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Karifean's Blog of Visual Novels

My Current VN Tier List

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I thought about making another Top 10 list with VNs I've read or changed opinion on since my last one, but I don't think it would be particularly representative. So hey, why not make a ranking of literally *all* VNs I've ever read? Sounds like fun!

That being said, some of these novels are way too close to one another and hard to differentiate in how I feel about them. So I'm going to be doing this in tiers. I'll still try to sort the VNs in each individual tier from worst to best, but yeah, the difference is negligible.

If you're wondering why there's no 5/10 or less, it's because I consider 5 to be complete neutrality (basically a total waste of time), everything below a negative, everything above a positive experience. And I simply haven't read anything that deserves that low a score. When there's a visual novel where I believe they'd get that low a score... I just don't read them. So that's probably the reason why.

This tier list is rather skewed against shorter VNs since I rate VNs solely by what I get out of them. Longer VNs just have an advantage of being able to spend more time on characterization, building up a great plot, etc. Of course there are long VNs that don't make use of that potential, but even the best short VNs don't reach very high.

6 / 10 - "Meh"

Narcissu Side 2nd - Somehow even though I liked the first one more I couldn't really bring myself to care much about this one. It was just kind of there.

Digital: A Love Story - I don't have any sort of nostalgia for this format, and I can't say I found it engaging. It was kinda cool in a way, but I haven't really thought positively about it since finishing it.

don't take it personally, babe, it just ain't your story - It was an alright way to spend 2 hours, but, well, never thought about it ever again since, and I don't think I'll ever go back to it.

6.5 / 10 - "Below Average"

The /r/visualnovels visual novel - It's in-jokes for 5 minutes. If you don't know about this thing already, you're probably not someone who'd enjoy it.

Moonshine - Shortest VN I've ever read besides the one right above at about 50 minutes. Got about as much out of it as I could expect from a VN that length. Its themes are interesting though and I'd love to read a longer VN like this.

Tokyo School Life - There's not that much to it but it has its moments, and damn I really like that dual language mode.

Muv-Luv Extra + Unlimited - TBH they're probably only down here because I haven't reread them since reading Alternative. As it stands it's still just two galge that were so uninteresting I simply couldn't appreciate them.

7 / 10 - "It's Okay"

Analogue: A Hate Story - Pretty alright with a quite interesting setting. It's pretty dang confusing at first though, and it's still a very short novel.

Witches & Woodlands - A fan VN based on Umineko. Feels like Episode 5, which is a really good thing.

Katawa Shoujo - It was kind of underwhelming after all the other stuff I'd already read. But I could still see why some people liked it so much, and it definitely had its moments.

Hate Plus - Sequel to Analogue, somewhat more engaging but very similar overall.

Grisaia no Meikyuu/Rakuen (Added 27.09.2017) - Full disclaimer: I've only read their main routes. They were okay, had some classic Grisaia humor, but nothing particularly interesting.

eden* - They were only two, on the planet. - Nice little VN, though that's about all I can say about it.

7.5 / 10 - "Pretty Decent"

Kanon - Classic Key with some pretty good moments, but it falls into a lot of tropes of the time I'm not really fond of, and none of the characters stack up to later Key characters.

CLANNAD Side Stories - Some nice little heartwarming stories with the good old CLANNAD cast of characters. It's 16 short stories at about 20 minutes each. Some stories are kinda boring though.

Doki Doki Literature Club (Added 30.09.2017) - Cool, but only a few hours long in the end. Makes me wish there was a full length VN like this. Still, highly recommended to check out if you're a fan of VNs and/or anime.

Hakuouki -Shinsengumi Kitan- - Fun visual novel but ultimately not all that memorable.

Umineko no Naku Koro ni Hane - Two very short episodes, one is boring, the other introduces Black Battler to the franchise. As you can probably tell by my avatar, I love Black Battler. That's enough for it to get this rating ^^

Harmonia - Damn that soundtrack. Other than that it mostly kinda stands in planetarian's shadow though.

Narcissu - Two hours of a cool storyline underlined with a good soundtrack. One of my favorite short stories, but a classic example of the limitations of short length. Might end up liking the whole franchise better when I get into more of it though.

Shikkoku no Sharnoth - Very interestingly written VN, it didn't really click with me though. Still pretty cool though.

Saya no Uta - Man this is a crazy VN. Has some of the most atmospheric visual and sound direction of any VN I've ever read. On the contrary, the storyline isn't all that engaging though.

Umineko no Naku Koro ni Tsubasa - A whole collection of short episodes, some of which are damn good. Though some others are pretty pointless. I'd certainly recommend it to anyone who's read Umineko.

Higanbana no Saku Yoru ni - Dai Ichi Ya - Another 07th Expansion collection of short stories all set in the same universe. Some are good, some are okay, it's still really short though.

