Have you ever "played" a visual novel?

ZedClampet

Community Contributor
Now, there's huge variation in visual novels. Some of them, like the Nonary games (which are kind of like the "Saw" movies), are chock full of puzzles and have lots of dialogue options. Then there are some that have no interaction whatsoever other than left clicking to go to the next page. Of course, there is a ton of variation in the quality of the writing and art, as well.

A few years ago I went through a Visual Novel phase and played quite a few of them. Had a blast with the Nonary games and pretty much all of the Spike Chunsoft games. Played a few horror ones that had a lot less interaction, like The Letter, and still enjoyed most of those. Steins;Gate was hilarious but a little too slow for me. Then there was Doki Doki Literature Club (take the mental health warning seriously) which was brilliant at the time that it came out (won't spoil why it doesn't feel so brilliant anymore).

Anyone who enjoys reading traditional novels would probably enjoy them, and probably most puzzle gamers would enjoy the Nonary games (although there is a ton of Japanese-style yapping between puzzles).

Anyone else have experience with visual novels?
 
I've never heard of any of the ones you mentioned @ZedClampet.

Its not a genre I'm massively into, at this point I'm not sure if what I think of as VN's actually are so maybe I can list the ones I think I've played and people can tell me if they count. Probably most of the most famous one except Life is Strange which I did try it but it felt a bit too high school for me.

What Remains of Edith Finch
The Beginners Guide
The Town of Light
Gone Home

Do Telltale games count? If so then The Walking Dead S1/2 and Wolf Among Us as well.

Really enjoyed all of the above, but havent played any for a couple of years. I really enjoy original stories and interactivity can make for interesting ways to immerse you in a stories characters or world that arent possible in books or films.
 

ZedClampet

Community Contributor
That's my only experience, after some video or article recommended it and I got it dirt cheap. Just as well, didn't appeal at all, I gave up after an hour or two.

I was a huge novel reader for decades, but much less so this millennium. I've noted your recommendations, as it's a genre I know nothing about.

I'd be curious to know where you gave up on the game because the first time I tried to play it I did the same thing. If you aren't into 'dating sims' the beginning of the game can be torturous. Also, you definitely got it dirt cheap because it's free. But of the ones I mentioned, it was my least favorite other than, maybe, Steins;Gate, which I really don't recommend. It's extremely well-written, but just goes on forever. You have to really be a VN fan to stick with it.
 

ZedClampet

Community Contributor
I've never heard of any of the ones you mentioned @ZedClampet.

Its not a genre I'm massively into, at this point I'm not sure if what I think of as VN's actually are so maybe I can list the ones I think I've played and people can tell me if they count. Probably most of the most famous one except Life is Strange which I did try it but it felt a bit too high school for me.

What Remains of Edith Finch
The Beginners Guide
The Town of Light
Gone Home

Do Telltale games count? If so then The Walking Dead S1/2 and Wolf Among Us as well.

Really enjoyed all of the above, but havent played any for a couple of years. I really enjoy original stories and interactivity can make for interesting ways to immerse you in a stories characters or world that arent possible in books or films.

Those aren't visual novels. They are just considered adventure games so far as I know, but some of them are close to walking sims. Well, I never played Town of Light, so I'm not sure what that one is.

Visual novels are more like comic books. The Spike Chunsoft games, like the Nonary games or Danganronpa games, sort of are a cross between visual novels and adventure games, so the genre gets pretty blurry. But for our purposes, just picture reading a comic book that you can actually interact with, and you'll get the picture. You usually don't move the character around or anything. You just read the text and either decide what to do or move to the next text. I would call it interactive fiction, but that's been reserved for a type of game that has no graphics.

I absolutely loved What Remains of Edith Finch, though. Thought that was fantastic.
 
VN aren't really my thing tbh. I do play them, and i've played a couple (in fact i'm playing through one right now). I just don't actively seek them out over other genres and they're generally near the bottom of my to play list.

That said, my experience with them has mostly been boredom. The writing and story varies greatly and aren't as good as a well written novel or aesthetically exciting like a comic and the lack of interaction means I'll be spending large amounts of time reading instead of interacting or influencing the story. Sure some there are some well written ones, they come with catchy artwork and tunes, but not as entertaining as playing a game tbh. Most of them i believe are just overhyped because it attracts that sort of crowd.

Anyway lets go through the list of the ones i can remember:

Doki doki Literature Club - played the free edition and yeah the gimmick is nice but again, just strung along for the ride.

Steins;gate - watched the anime first and absolutely loved it. People kept banging on about how the VN was superior. I disagree big time on this. I suspect Steins;gate elite will change my mind being a remaster and combining both the anime and the game together but yeah, interaction is low. Hell, after playing the VN i think the anime was an absolute master piece considering the source material and what they had to work with.

