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Thread: Karifean's Top 10 Visual Novels

  1. #16
    Witch of Theatergoing Karifean's Avatar
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    Default #8 - Ever17: The Out of Infinity


    #8
    Ever17 - The Out of Infinity

    Developer: KID
    Availability: Localized, but out of print
    Adult Content: None
    Length: Long (~40 Hours)


    When you close your eyes, I disappear.

    Ever17 is one of those visual novels that gets a ton of praise for its storyline. It's written by the same guy who made 999 and the two supposedly share a number of similarities with each other.



    Such a great opening movie.

    Ever17 takes place in the underwater theme park LeMU. Through what seems to be chance, six unrelated people end up in the park when an alarm strikes and the first underground floor of the park gets flooded. All visitors besides those six were successfully evacuated, but the six people in question are stuck. To make things worse, if they aren't rescued within approximately seven days, LeMU is going to implode, killing them all.



    The atmosphere surrounding the incident is pretty intimidating. It keeps you wondering whether the accident really was an accident or actually plotted, especially the more you get into all the characters' backstories... and who knows if they're really the only ones in LeMU?

    One of the things I love about Ever17 is the fact that it has two POV characters. In the early parts of the story it constantly switches between the two, until a particular choice soon enough determines which will be your POV for the rest of the playthrough. The routes you can access are naturally different for both POV characters, and you need to complete all four to unlock the final, true route.



    My personal favorites of the first four routes were Tsugumi's and Sara's, but the final route easily blows all others out of the water (no pun intended). It's where everything is resolved and it all ends up making way more sense than I'd ever expected it to. It makes extraordinary good use of the visual novel medium's unique form of presentation and I couldn't imagine Ever17 ever being adapted to an anime or anything like that.



    The only problem with Ever17 is that it's damn hard to get a hold of. It did get an official localization many years back, but it's out of print and if you want a copy now you're looking at quite ridiculous prices. But if you do manage to find a way to read it, Ever17 is definitely worth your time.



  2. #17
     Master of the Fork Cid's Knight Freya's Avatar
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    That one has an interesting concept. What platform is it on?

  3. #18
    Witch of Theatergoing Karifean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Freya View Post
    That one has an interesting concept. What platform is it on?
    PC. In fact, all the VNs on this list besides Ace Attorney have a PC release.

    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.
    I can see that, it felt a little weird for me to play an otome game at first but it ended up being just fine. If nothing else galge have a very skewed male/female character ratio so the chances of finding likeable female characters are pretty high ^^

  4. #19
    Witch of Theatergoing Karifean's Avatar
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    Default #7 - Higurashi no Naku Koro ni


    #7
    Higurashi no Naku Koro ni

    Developer: 07th Expansion
    Availability: Localized by MangaGamer (Episodical Steam release, starting May 15th)
    Adult Content: None
    Length: Very Long (~80 Hours)


    To whoever may read this: Please find out the truth. That's my only wish.

    This one may be a bit more well-known, given that it has a fairly successful and quite good anime adaptation.

    The main character of Higurashi is an adolescent by the name of Keiichi Maebara. Due to various circumstances he and his family move to the rural town of Hinamizawa. He quickly gets along with the locals, especially Mion and Rena, two girls around his age. However, even as time passes he still has that feeling that he's not really a part of their community at all; that everyone's hiding things from him that he ought to know as a fellow resident of Hinamizawa. By chance he gets a glimpse of Hinamizawa's dark past involving a repeating 'curse' phenomenon that claims two lives every year, and when it hits once again Keiichi starts realizing what's going on... and what's going to happen to him...


    Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, or Higurashi: When They Cry in English, is best described as a supernatural mind-screwy horror mystery with great emphasis on the latter. As confusing as the plot can get at times, it really tries to get its readers to solve its core mystery. This is something I feel was lost in the anime for the most part, as it put more focus on the gory murders and people going insane instead of actually getting people invested in trying to figure out what's happening. Which made for a quite enjoyable series in its own right, but quite a different experience compared to the sound novel.



