Visual novels are interactive story games that usually have anime-style graphics. It’s becoming more and more popular, and people who like it know that there are great stories in these games. Steam is going to have a lot of different visual novels in 2020 that fans of all kinds can enjoy.
Because there are so many visual novels on Steam, it can be hard for fans to figure out where to start. To get people started, we’ve put together a list of the top visual novels on Steam. Based on how well the story, characters, and visual and audio presentation are done.
1. VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action
It’s an interesting mix of a simulation and a visual novel, VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action. Players play as a bartender who makes drinks that can change the course of events in the story. VA-11 Hall-A doesn’t move in a straight line. Instead, it brings interesting people to the player’s bar stool, starting conversations that can last a long time.
Because visual novels live and die by their stories, VA-11 Hall-narrative A’s threads aren’t as gripping as some of the best visual novels out there. But they’re complemented by fun gameplay elements that most of the game’s competitors don’t have.
2. Doki Doki Literature Club!
Nobody has written a visual novel that looks so simple and calm. Doki Doki Literature Club is one of them. The free game made by Team Salvato was released in 2017 and quickly became popular when people learned about its shady story.
This is a story about a man who joins his childhood friend’s literature club. There, he meets and interacts with three other heroines. The game looks like a typical dating game, but the routes are very strange and hard to believe. This is why the game is so scary.
3. Higurashi: When They Cry
This is very similar to how DDLK makes the game look like an innocent slice of life story. Then, it turns things around on the player. Higurashi creator Ryukishi07 knows how to use a variety of anime tropes to make players think they’re safe, then slowly peel back the pleasant veneer that hides the troubled village of Hinamizawa.
Higurashi follows Keiichi Maebra who after moving to the idyllic village of Hinamizawa, soon learns of a series of mysterious deaths attributed to the town deity, all of which revolve around the village’s annual Watanagashi Festival. People who play the game start to wonder about Hinamizawa’s dark history as they learn more. This includes Keiichi’s new friends. During the series, there are a lot of individual question and answer arcs. In the first, the main mystery is told to the players, and they use clues from other parts of the story to piece together the story.
4. Umineko: When They Cry
Umineko doesn’t use psychological horror to scare players like Higurashi does. Instead, it presents them with a series of murder mysteries that seem impossible to solve. There is an Urshiromiya Family gathering every year on the island of Rokkenjima, which is very far away. Battler Ushiromiya is the sole survivor of a devastating typhoon, and he is forced to play a game of wits with the apparent killer, Beatrice The Golden Witch, in order to stay alive.
Umineko also uses a lot of different question and answer arcs to develop the different story lines and character arcs that happen over the course of the 50+ hour-long story. Exactly as it should be, Ryukishi07’s story is full of twists and turns that make it hard for the player to figure out the seemingly incomprehensible mystery at large. This is how it should be.
5. The Silver Case
Grasshopper Manufacture might be better known now for games like Killer Is Dead, Lollipop Chainsaw, and No More Heroes, but back in 1999, they made The Silver Case. This game was the first one they ever made. The Silver Case is a game that has a lot of the early features of a Suda game. It puts players in charge of two different characters in two separate scenarios, both of which deal with a gruesome murder investigation.
The Silver Case didn’t come out in the whole world until 2016, and it has since been made for the Switch and PlayStation 4. I think it’s one of the more unique visual novels that Steam has to offer. The fact that the title isn’t very well known makes it a hidden gem that’s just waiting to be found.
6. Emily Is Away Too
Even though I don’t know much about AIM chatrooms now, I can still remember what they looked like when I was a child. As far as I know, Emily isn’t here. Too looks like that to tell its story. From 2006 to 2007, you follow a young man who is in his senior year of high school. He talks to two girls in his class, Emily and Evelyn, about their lives online. During a series of chats, the two start to open up to your character and become more close to him, with different endings depending on what you do during the chats.
“Youtoob” and “facenook” pages sent to you by Emily and Evelyn are so cute because they were made with a lot of thought and care (and that you can open up on an actual web browser). The writing is also very good. Emily and Evelyn feel like real teenagers who have been through a lot of things. It’s worth taking a look at the first game, too. Emily Is Away Too is a great follow-up to the original Emily Is Away, and if you like one, you’ll like the other one.
7. Long Live The Queen
Long Live the Queen’s screenshots can make people think they’ll like the game more than they do. One of the main characters is an anime princess who is very pretty and cute. It looks like a lot of other visual novels as well. But it’s very hard. There are a lot of different shades of the Princess Maker in this place.
People will live for a long time Elodie, a 14-year-old girl, is sent home from school after the death of her mother, the Queen of Nova. Elodie has to learn quickly how to stay alive in court, both literally and figuratively, because her enemies are always trying to hurt her reputation or kill her off at every turn. The game, which seems simple at first, gets darker and darker as you play, with more chances of death following each decision you make. Elodie’s survival is based on whether you’ve taught her one of the 18 skills she can level up during the game. This means that your first playthrough, or even your first dozen playthroughs, will likely end in a quick death.
The game has many ways to win, so there is no “true” way to finish the game. If you make good decisions and level up your skills, the story will change a lot. This means that a single successful game may last about four hours, but not show you nearly everything that can happen in the story. If you’re looking for a fun fantasy visual novel with a lot of strategy, this is the book for you.