while and if you’re into what it offers then you’ll be set I think. Gotta get to re-reading it and starting the second someday.

Oh, and Katawa Shoujo of course. Less obscure, unless it’s become less well known as of late, but personally I think it’s held up really well. Ear arc being written by different people is cool and makes each very distinctive, and the way the structure of each reflects the character it focuses on is really cool. Plus I still love that they hid a multidimensional time traveling story across the routes by sheer accident.

Also I don’t know if recent years have made Kenji more hilarious or more unnerving.


#4

And now to be a bit selfish (but not dominate the thread I hope). I’ve played some good VNs in the past, namely: Christine Love’s work, Cyanide-Tea’s free works, Hustle Cat, Cute Demon Crashers, Katawa Shoujo and stuff on itchio. Also on my radar is Lady-killer in a Bind, Valha-11-a and the House of Fata Morgana and I’m hoping to get to them soon. Anything else I should know about, ideally if it’s short and free?


#5

The fact Higurashi is on Steam made me extremely happy! I think its one of my favorite psychological thrillers; I love the aspect of having a Persona 4-like investigation team of unlikely teen allies that gets stuck on a Groundhog Day-like murder loop because they keep falling short each attempt at slowly but surely unraveling the mystery that surrounds their town. Not to mention the silly games they end up playing to pass the time or cope depending on how you look at it.

I really wish this one would get adapted, but Kara no Shoujo is probably my all time favorite R18+ murder mystery in how nihilistic it gets. It does get graphic and macabre at multiple points, but I remember finding it reminiscent to the storytelling peak of L.A. Noire: the homicide desk cases. Both stories get super dark as their respective mysteries unravel.

Most recently, and completely unrelated to murder mysteries, I actually got into World End Economica, which is written by the same person responsible for Spice and Wolf. If people liked how Spice and Wolf ties economics and drama, World End Economica executes the same in a cyberpunk fashion, where humans inhabit a Moon where capitalistic economic disparities are even more pronounced than in the modern day! I’d recommend it, as well!


#6

Cute Demon Crashers is very sweet and earnest, and I love it. One of my favorite memories is of playing through it with a good friend.

I also like stuff by Razz, like Starlight Vega. You accidentally summon a demon girl and things just kind of go from there.

Amnesia: Memories is a fun mystery game/gaslighting simulator. I don’t want to be gaslit in real life, but in the context of a safe game, it’s a lot of fun. You have amnesia and there’s just a bunch of no good boys around you and you never really know who you can trust.

Seconding/thirding/etcing every recommendation for stuff by Christine Love.


#7

Famicom Tantei Club 2. A Visual Novel by Nintendo that has very good production value, it’s also very fun and quite interesting, the only one fan-translated, but you don’t really need to play the others first.

The Silver Case is a crazy game trying to circumvent the static nature of a visual novel with windows and art popping all over the place. It’s incredibly stylish, grim, mostly incomprehensible but when you get it, it’s absolutely glorious.

Flower, Sun, and Rain is probably my favorite of the bunch, it’s clunky, frustrating, often stupid but it has an atmosphere that is just oozing with life. It’s a celebration of everything alive. To follow the good-natured Sumio Mondo existing more and more through its relationship to others, going through the mundane and the supernatural with what has to be one of the best soundtrack around is a joy. It forgets it’s a game, it’s remembering how to spread love.


#8

We Know the Devil by Aevee Bee and Mia Schwartz, with an excellent OST by Alec Lambert, part of my favourite genre: Shitty Teens In the Woods.

EDIT: Well, second favourite to Shitty Teens in Mechs, which just so happens to be what that crew’s next game, Heaven Will Be Mine, is about.


#9

Christine Love’s stuff is aces, I recommend the combo of Analogue: A Hate Story and Hate Plus, amazing stories about politics and repression on an interstellar generation ship. Dominique Pampalouse is also neat—a visual novel musical with a wry sense of humor.


