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Thread: Karifean's Top 10 Visual Novels

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    Witch of Theatergoing Karifean's Avatar
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    Default Karifean's Top 10 Visual Novels

    So now that I finally feel like I've read the absolute must-reads of the visual novel genre, I decided I might as well list my current Top 10 Visual Novels. I know there aren't many users around here that actually read visual novels, but if you have an open mind towards the genre or are looking for some recommendations, you might find something to your liking here.

    It should come as no surprise that I adore visual novels. They often have some of the best soundtracks of all time, and story-wise they blow games out of the water. But visual novels are not only my favorite video game genre, but also my favorite storytelling medium in general. There's so much you can do with the perks of visual novels that you just can't really replicate in books or TV. I'll go further into details about why I love the medium so much as we go, because there are some very good examples of novels whose storytelling would really suffer if ported to another medium.

    A few ground rules for this list. First off, I cannot read anything beyond basic Japanese so any visual novels without a translation patch are out by default. And of course, while I have read a good number of visual novels, there are far more I haven't read. Especially VNs that actually got a localization and a considerable western fanbase - I can tell you upfront that Danganronpa, 999 and Ghost Trick won't be on this list, as I just haven't had the chance to read them yet.

    And with that, I hope you enjoy this list. I'll be posting #10 momentarily, then go on to post one entry per day....If you really don't want to wait you can just look me up on VNDB, which basically spoils the entire list. Your call.

    Final List


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    Crazy Scot. Cid's Knight Shauna's Avatar
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    Cool.

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    Exciting!

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    Ooo I'm excited!

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    Default #10 - Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney



    #10
    Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (Series)

    Developer: Capcom
    Availability: Fully Localized (iOS, Nintendo DS/3DS/Wii)
    Adult Content: None
    Length: Moderate (~25 hours per game)


    The only time a lawyer can cry is when it's all over.

    Starting off the list with what's most likely the most well-known visual novel series outside of Japan, we have Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, or Gyakuten Saiban (Turnabout Trial) in Japanese. I shouldn't even have to introduce it, but for people who have never heard of it before, you play as a defense attorney by the name of Phoenix Wright, and over the course of the series you take on many court cases trying hard to clear your clients' names. There's actual gameplay involved as you investigate areas, find clues and present your case in court sessions.



    One of the series' main strong points lies in its lovable characters. Between Mia, Maya, Detective Gumshoe, Miles Edgeworth, the Judge, Larry Butz, Wendy Oldbag, Pearl and later on Apollo Justice, Trucy Wright, Kay Faraday and Athena Cykes, Ace Attorney's characters never disappoint. Phoenix makes for a great protagonist and his interactions with Maya make the first three games so much fun. Later games feature different protagonists but the script stays consistently good. And while the pacing suffers at times especially in each of the games' second and third cases, it always picks back up.



    Easily my two favorite games in the series are the original first game and Trials and Tribulations, both for having a surprisingly engaging story with a great cast of characters and very memorable antagonists. I like them pretty much equally so even if you say putting an entire series on one spot is a cop-out, those two games would still share the #10 spot regardless. Although really, all the games in the series are worth reading. I haven't read Ace Attorney Investigations 2: Prosecutor's Path yet, but I definitely will, and I'm sure it won't disappoint either.

    Finally, I have to mention the soundtrack. It's good. Like, very good. The Objection themes, the Pursuit themes, the Reminiscence themes, the "Won the Lawsuit!" themes... they're solid in just about all games. Tracks I find particularly notable are Objection 2001, Objection 2013, Pursuit Cornered, Won the Lawsuit! Another Victory, Reminiscence DL-6, Swimming Anyone? and Announce the Truth 2013.

    An absolute classic series of visual novels that no fan of the genre should pass up on.




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    Crazy Scot. Cid's Knight Shauna's Avatar
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    T&T tops the first one very slightly for me. It was just so intense.

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    I've only played the first like two i think. I need to play more of them really. The games were so good.

