When you hear the word “visual novel,” what comes to mind? I'd guess you thought about an illustrated book or comic with lots of images, but that’s not what this mix of multimedia and text is about. Believe it or not, visual novels are games, or more specifically, video games, and unlike a regular novel, they offer the option of interacting with the story through decision challenges and even influencing the fate of the characters in order to win the game.
While visual novels might sound too boring for gamers, and too interactive for bookworms, the truth is all types of people can enjoy this literary genre, since it combines the best of both worlds. How? Unlike regular video games, where players have pretty much full control of the characters' movements, and they have to use their skills with the remote to win the game, visual novels are more about reading the novel’s story with animated characters. Most of the time, players are required to interact in the story, not by jumping from hill to hill or shooting the enemies, but rather by helping the characters reach an epiphany. If this is intriguing you to the point you are willing to give it a try, then you need to check out these novels, which can even be downloaded to your phone.
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc
This game is part of the many series, games, and mangas of Danganronpa. The story follows the life of 14 high school students who are locked inside their school, where a sadistic, remote-controlled teddy bear named Monokuma forces them to kill another student and not get busted. As a player, you are helping a character named Makoto Naegi, a student, find out who the assassin is and escape from the deadly high school. The visual novel is available for Playstation and smartphones.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
In this visual novel, you follow the life of a brave attorney who loves yelling “Objection!” during his court cases, which most of the time are about murder. You help him find clues and dig into the crime scenes in order to help his clients go free. As you keep going through the many chapters of this game, the level of difficulty increases and the story line get more twisted and bizarre as you go. This visual novel is part of the Ace Attorney series, and you can find it in different animes and mangas, as well as a visual novel for Nintendo DS.
One Night Stand
Picture yourself waking up in a room that’s not yours, unable to recall how you got there the night before, and suddenly realizing that the woman lying next to you is a stranger. This is the story behind One Night Stand, a game that offers many different scenarios and endings. Unlike most visual novels, this one is not based on a manga or anime. Here you just look around the room to find out who she is and how exactly you got there.
Zero Escape: The Nonary Games
This is a very intense visual novel full of suspense. The plot follows nine strangers who have been kidnapped and held captive by an unknown individual known as “Zero”. They are then forced to play a deadly game in order to escape alive. The game has two main sections: the novel section, where we learn about the background story, and the escape section, where players have to find clues and solve mysteries in order to escape. There are a few versions of this series of games and they are all available to be downloaded.
Visual novels require a lot of reading, and the fate of the characters is in your hands, since the games offer many alternative endings. If you are all about action, you might think this genre isn’t for you, but you should at least give it a try to find out. On the other hand, as you might have noticed, these games focus mostly on anime and manga, and they are developed mostly in Japan, where they’re widely popular. If you are a manga nerd, definitely get one of these, since you’ll love the combination.
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