cabfe

Any advice on starting with Visual Novels?

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Hello everyone,

Since there is a lot of people here who are in the VN world since many years ago, what title(s) would you recommend to someone who hasn't touch any?

What should they read, for starters?

I suppose it also depends a lot on what kind of stories people are into, so it may not be that easy to say. I'm kinda new to this too, so I can't really tell which is a good starting choice to people around me.

I've played SC2VN (available for free on Steam) and liked it. Since it deals with gaming (StarCraft 2 in this case) I thought it might be a good starting point with mainstream gamers. What do you think?

 

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Start with something solid, short to keep you interested in the content.

I'd suggest going with Katawa Shoujo as your starting line. 

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Hmm, I guess for starters it depends on what they are interested in. Some may start off by just trying out some of the popular VN that's of the genre they are interested in (eg:comedy, mystery, sci-fi).

If for mainstream gamers, maybe they could start off with some games with rich storytelling component (not sure how to properly describe that). Some transitioned into VN through games like Ace Attorney series and Zero Escape series, which have mixture of visual novels with other game mechanics.

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For starters, I can whole heartly recommend pretty much any visual novel created by "Propeller". And while only their Ayakashibito title received a fan translation up to this point, it's well worth playing for those who have a certain weakness for the supernatural.

Utawarerumono and Tears to Tiara are another couple of visual novels that beginners tend to love. Both also do have a fan translation out there.

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The main problem with VNs is that they can have a huge intro time where nothing happens, or a ton of filler scenes that don't really add anything. This is why many people don't like Muv-Luv Extra, because it's a lot of this. The best things to start off with are pure plot and are usually on the shorter end:
Horror: Phenomeno - Mitsurugi Yoishi wa Kowagaranai
            Saya no Uta
Romance: Katawa Shoujo
                 Narcissu
Sci-Fi-ish: Planetarian
Mystery:True Remembrance
              999 (DS) Longer, but also has gameplay and zero filler.
              Virtue's Last Reward (^Sequel) (3DS/Vita)
              Phoenix Wright is also a good one if you want to count it.

Edited by Anix

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Depends which genre is your favorite, but I'm pretty amazed that no one recommended eden*  here... Short romance VN with awesome CG good music and story... If you want some comedy/action/romance go for Majikoi and if you really like gameplay go and try Kamidori Alchemy Meister

If you like mystery/making choices you can also go for Ever17

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13 minutes ago, MaxelFX said:

If you like mystery/making choices you can also go for Ever17

Ever17's great, but I'm not sure how it would be as an entry VN. It's plot is incredible but it's really repetitive and has a ton of filler. My memories of that are skipping through text and having my mind blown by how awesome it was. Keep it on the list as a second or third.

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For someone who is a fan of good Sci-Fi Movies like Terminator and Bladerunner or likes the Metal Gear Solid Series then I really recommend they should read the Visual Novels by Hideo Kojima

Snatcher

Policenauts

They are both console exclusive VNs but since they are a bit dated it's not that hard to emulate them on PC, even if they are older VNs

Snatcher for SEGA CD was one of the best games for the console and one of the first examples of excellent Voice Acting being possible in early video games. The music is great and has a few player controlled action sequences that keep you on your toes. It's one of my favorite Visual Novels of all time!

As for Policenauts it was never released outside of Japan on PlayStation but thanks to the fans it did get an English Patch! So If you like 80's Buddy Cop Movies it very similar to those except they are cops in space!

Now I know some people are against Emulation and I can respect that but considering the negative things that are happening at Konami the likelihood of these games EVER getting a re-release is zero! Snatcher itself is one of the hardest to find games for the SEGA CD and like I said Policenauts was never even originally released in English.

The games aren't hard to emulate if you follow the right internet instructions but if you find yourself unable to do so you can watch Playthroughs on YouTube to get an idea about the games.

Anyway those are recommendations, they are a little out there but trust me they're awesome! ^_^

 

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I'm gonna say...

Romance: Katawa Shoujo (Most solid OELVN I know)

Short VN: Planetarian (Easilly the best example of what a short VN story can accomplish. I don't know anyone who didn't cry.)

Music: Deardrops, Kira Kira (Overdrive seems to hold a monopoly on Band-based VNs. Unless I'm mistaken.)

Action Comedy: Chou Dengeki Stryker (When you allow suspension of disbelief to take hold, this becomes a very entertaining read with some surprising emotional highs and lows.)

Horror: Either Corpse Party or Saya (Corpse Party feels like it'll be short, and given it has walking and running away from things, some people may favor it to Saya.)

If ya just want ecchi...: Sengoku Rance (Probably the only nukige I've really played and enjoyed.)

Though in general, I'd rather tell everyone immediately to suck it up and get used to reading. Then gently SHOVE them into ML, F/SN, etc. etc.

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Lots of replies, thank you guys!

Now to try some of these and prepare my salespeech to whom I'll be talking to about VNs ;)

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49 minutes ago, cabfe said:

Lots of replies, thank you guys!

Now to try some of these and prepare my salespeech to whom I'll be talking to about VNs ;)

Lemme know how it goes!

I've got people that need some more convincing...

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If I had to make an entry suggestion? I'd actually go as far back as EVE Burst Error, which while running two perspectives the entire game is entirely linear in it's execution, with only one real ending. Ever 17 makes a great #2, though I'd almost suggest you find Remember 11 first, just because parts of Ever 17 that never really made a whole lot of sense on it's own (it WAS my #2 originally) actually click into place having read it in the correct order. Also, this avoids making people go through random gratuitous sex scenes when trying to enter the medium.

