From Steins;Gate to Ace Attorney games, there are some visual novels on Steam that no fan should miss.
With Steam's collection of visual novels growing all the time, it can be hard to know where to start reading about such a large and expansive genre. Finding your next storytelling masterpiece from the vast reach of the Steam store can be difficult, even for players with some VN experience.
For anyone worried they're missing out, Reddit is here to help by sharing visual novels they think are absolute must-plays regardless of experience. With everything from Ace Attorney and Danganronpa to Fate's Gate and Stein's Gate, there's reason to try all of these games.
Higurashi When They Cry (2002-2006)
07th Expansion is a legendary name in visual novel game development, thanks in no small part to their legendary debut in the genre starting in 2002. Redditor jackpoll4100 commented that they "favourite the mysterious VN", which is why they couldn't help but consider Higurashi When They Cry a must-play.
Centered around a group of friends living in a village plagued by unexplained events, the game does a good job of building a sense of paranoia around its murder mystery elements, while also containing light-hearted slices of life, make it Twisted moments are even more compelling.
Some of the better visual novels ended up being adapted into other media, but, after spawning what is considered the best sci-fi anime of all time, it's fair to say that Steins;Gate is on another level. Redditor jayveedees was one of many users who called the game "an absolute must-have."
Steins;Gate's core appeal is its riveting and sometimes heartrending story, which centers on a group of students who discover the secret of time travel but soon realize the full consequences of what they've done. Time travel can be a tricky mechanic, but few do it better than Steins;Gate, which even features multiple endings depending on the player's choices.
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc (2010)
For anyone who loves puzzles, courtroom drama, psychological horror and everyday social sims, Danganronpa has combined them all into one package that has won them a loyal following since its launch in 2010. With three mainline titles and several spin-offs, Redditor DarshTefa recommends playing "all of the Danganronpa series".
The first game, subtitled Trigger Happy Havoc, sets the tone by introducing the unique class of elite students locked inside An empty school on a mission to participate in a gruesome game of murder. Decisions matter too, as it's a game with a memorable ending for those who make the wrong choice.
Goofy, light-hearted romance and war with giant mechs might not seem like a natural combination, but that's what has made Muv-Luv an iconic visual novel for nearly two decades. Redditor ruffraida was one of the many users who recommended the game, commenting that "the feeling I get from this game so far has not been matched."
When the game's average high school student player character is suddenly thrown into a situation, After they wake up in bed with a powerful heiress, Muv-Luv is totally unprepared to set about building one of the biggest genre shifts in history. Thanks to a massive Kickstarter campaign, Steam has released an improved version of the game with official English subtitles.
The House In Fata Morgana (2012)
The darkly ambitious The House of Fata Morgana presents a captivating gothic story spanning nearly a millennium and a variety of genres. Redditor The_First_LaLaLa commented that their must-play visual novel "must be Fata Morgana's house," but encouraged players to read the content warnings before heading out.
That's because Fata Morgana's house doesn't go somewhere uncomfortable, if not devastating. Love and tragedy go hand in hand throughout the game's sprawling story, presented in vivid, evocative paintings. While the game lacks in terms of interactivity, that's rarely a disappointment when the storytelling is this rich.
Little Busters! English Edition (2017)
Clannad may be a little more famous, but players who delve into this emotional visual novel from the same developer tend to get an overwhelmingly positive response. Redditor hackrabbits released Little Busters! at the top of their list of must-play games, adding that it's worth playing "the full version including all the extra routes".
Originally released in 2007, subsequent editions expanded on the story and characters, the English version being the first to package everything together in HD resolution for an English-speaking audience. Its dating sim format belies a simple but powerful story, and an opportunity to invest in some unique and memorable characters.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy (2019)
Many people have tried to imitate the Ace Attorney title, but none of the games have come close to the real thing. The characters and settings can be ridiculous, but it's impossible not to get sucked into the over-the-top courtroom drama This makes Ace Attorney games unique.
Redditor Global-Personality-2 rated the game highly, commenting that "When playing AA for the first time, it is recommended to start with the trilogy." Phoenix Wright is the face of Ace Attorney games for a reason, when he started He takes on the role of a pointy lawyer as he pursues strange and often inexplicable murders, a simple joy you won't find anywhere else in the game.
Utawarerumono: Prelude to the Fallen (2002)
For those who find visual novels with low interactivity and minimal gameplay a little off-putting, Utawarerumono: Prelude to the Fallen and the other games in the Utawarerumono trilogy are well worth checking out. Utawarerumono: Prelude to the Fallen instantly sets itself apart by combining classic VN storytelling with thrilling tactical RPG gameplay.
Redditor Evolved_Algorithm considers the game "essential", commenting that it's "a bit like VN's Lord of the Rings in that it's an epic adventure game." Just like Lord of the Rings, with unique characters and a compelling setting Giving weight to all those epic moments and huge battles.
Umineko When They Cry - Question Arcs (2016)
07th Expansion's second big series is as ambitious as Higurashi, presenting A long and complex mystery that needs some serious unraveling. Redditor turtleman000 considers it a must-play because it's "the smartest and most unique VN I've ever read".
Not surprisingly, one of the game's greatest strengths is its cast, which is one of the funniest and most diverse of any visual novel. However, Umineko's story means it's consistently at the top of people's must-play lists, sometimes shocking and thought-provoking in ways few games can.
While it's now best known for its tear-jerking animated adaptations and classic visual novels, Clannad remains one of the best-selling emotional dramas in the genre. Redditor Zealous-Vigilante considers Little Busters! Would have been better from the same guy, but said they would "still recommend Clannad" before that game.
That's because Clannad is an icon of the genre, and is a good example of the storytelling power visual novels can bring to newcomers. With well-established characters, memorable twists, and now in HD on Steam, there's no reason not to start playing.