Doki Doki Literature Club! took the world by storm when it came out in 2017. Under the guise of being an average dating sim, players were immediately taken aback when the game deliciously unfolded into an unsettling psychological horror title. It constantly breaks the fourth wall, adding a layer of trepidation to an already unsettling game. The game’s allure is so massive that the fanbase simply can’t stop talking about this game even now, which is a testament to how effective the horror of this game really is.
This visual novel provides the type of experience that will leave the player yearning for more. Those who felt this urge after the credits rolled will be glad to know that there is a wide array of visual novels for them to check out that are in the vein. Any person who thought that VNs aren’t engaging enough to keep them interested in the long run will be more than surprised by how effective these visual novels are, having a lasting impression on a person’s mind long after they’re finished playing through these titles.
Updated on August 13, 2023, by Ritwik Mitra: To this day, fans still remember how Doki Doki Literature Club! took over the internet when it was released. The visual novel was completely free and allowed players to join a Literature Club in their high school, only for things to take a dark turn after a traumatic event that changes the entire tone of the series and makes it go down a dark path that will scare players to their very core. The manner in which DDLC uses visual novel tropes to surprise the player and capture their interest every step of the way is truly remarkable, and players may actually warm up to the much-maligned visual novel genre after experiencing this title for themselves.
16 Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc
Danganronpa is not strictly a visual novel per se, including elements from detective games and dating sims to make for a pretty unique video game that fans will have a great time checking out. All three games in the series feature a set of characters with various special talents who are thrust into a twisted killing game against their will.
The first game was a great introduction to the series, even if some of the cases did feel a bit rough around the edges. Regardless, it’s still an excellent title, with the Class Trials being an explosion of visuals, minigames, and revelations that will keep players engaged till the very end of each case.
15 Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy
The Ace Attorney games are some of the best visual novels that players can check out, featuring heavy elements of detective titles and letting players discover and solve a case in court by connecting the dots and making witnesses sweat with every contradiction that is pointed out. The escalating music and amazing visuals add to the sense of wonder players experience with each breakdown in the series.
The first three Ace Attorney games have been remastered for new fans to check out this masterpiece for themselves, allowing new players to easily get into the three games that made Phoenix Wright a household name. The sheer wealth of titles in this series simply boggles the mind and will let players sink hundreds of hours in this series once they’re properly invested.
14 Milk Inside A Bag Of Milk Inside A Bag Of Milk
A visual novel that is pretty short, the oddly-titled Milk Inside a Bag of Milk Inside a Bag of Milk is a riveting tale of a woman’s struggle with psychosis. Players control the voice in her head at various intervals while she’s just trying to accomplish the simple task of going to a grocery store to get some milk.
Despite how short the game is, the excellent premise and striking visuals led to the creation of a sequel that was way bigger in scope, fittingly titled Milk Outside a Bag of Milk Outside a Bag of Milk. Fans of unique gaming experiences will love what these titles bring to the table, with the psychological horror being executed with a deft touch.
13 I Woke Up
Romance has always been complicated, and the fast-paced, mercurial modern dating scene hasn’t made things any simpler. I Woke Up is about the protagonist’s relationship with the person they woke up with—a fleeting connection that begins to fray the moment it’s stitched together, but that somehow holds within itself the possibility of forever.
I Woke Up is short and bittersweet. It may not be one of the most influential visual novels, but it makes the most of its terse writing. Conversations here are clipped, with a handful of words standing for so much more, and the repercussions of those words sometimes run out of control.
12 Ebon Light
A dark fantasy of human curiosity and elven secrets, Ebon Light takes most of its cues from RPGs. The game begins with the opportunity to customize the main character, choosing her name, appearance, and personality.
The art, music, and writing all complement one another, and while none are boundary-breaking, all of them create a pleasingly foreboding atmosphere.Ebon Light is an intriguing world and one that players will be happy to lose themselves in for a time. The love interests and other characters are all compelling, but the best character of all may be the protagonist: a woman with depth, complexity, and more than enough strengths to outweigh her flaws.
11 The Average Everyday Adventures Of Samantha Browne
When players imagine epic video game conflicts, they probably picture mighty warriors clashing with dragons in caverns filled with gold, or perhaps picture armadas of spaceships screeching towards one another towards the black void of space. They probably don’t picture oatmeal.
The Average Everyday Adventures of Samantha Browne is about the titanic struggle that even a simple task becomes when the person attempting it is wracked with anxiety. Samantha Browne is a college student who wants to make oatmeal, but doing so means leaving her dorm room and facing the world. As powerful as it is simple, this game is an underrated must-play.