    Unlike most other visual novels Higurashi is entirely linear, and is divided into eight episodes. The first four are dedicated to presenting the situation and posing all the questions, while the latter four focus on giving clues and answers that ultimately come together to form the big picture and have everything make sense. The latter four are technically considered the 'sequel' to the first Higurashi, forming "Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai" as the second entry in the When They Cry series, but they really are two halves of one story.



    Higurashi calls itself a "sound novel" because it focuses more on its sound and plot rather than its visuals to create an enthralling atmosphere, although really I always felt that was just an excuse to justify their, ahem, aesthetically questionable character sprites. Seriously, while they didn't bother me reading through it myself - in fact they make for some great contrast when the sprites suddenly turn extremely creepy - I can't call them good by any means. If they bother you there are ways to give the game a graphic update, and the upcoming Steam rerelease has new sprites as well, so yay!



    Original sprite on the left, PS2 version on the right.

    What Higurashi certainly succeeds at is creating an incredible atmosphere that just draws you into it completely. Its storytelling is some of the best I've ever seen, and the first story arc is a great example of that. At first it's incredibly lighthearted and silly, but that only serves to set up the mindscrew that comes after. It intrigues you yet leaves you hanging just enough so that you really want to know what really went down, and going back to it later and putting all the pieces together is satisfying as hell.



    My favorite arc is easily the first answer arc, Meakashi-hen (Eye Opening Chapter). It's the first time things really start coming together, giving a deep insight into the actions and motivations of one particular character, who promptly ended up being my favorite character as a result. Although really, just about all of Higurashi's cast is great. Keiichi, Mion, Rena, Rika, Satoko, Tomitake, Ooishi, Irie, Takano, Akasaka... so many good characters.



    The soundtrack of Higurashi, especially in Kai, the second half, does a great job supporting the series' atmosphere and overall feel. Although there are few tracks I would listen to outside of context, the OST always reminds me of why I like Higurashi so much. The one standout track it has is "You" with its many variations. Love that piano.

    The series does have very graphic descriptions of violence at times, so be warned, but of course being a novel it's not nearly as graphic about it as the anime was. If you can stand it, I certainly recommend at least checking it out.

    Original Novel Description
    Last edited by Karifean; 04-04-2015 at 11:06 AM.

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    Crazy Scot. Cid's Knight Shauna's Avatar
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    I will never get over their balloon hands. xD

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     Master of the Fork Cid's Knight Freya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shauna View Post
    I will never get over their balloon hands. xD
    I was just wondering wth about that in the screenshot

  7. #22
    Witch of Theatergoing Karifean's Avatar
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    Glorious Ryukishi07 original sprites. At least they got better over time.

  8. #23
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    Default #6 - Steins;Gate


    #6
    Steins;Gate

    Developer: 5pb./Nitroplus
    Availability: Localized by JAST USA
    Adult Content: None
    Length: Moderate (~30 Hours)


    El Psy Kongloo.

    Steins;Gate is one of those novels that everybody seems to like, and for good reasons; It's got possibly the best main male character in any visual novel, one of the best main female characters, delightful internet-culture-based humor, a sci-fi plot that's actually quite easy to follow, and loads of well-executed drama. What's not to like?



    The story of Steins;Gate follows a young adult by the name of Rintarou Okabe, or as he likes to call himself, Hououin Kyouma. He's the leader of the "Future Gadget Laboratory", a place where he and his friends hang out and and do weird trout with technical gadgets. By chance they happen to turn their microwave into a makeshift time machine that can send emails to the past. They experiment with it more and more trying to find out what it's capable of, granting some wishes to people they're close to. But before long it turns out they should have been more careful with what they change... as their changes cause effects they could not have even dreamed of...



    The MC, as I already mentioned previously, is awesome. He's a self-proclaimed mad scientist and reacts incredibly over-the-top to just about everything, making for some very hilarious scenes. But as you might be able to tell it's really just an act, so when things get serious he drops his façade and turns back into the genuinely caring person he actually is. Definitely one of my all-time favorite characters out of any visual novel.



    The other half of the main duo is the genius scientist Kurisu Makise, who gets stabbed in the first 30 minutes of the game only to turn up alive shortly thereafter when Okabe accidently activates his time machine for the first time. As I said, she is quite a genius, and is most of the brains behind the development of the time machine. Her interactions with Okabe are glorious and drive most of the VN's comedy.



