Umineko no Naku Koro ni ChiruEasily the most intense, thrilling, and mindblowing fiction I've ever read. A zany mishmash of fantasy and reality that ends up being a masterpiece-level tale. So unpredictable and engaging are the mysteries that they left me pondering for days. Excellent cast of characters that all fully develop by the conclusion. This is simply a story that cannot be explained by words alone and must be experienced.
Umineko no Naku Koro niSuspenseful isolation thriller mystery with an engaging cast. A story that makes you wonder at first before the truth slowly comes to light. Good BGM and artstyle for the PS3 version. Beatrice's laugh is more addicting than crack cocaine.
TsukihimeA beautiful contemporary fantasy with an enchanting gothic atmosphere. Arcuied is a charming lead heroine and a good foil to the protagonist, but Akiha is the one who truly stole the spotlight. Fairly limited BGM and outdated artstyle, but the plot and characters more than make up for these shortcomings.
Making * LoversCute romance comedy and likely the funniest visual novel I've played. Karen's route is undeniable the strongest, while Mashiro's route leave a lot to be desired. Charming visuals and character designs. A pure romantic love story for those wanting something vanilla.
Chaos;ChildPossibly the most unpredictable visual novel I've played so far. Each route provides a piece of the puzzle to the well-concealed mystery. Monumental twists that keep you hooked. Memorable characters, particularly the villains. Contains a lot of good statements on the ups and downs of information technology.
Baldr Sky Dive2 “Recordare”A proper closing to an exciting cyberpunk saga. Sora's route is a mindblowing pile of delicious twists and reveals. Great tension and challenging, yet exhilarating fights. Leaves no stone unturned and provides an answer to every lingering question. Could have been a 10/10 if it weren't for the mandatory flashback sidestory and overly optimistic ending.
Madou Koukaku ~Yami no Tsuki Megami wa Doukoku de Utau~Overlord route is a truly spectacular power fantasy. Battles are decently challenging and fun, but the final skirmishes in the true route are a major pain that will test your patience. Fun city management gameplay that feels highly rewarding. The three musketeers should have gotten more screentime.
Baldr Sky Dive1 “Lost Memory”Well-developed cyberpunk tale with great world-building and complex characters. The combo-based gameplay is addicting and gives this visual novel high replayability. Surprisingly dark at several points, but never excessively. Chinatsu best girl.
Subarashiki Hibi ~Furenzoku Sonzai~Highly unique visual novel rife with great philosophy. Terrific denpa horror keeps you at the edge of your seat. Full of shocking twists and strong drama. The flawed characters and their troublesome past are the main selling points. The strong adult content complements the story well.
Root Double -Before Crime * After Days-Unpopular opinion: better than Ever17. All-time favorite mystery visual novel with such an engaging narrative that it's nearly impossible to put down the game. Excellent cast, particularly the badass Watase. Could have been a perfect game if the 'Before' arc had better pacing and the SSS system was more relevant to the story.
AmagamiFluffy, lovable vanilla romcom with one of the best character designs I have ever seen. Prime example of an A-grade teenage love story. All the routes are worth playing, particularly that of Morishima, Kaoru, and Ayatsuji. Unique "school life" gameplay that heightens the experience.
Gyakuten KenjiWatching the excellent chemistry between Miles and Kay is a major part of the game's enjoyment. Investigation feature is nice, though it's been done better in other franchises (e.g. Danganronpa). First and final cases are the strongest. Main villain is somewhat forgettable.
Maggot BaitsClockup's strongest title. Perhaps the most interesting story I have read from any H-oriented visual novel. Plot and characters lack solid development, but the driving question was intriguing enough for me to binge the entire thing in two days. EX-tier character designs.
Tears to Tiara II: Haou no MatsueiExcellent world-building based on Roman/Carthage history, showing the extent of the developer's research. Hamil, Tarte, and the gang are all highly likable. Main villain of the first half is easily my favorite Aquaplus/Leaf antagonist. Unfortunately, her successor is completely forgettable, making the second half less enjoyable. Can be a bit grindy at times.