If you want to start with a kinetic novel (no-option) entry, certainly go with Planterian. While i would suggest Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, and Umineko, those titles really need you to be invested in the medium from the start, and both require a quite ridiculous amount of time to actually ready though, as "Sound Novels" the text is even more dense than most other VN types

999 is a good starter if you like puzzle gameplay mechanics between your exposition scenes, and the payoff is great, but do NOT get the tablet version, but the DS one only, as the tablet cut ALL the actual gameplay, and you miss out on lots of little and not so little story stuff because of it. Pick it up only if you want to remember after actually beating the real game, maybe. PS Vita's "Virtue's Last Reward" is great, but only purchase it if you enjoyed 999, and do not play it first no matter what, or you'll spoiler the heck out of 999 as it's directly a sequel, while ever 17 and remember 11 are only tertiary sequels.

My only suggestion is to avoid actual Nukige for starters, as ending the initial perception of VNs like that is part of the problem we currently have mainstreaming VNs outside of Japan to begin with.

Edited by Michael D. B-Valada

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Planetarian is short, cheap, and really good. I can't think of a better recommendation out of the games I've played. I like Ever17 more, but it's really long and impossible to acquire legitimately. If you prefer a free game, Narcissu and Katawa Shoujo are the most popular. Katawa Shoujo is a typical visual novel, while Narcissu is more like a conventional novel. Both are good, but not so much that I would pay money for them.

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Exodus Guilty. None of that route stuff, unnecessary mechanics or X-rated content. (I originally started playing it because Midorikawa, but it was awesome anyways)

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I think the ideal length for a beginner's visual novel is about 10-30 hours. That's long enough to prepare people for the long length of the top rated visual novels (many which are more than 50 hours). That said, it depends on the person. A bookworm or someone used to the long length of JRPG's might not mind something like Clannad as his first.

For romance, Yume Miru Kusuri, Katawa Shoujo, and Symphonic Rain are good.

For action, there's Demonbane, Chou Dengeki Stryker, and maybe Princess Waltz. 

Sekien no Iganock and Tokyo Alice are good if the person is looking for something a bit more avant garde.

And lastly, Sengoku Rance and Monster Girl Quest are great if the person wants something JRPG-esque though both are pretty rapey. Eien no Aselia is also good, but very slow.

Edited by encrypted12345

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Most important: don't start with something that has a really high rating. Taking something from the middle shelf, like a 7 or something. It's still good, but you won't set your expectations for further novels too high as you would if you started with a really great one.

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3 hours ago, Michael D. B-Valada said:

the DS one only, as the tablet cut ALL the actual gameplay, and you miss out on lots of little and not so little story stuff because of it.

And in my opinion, the most pointless yet memorable use of the dual screen. Saying what it is is a spoiler.

1 hour ago, encrypted12345 said:

I think the ideal length for a beginner's visual novel is about 10-30 hours. That's long enough to prepare people for the long length of the top rated visual novels (many which are more than 50 hours).

Good point. I thought shorter would have been a better start, but except for a few short-but-sweet ones (which have mostly been mentioned here), length and quality tend to have a correlation. 

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1 hour ago, Mormaethor said:

Most important: don't start with something that has a really high rating. Taking something from the middle shelf, like a 7 or something. It's still good, but you won't set your expectations for further novels too high as you would if you started with a really great one.

I disagree. If their 1st game isn't a good one, they're not going to bother playing any more.

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49 minutes ago, Ian said:

I disagree. If their 1st game isn't a good one, they're not going to bother playing any more.

Well, I think that it's better for some new readers to start of just with upper-middle tier of VNs instead of heading directly to top VNs. Because some high ranked VNs might have long play hours which may have a longer building-up time for the plot, so new readers might loose interest mid-way if they didn't have much experience in VNs. (like how Alternative being epic with all those set-ups from Extra and Unlimited) Just personal opinion though, I think better start of with something short /moderate.

Also, some VNs get into top rankings because of how the plot works (plot-twists, epic storyline, unusual settings), and some people might not get used to those on the first tun. Imagine someone picked up Saya no Uta without having slight idea what he's getting into....;)

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5 hours ago, Ian said:

I disagree. If their 1st game isn't a good one, they're not going to bother playing any more.

A 7 still good. It is just not great.

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7 hours ago, Svenhent said:

Also, some VNs get into top rankings because of how the plot works (plot-twists, epic storyline, unusual settings), and some people might not get used to those on the first tun. Imagine someone picked up Saya no Uta without having slight idea what he's getting into....;)

The idea of this makes me smile.

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5 hours ago, Mormaethor said:

A 7 still good. It is just not great.

In that case, they should still enjoy those games after having already played the best.

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2 hours ago, Ian said:

In that case, they should still enjoy those games after having already played the best.

What which would you enjoy more:

1) Spending a night at a five star hotel after spending one at a three star hotel

or rather:

2) Spending a night at a three star hotel after spending one at a five star hotel

Only your enjoyment of the second night (the one you are about to spend) is relevant.

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1 hour ago, Mormaethor said:

What which would you enjoy more:

1) Spending a night at a five star hotel after spending one at a three star hotel

or rather:

2) Spending a night at a three star hotel after spending one at a five star hotel

Only your enjoyment of the second night (the one you are about to spend) is relevant.

Hmmm.. *deep in thought (lol)*

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