[Top 15] Best Visual Novel Games To Play Today

 Best Visual Novel Games
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Visual novels are a pretty niche genre within the gaming community and they are oftentimes overlooked. But this diverse recommendation list might ease you into the genre. From detective noir games to silly dating simulators, without a doubt, you might find one of these amazing visual novels to be up your alley.

15. Raptor Boyfriend: A Highschool Romance (on PC)

Raptor Boyfriend: A High School Romance (ANNOUNCEMENT TRAILER)

Raptor Boyfriend is a coming-of-age story that follows Stella who starts her new life at her new high school. While this sounds like a pretty cliché synopsis, this game has a magical twist. Or more like three magical twists? You can romance a skater velociraptor, a fae bae, and a sensitive Sasquatch. Despite the fantasy elements of the game, the characters are dorky, fun, and very relatable. This is a fun game for anyone who wants to play a less serious visual novel but still has some emotional scenes.


14. Ace Attorney Trilogy (Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, Windows, Wii, iOS, Android, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy - Announce Trailer

One of Capcom’s most popular series focuses on a rookie attorney, Phoenix Wright, as he investigates and successfully solves cases. The series that came out in 2001 was critically acclaimed, and rightfully so, now it has received remasters on newer game consoles as well. Solve puzzle games as you prove the innocence of your clients in this timeless series. 


13. Katawa Shoujo (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux)

Katawa Shoujo - Spin

Katawa Shoujo is a fan-made erotic game that features disabled people. After the main character of the story, Hisao Nakai suffers from a heart attack caused by long-dormant cardiac arrhythmia, had to transfer to a school with specialized care. In the new school, he meets five girls that are the potential love interests. Despite the synopsis, the game takes itself seriously and doesn’t fetishize relationships with disabled people, on the contrary, the characters are self-aware and weigh the outcomes of a relationship where both parties are still processing their traumas. The potential suitors are complex and elaborately written, presenting the characters and their stories with realism and care. Despite having NSFW scenes, they aren’t the key feature of the game and it focuses more on the relationship aspect. This is a great visual novel for people who like angst in their stories.


12. Hatoful Boyfriend (Android, iOS, Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, PS4, PS Vita)

Hatoful Boyfriend | Announcement Trailer

I feel obligated to add this game to the list since it was the first visual novel that I have ever played and got me into the genre. The premise is odd, to say the least. You are a human girl that lives in a cave and you also go to a pigeon school. The array of routes that you can choose from vary from your pigeon childhood best friend, ghost pigeon to yandere doctor pigeon. This is the perfect visual novel for someone who wants to play something silly. This game follows a typical Japanese dating sim algorithm: after you complete every route, you achieve the “true” route and learn what’s the mystery behind the pigeon school.


11. Butterfly Soup (Windows, Linux, Mac OS X)

Butterfly Soup IGF Video

This is a short visual novel about four queer Asian-American girls that play baseball. The game has a pretty simple premise, but the characters give the game so much charm. The characters feel like normal teenage girls that deal with relatable problems, and the writing of this visual novel portrays this well. The dialogue between the girls is my favorite aspect of the game, and despite how different the characters are, they have chemistry and their conversations are hilarious. This is a great visual novel for people who don’t really have the time to play games as much as they want to. This game is short and sweet.


10. Our Life (Windows, Linux, Mac OS)

Our Life: Beginnings & Always Release Trailer

Compared to the other visual novels on this list, Our Life is a story that spans three stages of the life of two childhood best friends. Even though this is another coming of age story on the list, what makes it unique is how it’s written. Compared to other visual novels, you’ll either get a “good” or “bad” ending. But with Our Life, your choices enhance the experience, and you can make choices that are truthful to you without being scared that it might trigger a bad ending. I also enjoyed that you, as the main character, can choose your perception of your sexuality and gender, something I haven't seen in any other game. This is the palate cleanser of visual novels. No angst. Just fluff.


9. Zero Escape: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors (Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, PS Vita, PS 4, iOS, Windows)

Zero Escape: The Nonary Games Release Trailer

This is a great visual novel that implements equal parts storytelling and escape room sequences. As the title implies, the story follows these nine strange characters that are trapped on a cruise ship. The puzzles are quite thrilling and each betrayal and choice you make will affect the ending of the game. This is a great visual novel for people who enjoy mystery thrillers.


8. Va11 Hall-A (PS4, Nintendo Switch, Windows, Mac OS, Linux, PS Vita)

Cyberpunk Bartender Action: VA-11 Hall-A

If you enjoy the cyberpunk aesthetic, bartending games, and interesting characters, this is the game for you. Jill is a witty and sarcastic protagonist who works in a small shabby bar in a future-dystopian city. In this game, you work as a full-time bartender and part-time psychologist as you listen to the stories of your clients that come and visit the bar. Other than interacting with your clients, your coworkers are also important characters in Jill’s life, especially her boss. This is a great visual novel for people who enjoy the idea of bartending in a cyberpunk future and listening to the stories of odd clients. Also, this game features a rad Shiba Inu with sunglasses, and there is nothing in this world that’s cooler than that. 


