The west has no shortage of visual novel releases. What used to be a niche genre is slowly growing into one that is tough to avoid, even for seasoned mainstream gamers. With that said, we wanted to curate a list of visual novels that may have flown under the radar of the most prominent visual novel fans. Essentially, playing these games will make you a visual novel hipster who could stand toe-to-toe with a group of weebs.
Christmas Tina: Ephemeral Views of Winter
In the last year of the Showa Era, a Chinese boy and a Japanese girl from the countryside end up in Tokyo, finding a low-paid job in real estate. Coming from these very different settings, they have a hard time communicating as they don’t speak the same language. With a visual presentation quite unlike other titles in the genre, Christmas Tina: Ephemeral Views of Winter offers a rare sense of direction in non-animated scenes. But what really seals the deal are its fantastic characters whose poignant stories make it all worth experiencing.
When Fruitbat Factory announced the western release of Mamiya, I honestly knew nothing about it. It came out of nowhere, but I was instantly mesmerized by the atmosphere it promised. As the world is rumored to be close to its end according to the prophecies, a group of young men gathers at the funeral of a friend. The ceremony ends, but they all find themselves meeting a strange being called Mamiya, and their lives slowly but surely start to grow worse. A sensible, emotional, and depressing tale that’s sure to stick with you forever if you give it a try.
Overdrive strikes it again with a music-themed visual novel after Kira Kira and Deardrops. Musicus tells the story of Kei, a young boy who dropped out of his old school after a certain incident. Now he goes to night school while trying to find out his path into adult life. That is until his life is changed forever by having the chance to accompany a rock band on their tour. Mesmerized by them, he ends up following the music career and finding other band members. Surprisingly sincere and sometimes harsh, it’s a relatable story and one game more people should know about.
Yuzusoft has already had various games released in the west, and you won’t ever see us complaining of having even more of those. However, Parquet is their first try at an all-ages label called Yuzusoft Sour, and Neko Nyan brought it over just one month after its Japanese release.
It tells the story of a man who was created as the result of a brain-machine interface experiment. As he tries to learn a little more about who he is and how to live in society, he ends up meeting two girls and living with them. Learning more about their circumstances and the mysterious cases presented through each chapter makes for an engaging narrative. Even though this visual novel might be a little short by the genre standard, it’s a well-written story with fascinating characters and stories.
Full Metal Daemon Muramasa
Muramasa is one visual novel that was highly anticipated by the more hardcore fans of the genre. Though it was only officially announced this year, there were many teases that JAST USA would handle it. The game definitely lived up to the expectations, showing Nitroplus’ excellent handling of a sober period drama atmosphere with mechas and a serious narrative. This is one of the unique visual novels out there and one that everyone should give a try.
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