    There are six endings, three of which branch off the main plot, and three that conclude it. The true end is a pain to get to, but it's very touching and easily the most satisfying of all the endings.

    The OST is, unfortunately, quite unremarkable for the most part, but there is one notable exception: the main theme, Gate of Steiner, and its remixes. One of my absolute favorite tracks of any VN soundtrack.



    Steins;Gate also has, in my humble opinion, the best anime adaptation of any visual novel to date. It feels just the same as the novel and the minor differences don't make it any less enjoyable. I wholeheartedly recommend reading the visual novel, but failing that the anime is a good replacement.

  9. #24
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    I clicked on this thread just to see if there were any games I actually played since I don't play that many visual novels. Glad to see Phoenix Wright up there.

  10. #25
    Crazy Scot. Cid's Knight Shauna's Avatar
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    My friend played Steins;Gate. She had a specific path in mind, and it required her doing something specific with the microwave right at the start of the game. She could never get it to work, and so, after months of getting it working on her laptop, she completely sacked it.

  11. #26
    Witch of Theatergoing Karifean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ToriJ View Post
    I clicked on this thread just to see if there were any games I actually played since I don't play that many visual novels. Glad to see Phoenix Wright up there.
    Yeah... that's the one VN on this list I actually expected people to have played. It is quite an extreme niche, which as an avid fan is a bit depressing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shauna View Post
    My friend played Steins;Gate. She had a specific path in mind, and it required her doing something specific with the microwave right at the start of the game. She could never get it to work, and so, after months of getting it working on her laptop, she completely sacked it.
    O.o with the microwave you say? The only thing I can think of is entering the wrong command ten times in a row which gives you an achievement. Other than that it's only the phone triggers that have an impact on anything. Or did you mean she couldn't get the game itself to work?

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    Crazy Scot. Cid's Knight Shauna's Avatar
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    Ahh it could have been the phone! I only remember little bits of it. Mostly that she was mad because she couldn't get it to do what she wanted it to do.

  13. #28
    Witch of Theatergoing Karifean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shauna View Post
    Ahh it could have been the phone! I only remember little bits of it. Mostly that she was mad because she couldn't get it to do what she wanted it to do.
    Okay yeah, as much as I like Steins;Gate... the phone is total bulltrout. It's the most inconvenient way of making choices I've ever seen in a visual novel. Whenever you can respond to a text message you get, you can sort of choose what 'subject' you want to bring up, but the problem is that you don't see the message you're going to type until you can already no longer back out of sending it. Which is stupid and makes getting the 'correct' choices incredibly annoying unless you follow a guide step-by-step, or painstakingly write down what to send.

    I played through the game twice then just used a guide to get to the true ending. Looking back on it, I might have doubled my playtime had I tried to find it myself.

  14. #29
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    Default #5 - Muv-Luv


    #5
    Muv-Luv (Series)

    Developer: âge
    Availability: Japan Only
    Adult Content: Yes
    Length: Long (~80 Hours)


    Time is the cruelest kindness.

    Oh yes, Muv-Luv. Fair warning, this is gonna be a long post.

    I originally planned on posting this list quite a bit earlier in March, but there was one thing that kept me from doing so: I had not read Muv-Luv at that point. And I didn't feel right making a Top 10 Visual Novels list without having read the highest rated visual novel on VNDB.

    I won't be able to completely avoid spoilers for all games, especially since the final part of the trilogy builds heavily upon the first two, so if you're definitely planning on reading Muv-Luv and don't wish to be spoiled at all, you might want to skip this post. I will do my best to be vague so as to spoil as little as possible.



    On the left: Meiya, on the right: Sumika, the two main heroines

    Muv-Luv is a trilogy comprised of Extra, Unlimited and Alternative. Muv-Luv Extra is a rather generic highschool harem slice-of-life kind of story. While the two main heroines, Meiya and Sumika, are pretty likeable, the protagonist, Takeru Shirogane, is incredibly dense, and just about everyone else is forgettable as hell. Especially the all the non-mandatory character routes... they were just boring. If it weren't for the occasional laugh, the two main heroines, and the at least somewhat engaging romance, I'd be out of good things to say about it.