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney - A cool game, it doesn't have the most memorable of storylines though, especially compared to other games in the series.

8 / 10 - "A good read"

AIR - Similar to Kanon; classic Key, a cast that's not up to Key's later standards. It actually has a pretty good overarching story though.

Swan Song - Quite interesting subject matter with some great moments. Pretty hard to read at times though, even if for the right reasons...

Kara no Shoujo - A good mystery story. Worst usage of H scenes in any VN ever.

planetarian -the reverie of a little planet - Simple and memorable. Great way to spend 3 short hours.

Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai! - So much fun. If you just want crazy hijinks with almost no drama, and you don't mind H content, definitely check this one out.

Ace Attorney series (sans Apollo Justice) - All that nostalgia. And it still has some really damn good arcs.

Zero Escape series - Does some really neat things and builds quite an atmosphere. Suffers from a notable lack of memorable characters though, unfortunately.

Grisaia no Kajitsu - Fun times were had. Its primary strength is its comedy, though some of its drama is pretty good too.

Hoshizora no Memoria -Wish upon a Shooting Star- - (Added 14.04.) Simply a pretty good galge. Solid cast, solid plot, solid soundtrack.

If My Heart Had Wings (Added 19.06.2017) - See above. A straight up enjoyable reading experience.

Himawari - Has its ups and downs, but its high points are really high. Overall just a really enjoyable experience.

Fate/Stay Night - A classic. Its story and characters may not be the best but they sure are memorable. Also does something pretty damn unique with its format, with three VERY distinct storylines branching out from the same start that still build on one another.

CROSS†CHANNEL - It's hard for me to pin down my feelings on this novel. It does some incredibly interesting things and certainly has a... unique protagonist. Though it takes a while to get anywhere, and where it does get is good but not great.

Danganronpa series - Awesome fun with a select few really outstanding characters. I could easily recommend this to just about anyone.

Sharin no Kuni, Himawari no Shoujo - Cool plot, good characters, good OST. All around really solid VN, there's just nothing that really sets it apart.

8.5 / 10 - "Something Special"

Root Double -Before Crime * After Days- - It's like Zero Escape except it actually has good characters and world building. And the plot is pretty damn great too.

Steins;Gate - Damn this one's good. Definitely one of the best protagonist duos of any VN, and the drama and comedy are both top notch. The only reason it's not higher up is because I find myself thinking about it less and less as time goes on. It was really good though.

Muv-Luv Alternative - What can I say. It's the most popular visual novel of all time, and for good reasons. It's a highly dramatic sci-fi war story with some absolutely incredible moments. What keeps it from being higher up though is not ending in the most satisfying way (feels like the ending came way faster than it should've) and not really selling me on the more intricate parts of its science fiction. Has quite possibly the single best track in any OST.

Dies irae ~Amantes Amentes~ (Added 27.09.2017) - Over the top awesome plot, hammy as smurf characters, a cool setting and all of that backed by good music and some of the best artwork I've ever seen in any VN. It's goddamn awesome.

Wonderful Everyday -Diskontinuierliches Dasein- (Added 27.09.2017) - Easily one of the most smurfed up visual novels I've ever read, but has a pull that just draws you into it. Featuring a lot of unreliable narration and distinct viewpoints brought on by the different protagonists for each chapter. Also has some really good and interesting characters - including female protagonists which is a nice change of pace - and the atmosphere is just great. It'd be higher on the list, but in the end it feels like it fell a bit short. It's one of those stories I can easily see rise higher up on the list on a reread though.

9 / 10 - "Outstanding"

Ever17 -The Out of Infinity- - "HOLY TROUT" the visual novel. Reading this simply blew me away, and it set a standard for this kind of story... which probably made me appreciate the other novels in this genre a lot less than I would've otherwise, heh...

Symphonic Rain - A beautiful tale of music and drama. Especially Torta's arc and Al Fine really drew me in, because man those character interactions. It's times like these I really appreciate just how connected a VN makes you feel to the POV character.

Rewrite - A wonderful cast of characters backed by a cool setting, great atmosphere both in its visuals and soundtrack and a plot that really makes you think. While my favorite route is Lucia's for being simply by far the most enjoyable reading experience, I only recently grew to really appreciate Terra for what it is, and man is it all sorts of amazing and depressing.

Rose Guns Days - It's from 07th Expansion so naturally it has one of the best casts of characters and soundtrack of any VN, but man that plot is also really damn interesting. It's brings up very interesting political points without sacrificing (and in fact only enhancing) great character arcs and plot moments.

The House in Fata Morgana - It's a beautiful story of people loving but also hurting each other. The art style really sets it apart, and it left me pretty speechless. Absolutely amazing, that's for sure.

Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (+ Kai) - The most classic 07th Expansion. Great plot, great characters, great tension building, with some of the best character writing in the medium. Truly an outstanding visual novel.

9.5 / 10 - "Unforgettable"

G-senjou no Maou - The epitome of the enjoyable VN experience. It's thrilling, it's awesome, it's engaging, it's heart-wrenching. The true end is smurfing perfect.

CLANNAD - The golden standard of galge. Its routes are diverse and a lot of them have every bit as much effort put into them as the main route. It really conveys the feeling of "you can do anything and end up anywhere", backed with a lovable cast and great soundtrack to boot. I will definitely never forget After Story.

Tomoyo After -It's a Wonderful Life- - An extra After Story for my favorite Key heroine, and it's even better than the original. I feel like this is what many critics of Key are actually looking for in their stories. It has a small but close cast of characters and continuously gets better before culminating in bar none the best ending of anything I've ever read, no hyperbole. By far the best length to quality rating of anything I've ever read.

10 / 10 - "The Best of the Best"

Little Busters! - Between an incredibly lovable cast of characters, an amazing soundtrack and the single best route in any VN ever (Refrain), it's Key at their very best. It uses the VN medium in creative ways and is both incredibly fun and incredibly depressing at times. It even uses minigames in really cool ways. Just all around a stellar novel and one I'm dying to reread (when is it finally coming out goddamnit Visual Art's).

11 / 10 - "Life-changing"

Umineko no Naku Koro ni (+ Chiru) - "What, 11/10, what is this?" Well to put it simply, Umineko gets a perfect score on every metric I could possibly hold a work of fiction to AND EVEN THEN I still don't feel like I've fully expressed how much I love this thing. It has the best plot, the best cast of characters and of course the best soundtrack of any VN I've ever read, but on top of that it really affected me personally and I'll carry it with me wherever I go. It's been years and even now hardly a day goes by where I don't think about it. It has possibly the most unique concept and execution of anything you'll ever find, like, if you can show me anything "similar" to Umineko please do! Ryukishi has created something really, really special with this, and I can only hope and pray that I'll someday find something that matches up to it.

Updated 09-30-2017 at 01:06 PM by Karifean

Miscellaneous , Video Games


  1. Pumpkin's Avatar
    We have disagreements

    Sharky is fussing because you said 6.5 is below average when 5 is average

    ALSO read If My Heart Had Wings! Judging by our differing opinions, you won't like it as much as me but oh well
  2. Karifean's Avatar
    I did not say 5 is average, 5 is literally not a positive experience (although not a negative one either) which is seriously terrible and far below what I expect from anything I read.

    And yeah, I know we have disagreements =P I'm a big fan of really ambitious projects I can keep on thinking about for foreeever. I'm gonna read If my Heart had Wings after I finish Hoshizora no Memoria =)
  3. Pumpkin's Avatar
    No I mean he thinks 5 is average because it's in the middle. Middle of the road. Just different systems

    Anyways yeah I'm glad you have some VN's that you enjoy so much you can rate them highly :3
  4. Karifean's Avatar
    Thanks. There's a good reason I'm still so into them even now. Hope you have / continue to find more VNs - or games in general - like that yourself =)
  5. Pumpkin's Avatar
    Thank you, I've found some pretty good VNs since my last top games list
  6. Fynn's Avatar
    I'm a bit miffed Danganronpa and Zero Escape aren't higher than Ace Attorney, but at least they're both pretty damn high so that's good at least
  7. Yubel-Lover's Avatar
    No Tsukihime? It was a pretty good read imo
    Some of the routes are very disturbing and creepy, same with the characters. Bonus point: Arcueid
  8. Karifean's Avatar
    I haven't actually read Tsukihime yet~ I have the feeling that going back to it now I wouldn't really enjoy it. That's how I usually feel about the "great classics of old times" at least.

    @Fynn Sorry for enjoying Ace Attorney as much as I do xD
  9. Yubel-Lover's Avatar
    I think the most glaring aspect of Tsukihime in regard to what you said is the graphic, which is a bit outdated and could be a problem (for example FSN is a lot better in this regard). Once you get used to it though, the story and characters really shine.
    Or you could just wait for the remake (assuming well'have to wait for another 10 years lol)!
  10. Karifean's Avatar
    I'm the kind of guy who prefers the original Ryukishi sprites in Umineko over the alternatives so I think I'll be fine on that front =P

    I did plan on waiting for the remake, but it might as well be coming out in 2020 at this rate...
    Updated 04-19-2017 at 09:09 PM by Karifean
  11. Yubel-Lover's Avatar
    Then you'd have no problem whatsoever!
    2020? I think you're being too optimistic. Maybe 2025 if we're lucky
  12. Karifean's Avatar
    Updated the list with some new entries I forgot to add at some point.