If you think only picture books and comics are made for kids, think again! Visual novel games combine stories with astounding visuals that please the little mind in numerous ways.
Visual novel games comprised 70% of the PC games sold in Japan in 2006.
If you are ready to put that fiction book down, you might have made the right choice. Most have the same recurring theme of vampire meets girl, meets werewolf, meets another girl, in a never-ending cycle. Fiction books seem to have forgotten their purpose for entertainment, and end up with the same cliched plot lines.
PC games, which were a phenomenon in the early ’80s, usually provided stories with a point and click interface. This allowed the player to explore the environment and make their own choices to progress through the game. But with graphics promising more reality, users tastes have evolved from the usual plethora of games naturally available.
Visual novel games combine the aspects of books and games in a new format. Similar to the Goosebumps books, it lets the reader decide the ending of the story. With Japanese anime being extremely popular, they have translated some of their games to English, and they have been met with critical acclaim. We, at Buzzle, have compiled a list of the best visual novels of all time in the industry today.
Platforms: Windows, PS2, PSP Vita.
War has different consequences for everyone. The same goes for Emiya, an amateur magician in the Homurahara Gakuen school in Japan. When his name is entered for the Holy Grail tournament to determine the strongest, he has no choice but to attend. The winner of the tournament gets to choose any prize he wishes. The game is split into 3 routes: Fate, Unlimited Blade Works, and Heaven’s Feel. Whatever happens on this journey is decided by you, the protagonist. If you are a fan of medieval fantasy, and believe that magic is stronger than might, then this game is a must for you.
Platforms: Windows, PS2, S3G, FOMA, Xbox 360, PSP, PS3, Android, PS Vita.
Life’s full of problems that we fail to comprehend in our teenage lives. They may just be a drop in an ocean of problems lying ahead of us. Tomoya is a third year student, who hates his life due to some problems at home. When he meets Nagisa, who’s suffering from an illness, his perspective changes just a little. He helps many other students going through different crises. Filled with romance and drama, a slice of life game that doesn’t disappoint in its interactive gameplay and interwoven storyline.
Platforms: Windows, PSP, PS Vita, PS3.
The city can be suffocating with looming skyscrapers and a polluted environment. But it’s the opposite for Kotarou, living in the fictional city of Kazamatsuri, where an abundance of trees have made it into a jungle. Kotarou has two abilities, Rewrite and Aurora. Together with his classmates in the occult research society, they try to solve the supernatural mysteries surrounding the city. The Earth has already been destroyed in alternate timelines. Two groups, Gaia and Guardian, are on the lookout for Kagari, the spirit of Earth in the form of a seventeen-year old girl, who has the ability to evolve humanity to a more intelligent species. Gaia intends to capture Kagari to ensure Earth’s destruction, while Guardian wants to kill her for the continuity of the human race. Action and drama play a heavy role in this game, as Kotarou fights against the enemies trying to destroy humanity. Can he rewrite the Earth’s history before it’s too late? Play and find out.
You play the protagonist, Chris, who studies music at the Piova Communal School of Music, and needs a vocalist for his final exam performance. His troubles are never-ending. He writes letters to his girlfriend Arietta every day. He’s constantly followed by Phorni, a small fairy-like creature that’s visible to him. You need to complete three scenarios in which you interact with other students who help you out in mini-quests, before you reach the final exam. Will Chris ever clear his exam without breaking his girlfriend’s heart, and what is Phorni really? These revelations and more await you in this musical saga of a game.
Platforms: PS2, Dreamcast, Windows, PlayStation Portable, Xbox 360, Android, iOS.
Seven teenagers are trapped underneath an underwater marine theme park. An unknown incident submerges the park underwater. With water pressure threatening to drown them, they have a total of 119 hours to solve this mystery and get out of there in one piece. You play two protagonists, Takeshi, an outgoing student, and Kid, an amnesiac who remembers nothing of the incident. Interact with your crew members and solve the mystery of this underwater conundrum to reach the surface.
Platforms: Xbox 360, Windows, PSP, iOS, PS3, PlayStation Vita, Android.
What if you found a way to send messages to the past? The protagonist, Rintaro Okabe, somehow transforms his microwave into a time machine. When SERN finds out this secret, it does everything in its power to obtain it. You and your group of friends use every trick in the book to stop that from happening. Fused with science fiction and humor, this game has it all. If you loved this game, then you should try out the sequels in the series, like Steins;Gate: Hiyoku Renri no Darling, and Steins;Gate: Hen’i Kuukan no Octet.
Platforms: PC, Mobile phone, PS3, PlayStation Portable.
The game takes place in a mansion on a secluded island. As people get murdered in mysterious ways, time is of the essence in this mystery thriller. You play the protagonist, Battler, who has to solve the mysterious epitaph inscribed on one of the portraits. The game has seven arcs, with each arc connecting the last and enlightening the player on the mysteries of the mansion. It’s preceded by 2 games, namely Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai, and by a sequel Umineko no Naku Koro ni Chiru, which completes the mystery saga.
Platforms: Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, Microsoft Windows, Wii (via WiiWare), iOS, Nintendo 3DS.
Move over, Alan Shore, a new lawyer has come to town. Phoenix Wright is a maverick defense attorney on his first case. With a lazy detective who just doesn’t care, and an overambitious prosecutor who chews newbies for breakfast, Phoenix needs to use his wits to solve the case before an innocent man gets a prison sentence. There are five cases in this game, with each exploring a different psyche of the human mind.
A Tsurugi is a soul forged into armor. The warriors who don them are called Musha. Minato is a cop investigating a murder in the city of Yamato, but his real intention is to hunt down the Silver Star, a ruthless Musha who annihilates everything in its path. Minato dons the Muramasa, a Musha capable of stopping the Silver Star. Fight various enemies so you can get to the center of the chaos responsible for destroying the city and the true mystery behind Silver Star, in this hack and slash game.
Platforms: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux.
Hisao is a normal student, until tragedy strikes in the form of arrhythmia. It takes a year off his school life, since he spends most of it in the hospital. He joins a school nearby to continue his education. To his surprise, it’s a special school filled with people with disabilities, just like him. Join Hisao on his life-changing journey, as he learns to accept his condition, all the while empathizing with others and helping them overcome theirs.
Visual novel games are here to stay, with new releases expected every month. Some of these games may contain graphic content, which can be unsuitable for some audiences, while others charm us with their subtle storyline, that leave us wanting more.