My 100th Completed Visual Novel and Why I’m Still Playing Them Now

Just the other day, I finally reached the 3rd page in my VNDB’s completed list, so that means I just finished 100 visual novels! (To be exact, 101, but for the sake of this post, I’ll just round it off to 100). It’s a special occasion, so to celebrate for it, I decided to write about visual novels and why I’m still playing them now.

fatestaynight

I was first introduced to visual novels by a friend and forum-mate of mine (this was when I was still active in forums) and playing my first visual novel-Fate/Stay Night, my trip to a then half decade long journey of visual novels started from there. I’m not going to bore you with the details, but you can check this post if you want to know more about my history with visual novels.

Admittedly, it took me awhile to get used to a storytelling medium I never tried before, but once I settled in, I was able to appreciate it. I said this before, but visual novels to me are the ultimate storytelling medium, “ultimate”-not in the sense that they are the very best, in that it is a combination of every possible media of the Japanese anime culture-anime art, the transitioning effect from manga (although it uses sprites and CGs instead of panels) and literary of books and light novels.

live

Visual novels are like books, but at the same time, so much more with the abilities of visuals, sound and depending on the title, even motions, and one shouldn’t underestimate these little technical advantages. Good music can exceedingly bolster’s one emotions when reading a story, which isn’t something you can simply achieve from reading a book. Of course, you can try finding fitting music of your own to listen to but that is obviously incomparable to original music specifically tailored to the current scenes of the story. The “visual” part of visual novels-background art, CGs and sprites make your experience like that of reading a picture book. These technical elements improve one’s experience in investing in the stories, in particular, the immersion in visual novels is incredible, since you’re able to experience the story through the eyes of the main character as if they are your own, and these technical advantages bolster that immersion.

koirizo

Visual novels are also interactive games to a degree-they are essentially choose-your-own adventure games. One thing visual novel has that no other media has, is the ability of branching outcomes and endings. This is where a lot of visual novel discussions on “X’s route” or “Y’s route” or “True End”, and so on originate from. Some anime like Amagami and Yosuga no Sora (both unsurprisingly anime adaptions of visual novels) have begun to attempt the “multiple routes” storytelling on anime by resetting a story back to it’s branching point after a few episodes-the attempt of course, is incomparable to visual novel-arguably the originator of the concept. The ability to influence a story’s outcomes depending on player’s choices is not an entirely new concept, but visual novels make it work with it’s immersive capability and unique mechanics. Being able to choose the outcome you desire and effect the story bolsters interactivity, and allows readers to feel involved in the stories-again, something which other media wouldn’t be able to replicate to the same degree-resulting in very unique titles which works best in visual novel format like Ever 17 and Steins;Gate.

It can be kinda hilarious sometimes when you can dive into the MC's thoughts.

It can be hilarious sometimes when you can dive into the MC’s thoughts.

Last but not least, visual novels have the advantage that books have-time. Unlike TV series or films, visual novels have the time to develop their stories and characters-and being able to dive into the character’s thoughts, monologues and soliloquies certainly help too. With a carefully planned pacing, it’s easy to be invested in the story and characters. Just by reading the story gradually, players would very naturally feel attached to the characters, which makes them even more empathizing once the drama befalls them.

steingatedaru

When visual novels started, they were just a gimmick, but through borrowing concepts from other media, adapting and evolving itself over a period of time-the combination of different elements are blended together and had become it’s own thing. Visual novels are a fantastic, immersive, storytelling medium-an unique mix of literature, visuals, sound and interactive choices which can influence the story’s outcome. All these aspects of visual novels kept me coming back for more, even if I’m mostly an extremely slow reader for the most part.

And around half a decade later, I finally completed over a hundred visual novels… I think I will end this post here, let me bask in my meager success for now.

swnov

P.S: Might as well plug this while I’m at it. Last two years ago, I discussed a topic where I tried “distinguishing visual novels from games”, a topic which spawned 5 posts (+interviews from other visual novel players). Check them out if you’re interested.

Distinguishing Visual Novels
Distinguishing Visual Novels: Part I – Introduction to Visual Novels
Distinguishing Visual Novels: Part II – Origin of Visual Novels
Distinguishing Visual Novels: Part III – Deconstruction of Visual Novels
Distinguishing Visual Novels: Part IV – Differentiating Visual Novels from Games
Distinguishing Visual Novels: Bonus Part – Interviews

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This entry was posted by Kai.

31 thoughts on “My 100th Completed Visual Novel and Why I’m Still Playing Them Now

    • Thanks :p

      I’m sure you can catch up pretty quickly, you seem to read at a much faster pace than me :\ And I think it took you a much faster time than me to reach the milestone you had now.

      But anyway,

  1. congrats. that’s definitely a milestone since reading that much can be a pain for some. Are you a completionist or you just take one route and end a game? Either way, congrats.
    *hands you a cookie*

    • *nom cookies* :p
      It takes time, sure, but I enjoyed every single minute of it :p Wouldn’t say it’s a pain for me.

