Welcome one, welcome all to the Visual Novels Community Thread! This is a place, created to be more beginner friendly help revitalize the community here on GAF, where people can come together to discuss Visual Novels and all related news, whether they've never heard of a Visual Novels or if you've been playing games fresh from Japan for years.
- No NSFW in the thread, and while NSFW links should be avoided where possible, tag them as such if you do post them.
- Spoiler tags are your best friend. Use them always, use them often; anywhere you think you could even remotely need them should get tagged. You may also add "Unmarked Spoilers" to the titles of review posts, but not discussion posts.
- This isn’t the time or place to discuss the validity or ethics of Visual Novels as games or art. This is just a place to talk about the novels themselves.
- Neogaf’s rules on piracy very much apply, especially in the context of the non-Japanese market. There are some great resources for buying games below, so you don’t have any excuses.
What on earth is a Visual Novel?
A visual novel is a type of interactive fiction that originated in Japan, often characterized by “anime” art style and voice acting and often containing some degree of sexual content, especially in PC games. Arguably far closer to real novels than interactive comic books, both by nature of design and length, with some titles like the famous Type Moon Visual Novel: "Fate/Stay Night" clocking in at around 1,000,000 English words, or more than twice the length of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. However, the kicker is that Visual Novels often allow the reader to make choices much like in classic “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, which can lead to the story branching off in any number of directions to one of many endings.
While they might sound boring or offensive, you might have played one without even knowing it. Arguably the most famous Visual Novel in the west is Phoenix Wright: Ace Attourney, which brings constant critical and commercial success. By their digital nature, Visual Novels are a flexible medium that allow for degrees of gameplay and experiences and stories that you just can’t get in other mediums. Why not take the plunge and find out what the hype is all about for yourself?
There are some specialized terms you might hear in the discussion of Visual Novels, the terms below should give a solid introduction so that you can sound like you know what you're talking about, too!
Adventure (ADV) Game - A Visual Novel where the text box takes up a small part of the screen, and it looks a bit more like a traditional game. The most common type of VN.
Novel (NVL) Game - A Visual Novel where the text covers most, if not all of the screen, often with a transparent or semi-transparent overlay. Less Common and more like a traditional novel.
Kinetic Novel - A Visual Novel with no choices, very rarely seen and usually quite short.
Bishoujoge / Bishoujo Game - Literally “Beautiful Girl Game”, an often male targeted genre focusing on interactions or the prominence of female characters and their interactions with a male protagonist.
Otomege / Otome Game - Literally “Maiden Game” an often female targeted genre with a focus on interactions and the prominence of male characters and their interactions with a female protagonist.
Dating Simulator - Any game that’s focused on relationships, often used very broadly especially by people outside of Japan.
Route - A word used to describe the series of choices and resulting story that brings you to a specific ending, often named after the character most prominently featured in said ending.
Flags - A quantification of the choices required to activate certain routes and text sections in games, often used in more complicated games.
Fandisc - A game “sequel” that usually expands upon the endings of the original games to give fans more of what they liked about the original game. Often heavily focused on sexual content.
So you liked what you read, or just skipped it all and wanted to know where to start. Thankfully, there are plenty of great Visual Novels, both free and commercial that are great for beginners! Click any of the images below to get taken to download or purchase links. Some games have multiple versions for platforms not listed in the links, just throw a title in Google or check official sites as listen on VNDB.org (Visual Novel Database).
Each of the game listings has a series of icons in the bottom right, if the icon is lit up it indicates, in order from left to right: that the game contains sexual content, that the game is available on Windows, that the game is available on Steam, that the game is available on one or more Sony device, and that the game is available on the 3DS. The final icon gives an average game length, taken from VNDB.org (Visual Novel Database).
If you’ve played everything on the list as well as checked out the games listed in the “you might also like sections” feel more than free to ask for recommendations, we’re more than willing to help. A filled out and maintained VNDB (Visual Novel Database) also helps us recommend games, you can see what one looks like here.
If you want to start importing games, I wrote and maintain* this nifty guide over at Reddit and I would be more than happy to answer any questions you might have.
*has problems, will be fixed
Hau~Omochikaeri (can be NSFW)
Special thanks to:
Without whom this thread wouldn't have been possible!