All-time Favorite Visual Novels
1. Ef – A fairy tale of the two
Beautiful, exotically beautiful. Ef uses the textbook method of story-telling, it gives us tales and tales of beautiful, heartwarming stories, befitting it’s name of a “fairy tale.” The story itself is divided into two different section, the first tale, and the latter tale, hence a fairy tale of the two. As the story progresses, you will be playing as a different character from another point of view, and it is interesting to see previous main characters appearing out of nowhere. Ultimately, the game’s beauty comes in the form of beautiful story and a beautiful music. It’s definitely a must-try.
2. Fate/Stay Night
Ahh Fate/Stay Night. One of the most revolutionary visual novels of all time. Every visual novel player should have played or should have at least heard of this title. While the anime didn’t do such a fine job in adapting the storyline, the visual novel, as expected of an original material, managed to expose the plot in fine detail. Fate/Stay Night has a very intriguing premise and as more light is shade on the Holy Grail battle, the more epic the visual novel become.
3. G-Senjou no Maou
A visual novel which depicts a battle of wits for the ultimate supremacy. G-Senjou no Maou is probably one of the most mind-blowing visual novel ever made. With exciting tactical combat and intriguing plots and characters, G-Senjou no Maou would certainly cater to any kinds of visual novel players far and wide, purely just from it’s story presentation, disregarding the fact that whether or not one is a psychological thriller fan or not.
4. Muv-luv Trilogy
An emotionally-gripping tale of a soldier fighting in an unknown, insane world. There are three parts of Muv-luv – Extra, Unlimited and Alternative, and it is recommended to play all three of them to garner the maximum entertainment experience. Although quite lengthy, it is incredibly hard not to find something you like in the Muv-luv trilogy-Takeru’s character development, militaristic psychology, camaraderie with the squad, battles with the BETA; it’s just such a great series. Alternative especially, is just so amazing that it makes all those time you invested into the series worth it.
Steins;Gate is an excellent time-travel story-a tale depicting a man fighting against fate. I’m actually hard-pressed to find anything to complain about it. While it is slightly less ambitious as far as time travel stories are concerned, it has the advantage of coherence and meticulous planning when developing ideas and concepts-and they actually had initially great ones to work with. The writer also just seem to have a good idea how subsequent events should unfold-resulting in a smooth pacing, naturally flowing plot and an extremely satisfying, conclusive end. All in all, despite the seemingly overabundance of time travel stories, Steins;Gate is definitely one to look out for.
6. Deus Machina Demonbane
Based on fiction horror story written by H.P. Lovecraft, Demonbane revolves around the tales of science, alchemy and religion. It feels like Full Metal Alchemist, a more mecha version of that. The best part about this visual novel is the 3D CG scenes, they are even slight animations so even though Demonbane isn’t the newest, there’s no denying that the graphics could hold it’s own against newer ones. Like Fate/Stay Night, intriguing plots are this visual novel’s main weapon as well, as the visual novel gets better as more truth within the mystery began to shape up in the bizarre world of magic, mecha, gods and monsters.
7. Saya no Uta
Visually destructive visual novel, Saya no Uta depicts the pitiable tale of a young man, Fuminori Sakisaka, who involved in a traffic accident, had soon changed his perspective of the world in a completely different manner. The traffic accident that he had, “damaged” his brain permanently, and the way the brain reads the vision transmitted through his eyes.. are ghastly. Everything become guts and intestines and every person turned into some kind of tentacle monsters. Ironically, when one was reading Saya no Uta, chances are they are already expecting this and are playing the visual novel just to check out those scenes. Indeed, it is actually one of the good points about it, it’s definitely not Saya no Uta without the intestines. In a way, it is the highlight of Saya no Uta. Psychology thrills, nasty sequences and a tantalizing storytelling a makes up the ghastly visual novel, Saya no Uta.
8. Sharin no Kuni
Likewise with G-Senjou no Maou, Sharin no Kuni was produced by Akabesoft2. The game depicts on how law and systems can change a country and focuses a lot conspiracies, criminology, political struggles and wits battles, just like G-Senjou no Maou. Sharin no Kuni introduces a really unique government system which aims to rehab certain “criminals.”
While Utawarerumono has a strong plot, it’s battle game system is quite entertaining as well, which is akin to Final Fantasy Tactics or Ogre Battle. Standing on the boundary between visual novel and an SRPG, Utawarerumono provides an ample amount of plot twists. It at fist, revolves around the tale of one man, Hakuoro, a man without a memory, who was found unconscious in a rural village. A mask was strangely daunted on him and even more mysterious, it can’t be removed no matter how much physical force is used. As Hakuoro live alongside the villagers, he began to experience more and more events which would eventually lead to this true identity.
10. Ever17/Remember11/Never7 -infinity trilogy-
The infinite trilogy of awesomeness by KID. These three visual novels at times feel like separate entities, but they can also be connected too, despite pretty minor. Most players would play Remember11 (or to a lesser extent, Never7) to expand their knowledge on the Ever17 universe; the trilogy is especially good in making the players to review back nostalgically the events of Ever 17. Though truthfully, even if the presence of universal relation is so subtle, one who isn’t even familiar with the KID franchise would be able to enjoy them to the full extent. KID is also known to mix in genres of mystery and sci-fi so fans in that particular genres would love these games.
11. Key Visual Novels
Ah, Key-the master of nakige. Key likes to use the formulaic slice-of-life + high school + drama = masterpiece. And even after all these years, there’s not once this pattern feels repetitive and Key is still arguably at the top of their game. Key had also made certain awesome heroines in the past, Kyou (Clannad), Mai (Kanon), Rin (Little Busters) and so on. Aforementioned, anything made from Key is bound to give you a laugh and a cry. It’s romance and life hardships, portrayed in extreme simplicity
and with a teensy weensy bit of magic is what spiced up Key’s top notch visual novels.
12. Sono Hanabira Series
Of all the yuri franchises I came across, be it anime, manga, novels, the Sono Hanabira series in my opinion, is one of the best of the best. There are more than 10 titles in the series by now, and can only keep growing, which is very telling about the series’s fame. The best thing about these visual novels is how the settings is connected among the titles-which mean old couples/characters would make cameo appearances in new titles, or vice versa, perhaps some references to old characters. It’s a wonderful way which makes the mundane setting larger than it seems-made only possible by the longevity of the series. Of course, did I mention yuri? Sono Hanabira is perhaps the only yuri series which fits all my “ideals” of a yuri medium, which are pretty strict ideals to begin with. Sono Hanabira’s yuri is top tier.
13. Kara no Shoujo
Kara no Shoujo, a visual novel by Innocent Grey, tells a somber, but riveting story of mystery, sins, obsession, religion and truth-seeking. There are also gameplay elements incorporated into the visual novel – where you had to instigate actual investigations and to deduce conclusions from evidences you gathered. Be warned that the visual novel can be extremely graphic at times, forcing you to investigate through corpses died in brutal ways. Even so, I feel fans of mystery, suspense and even gore would love Kara no Shoujo.