Visual novel or also called graphic novel is another genre in gaming world. Basically, a visual novel game allows you to explore the story with text-based gameplay. This kind of genre was originally comes from Japan. Because of that, the artwork used in visual novel games usually adapt the anime-style graphics that was popular in Japan, even though the game doesn’t come from Japan.
With the development of visual novel genre, now we can easily find find decent games released under the label of visual novel. Even video game digital platform such as Steam has moved to provide us with nice selection of visual novels. With Steam doing as far as that to please us, it is my turn now to recommend you these popular visual novels you can get on Steam. Beware of addiction.
7. VA-11 HALL-A
VA-11 HALL-A is an indie bartender simulation game with visual novel elements as well as cyberpunk, PC-98, and anime-inspired visuals. This game was developed by Venezuelan studio named Sukeban Games and published by Ysbryd Games for Microsoft Windows, OS X, and Linux in 2016. Later on, there is the PlayStation Vita port developed by Wolfgame and published by Limited Run Games.
The game puts the player in a role of a bartender at the eponymous VA-11 HALL-A, a small bar in a dystopian downtown which is said to attract the “most fascinating” of people. The gameplay consists of players making and serving drinks to bar attendees whilst listening to the stories and experiences of these said characters. There a no dialogue options, so drinks being the sole way to influence the story.
6. Umineko: When They Cry
Umineko: When They Cry or also known as Umineko no Naku Koro ni is a Japanese murder mystery visual novel written by Ryukishi07 and produced by 07th Expansion in 2007. The developer claims that Umineko: When They Cry is classified as sound novel, which means that the game’s basis takes more care in producing an atmosphere via the music, sound effects, and the story itself.
The story focuses on a group of eighteen people who are on a secluded island for a period of two days and the mysterious murders that befall them. Our goal is to discern not only the identity of the murderer but whether the culprit is even human at all. The challenge is to find the truth about the murders which is commited by a human or some other supernatural being, as well as the motive behind them.
Clannad is a Japanese visual novel developed by Key and released in 2004 for PC. While both of Key’s previous creations, Kanon and Air, had been released first as adult games (later been censored for younger market), Clannad was released for a rating for all ages. The game was later ported to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4.
The story follows the life of Tomoya Okazaki, an average high school student who meets many people in his last year at school, including five girls, and helps resolves their individual problems. The gameplay follows a branching plot line which offers pre-determined scenarios with courses of interaction, and focuses on the appeal of the five female main characters by the player character.
4. The Silver Case
The Silver Case is an adventure visual novel game developed by Grasshopper Manufacture and published by ASCII Entertainment for PlayStation in 1999. The game was directed, designed, and co-written by Goichi Suda. A remastered version was released digitally by the same developer worldwide for PC in 2016, while a port for PlayStation 4 was released by NIS America a year after.
Within a city called the 24 Districts, a series of bizarre murders occurs, prompting the 24 Districts Police Department to send two detectives from their Heinous Crimes Unit to solve the case. The gameplay lets the player follow two different scenarios that both revolve around a serial murder mystery. Its incredible atmosphere and outstanding narrative make it a great game, especially for Goichi Suda’s work fans.
3. Danganronpa Trilogy
Danganronpa is a multiplatform visual novel franchise developed by Spike Chunsoft firstly in 2010. The series contains three main titles: Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, and Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony. In 2019 there is the re-released version entitled Danganronpa Trilogy for PlayStation 4 which include all three base games with the post-game dating bonus modes.
If you have played Persona series games before, you might find similarities in both games. The theme, the characters, and the dark-styled atmosphere feel similar with the touch of Phoenix Wright games’ element. Fifteen students who are trapped in a high school building were told by a malicious-looking teddy bear that the only way to escape is to: kill one of your classmates or avoid getting caught.
Steins,Gate is a visual novel game developed by 5pb. and Nitroplus. Released in 2009, it became the second game in the Science Adventure series (the first was entitled Chaos;Head). This game was actually released for Xbox, but later it was ported to almost all platforms including smartphone. In 2015, PQube released the North America/Europe version for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita.
The story revolves around the life of a self-proclaimed mad scientist called Rintaro Okabe. He is the founder of Future Gadget Laboratory in Akihabara, where he spends most of his time. What is unique about this game is the use of time travel theme, where we usually found in movies. This game shows good character development of the protagonists, along with the unexpected plot twists.
1. Zero Escape Series
Zero Escape series is a trilogy of visual novel games developed by Spike Chunsoft which consists of three games: 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, Virtue’s Last Reward, and Zero Time Dilemma. The first two were only ported to PC in 2017 with remastered visuals and new voice acting as a pack called The Nonary Games, while Zero Time Dilemma stands on its own.
In each game, nine people are locked in a place by a mysterious figure with the name Zero. Each one of them are fitted with watches that display a number and told that they must escape whatever place they are in by working through puzzles contained by nine doors. As the game progresses, it seems like Saw movie when people start dying in a gruesome way by acid showers or bombs in the stomach.
Read also: 5 Recommended Indonesian Visual Novel Games
If there are people who think that visual novel game is boring, those games above prove it wrong. Even Steam going as far as providing those game on the digital platform so everyone can try; the result exceeds the expectation. For detective-style game lover like me, I think Zero Escape Series has the right to be the chosen one among the greatest for its complete quality and gaming experience.
Which one is your favorite visual novel game on the list? Please share your thoughts in the comment below.