Visual novel

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A fan-translation of The Portopia Serial Murder Case.

Visual novel is a genre of video game where the player reads an interactive story. Visual novels vary greatly in the amount of media and interactivity. Some are mostly text, others are mostly graphics and animation. Some expect frequent input from the reader, others require none at all. Titles often have a lot in common with earlier game books. Visual novels are sometimes referred to as "interactive fiction," which confuses them with text adventures, of which they have a lot in common.

Just like with actual novels, visual novels run the gamut of fiction genres and including mystery, adventure, fantasy, horror, science fiction, and the like. They also frequently include erotic novels, which, due to their visual nature, include a lot of pornography. Visual novels are especially popular in Japan where they frequently take the form of dating simulators.

A popular free visual novel game engine is Ren'Py.


I first played a visual novel in the early 2000s. I was looking through old DOS games and found the ZorkQuest series which uses CGA vector art to display the graphics and would prompt the user at various points to choose which way they wanted the story to go. I didn't find it very interesting and gave up before my first play through. When I bought my friend's Nintendo DS, he included Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Justice for All which I played enough to complete the first two cases before getting bored. Around 2015 or so I stumbled upon the game Katawa Shoujo which I found to be very entertaining and beat it with two different characters. I've tried making a couple different visual novel games, but I've always given up early in development. While I enjoy the idea of visual novels, I find them to be a pretty dull form of entertainment.


One of the first visual novels was the Portopia Serial Murder Case released in 1983 for the PC-6001. The genre entered Western markets in 1988 with the ZorkQuest series. Today, there are thousands of visual novels, many of which have become quite popular like the Ace Attorney series.


These are the visual novel video games that are important to me. For the complete list, see the category.

Title Released Notes
Katawa Shoujo 2012-01-04
One Night Stand 2016-10-20


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