Home What Are Visual Novels and Why You Should Give Them a Go

What Are Visual Novels and Why You Should Give Them a Go

If you are a part of the anime community you surely have heard of the term “Visual Novel”. So, what are visual novels exactly? Simply put, those are games that work as interactive novels. Today, I will try to explain the concept to you and, hopefully, convince you to give them a go.

Let’s start by defining visual novels. Those games simply feature an interactive text-based story. VNs most often use anime-style art and can be voiced.

First, let me explain some of the terminologies used in the VN community that you will need in order to better understand this article:

  • Route – “path” that you take in a game. Let’s say you like character X and you want the protagonist to end up together with X. This means you want to go “Xs’ route”
  • Ending – yeah, you got it, it’s just an ending to the game. Visual novels though have various numbers of them and usually, they have only one “True Ending”
  • CGs – CG is a picture in the game, it’s mainly an artwork that is displayed during a certain scene in the game
  • Short/Medium/Long/Very Long – 2h-10h / 10h-30h / 30h-50h / 50h+ – those values are taken from vndb, a website similar to myanimelist but with visual novels instead of anime.
  • R18 patch – sometimes games (Nekopara, Totono etc.) you buy on Steam do not have sexual content in them due to Steam’s policy, but you can buy the patch itself on the producents’ website for around $2-$3 or sometimes get it for free.

For me, personally, visual novels are books with anime visuals and choices that you, the player, have to make. There are a lot of genres when it comes to visual novels but let’s try explaining only the most common ones:

  • Romance Visual Novels – during your playthrough you meet various numbers of heroines (or protagonists) and with your choices you pick your future “lover”. Those games usually have routes for all main heroines and each of the routes features some CGs of the heroine you picked.
    Example: Princess Evangile
  • Nakige Visual Novels – games that want to make you cry as hard as you can. They feature all the drama you can think of.
    Example: Clannad or any other Key Studio game
  • Eroge Visual Novels – games that focus on sexual content.
    Example: Nekopara

Don’t take me wrong, there are as many VN genres as there are for anime. You will surely find any kind of game you want, be it fantasy, sci-fi, or medieval stories. There really is everything when it comes to visual novels! With that out of the way let me actually recommend some stuff that I’ve played in the past. I will recommend some of the games that got me into the medium so you can try them yourself. All the games below should be globally available on Steam.

Doki Doki Literature Club

Probably all of you know that game. This title was absolutely everywhere on YouTube and social media, that’s why I, personally, think it’s a good game to start your adventure with the VN genre. It’s about 6h long, is available on Steam and what’s most important – it’s FREE.
DDLC tells a story of a protagonist who joins a Literature Club with 4 pretty girls that have varying personalities. You, as the hero of this story, interact with the characters and pick your favorite one! Please note that once you get spoiled it will pretty much destroy the experience cause the game is very short. I’ve played it 2 times and I keep recommending the title to all my friends that are, even if a little bit, interested in Visual Novels!

  • Length – Short (2-10h)
  • Sexual Content – None
  • Violence – Yes
  • Price – Free (standard version) / US$14,99 (newest release including side stories)
  • Where to play – Steam
  • Walkthrough recommended – No

Kimi to Kanojo to Kanojo no Koi

If I’m telling you to play DDLC how can I not tell you to play Totono (Kimi to Kanojo to Kanojo no Koi)? It’s pretty much DDLCs’ older sister (or brother) so you can expect similar things from this game. The story starts with the protagonist meeting a girl on the school roof as she tries to kiss him. Miyuki, our protagonists’ childhood friend, stops the kiss, and suddenly a little bit later on we have the three form a friend group and spend their time together. Though as a protagonist, we need to choose our heroine and when we do that, things start to change. The artworks in this game are simply beautiful and the music is awesome as well. The story is very intriguing and, with how the game changes after some time, you just sit there glued to your sit for the whole playtime.

  • Length – Medium (10h-30h)
  • Sexual Content – Yes
  • R18 patch – Yes
  • Violence – Yes
  • Price – US$29,99 (goes on 33% sale frequently)
  • Where to play – Steam
  • Walkthrough recommended – No

Kara no Shoujo

Kara no Shoujo is a series of three games (Kara no Shoujo, Kara no Shoujo: The Second Episode, and Kara no Shoujo – The Last Episode) that tell the story of a private detective named Tokisaka Reiji who lives back in the 1960s’. Suddenly, he gets a request from a girl as she asks him to find her “true self”. In the meantime, he is helping police with serial murder cases where women disappear just to get their bodies found massacred in a gruesome manner. As of now, only the first game is available over at Steam.

The game itself is amazingly written and includes characters that you will instantly fall in love with. The story itself is very brutal and the murders are described in detail, just that would make my skin crawl and wait in anticipation for the moment I catch the culprit. This is the only game on the list that you should play with a walkthrough. Once you reach your first ending – turn on the walkthrough cause you won’t be able to get out of that ending for a very long time!

  • Length – Long (30h-50h)
  • Sexual Content – Yes
  • R18 patch – No
  • Violence – Yes
  • Price – US$34,99
  • Where to play – Steam, MangaGamer
  • Walkthrough recommended – Yes

Muv-Luv series

This is a game that no one, absolutely no one, will recommend you to play as your first visual novel. I just want you to know that this game exists, and you should play it sooner or later. The series itself consists of three games: Muv-Luv Extra, Muv-Luv Unlimited, and Muv-Luv Alternative. Muv-Luv Extra tells the story of Shirogane Takeru and his friends. It’s a very generic school romance game that takes a lot of time to get through (around 15 hours). Muv-Luv Unlimited is another very generic school romance game that also tells the story of Shirogane Takeru and his friends but in a completely different setting and takes around 20 hours to finish.

After those 35 hours of generic romance comedy, you finally reach Muv-Luv Alternative – a game praised by many as the best visual novel in existence. That’s why no one recommends that game to beginners, Muv-Luv series is very hard to get into but is also incredibly good. Trust me, once you get a little bit familiar with Visual Novels and you feel like it’s your cup of tea – play Muv-Luv, you won’t regret it!

  • Length – Very Long (somewhere around 90h-100h)
  • Sexual Content – Yes
  • R18 patch – Yes
  • Violence – Yes
  • Price – Whole trillogy – US$70 (goes on 50% sale frequently)
  • Where to play – Steam
  • Walkthrough recommended – No


Why do I think you should give those games a go? Why do I think you should give visual novels, in general, a go? Cause they are, in my opinion, the best way to enjoy stories. It’s pretty much a combination of anime, books, and games, and I love all of those things. I know they need more dedication and time than just sitting down and watching an episode of some anime, but that’s just what makes them so much more engaging and emotional. Did you cry after watching 48 episodes of the Clannad series? That’s around 15h of watching, but imagine how much more would you cry after playing the Clannad visual novel for more than 100h. It’s just that your dedication is rewarded by a much bigger connection to characters and to the world you are currently reading about.

I hope you pick up at least one of the titles I mentioned, and if you did, I hope you had a great time.

[© Muv-Luv
Copyright © 2021 Dan Salvato LLC
© InnocentGrey/Gungnir All Copyrights Reserved

You may also like

The comments are temporarily unavailable for maintenance.