8 best visual novels to play, including 2021 releases

Cover showing multiple games and a Best Visual Novels text

If you love games where the decisions you make through the game matter, we separated 8 visual novels with great reviews on Steam which are worth taking a look at.

The visual novel genre has many titles, so this is just our little list for August 2021, the games on the list are either new or old releases, but are being appreciated by the Steam reviews.

Visual Novels on this list is also counting the FMVs, as they provide choices that the player can make through the game, the main aspect here for a game to be included is the focus on story and the presence of meaningful choices. Some Visual Novels have gameplay that is outside player choices, some having first or third person character controlling and more dynamic actions, while still keeping the story and player choices the main aspect of the game.

One game that brought the genre into incredible popularity was Doki Doki Literature Club, which now has also a Plus version which is on the list, but it is not the only example of a great visual novel, many titles provide a unique experience to the player, this can be attributed to how heavy story is for the game success on the genre.

Many indie developers choose itch.io for some reason when publishing Visual Novels, but lately more games have been making their way into Steam, even if this isn't a list just for indie visual novels, it's worth mentioning another place to look at for more games on the genre.

Doki Doki Literature Club Plus!

One of the most popular Visual Novels, which got popular worldwide has exclusive content on Doki Doki Literature Club Plus. DDLC got very popular with its very clever way to set up psychological horror.

The plus version has side stories, unlockable images, Full HD artwork, and more.

Take a look at Doki Doki Literature Club Plus

The Walking Dead: The Telltale Definitive Series

This visual novel has a more cartoonish style, and it also got very popular, games based on stories from movies or books not always are great, as sometimes it looks like they are made just to take advantage of the popularity of the movie or book, but this isn't the case with The Walking Dead: The Telltale Definitive Series.

The game has a great plot and the choices are meaningful and broad, developed by Skybound Games, The Walking Dead: The Telltale Definitive Series provides a unique experience on decision-making games, with exceptional stylish graphics, unique and complete characters with good voice actors, and more.

If you like the genre, it is worth taking a shot!

The Walking Dead: The Telltale Definitive Series on Steam


STEINS;GATE is a visual novel with more than overwhelming reviews, the game is non-linear, its story involves time travel, has exceptionally unique characters, and is a game where your decisions can change the unveiling of the story. A classic.

SteinsGate screenshot showing gameplay dialog


The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan

This title is a bit less on the visual novel side than other games on this list, but the game boils down to the player choices, and it has an innovative co-op!

The Dark Pictures Anthology is a series with different horror games with a branching plot, Man of Medan got awesome reviews and it has a great plot. Ourang Medan was a supposed ghost ship, and while some believe it is an urban legend, some truly believe it is real, The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan is influenced by this story.

Man of Medan screenshot of characters hanging out

The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan on Steam

Night Book

Night Book is an FMV, Full Motion Video game, this genre uses pre-recorded media in the game production. Night Book is a game with many different endings, where you play as Loralyn, a translator who is "tricked" into reading an ancient book, which holds a curse.

The game is recent compared to some on this list, some reviews are mixed, but it is worth waiting some time for them to become solid.

Night Book on Steam

Learn Japanese To Survive! Katakana War

Players describe this game as an entertaining way to learn, Katakana War teaches you the Katakana writing system. The game is educational and the story is based on learning Japanese, still having its progression and levels as it is an RPG.

Katakana War on steam

emily is away <3

This game is acclaimed by several popular Youtubers and has overwhelming reviews. emily is away <3 takes place on Facenook, the social media platform, with a new story that will bring you back to the good old days.

EmilyIsAway screenshot showing gameplay on Facenook

emily is away <3 on Steam

Emily is Away

This isn't a duplicated entry by mistake, Emily is Away is another great title that got immensely popular, the game is free and it has five chapters of nostalgia-inducing gameplay, the same feeling shared with emily is away <3

Emily is Away is free on Steam

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