#10

I’m so excited to see how Heaven Will Be Mine turns out! I’m looking forward to meeting Group South in SPAAAACE


#11

Even though it was very short, I really enjoyed One Night Stand.
I also recently played a free Austen-esque game called The Lady’s Choice which was pretty good.

And, of course, 80 Days is pretty much the best game ever.


#12

A small free game worth checking out is this one called Save The Date, it’s a little game that plays with the format in a fun way.

I would also say the Zero Escape series (999, Virtues Last Reward and Zero Time Dilemma) are all worth it if you enjoy pulpy writing in the anime style. It peaks with VLR, but I enjoyed the whole set.


#13

I second Save the Date. I thought it was amazing when I played it. Especially the way you could get a unfulfilling happy ending by editing the code in Python


#14

Oh! Cinders, a pretty ass retelling of Cinderella.

Then there’s Long Live The Queen, the VN/roguelike mashup that Danika, Victoria and Patrick expertly brought to life during Waypoint 72 (brought to you by Carl’s Jr).

And Hatoful Boyfriend, where you date hecka birbs son.


#15

Steins;Gate and Steins;Gate 0 are very interesting games. The first is linear and not always clear how your choices matter, but it’s prequel/psudo-sequel fixes all of the pacing issues and has a couple more branching paths. It’s both an emotionally intensive time travel story and a thriller about some college kids trying to prevent a cold war arms race/Japanese proxy war between US and Russia. It was really cathartic to read while worried about the real thing during the election.

Specifically the Rin route of Katawa Shoujo is my favorite in a vn. Such a fun character while thinking about the implications of being a weird art kid and having an initially off-putting/isolationist personality. Also asked questions like “should you be an artist just because you’re​ good at it and everybody expects you to” which were really important lessons for me.

I got my mom into Ace Attorney recently. She’s really enjoying them, but she always gets frustrated at the classic adventure game thing of a puzzle needing a specific answer and the game not always being easy enough to account for multiple rationales.


#16

VA-11 HALL-A is extremely rad. It’s a cyberpunk visual novel where you play as a bartender. Instead of making traditional VN choices, you change the dialogue you see based on what drinks you serve to people and how drunk you get them. All the characters are super lovable and I love the way it tells a story about people living normal lives in a cyberpunk dystopia.


#17

Can we count Zero Escape games as visual novels? Virtues Last Reward will stand strong as one of my favorites for an absolute long ass time.

Saya no Uta is quite the problematic piece, but as it progressed there were still elements I really liked of it. But woof it’s got bad content in it


#18

Still new to the genre, but gonna still recommend two obvious choices: Danganronpa and Ace Attorney. If you’re reading through this thread and looking to get into the genre, those two (along with Zero Escape) are the best places to start. Best part is that they are all available on modern systems (Danganronpa is on PC/PS4/Vita, Zero Escape is on Vita/3DS/PC with the first two on PS4, Ace Attorney is on 3DS/Mobile).


#19

I loved Hustle Cat, and I hope someday we get to see more in that setting. It’s a great example of “tip of the iceberg” worldbuilding, and I have so many questions about the way magic works.

I also really like nomnomnami’s games, but they’re generally very light and fluffy, so there might not be enough story there for serious VN fans. Sugar and the Ultimate Sweet is the one to go for if you’re only going to play one.


#20

This entire thread and nobody’s recommended Umineko no naku koro ni, one of my favorite stories ever! The first four (out of eight) games are available as the “Question Arcs” on Steam, and I assume the second half should be out fairly soon.

Umineko is a really weird story that I can barely even describe- the initial concept is “it’s 1986 and a rich family is arguing about inheiritance on their private island when everyone starts getting murdered by a witch”, but it’s honestly way more complicated than that; it’s about cycles of abuse, the nature of storytelling, locked room mysteries, and a lot of other things. The full eight games are longer than War and Peace. It’s completely worth it.