The nonary games. Well, i guess we can throw them into the mix. The first 2 of the series were decent enough, more puzzle and interaction. But again, you were just strung along for the ride. Decisions didn't make much of a difference (a minor inconvenience at worst) and there were plot holes or points in the story that made me scratch my head or felt like an absolute cop out. Zero time dilemma on the other hand i hate and don't recommend at all. Even if you're a fan of the previous game story wise it accomplishes absolutely NOTHING. Whilst technically superior to the previous 2 the story, the animation, character decision, scripting (this is quite a hot topic) was weak. For a VN to end on a cliff hanger is just crap story telling. Youy could easily miss the third one and lose little of the over arching story.

Masq. PC Gamer made this one of the top 100 games to play. i personally didn't see it. i guess i wasn't playing it like a mad man and do silly things. I was boring. So i guess i didn't give the game a fair shake.

Read Only Memories - More point and click adventure, This one wasn't bad. had enough charm and kept it interesting for me to consider getting the next few games.

There is one more, but its the can you guess the game challenge. Can you guess it?
 

ZedClampet

Community Contributor
There is one more, but its the can you guess the game challenge. Can you guess it?

No hints? There are a lot of VN's in the world, but if I had to venture a guess with nothing to go on, I'd say Danganronpa or The Letter (just because I mentioned it).

To the rest of your post, VN's aren't for everyone, for sure. I personally haven't played one in about 3 years, but I enjoyed them well-enough, on average, when I was playing them. Your opinions are pretty in-line with mine, although I still had fun with them. Wrapping up the story was definitely the weak point in the Nonary series.
 
Those aren't visual novels. They are just considered adventure games so far as I know, but some of them are close to walking sims. Well, I never played Town of Light, so I'm not sure what that one is.

Visual novels are more like comic books. The Spike Chunsoft games, like the Nonary games or Danganronpa games, sort of are a cross between visual novels and adventure games, so the genre gets pretty blurry. But for our purposes, just picture reading a comic book that you can actually interact with, and you'll get the picture. You usually don't move the character around or anything. You just read the text and either decide what to do or move to the next text. I would call it interactive fiction, but that's been reserved for a type of game that has no graphics.

I absolutely loved What Remains of Edith Finch, though. Thought that was fantastic.

Ah right, seems like most of the ones you're looking at there are basically anime, which is 90% not for me. I guess I mixed up visual novel with walking simulator in my head. Backing slowly in to the bushes...
 
To the rest of your post, VN's aren't for everyone, for sure. I personally haven't played one in about 3 years, but I enjoyed them well-enough, on average, when I was playing them. Your opinions are pretty in-line with mine, although I still had fun with them. Wrapping up the story was definitely the weak point in the Nonary series.


the strange thing is that although its not my thing, perhaps i will buy some later down the line. I mean those set in ROM world i might just have another look.

Part of the problem with most VN gets a bad rap being either anime based, having sexual content or push the lgbtq+ side of things and making people uncomfortable or give it a pass. Hell, dating/hentai based stuff i give a definite miss as frankly its too embarrassing to play and if i was after some adult material i can find it free and more accessible then playing a game.
 
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Anyone who enjoys reading traditional novels would probably enjoy them
I love to read, but I have yet to play a visual novel-type game, at least that I know of. The closest would be the old FMV games like the Gabriel Knight or Phatasmagoria series from years ago, but those are more adventure games than anything I guess. It seems like I might possibly like a good horror VN game, as I like a good horror novel (not the slash n' slash type, but psychological), but I have yet to find one. The closedt I found would be Layers of Fear, which I wish-listed on Steam just to keep an eye on; and it's not even tagged as VN.

Doing a Steam search by VN tags which showed a lot of games, but nothing I'm interested in (but Steam tag searches can be a bit misleading).

Do Telltale games count? If so then The Walking Dead S1/2 and Wolf Among Us as well.
In a Steam VN search, The Walking Dead (The Telltale Definitive Series) did come up. It's not "tagged" as VN, but it does have the tag "interactive fiction". Is there really a difference between those two tags?
 

Sarafan

Community Contributor
Never played a visual novel TBH, but I have Werewolf: The Apocalypse siting right there in my library. :) I have also some of these games on my wishlist. The genre is heavily inspired by RPGs and that's why I'll try it at some point. The only downside is the length of these games. They're frequently very short and that's what holds me from buying more of them.
 
In a Steam VN search, The Walking Dead (The Telltale Definitive Series) did come up. It's not "tagged" as VN, but it does have the tag "interactive fiction". Is there really a difference between those two tags?

