I never have time to read visual novels nowadays. It’s a shame since they have some of the best stories I’ve ever been exposed to. Maybe when I graduate university I’ll get back in the game, but until then let me not waste any more time and instead tell you about some of the best visual novels I’ve had the pleasure of reading.
Muv-Luv Alternative is a true beauty. It’s difficult to talk about any of it without getting into spoiler territory though. Alternative is the third and final part of the Muv-Luv series. It takes characters you’ll be familiar with (it goes without saying if you want to read Alternative you SHOULD start with Extra and Unlimited first so you can appreciate it in its entirety) and puts them in a world where an alien invasion has humanity on the brink of extinction and human-piloted mechs are their only hope for survival.
This visual novel did a lot whilst making me feel a swirl of emotions and succeeded in doing so. I can’t understate how heavy the plot is though, and I wouldn’t recommend it for the weakhearted and those who can’t deal with depression. The ending is the definition of “bittersweet”, and calming songs such as this were able to hit me in the heart every time I heard it. Oh yeah, and it’s because of Alternative Ayamine Kei was solidified as one of my favorite fictional characters of all time. The only other character I hold in high regard is Miles “Tails” Prower. Her moment with Chizuru and reading her letter had me burst into tears.
My community college days were fun and I have the Galaxy Angel trilogy to thank for that. It’s no secret Fullmetal Alchemist got me into anime and manga, and this is what got me into visual novels. There are probably better introductions, but make no mistake, Galaxy Angel is one of the best visual novels I ever read. The story is straightforward and the theme mostly centers around romantic love. It actually makes for a good amount of heartwarming moments no matter which girl you pair Tact Mayers with. It’s one of the best romance stories I’ve ever experienced. Some people talk about Beyonce and Jay-Z being “relationship goals” but for me, I would want a relationship with a woman the way Tact Mayers has with Ranpha Franboise.
For me, this visual novel oozes with charm thanks to its pretty art style, sci-fi and futuristic setting and wonderful soundtrack. I should also mention “Eternal Love“ is one of the grooviest themes I’ve ever come across in any media. The moments where it plays is always fitting and a delight to hear. The actual battle gameplay mechanics are great as well even if they are on the simple side. The ending to the third and final installment is a happy one that’s bound to bring a smile to the reader’s face.
Grisaia no Kajitsu
This visual novel really tested my patience, both in a good and bad way. If I can encapsulate what Grisaia no Kajitsu is about I would say… everyone has their own story, everyone has their own struggles, and everyone makes mistakes, regardless if you can see any of them or not. Also, no one’s perfect. Anyway, the dialogue, writing, execution and unique heroines are what makes this piece of fictional work stand out.
This has the longest common route I’ve ever read and that’s what I mean by testing my patience in a bad way. What keeps it going though is the copious amount of comedy thanks to the girls’ quirks and Yuuji’s serious and stoic disposition providing a lot of hilarious moments. Once one of the heroine’s route starts, the tone of the story takes a turn for the more serious. I started to find a deeper meaning in why the woman in question is the way she is now. There are quite a number of plot twists in each route that kept me guessing and engrossed throughout.
Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai!
This and Muv-Luv Alternative are the only visual novels I have given a 10/10 to. So yeah, I think it’s really damn good. Unlike the previous entries, Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai (usually shortened to Majikoi) is more lighthearted and over-the-top, and I’m a forgiving person especially since there wasn’t one character here I didn’t like. The story is about life, growing up and making memories with the people you love. It’s a story about family/friendship between a group of childhood friends. Considering I’m a happy person who loves his family and friends to death, I was able to get a lot from this visual novel.
It might be not plot heavy, but this is where the characters come in. All the characters are lovable, entertaining and memorable. Besides the main characters, there’s also a bunch of supporting characters and they’re all great. They contribute to the comedic dialogue and each have at least one moment to shine. If there is one visual novel I would recommend, it would easily be this one.