How I stopped worrying and got into Visual Novels and Otome Games

One of my favorite types of videogames is definitely Visual Novels; since I got into the genre I’ve played a good amount of them, ranging from horror, sci-fi and otome (reverse harem stories oriented at whoever is into boys but mostly female-identifying people). Some of these are famous, like Steins;Gate and Code: Realize, some of them aren’t, while being still incredibly memorable; these relaxing games are what you need after a day full of stress, I could never live without them now. Despite the current situation, this wasn’t the case until a year ago; before that, I was incredibly cynical towards them, and absolutely didn’t see myself playing any of them. How did my attitude change? In this post you’ll learn how I stopped worrying and got into Visual Novels and Otome Games.

First of all, there wasn’t just a single reason why I didn’t want to purchase a Visual Novel. To be honest, my biggest concern was the apparent lack of gameplay. Would you buy a game that seems to have no gameplay? Heavily depends on your tastes, however, most people would answer no. Visual Novels do have gameplay, some have more and some have less, still, they have gameplay. I had no idea about that, so I didn’t see myself spending a decent amount of money on them, for example, 50 euro. So I just completely ignored the genre altogether.

Another reason was much more simplistic and banal; I didn’t own the consoles where most of these were. Right now, you can find many Visual Novels on Nintendo Switch, even in English; this wasn’t the case one year ago, as far as I’ve seen. Plus most were digital only anyway, and I wasn’t into buying digital games. You can also find some on PS4, still not too many of them. The console that had most of them at the time was definitely the PS Vita, and I had not bought one yet. So, considering these facts, I also saw very few of them at my local shop, and the thought of buying one didn’t come to my mind often enough for me to actually purchase one.

The only Visual Novel I wanted to play was 999: 9 Persons 9 Doors 9 Hours, which originally came out on Nintendo DS, although it never reached Europe. I found out about this game in a video about the few horror games that were released on Nintendo DS. Even though it was a Visual Novel, it had a fairly huge amount of puzzles, and it was a survival horror story. Too bad that as it wasn’t available in Europe, it wasn’t exactly easy and cheap to import it. So I gave up on playing it.

This changed when I purchased a PS Vita in January 2020, just before the pandemic. I was interested in playing a few games on the system, plus I wanted to play my PSP games on a bigger screen. In addition, the shop I went to had a few of them at a fairly decent price, and they were all in good condition, thus I bought one. With a PS Vita on hand, I had a look at the games available. To my immense surprise, there was a game called Zero Escape: The Nonary Games, which was nothing else but a bundle of both 999 and its sequel, which I had no idea existed. I was so happy about seeing them available that I instantly bought the bundle and started playing 999; it was the first game I played on the system. As I played the game, I realized that it was immensely better than I expected. It seemed exceptionally witty and well made; the puzzles were doable, the lore was fascinating and the story was well written. In the end the game was greatly satisfying to play, especially considering my rather low expectations for Visual Novels in general; this made me think about something new and unusual for me. What if the other Visual Novels were just as good? Honestly, since I’m a fan of complex and deep storylines, it was expected for me to love these games, although one can never be too sure in life.

This revelation made me look up a list of the best games of that type. Among the ones on the list, there was a game that piqued my interest; it was a love story between a young woman and various handsome samurai, called Hakuoki Kyoto Winds. Its genre was called Otome, a word I hadn’t seen before. As I was interested in samurai I decided to give it a shot. Still to my surprise, I really enjoyed the game. I loved how you could make the story go how you wanted with your choices. I also loved the story and how characters were written. So in the end I looked up a list of good otome games to try. This long chain led me to play more otome games, my favorite being Code: Realize Guardian of Rebirth and Piofiore: Fated Memories. Luckily, a lot of these games are getting localized on the Nintendo Switch now.

Of course I didn’t ignore non-otome Visual Novels, although I’ve played fewer of them; my favorite is undoubtedly Steins;Gate Elite, which I reviewed a short while ago. Another one of my favorites is Our World Is Ended, which is immensely underrated but hilarious. The entire Science Adventure series, from which comes Steins;Gate, is currently in my list of games to play.

To conclude, we can say that, even if I thought Visual Novels were not worth my money, I ended up loving the ones I’ve played; if you love storylines and well written characters, and need a relaxing read for your stressful days, definitely do check them out. You can also find a good amount of them on Steam, perfect if you don’t want to buy a console for them or just want to play them on a laptop.

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