10 Best Romance Visual Novels
By Hayley Mullen
Published Jun 18, 2021
From dating dads to island-based murder mysteries, these are the 10 best romance visual novels.
Let’s face it:?some games do romance better than others, but visual novels are a genre that has a plethora of interesting and heartfelt romantic storylines. Some of the most famous visual novels out there center around romance and the trials and tribulations of relationships, dating, and coming of age while falling in love.
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Many visual novels have become so popular that they have their own anime adaptations, but it’s always worth going back to check out the original game. There are truly?plenty of amazing visual novels out there, but for those looking to get their fix of love stories, check out these 10 beloved romance visual novels.
Let’s start off the list with an adult visual novel released in 2009 by Minato Soft. Its original/official title is?Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai!! and follows the story of a friend group in Kawakami City, a place that has strong connections to its Samurai ancestry. The main character, Yamato, attends Kawakami Academy with his six inseparable friends.
Though the visual novel got an anime adaptation in 2011 called “Majikoi Oh! Samurai Girls!”,?It was only in December of 2020 that an official English translation of the PC version was released. Both are worth checking out, though be mindful of the game’s rating and content.
Our Life: Beginning and Always stands out as a story that takes place over the entirety of the main character’s life, with the player’s choices changing the story drastically. The story begins with 8-year-old Jamie Last is approached by a stranger asking them to befriend his son, Cove. This relationship can become a life-long love or remain a friendship, depending on what the player chooses.
With an impressive 320,000 words, the game has plenty of content to discover, as well as customizable character options including pronouns. There’s also a?dedicated fandom wiki, a testament to how beloved it is by fans.
This 2017 Dating Sim got quite popular in the mainstream when it came out, and it still holds up today as a great gaming experience. The majority of visual novels focused on romance focus on pursuing heterosexual relationships with women as a male protagonist, so Dream Daddy is a breath of fresh air in that regard.
The variety of handsome dads to get to know and possibly romance is quite appealing, especially those who find the representation of LGBT characters of color to be lacking. You’ll find plenty of discussion among fans for which relationships in the game are the best and vice versa, There are some real heartfelt moments and dialogue that make every route in the game worth checking out.
If you’re a murder mystery fan, Umineko When They Cry is a perfect choice for you. 18 people are on a secluded island when a murder occurs, all in the span of 2 days. Instead of just reading, players can take an active role in figuring out who (or what) caused the murders, along with motive and method. Don’t fret, though; there’s some pretty compelling romance along the way.
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Umineko comprises the 3rd and 4th games in the When They Cry Series, with the first two being?Higurashi When They Cry. The entire series (which consists of 8 games) is worth playing, but Umineko is the most recommended of them all. The series has gotten both manga and anime adaptations, as well as an actual fighting game called Umineko: Golden Fantasia. Talk about a multimedia franchise!
This heartfelt story features protagonist Kogasaka You (a fitting name for a protagonist you control) and his sister Chinami returning to their childhood hometown after the death of their mom to live with their aunt. Already, there’s a lot of heavy emotions in the plot, but the childhood love that You left behind years ago when they moved to the city intensifies everything. This love made him promise to marry her when he returned which the player can fulfill upon returning.
Alternatively, you can romance 6 other girls You meets along the way, meaning the game has 7 different endings depending on the romance pursued. You’ll also run into a?mysterious Grim Reaper, so Hoshizora no Memoria has plenty to see.
Look, another visual novel that got blessed with an anime adaptation! Love, Election and Chocolate (Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate) is an oft-recommended VN in the romance genre that was released in Japan in 2010, with a port to the PSP in 2012. Players control Yuki Ojima, a student of?Takafuji Private Academy and one of eight members of the Food Research Club.
When the front-runner of the impending student council election declares his intent to abolish clubs with “no merit” which would include the rarely-meritable Food Research Club and their main activity of snack-eating. In order to prevent his club from being shut down, Yuki decides to run in the election as opposition. The game itself has strong romance elements, with its 5 different endings focusing on each of the romanceable girls in the game.
Considered one of the best visual novels of the 2010s, Clannad is another story featuring a protagonist who has recently lost his mother, but protagonist Tomoya Okazaki also is faced with the abuse from his alcoholic father. Tomoya’s delinquent status is understandable, considering the hardships he is facing.
The story begins when Okazaki meets a fellow delinquent student Nagisa and is wrapped up in her efforts to befriend him and revive the school drama club. From here, Tomoya meets several different students, many of which have stories that will tug almost anyone’s heartstrings. If you’re looking for a heartfelt story that will stay with you ages after reading, do not skip on Clannad. It’s a classic for a reason!
This adult visual novel was originally released in Japan in 2012, though it also?got a release on the Nintendo Switch in 2019.?The story features a young boy named Aoi returning to his hometown (a common plot-starter for several popular romance VNs) to try and find his purpose in life.
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One day Aoi meets a young girl named Kotori who uses a wheelchair, and together they watch a glider sail across the sky of their town. This magical sight prompts them to try and achieve every child’s dream: being able to fly. With the help of his childhood and school friends, Aoi tries to make this dream a reality by reigniting the Soaring Club at school and creating a functional glider.
This visual novel is an earlier one in the genre, having been released in late 2006 with a sequel following in 2008. As a franchise, Ef has gotten a ten-year manga serialization and 2 seasons of anime from 2007-2008. So what was it that made Ef so captivating and marketable?
The original visual novel,?Ef: A Fairy Tale of the Two, consists of two parts:?Ef: The First Tale and Ef: The Latter Tale. Both center on the story of two old and long-separated friends reuniting on Christmas Eve in a church, with both parts of the tale allowing each character to tell their story of their lives. You can expect both intense emotional connections and slice-of-life storytelling in Ef, all scored by a wonderful soundtrack.
This is considered by many to be one of the best romance VNs out there, if not the best. It was so successful that it got the adaptation treatment as an anime with two seasons animated by Eight Bit. The story follows transfer student?Yūji Kazami who attends Mihama Academy, a school that has only 5 students, all of them female.
This strange school is similar to a prison, with each girl having their own story for ending up at Mihama.?Yūji just wants to have a normal school life, but he finds himself sucked into the lives of the 5 other students and has the chance to change them all, depending on what the player chooses.
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About The Author
(109 Articles Published)
Hayley Mullen is a writer, composer and gamer from Toronto. While at school, they worked as a radio show host playing video game jams during the prime studying hours of 12-2 am. Having played over 700 hours of Pokémon Emerald, they are a true lifetime fan of the series. When not gaming, Hayley enjoys embroidery, poetry, and reading mystery novels.
From Hayley Mullen