From what I can tell in the VNs these guys are talking about its still frames with text over that give you options like a choose your own adventure book. I'd be interested in the form but I'm generally put off by most anime. There has been stuff I've liked but for the most part its not for me.
 
One other VN that seems like it might be worth playing is Hatoful Boyfriend, mostly because of the ridiculous premise. Has anyone played that?

The Walking Dead (The Telltale Definitive Series) did come up. It's not "tagged" as VN, but it does have the tag "interactive fiction". Is there really a difference between those two tags?

I think they're pretty much the same, one just has some more QTEs.
 
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Yes. It is a genre I wanted to try as I've been trying to have a more eclectic taste in games. Thus, visual novels - along with JRPGs - have gotten some attention from me recently. I started off with Doki Doki Literature Club as it is well-regarded and short. I really enjoyed it and I just sort of rolled along from there. Right now I'm just looking at various lists to see what people generally hold in high regard and trying them out. As a niche genre it takes a bit more digging as reviews are more scant.

I think that, generally speaking, the genre is a tough sell. I don't know that I could recommend VNs to other people even if I've become quite fond of them. I would hazard a guess and say that there is probably a lot of divisiveness depending on level of interactivity. Strangely, I tend to prefer VNs with no gameplay or very light gameplay. That's why I'm not really that motivated to try the Danganronpa series despite being extremely well regarded in the genre. Gameplay doesn't really interest me in this particular genre. Still, I think it is telling that some of the best known VNs (Ace Attorney and Danganronpa) have a fair amount of interactivity and those without much gameplay (aside from dialogue choices usually) are generally much more niche.

Also, as @Kaamos_Llama mentioned, most VNs have an anime aesthetic that will not be for everyone. Overall, It is simply a very niche genre with only a few games cracking the (somewhat) mainstream.
 

ZedClampet

Community Contributor
The closedt I found would be Layers of Fear, which I wish-listed on Steam just to keep an eye on; and it's not even tagged as VN.

Layers of Fear is a walking sim. I don't think there's even any text to read, so it's not a visual novel for sure.

Doing a Steam search by VN tags which showed a lot of games, but nothing I'm interested in (but Steam tag searches can be a bit misleading).
Unfortunately, the most popular visual novels are romance anime. You have to kind of dig deep to find the other stuff.

In a Steam VN search, The Walking Dead (The Telltale Definitive Series) did come up. It's not "tagged" as VN, but it does have the tag "interactive fiction". Is there really a difference between those two tags?
Telltale games are interactive movies or adventure games. There's nothing to read, so they aren't VN's. Steam tags are hopelessly confused.

One other VN that seems like it might be worth playing is Hatoful Boyfriend, mostly because of the ridiculous premise. Has anyone played that?

I sort of played Hatoful Boyfriend. The thing with that game is that you are supposed to play it over and over and the story keeps changing and advancing as you do. The problem for me is that I get bored doing that, so I played it 1 1/2 times and didn't get the full effect.

From what I can tell in the VNs these guys are talking about its still frames with text over that give you options like a choose your own adventure book. I'd be interested in the form but I'm generally put off by most anime. There has been stuff I've liked but for the most part its not for me.

There's a lot of non-anime, but it's harder to find. As I said above, most VN fans are also anime fans, sadly. If you go to the most popular VN's in steam, they tend to be anime romances.
 
its the can you guess the game challenge
There Is No Game

Hatoful Boyfriend, mostly because of the ridiculous premise
"find love in between classes as a sophomore student at the world’s greatest pigeon high school"
Ok, I cannot argue with your summary!

"interactive fiction". Is there really a difference between those two tags?
It's supposed to be what Zed said earlier, no pics in the IF. Similar to the old Text Adventures I suppose.

Tangent

No, not me just back from the beach. FMV would be a sister genre to VN I guess, so here's a copy of a post I made in March:

Her Story is quite unique. It's a database of 100+ 2-4min videos which cover 7 police interviews with a woman—she's the only character on-screen, the questions are off-screen audio.

You play by searching for keywords in the DB, which throws up some videos as results, watch one or more, which should suggest new keywords to you.

The point is to figure out what the event is, did she do it, what's her story…
 

ZedClampet

Community Contributor
There Is No Game


"find love in between classes as a sophomore student at the world’s greatest pigeon high school"
Ok, I cannot argue with your summary!


It's supposed to be what Zed said earlier, no pics in the IF. Similar to the old Text Adventures I suppose.

Tangent

No, not me just back from the beach. FMV would be a sister genre to VN I guess, so here's a copy of a post I made in March:

Her Story is quite unique—but I don't play enough to know if it's the first. It's a database of 100+ 2-4min videos which cover 7 police interviews with a woman—she's the only character on-screen, the questions are off-screen audio.

