Some visual novels don’t ask you to do anything but read, but there are also plenty of visual novels with gameplay segments. Whether you want to investigate a murder, escape from ghosts, fight off enemies, or solve puzzles, there’s a story-packed game out there that’s perfect for you.

Check out these ten visual novels if you’re looking for a game that will keep you engaged from start to finish.

The Ace Attorney series

Even if courtroom dramas aren’t your thing, there’s a good chance you’ll fall in love with the Ace Attorney games. In these classic Capcom titles, you’ll step into the shoes of Phoenix Wright, a hapless attorney that must defend his clients in seemingly impossible cases. You’ll investigate crime scenes, interview witnesses, and present evidence in court so that you can get a “Not Guilty!” verdict. The cast of colorful characters and the plethora of pleasing puns make this series a joy to play.

The original Ace Attorney series is available on Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, iOS, and Android. Apollo Justice is available on Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, iOS, and Android. Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies is available on Nintendo 3DS, iOS, and Android. The Great Ace Attorney: Adventures will receive a worldwide release for the first time in July 2021. The game will be available on PC, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch.

AI: The Somnium Files

In this sci-fi murder mystery, you follow Kaname Date, a detective with the ability to enter the memories of his suspects. It features a gripping neo-noir story with multiple endings, and it also has plenty of investigative gameplay. The game isn’t necessarily for the faint of heart — you’re trying to track down a serial killer, after all — but if you don’t mind a bit of gore, AI: The Somnium Files is a rewarding and compelling experience.

AI: The Somnium Files is available on PC, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch.

The Spirit Hunter series

This horror visual novel series doesn’t feature combat, but it does require you to face off against a wide assortment of ghostly foes. There’s plenty of spooky story for you to read, but there are also investigative sections that allow you to explore. To get to the end of each chapter, you’ll have to keep yourself alive with nothing but a flashlight. So far, two games in the series, Spirit Hunter: Death Mark and Spirit Hunter: NG, have been released. The third game, Shibito Magire, is scheduled to be released in Japan in Q2/Q3 2021.

Spirit Hunter: Death Mark is available on PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, and Nintendo Switch. Spirit Hunter: NG is available on PC, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch.

13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim

13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim

13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim was a real contender for 2020’s Game of the Year. It might have been overlooked by most, but its multi-layered story switches genres at the drop of a hat and keeps players on their toes throughout its run time. On top of its story sequences, it also features tactical combat that pits giant mechs against monsters from another dimension. Or time. Or something.

13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is exclusive to the PS4.

The Danganronpa series

The Danganronpa series has a strong, devoted fanbase, and it’s easy to see why. Described as “Ace Attorney meets Battle Royale,” this psycho-pop series follows ultra-talented high schoolers that are forced to play a mutual killing game. Not only do the students have to fight for their survival, but they have to catch culprits in frenetic courtroom trials. The series is filled with twist and turns, and all three mainline games are worth playing.

Danganronpa 1, 2, and V3 are available on PC, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, iOS, and Android.

428: Shibuya Scramble

If you’ve ever wanted to play through an anime-esque version of 24, 428: Shibuya Scramble is the game for you. In this game, which features images and footage of real-life actors, you’ll follow an assortment of characters as they go through the craziest day of their life. The game is divided into one-hour segments, and you’ll have to jump from character to character to move along to the next hour. Every character’s actions must intersect perfectly if you want to get through the day and save Shibuya.

428: Shibuya Scramble is available on PC and PlayStation 4.

VA-11 HALL-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action

In this booze-’em-up, you’ll work as a bartender in a dystopian world where corporations reign supreme. Not only will you mix a wide assortment of drinks, but you’ll get to know your customers and change their life for the better. The game is both hilarious and moving, and the art style has plenty of charm. If you’re a fan of VA-11 HALL-A, and you’re looking for similar titles, the barista simulator Coffee Talk might also be up your alley.

VA-11 HALL-A is available on PC, Mac, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch.

The Utawarerumono series

This tactical RPG/visual novel hybrid series follows a man that wakes up with an irremovable mask and a missing memory. As you explore this fantasy world inspired by feudal Japan, you’ll get to know a wide assortment of characters and reclaim the past that you lost. While these games are visual novels first and tactical RPGs second, there’s still plenty of strategic gameplay for you to enjoy.

All three of the games in the Utawarerumono series are available on PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, and PlayStation 4.

Corpse Party

Corpse Party is a must-play for fans of pixelated horror. In this gruesome title, a group of students finds themselves trapped in Heavenly Host Elementary, a dilapidated school filled with unspeakable horrors. Although there are quite a few games in the Corpse Party series, the original title offers the best mix of story and gameplay. Just be careful if you’re squeamish. This title may look cute, but it contains some incredibly gruesome content.

Corpse Party is available on PC, PlayStation Portable, and iOS.

The Zero Escape series

The Zero Escape games are a near-perfect blend of puzzles and storytelling. Each game is divided into novel segments that progress the game’s story, and escape sequences that require you to solve puzzles and get past potentially deadly traps. Not only is this series tailor-made for fans of escape rooms, but it’s perfect for people that enjoy philosophy, theoretical science, and thought experiments. There are multiple endings in each title, and you’ll have to unlock all of the endings if you want to see the true finale.

Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors is available on Nintendo DS, iOS, PC, PlayStation Vita, and PlayStation 4. Virtue’s Last Reward and Zero Time Dilemma are available on Nintendo 3DS, PC, PlayStation Vita, and PlayStation 4.

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