    Yuuko knows best.

    So we're off to a rocky start, but what about Muv-Luv Unlimited? Well thanks to its setting it's already a lot more interesting than Extra; one day Takeru wakes up and finds the entire city around him in ruins. Nothing's left, except for his own house. Takeru decides he has to be dreaming and decides to just enjoy it as much as he can. I'm not gonna spoil the rest of it.



    Even with the initially intriguing and somewhat dark setting, Muv-Luv Unlimited is upbeat and bright as hell. Takeru is still as dense as before and the harem hasn't gone anywhere. While it's a lot more tolerable than Extra and has a pretty good ending, I still can't call it good overall.



    But it has mechas, if you're into that.

    So with all that, why is it #5 on this list?

    Simple, Muv-Luv Alternative happened.




    Seriously one of the hypest openings I've ever heard. From that point on it was clear that the mood has completely shifted. Gone is the fluffy pink logo from Muv-Luv Extra, Alternative's logo is simply grey. The lighthearted title screen theme from Extra/Unlimited is replaced by Crash.



    Alternative begins with Takeru waking up back in his room, only to notice that he has looped back to day one, and all previous events have been undone - except that he still remembers them all. Determined to prevent disaster from striking again, he sets out to do things differently this time.



    Muv-Luv Alternative is by FAR the best part of the Muv-Luv Trilogy, and easily makes sludging through Extra and Unlimited worth your time. Takeru is now actually a really likeable protagonist, and all the other main characters also get some good character development. It even resolves the harem very early on since now there's a 'one true pairing' (and it also happened to be my favorite pairing from Extra, so hooray). In short... just about all the issues I had with the first two novels are gone.

    You can neatly separate Alternative into three acts. The first act is a repeat of a lot of previous events, but this time a hell of a lot better thanks to Takeru being a badass now. It's still somewhat reminiscent of the first two games, but in a good way. Around this time I found myself getting really attached to the cast and caring about seeing them succeed.



    The second act is when Alternative gets progressively darker and darker. I'd say its main focal point is Takeru's character development as everything he's built up starts to crumble around him. I seriously felt as if Alternative just kept going "oh you think he's hit rock bottom? Well smurf you, here's one more!" It gets so dark I actually started to wish I'd be back in Muv-Luv Extra. It was still happy and fun back then. Yes, that visual novel I considered boring and way too upbeat? I wanted it back. Badly.

    I'm not gonna talk about the final act; if you want to know what happens, you'll have to read it yourself.



    Alternative managed to do something quite incredible: it made me appreciate Extra and Unlimited, and a lot at that. Without having read those two first, Alternative simply wouldn't pack nearly the punch it does. Usually Key is the studio that specializes in tearing down happy times, but Muv-Luv is just on a completely different level. It literally spent TWO ENTIRE VISUAL NOVELS just building and setting up for their deconstruction in Alternative. It was an incredibly daring move on âge's part, but given Alternative's extreme popularity, it certainly paid off.



    Of course I also have to mention the soundtrack. While Extra and Unlimited were once again unremarkable in this regard, Muv-Luv Alternative has a great soundtrack. It does wonders to build atmosphere in context, and is still great to listen to outside of context, which is exactly what a great soundtrack should be like. There are a lot of suspenseful, anticipation-building tracks, like War Preparation or Briefing, and quite a few emotional tracks like Meiya or End of Regret.

    And oh my god I swear Flame of Life is one of the overall best tracks from any visual novel soundtrack as far as I'm concerned.



    I think the anime Muv-Luv is best compared to is Attack on Titan, both in tone and in popularity. If you liked Attack on Titan, chances are you'll love Muv-Luv Alternative. If on the other hand you hated it, or you don't like dark settings in general, or you despise mechas, then Muv-Luv Alternative might not be for you. There is a good reason MLA is as popular as it is, and while it's (obviously) not my personal favorite - and going by it's popularity I actually expected it to end up even higher on the list - I still loved it.