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    IMO Rise from the Ashes is the single best case in the series, just topping Bridge to the Turnabout and Turnabout Goodbyes, but the overarching story in Trials and Tribulations was certainly good enough to make up for that.

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    Crazy Scot. Cid's Knight Shauna's Avatar
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    I like Rise from the Ashes, but it's too detached from the rest of the series and the plot lines of AA1-3. Understandable since it was introduced after the whole thing was pretty much done.

    Also agreed on the soundtrack. That ending theme to T&T brings too many feels. Too many.

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    What's next! What's next!

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    Default #9 - Rewrite


    #9
    Rewrite

    Developer: Key
    Availability: Japan Only
    Adult Content: None
    Length: Long (~50 Hours)


    Could it possibly be rewritten, that fate of her's?

    When it comes to visual novels about people wielding mystical powers in a highschool drama setting, most people would probably immediatly think of Fate/Stay Night. Understandable with how much of a classic it is, but alas it's not on this list, because to me Rewrite is way better.

    Rewrite is set in a town called Kazamatsuri, a town full of greenery. The novel's first ~10 hours or so are pretty lighthearted highschool days with lots of comedy and getting to know and love all the characters. There's a little device called Mappie that allows you to explore and interact with the city, which was really neat.



    But things aren't quite as peaceful as they seem at first. Kotarou, the protagonist, has a strange power which allows him to rewrite his own body, and occasionally he finds himself in seemingly endless corridors. As things get more and more out of hand, one day a mystery arises and in trying to solve it Kotarou ends up destroying his peaceful days all too soon.



    Now why do I like this game so much? Well for one, Kotarou is one of my absolute favorite main characters. His personality, morals and priorities are greatly shaped and affected by the events of whatever story path you're going through at the moment. Sometimes he stays true to an ideal of 'killing is bad', other times he is very much willling to take lives to make ends meet. And given all he goes through, this feels very natural.



    The story of Rewrite is great, even if the writing process was allegedly a bit of a mess. The routes tend to have a very distinct feeling, one time you're reading something straight out of a shonen series, another time it's very dark with loads of people dying left and right.



    The one story path that really stands out to me is Lucia Konohana's. It was outsourced to Ryukishi07, and it's by FAR the best of the routes, no contest. It's emotionally involving like no other and it also has easily the best romance. I'd argue it's a route worth reading all on its own even if the rest of Rewrite doesn't interest you that much. But well, the other story paths are still great, and Terra - the final arc - does a wonderful job concluding everything.



    Both in terms of graphics and soundtrack, Rewrite is amazing. It has some of the most beautiful backgrounds and sceneries in any VN, and the CGs do not disappoint either. The soundtrack is beautiful. Journey, Bellis Perennis and Deep Forest do a great job setting the tone from the very beginning, and some of the ending songs like You Who Never Lies and Scene Shifts There are just damn good.

    Having never got an anime adaptation unlike other Key visual novels, Rewrite is not that well-known compared to its bigger brothers. But it's certainly worth reading, especially if you like Key's other titles.



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    Crazy Scot. Cid's Knight Shauna's Avatar
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    What do you mean he can rewrite his own body? I am struggling to wrap my simple mind around what this actually entails. xD

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    Witch of Theatergoing Karifean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shauna View Post
    What do you mean he can rewrite his own body? I am struggling to wrap my simple mind around what this actually entails. xD
    Literally what it sounds like. He can change parts of his body into something else if he wants to. He uses it several times just to toughen up his body, or to have eyes that can see well in the dark, but sometimes it's not that simple. At one point, for instance, he changes his entire biological composition to be able to survive a poison that would otherwise be deadly for humans. The only downside to the changes is that they're permanent and naturally the power has its price.

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    Crazy Scot. Cid's Knight Shauna's Avatar
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    Ah, alright. That makes sense. Maybe. (??????)

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     Master of the Fork Cid's Knight Freya's Avatar
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    Ooo that one seems interesting. I've been a little hesitant on some VNs if they aren't Otome since you'er making choices, it's harder for me to do so from the opposite gender but I may give that one a chance.

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