White Album 2 ~Closing Chapter~The only visual novel that manages to impact my outlook on life to a certain extent. Phenomenal romance drama with master-class writing, realistically flawed characters, gorgeous visuals, and a beautiful soundtrack. Some of its most impactful moments left me completely speechless. Will likely remain my all-time favorite visual novel forever.
White Album 2 ~Introductory Chapter~Nice introduction to the main story, although it's heavily biased towards Kazuma like the anime adaptation. Great music, nice visuals, and a controversial finale that will leave you thinking about it for days. The anime adaptation is a good substitute for those too lazy to read this.
EvenicleBasically a lighter, softer Rance with a completely likable cast. Appealing visuals, fun battle system, and well-developed characters. Kathryn is hands down the best character Alicesoft has ever created (yes, I like her even more than Rance). Seriously, it's worth playing the game just for her.
Rance VI - Zeth Houkai -First half is a bit mundane and carried mostly by Rance and his savage antics, but the second half is excellent and filled with strong character development. Best world-building among all the Rance games. Huge difficulty spike in battles starting the second half, which dampens the enjoyment.
Grisaia no Kajitsu -Le Fruit de la Grisaia-All-star cast with surprisingly great humor and tasteful (though sometimes forceful) drama. The quality of the routes is extremely diverse, with Michiru and Yumiko receiving the short end of the stick. Common route drags at times.
Muv-Luv AlternativeNeon Genesis Evangelion meets Edge of Tomorrow. Worth suffering through the two terrible prequels for. Full of nail-biting moments that kept me at the edge of my seat. Last quarter of the story is absolutely phenomenal. Strong emotional moments that nearly made me shed tears. Only the snail-paced first half kept it from being perfect.
Yume Miru KusuriAll three routes offer something very different; however, Mizuki's route is far superior to the other two. The theme of Aeka's route has been done better in other visual novels, and Nekoko's route feels extremely arbitrary at times. Artstyle is a bit dated, but the dreamy/surreal color palette is nice.
Kangokutou Mary SkelterOne of the better dungeon crawlers with a fascinating fairy tale theme and lovable cast. Classes are a bit unbalanced, with Marshal and Paladin being mandatory in higher difficulties. Decent story, though the plot twist is extremely predictable. The world-building could have been better.
Monmusu Quest! Shuushou ~Makereba Youjo ni Okasareru~Moderately fun at first, though it gets repetitive later on. Alice is a charming main heroine, but just about everyone else is forgettable. Artstyle and soundtrack are below average, so play this mainly for the decent story and gameplay. Oh yeah, and also the entertaining bad ends.
Ar Nosurge ~Umareizuru Hoshi e Inoru Uta~Wildly confusing yet unique story that only produces more questions as it progresses, but that's exactly why it's enjoyable. Delta/Cassie route is more interesting than that of Ion/Earthes, although all four main characters are great. Typical of a Gust game, the soundtrack is nothing less than stellar.
Corpse Party BloodCoveredMostly terrifying, sometimes unintentional comedy. Characters are two-dimensional like in most horror media, but the story is genuinely interesting, especially during the second half. Refreshing to see an RPG Maker title that's not a cookiecutter adventure tale.
Kyokugen Dasshutsu ADV - Zennin Shibou DesuFairly mundane overall despite the well-done mysterious atmosphere. The interesting story is brought down by the dull characters and annoyingly complex puzzles. Despite being unpredictable, not all the twists are for the better.
Eiyuu * SenkiSengoku Rance with a softer touch. Nice waifus and H-scenes, but the protagonist's personality is flatter than paper. Plot is somewhat average, though the final arc is a bit heavy-handed. Might be a bit too easy for those who are accustomed to tactical games. Nobunaga is unarguably best girl.