You play by searching for keywords in the DB, which throws up some videos as results, watch one or more, which should suggest new keywords to you.

The point is to figure out what the event is, did she do it, what's her story…

Loved Her Story.
By the way, she was twins. One of them committed the murder. One way you can tell is that sometimes she has a tattoo and other times she doesn't. Loved that game.

I bring this up only because a lot of people claim there wasn't a definitive ending. There was more evidence for this, but I can't remember it anymore. Would have to replay the game.
 
There Is No Game

Not played that one. Might have to add it to my list.,, i'll add additional screenshots in guess the game topic in the forum.

I also played Her story. Whilst the plot wasn't all that riveting ,the way that it was implemented kept me engrossed and offered an interesting experience as you peeled away the layers and discovered not everything is straight forward as it seems... in fact you're not entirely sure who you play and is another mystery to solve and decide for yourself the truth.

You really did feel like a detective as you asked questions and the system sent back replies as if you were having some sort of conversation with an AI. It wasn't entirely foolproof some of the videos were just one word answers with absolutely no context as to what was asked and adds little to the story.

Visually it wasn't much but the VCR like police footage was pretty nostalgic and the fact that you could piss about on the police computer added that voyeurism into somewhere or something you shouldn't be doing and discovering someones dirty little secrets. Ok, its just some games, but still. Shouldn't be doing that on a police computer...
 
Sep 21, 2020
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I love VN's. Sure some are basic story's with pictures which are fine, but some are so much more.

Highway blossoms is a fantastic classic Road trip VN and classic VN in general,

But if your looking something with a bit more. A game like Loren of the Amazon which combines the VN side of things with an RPG. It's a game easily in my top 20 or all time. higher if your talking Story based games and dropping strats. top 10 easy. Way better than fallout new vegas IMO despite being totally different games, but to me it's the story that maters.

Dead in vinland. It's a line based combat game, a survival game and an VN. One of the most unique games i ever have played. It's even better than dead in Bermuda their first game, but even that one is pretty solid. But DiV is fantastic.

check out some of these and you won't ever look at a VN the same way ever again, nor have to have "play" in qoutes, because the second too on the list you certainly play them.
 
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Sep 21, 2020
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I've never heard of any of the ones you mentioned @ZedClampet.

Its not a genre I'm massively into, at this point I'm not sure if what I think of as VN's actually are so maybe I can list the ones I think I've played and people can tell me if they count. Probably most of the most famous one except Life is Strange which I did try it but it felt a bit too high school for me.



It starts that way but really changes as the game goes on. I highly suggest you play through at least epp one because if your not hooked by the end of that then you won't like it. But for me it blew my mind. Each epp did the same. The last epp i thought was the weakest but over all it's a great game. Takes about 20 hours total.

i would not call it a VN though, it's much more an adventure game not to nit pick, but most you listed i would put into that catagory. VN's use unique staged photo's as part of the story telling. But i did enjoy the ones you listed. Still need to play Edith finch, only been in my back log along with dear Esther for like 5 years lol
 
It starts that way but really changes as the game goes on. I highly suggest you play through at least epp one because if your not hooked by the end of that then you won't like it. But for me it blew my mind. Each epp did the same. The last epp i thought was the weakest but over all it's a great game. Takes about 20 hours total.

i would not call it a VN though, it's much more an adventure game not to nit pick, but most you listed i would put into that catagory. VN's use unique staged photo's as part of the story telling. But i did enjoy the ones you listed. Still need to play Edith finch, only been in my back log along with dear Esther for like 5 years lol

You're right its not a VN and its not a nit pick, I didnt know what that was really before I posted but I have a better idea now.

Might try again someday with Life is Strange, I am a sucker for emo stories but havent really been feeling adventure games recently.
 
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ZedClampet

Community Contributor
I love VN's. Sure some are basic story's with pictures which are fine, but some are so much more.

Highway blossoms is a fantastic classic Road trip VN and classic VN in general,

But if your looking something with a bit more. A game like Loren of the Amazon which combines the VN side of things with an RPG. It's a game easily in my top 20 or all time. higher if your talking Story based games and dropping strats. top 10 easy. Way better than fallout new vegas IMO despite being totally different games, but to me it's the story that maters.

Dead in vinland. It's a line based combat game, a survival game and an VN. One of the most unique games i ever have played. It's even better than dead in Bermuda their first game, but even that one is pretty solid. But DiV is fantastic.

check out some of these and you won't ever look at a VN the same way ever again, nor have to have "play" in qoutes, because the second too on the list you certainly play them.

I'll check these out during the winter sale.
 
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