7. Red Strings Club (Nintendo Switch, Windows, Linux, Mac OS, Classic Mac OS)

The Red Strings Club - Launch Trailer

If you are looking for a complex visual novel that challenges your world views, you will not find a better option than The Red Strings Club. A game about the power of our own choices and how they can influence the fate of the world, The Red Strings Club delves deep into the societal issues we might run into in a futuristic world. It has a fluid story, deeply influenced by all of your dialogue choices, and also by the way you play the various mini-games (for example, bartending) that are part of the gameplay.


6. Raging Loop (PS4, Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch, Windows, PS Vita)

Raging Loop - Announcement Trailer

This is a horror visual novel that follows the protagonist Haruaki Fusaishi as he gets stuck in a remote village in Japan. The game is reminiscent of the board game Werewolf, as the main character finds out that as the mist sets into the village there are several “wolves” who enter the village and plan to attack the civilians. The game forces you into a raging loop as you keep dying finding the “wolves”. If you are interested in a horror visual novel with Japanese folk elements, this is the visual novel for you.


5. Mystic Messenger (iOS, Android)

Mystic Messenger Opening Movie English Version

When Cheritz released this dating simulator in 2016, it made waves in the otome game industry. The premise of the game is quite interesting as your character stumbles on the Mystic Messenger app and you, as a player, can text the members of the groupchat. This game got a grip on everyone in 2016, and since then, the players messed up their sleeping schedule as they woke up to answer messages at 4 am from a certain hacker. I can consider this the visual novel that might get you into otome games since it’s free to play on the phone. While the game has micro transactions, but many players including me didn’t have to pay anything to fully enjoy the experience of Mystic Messenger


4. Code: Realize (PS Vita, PS4, Nintendo Switch)

If you want to play otome games on other platforms than your phone, Code: Realize is a great otome game for starters. This is a steampunk-themed game that takes place in the 19th Century Victorian era where the suitors are based on fictional personas of the period. What I liked about Code: Realize and Mystic Messenger is that the characters are friends with each other. Once you choose a route for the main character, you don’t stop interacting with the other characters. Other than that, the art style is amazing and the characters are complex and well written. 


3. Clannad (PS4, Android, PS Portable, PS2, PS Vita, Nintendo Switch, PS3, Windows, Xbox 360)

クラナド Clannad - Xbox 360 Game trailer HD

I couldn’t have made this list without including Clannad. When I first played this game, I was reluctant to play it because the 2000s bug-eyed girl anime art style was not my favorite back then. This is a slice of life that follows Tomoya Okazaki who is known throughout the school to be a delinquent. The primary focus is the friendship between Tomoya and the love interest, Nagisa Furukawa. The story pulls to your heartstrings, and its writing overshadows the art style I promise.


2. Danganronpa series (Android, PS Portable, Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS Vita, iOS, Windows, Mac OS, Linux)

Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair - Announcement Trailer

I couldn’t pick just one game from the series since all of them are fantastic in my humble opinion. The premise is that 16 students are trapped in Hope’s Peak Academy by their school director, who is an anthropomorphic bear, Monokuma. The only way to escape the school is by killing another student and not getting caught. You go through trials, which are reminiscent of Ace Attorney trials, and try to catch the killer. Once you catch the culprit, they go through a gorey execution. 


1. Steins Gate: Elite (PS4, Nintendo Switch, iOS, Windows, PS Vita)

Steins; Gate Elite - Pre-Purchase Trailer - Nintendo Switch

Finally, this game is considered by visual novel enthusiasts to be one of the best visual novels to this day. You play as a “mad scientist” Rinato Okabe, who goes under the pseudonym of Kyouma Hououin, who accidentally finds out how to send messages to the past. The newfound powers are, of course, exciting for the protagonist, but are the consequences worth it? This has quite a long gameplay but is very much worth it. The eccentric characters, immersive plot, and gripping plotlines make it so loved to this day.


If you enjoy this niche of games, check out these other articles:

15 Best Visual Novel Games You May Have Missed Out On

[Top 15] Best Visual Novels to Play Today

Ruxanda is a monk in training who lives secluded in the caves of the Eastern Mountains getting ready to fight off the big boss, Insomnius.
Gamer Since: 2010
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Raptor Boyfriend: a Highschool Romance
Top 3 Favorite Games:Stardew Valley Bachelor Ratings (All Stardew Bachelors Ranked Worst To Best), Undertale, The Sims 4

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