    But now we're getting to the Top 4, and to me this is a notable step up because if I were to rank my favorite video games including visual novels, my #1 non-VN game would be at the #5 spot with the Top 4 occupied by these very novels. They are the main reason I like the genre as much as I do, and why I prefer it over any other storytelling medium. And if anyone else here ever gets around to reading them, I hope you will agree~

  15. #30
    Witch of Theatergoing Karifean's Avatar
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    Default #4 - G-senjou no Maou


    #4
    G-senjou no Maou

    Developer: AKABEiSOFT2
    Availability: Japan Only
    Adult Content: Yes (can be patched out)
    Length: Moderate (~30 Hours)


    Come capture me, Usami Haru. If you are indeed worthy, then I shall be your opponent.

    Ah, my very first entry on my blog. Hard to believe it's only been three months since then.

    The story of G-senjou no Maou, or The Devil on G-string, follows a young man called Kyousuke Azai. When he's at high school, he's a rich laid-back playboy just messing about, not sticking out much. When he's at home, he's the son and underling of Gonzou Azai, a yakuza boss, in a daily routine of coercing and blackmailing. This Kyousuke is ruthlessly economical and follows the philosophy that the entire world revolves around money and that it's the single most significant factor of a person's worth.




    Kyousuke manages his double-life pretty well, until a transfer student appears; Haru Usami, a somewhat weird, yet very smart girl with really long hair. She is apparently rather eccentric, letting her classmates call her "Hero" and calling them her "party members". Plus she makes one hell of an impression when she plays detective and exposes Kyousuke and his best friend Eiichi as the culprits of a silly prank at school.



    But, she is on a personal mission; to find the notorious phantom only known as 'Maou' (Japanese for 'Devil'). Anytime the conversation turns to him, her expression becomes one of absolute hatred. Kyousuke apparently doesn't take much of an interest in her mission at first, but...



    Very soon, 'Maou' makes his appearance by sending a threatening e-mail to Kyousuke and challenging Haru to a game of tag. And as if that wasn't enough, Gonzou's mafia and Kyousuke's friends are soon dragged into their clash as well...



    G-senjou no Maou has one of the most engaging and thrilling stories I've ever read. 'Maou' and Haru's battle of wits always keeps you on the edge of your seat and is a joy to watch from beginning to end. And it only keeps getting better and better in subsequent chapters until it all culminates in one of the best endings I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing.



    The main cast is simply great. Haru is definitely one of my all-time favorite heroines, and female visual novel characters in general. Her intelligence never feels forced or misused as a plot device, and she has such a lovable personality. Kyousuke is a wonderful morally-grey protagonist whose occasional sadistic tendencies make you really question your initial impression of him. And 'Maou', the enigma, is such an amazing antagonist. He's the "villain who's always one step ahead of you" done perfectly. I loved every second I spent with these characters.

    The side characters, while not quite as memorable as the mains, are still notable. I love Eiichi's silly antics and club activities with Kyousuke. Tsubaki is easily my favorite heroine next to Haru; seeing her endlessly bright world break down around her was just shocking. And of course who could forget Gonzou, Kyousuke's foster father, the King of the Beasts, possibly THE most intimidating character I've ever seen.



    The soundtrack is golden. Almost all tracks are reimaginations of classical music pieces and it fits the novel perfectly. Just to list some examples, The Moment of Truth (Beethoven - Für Elise), Sunset (Schubert - Der Erlkönig), The Devil (ditto), No Escape (Beethoven - Appassionata 3rd Mov.), Showdown (Wagner - Ride of the Valkyries) and of course Air on the G-String. There are also four truly original tracks - the opening song, two ending songs, and Sayounara - which are damn good as well.



    G-senjou no Maou is my #1 recommendation for anyone who wants to get into the VN genre, or who just wants to read a damn good visual novel. It's really easy to get into and doesn't let you go, and at only ~30 hours it has what might just be the best time-to-quality ratio out of any visual novel I've ever read. If you haven't read it, you really should. I would be very surprised if you didn't like it.

    It is rated 18+, but there is a patch to cut out the H content, you can get it here.
    Last edited by Karifean; 04-06-2015 at 09:26 AM.

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