10 Missed Messages
Missed Messages may not be the fourth-wall-breaking mind-bender that Doki Doki Literature Club! is, but the impression it leaves on players is no less profound. The game deals with serious, traumatic subjects, as well as ones that are quieter kinds of sad and uncomfortable.
The game is brief and can be completed in under half an hour. That may be merciful because this achingly beautiful game delivers one emotional gut punch after another. The painterly art and spot-on music selection draw players into a world of texts, memes, homework, and conversations that later come back to haunt like ghosts in a Victorian manor.
9 Umineko: When They Cry
Umineko: When They Cry features little interactivity, instead urging its viewer to sit back and enjoy the story that is going to be presented to them. When it does allow the viewer to interact, it is to uncover a series of bizarre, mind-boggling murder mysteries that are quite perplexing to solve.
It makes heavy use of sound and audio to create atmosphere and convey emotions, on top of its visual storytelling. Umineko will spin its viewer’s minds with its impeccable story and tantalizing mysteries.
Steins;Gate will not only fulfill the urges of those who enjoyed Doki Doki Literature Club, but it is also the perfect graphic novel for fans of the science fiction genre. This visual novel is often regarded by many as one of the best of all time and it is very difficult to argue this praise.
This visual novel relies heavily on time travel, the central theme of its story. Its narrative is initially calmer, but it eventually explores the horrible consequences of time travel as the story continues.
7 The House In Fata Morgana
The House In Fata Morgana visual novel will make its viewer feel a wide range of emotions. From glee and optimism to anxiety and horror, The House in Fata Morgana has an engrossing story, and those who will witness it will surely think about it for the years to come.
This tale has a very Shakespearian aura that is mysterious, heartwarming, and charming. It is both a mystery and a tragedy and those who enjoy a good visual novel like DDLC should not miss this one.
6 Analogue: A Hate Story
Analogue: A Hate Story takes the “space exploration story” trope and gives it a dark and mysterious spin. This visual novel is highly rated on Steam, and for good reason — Analogue: A Hate Story’s story and characters will leave its viewers mystified.
The story of this visual novel is centered around a starship that has lost contact with Earth. The story then progresses with the player stumbling upon text logs to uncover the mystery surrounding the ship. This journey will then present the players with twists, turns, and terror as they go along the story.
Much like Doki Doki Literature Club, the characters in Clannad have an air of normalcy about them. However, as the story continues, the viewer will be surprised to see just how terrible the skeletons are that are hiding in these characters’ closets.
While starting out very average and serene, the story of Clannad gradually becomes darker and more emotional as it progresses. Its drama element becomes more heartbreaking just as DDLC slowly gets more terrifying.
4 Sound Of Drop
Sound of Drop is a horror visual novel that those who enjoyed Doki Doki Literature Club will surely enjoy as well. Set inside the Mantem Aquarium, the story of Sound of Drop borrows inspiration from urban legends, almost to the point of being Lovecraftian, to tell a story that’s horrifying and disturbing.
There are so many things for the viewer to uncover from this visual novel. It has three different main story routes and an astounding 30 different endings.
Myth is a very enigmatic visual novel that has a story so convoluted, people are still discussing its meaning to this day. It is set in a “world of light” that’s devoid of shadows. However, the other end of the spectrum of this world, the “world of shadows,” constantly reaches out to the main character.
This place is one that’s filled with terror and malice, and the viewers will be able to behold a series of horrifying scenes when the novel takes the story to this setting. It will take a lot of patience to get through this visual novel, but it is rewarding to those who have the stomach for it.
2 Higurashi: When They Cry
Higurashi: When They Cry is exactly the kind of visual novel those who loved Doki Doki Literature Club would enjoy. Like DDLC, Higurashi starts out very innocent, until it isn’t so much anymore. This visual novel will leave the reader alarmed and horrified.
Higurashi has a story that is very enthralling, heartbreaking, and unsettling. It also features voice acting from professional voice actors, making the experience more engaging.
1 Corpse Party: Book Of Shadows
Standing at the same level of notoriety as Doki Doki Literature Club is the Corpse Party franchise. Corpse Party: Book Of Shadows is an anthology visual novel that seems innocent in the beginning, but it doesn’t take long in revealing its horrifying elements.
Unlike most visual novels, Corpse Party: Book of Shadows is heavy in interactivity. It is part visual novel and part point-and-click exploration where the viewer is urged to move the story forward.
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