OGS’s Visual Novel Guide

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*updated for 2019*

This page summarizes many of the visual novels featured in our Not ALL H-Games! panel. This page will also be amended in the future as we add and remove different games to our panel line-up.

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Standard VNs – The classic “click through dialogue and sometimes make choices to progress” titles.

  • The House in Fata Morgana
    • A gothic drama VN that eschews the typical otaku-centric writing tropes in order to tell a unique story about a seemingly cursed mansion and its tragic denizens. Gorgeous art and a beautiful soundtrack give this title a distinctive flair compared to other Japanese-made titles.
    • Available for PC through Steam and Mangagamer; available for the PS4 & Vita.
  • Umineko: When They Cry
    • A series of murder-mystery kinetic novels from 07th Expansion. A rich family seeking their inheritance from the ailing patriarch ends up entwined in supernatural conflicts with witches. Is there more to this fight than meets the eye? Will anyone live to tell the tale?
    • Available for PC through Steam and Mangagamer.
  • Song of Saya
    • One of Gen Urobuchi’s early works, published by NitroPlus. Saya is a disturbing Lovecraftian horror story about sanity slippage and morality loss. Contains disturbing and potentially triggering subject matter.
    • Available for PC through JAST USA.
  • Cho Dengeki Stryker
    • A classic example of an ero-game that would be a shounen anime if it had the budget. Focuses on lampooning superhero tropes, but occasionally gets distracted but its sexual antics.
    • Available for PC through Mangagamer (18+ version) and Steam (all ages version)
  • Steins;Gate
    • “I am mad scientist!” When a chunnibyou-addled college student accidentally creates a time machine, he’s torn between fulfilling his friends’ dreams and saving their lives from a government organization. Yes, it is better than the anime adaptation and worth playing even if you’ve watched it already.
    • Available for PC and PS Vita.
  • Planetarian
    • A short kinetic novel by the ever-cheerful Key. A dystopian story about a nameless vagabond, a perky robot, and a worn-down planetarium. Easy to read in a couple of hours.
    • Available for PC through Steam.

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Otome – Dating sims aimed at a female audience. These games often have great world building and surprisingly deep characters.

  • Hakuoki
    • Late 1800’s Japan is terrorized by vampire-zombies, and only the shinsengumi can stop them. Protagonist’s initial simple goal to find her father gets her involved in more than she bargained for. Franklin’s review here.
    • Available for PSP, PS3, PS Vita and PC.
  • Code Realize: Guardian of Rebirth
    • Our protagonist wakes up in an abandoned mansion to find her skin is poisonous. Seeking out her father, she joins up with some fellows modeled after characters from Western literature.
    • Available for PS Vita
  • Collar x Malice
    • When a terrorist group takes over part of Japan, a specialized group formed from ex-police members steps in to investigate. Find romance and shoot things.
    • Available for PS Vita.
  • Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk
    • A young woman cursed with a witch’s powers must pose as a boy to avoid putting her life at risk. When a conflict arises between the two major family factions in town, choosing the right allies and unveiling the truth behind characters’ motives becomes more crucial than ever.
    • Available for PS Vita; English Steam release coming soon.
  • Hatoful Boyfriend
    • Yes it’s the pigeon dating sim. Yes it’s actually good. A parody of otome games (and many dating sim tropes in general) that completely embraces how bizarre it is.
    • Available for PC, PS Vita and PS4.

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Western & Non-Japanese-Originating titles – Games from devs who aren’t from Japan. These titles often turn typical VN writing and tropes on their head.

  • Katawa Shoujo
    • After coming down with a heart condition, our hapless protagonist transfers to a school for students with physical disabilities. Created as a freeware title by a non-Japanese dev team over the course of several years.
    • Available on PC for free.
  • Christine Love’s games
    • Love’s games frequently focus on recurring themes of technology, romance, sexuality and cosplay. My detailed review of two of her games can be found here.
    • Her early games are freeware PC games, others are on Steam and her website.
  • Butterfly Soup
    • From the creator of Pom Gets WiFi comes a shitpost-y (and heartfelt) short VN about Asian-American girls playing baseball, dealing with personal drama and falling in love.
    • Available through itch.io for free.
  • Heaven Will Be Mine
    • Three (in)famous mech pilots in alternate version of history can choose to work for their respective factions for the sake of space exploration…or run off and kiss each other instead. Gorgeous interface designs with an abstract story.
    • Available for PC through Steam.
  • Ghosts of Miami
    • In late 80’s Miami, a freelance detective investigate missing people cases that slip by the local police. Like Carmen Sandiego with a retrowave aesthetic and a focus on subjects like immigration, drug cartels and drag clubs.
    • Available for PC through Steam.
  • Jisei Trilogy
    • A series of murder-mystery point-and-click games focused on a mysterious group of teenagers with psychic abilities. Final game hopefully coming soon?
    • Available for PC through Steam or the creator’s website (SakeVisual).
  • The Confines of the Crown
    • An otome game by a UK-based dev team. The bodyguard of a prince gets wrapped up in a mysterious plot surrounding the local to-be-wed princess. Shorter than the average JP-based otome.
    • Available for PC through Steam.
  • Va11 Hall-a: Cyperpunk Bartender Action
    • In the midst of a dystopian cyperpunk city with the usual action fixins, you play as a bartender who gets entwined in the daily lives of various denizens. Mix drinks, change lives, get people absolutely smashed so they talk more.
    • Available for PC through Steam; also available for PS4, PS Vita and Nintendo Switch.

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VN Hybrids – VN’s crossed with other genres, such as puzzle or point-and-click.

  • Ace Attorney
    • Lawyers doing lawyer things. Featuring puns, logic puzzles, and exceedingly good writing that will have you laughing in one scene and crying the next.
    • Available on DS, 3DS and iOS.
  • Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception
    • An amnesiac man ends up in an alternative version of Edo-period Japan that’s inhabited by furry-eared humanoids and ends up getting involved in court politics that put the country on the cusp of war. Hybrid SRPG/VN though the SRPG elements are pretty bare-bones.
    • Available for PS4 and PS Vita.
  • Hotel Dusk Room 215
    • A former cop turned delivery man investigates a mysterious hotel in hopes of tracking down his former partner. Feels surprisingly Western and has gorgeous rotoscoped character portraits.
    • Available for DS (be warned that this game has been out of print for a while).
  • Zero Escape
    • Psychological drama-focused puzzle visual novel games. Primarily focus on groups of 9 people who are trapped by an individual named “Zero”. 3rd game almost didn’t exist without Western fans’ support.
    • Available for DS, 3DS, PS Vita, PS4 and Steam.
  • Danganronpa
    • High school prodigies are forced into a bizarre killing game by a robotic bear. Gameplay is similar to Ace Attorney but in real time with extra mini-games. Upupupu~
    • Available for PS Vita, PS4 and PC.
  • The Silver Case
    • Early Suda51 title from the PS1 era, now remastered. A police district’s investigation into a notorious serial killer brings up more questions about the district itself. Uses a 3D first person view with point and click mechanics.
    • Available for PS4 and PC.
  • Snatcher
    • Early game (and one of the first English-translated VN-style games) from the mind of Hideo Kojima. Cyberpunk as fuck with a plot about bodysnatching cyborgs. Point and click with some railshooter mechanics.
    • Available for Sega CD (but we recommend you just emulate it at this point).
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