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The best visual novels

Another fantastic narrative export from Japan, think of visual novels as a comic book, audiobook, and interactive game rolled into one.

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Best Visual Novels Feast on These Modern Versions of Choose Your Own Adventure

A narrator, much like a helper in a video game, guides you through the story to explain things to you outside of the plot and characters. Some can be amusing like Deadpool’s hilarious fourth-wall breaks. Others simply pop in and add a few comments. Visual novels also add voiceovers from principal characters. But, oddly enough, sometimes the narrator or main protagonist doesn’t get a voice. 

What makes these narratives so popular? Branching storylines and you can participate, not just influence, the outcome. Just like you can choose Passage A or Passage B in your Super Mario Bros. game, you can have your characters choose an outcome. You also may need to solve puzzles, play music, or answer questions along the way. So visual novels are not quite as intense as video games, but they offer more to the narrative than a book you simply read or listen to. You get to participate in the story, as if you’re a character, without frantically pushing a series of buttons to defeat the next boss. These visual novels do lean heavily on anime and manga-style influences. So if you love Japanese animation, you’ll adore this kind of entertainment.

Does anyone remember those Choose Your Own Adventure novels from the ‘80s and ‘90s? This is the next generation of those secret path novels that kids loved. Even better, you can play these on your phone or tablet.

1. Mysterious Forum and 7 Rumors

Mysterious Forum and 7 Rumors

This award-winning visual novel follows how three characters try to solve mysteries (posted as rumors in a forum) brought forth by fellow high school students.Calling themselves “The Newspaper Club,” you get to witness how the characters track down the source of rumors and solve mysteries.This visual novel isn’t necessarily for younger kids, as the first rumor is about someone who seems to have murderous intentions towards a classmate at the schoolYour part in the action is that you post rumors on the forum. And then those rumors come true. With each episode in the visual novel, you get closer and closer to solving the mystery of why the rumors come true.

2. Underworld Office

Underworld Office: Visual Novel, Adventure Game

Much like Mysterious Forum, Underworld Office relies on the horror genre mixed in with otherworldly experiences in this chat-style visual novel.Follow Eugene, the protagonist, as he repays his life-debt to the Boss. You see, the Boss saved Eugene’s life. Afterward, the bespeckled teenager must work three days in the underworld office to fulfill the debt he owes the Boss.Your choices determine how Eugene moves through the visual novel, either as a murderer or savior, compassionate or dark, understanding or impatient. You decide Euguen’s motivations, which can change from one chapter to the next.  Do you want to go back to the life you had? Do you want to stay in the underworld office? Are you motivated simply because you want to pay your debt?You decide in this cute, touching, and somewhat dark tale.

3. How to sing your heart open

How to Sing to Open Your Heart

A visual novel about the cat people's princess, Myana, who visits the human country "Eroolia" and her love story with the imperial guard, Ludovic. Will they be able to improve the relationship between the two races together?Princess Myana loves to sing, and believes she can make her people happy with her song.This time, she visits the human's country "Eroolia" as the leader of "Laarz", the country of cat people.Relations between humans and luccretias have never been good, and Princess Myana experiences it herself in Eroolia.Will her song be able to unite the hearts between humans and luccretias?Or as the imperial guard captain, Ludovic, argues, is it better to completely cut off ties between the two countries?

4. ALLBLACK Phase 1

ALLBLACK Phase 1 Visual Novel

Follow the journey of the amnesiac and seemingly abnormal "Theodore Quentin '' as he uncovers his identity while escaping from the people who want him at all cost..."What will you see when you are dead?"Last night, I woke up without being able to remember what had happened to me, as if I had just been born yesterday. But no one could also prove that "the past" is real. It's possible that I just "existed" now, and my memories are just fabricated.This is me right now, lost, confused, and don't know where to go. Maybe I was just being born last night, but somehow, "my past" still haunted me. I can't remember it, but they said I am the one responsible for dropping the helicopter.Fuck! If only I could remember something. I can't even remember my own name. But why?! Even though I can't remember my name, I can remember the one who made me like this?!It's not only that...I'm not even sure if I'm a human being, not after what happened today. I can stop the rain. No, it's not like I can change rain to sunny weather... I make a thousand droplets of rain stop falling, hanging it in the air like defying the gravitation around me.Far from the bottom of my heart, I'm sure that I have to end all of this.My name is --------------, let me tell you my story. 

5. Argo’s Choice

Argo's Choice: Visual Novel

Play as Argo’s conscience as he navigates through seven days of a dark and twisted underbelly of society.In order to resurrect himself, Argo must make a startling choice as he finds out who he must kill.You get to tell our protagonist what to do during mundane and critical junctures of the story. By the time Argo unravels what he must do, he faces a seemingly impossible option!But is he noble in what he must do? Is he being merciful or egotistical? You decide in this chat-style visual novel.Argo’s Choice has a prequel, too, if you enjoy this one. It unlocks after you finish the first visual novel.



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