      It depends. If I’m playing a very good visual novel, I take the time to be a completionist. Then, there are titles where in order to get to the true end, you need to finish other ends first (not a lot, but there are some like these, Key titles mostly) so for those, I’m a completionist whether I like it or not, but most of the case, the payoffs in these type of visual novels are amazing though, due to just how obviously superior (and blatantly canonical) the true end is, so I’m not complaining. Then there are kinetic novels where I would practically be a completionist just by reading it from start to end since there are no choices. Also, if I play one and realize it’s just not that good, or there are some where I’m just not interested in the other heroines enough; I just stop at one route and mark it as completed-I guess in that sense, I’m kind of a cheating milestone achiever. *runs away*

      • Still, 100 0f these means that there are some themes or cliches that’ll get overplayed and I salute you for not getting bored of it. And, yeah, I guess I’m asking if you really go for the true end and I think it’s obligatory if you really enjoy the story. That’s great. And you can’t cheat a milestone unless you only really completed half of it, and if so then I’ll take that cookie back. XD
        Anyways, congrats.

  2. in that it is a combination of every possible media of the Japanese anime culture-anime art, the transitioning effect from manga (although it uses sprites and CGs instead of panels) and literary of books and light novels.

    You forgot one important element–the music! the BGM! the theme songs! D: But you mentioned sound in the next paragraphs, so I guess you are forgiven for this tiny mistake. :)

    Anyhoo, congratulations on reaching the milestone! That’s a lot of visual novels even for me. ^^”

    • I wasn’t sure how would I mix that into the sentence there, so I thought might as well focused it on another paragraph :p

      Yeah, took me like 5 years too, I had been procrastinating a lot on it over the years, but still.

  3. Admittedly, it took me awhile to get used to a storytelling medium I never tried before, but once I settled in, I was able to appreciate it. <- This is something I have yet to find how. To date, I've tried playing visual novel twice before but end up not finishing either of them primarily because I feel the lack of adrenaline rush I get from playing PS/PC games.

    • That’s the big difference between games and visual novels. Games are games, while visual novels are more akin to audio books than games. On one hand, games have “interaction”-where players would interact with the character on screen to control how he/she moves. That interaction is where gamers get their adrenaline rush. Visual novels are like books and “interaction” comes in the form of influencing the storylines. In a way, it’s a more “passive game”. You can find visual novels with stories and shock factors that would certainly give you an adrenaline rush though, but some of them do need some build-up.

  4. Excellent post, Kai! I love what you wrote about VNs being the ultimate medium. I totally agree, and I’ve tried explaining some of these things to my friends before in attempts to get them to try reading VNs.

    I’m currently at 40 VNs right now, so I’m getting pretty close to reaching the 50 VN milestone. I think that reaching 100 would take a really long time though! I’ve been reading VNs for about 3 years now, so I think I was reading at a pretty good pace considering that I was in college during those three years. I’ll eventually make my own post about VNs but I feel like i’m going to end up saying similar things to what you said :P

    • Thanks :) Hope your friends don’t misunderstand them to be hentai games :\

      That’s a good pace! Especially so if you don’t read as much short, shitty VNs as me, lol. Once you’re done with the post, feel free to link it to me. I’ll be interested to read it :p

      • Will do!

        They’re actually pretty understanding for the most part. I got one of them to start reading VNs with True Remembrance and he has most recently finished KNS 2. He’s looking to read Grisaia no Kajitsu next. My other friend is really into 07th Expansion’s works, and I lent her my Surface Pro to read the fault series. Sadly she’s limited to a mac :(

        • Ahh, KNS 2, I finished KNS 1 sometime ago so the sequel is something I want to start playing soon, will be interesting to see how the story continued. Fault’s surprisingly pretty good too but I only finished the first one so far, lol.

          Mac, huh… Yeah, that would be kinda tricky :\

          • Yes! Definitely get around to reading KNS 2 sometime. The story for KNS 1 is kept in the background in KNS 2 all the way until the end, with the true route. I wrote a review on it on my blog if you wanna read it. I think it’s one of the best that I’ve read this year, but it’s agonizing to know that KNS 3 won’t be out for years.

            Fault Milestone 2 Side:Above is still part of the overall introduction to the fault story, but you absolutely must read it! It really improves on the whole story telling and lore aspect. Instead of the info dumping about mana that you get in MS1, you’re actually shown how mana is part of the everyday lives of the inner pole (show, don’t tell). I think fault has the potential to be a really great series with the direction that AiD went with MS2.

            • What’s your blog? No links, lol.

              Yeah that’s one flaw I noticed in fault one, in fact I even had to read their inner encyclopedia when I only just barely started the VN just to keep up with all the terms. Glad to see that seems to be fixed in the sequel. I have other priorities for now though so it will have to wait, lol.

              About ef, it’s not exactly #1 for me, my VN list isn’t ordered consecutively fyi.

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