5 Visual Novel And Text Heavy Game Recommendations

Something that I always found challenging when looking for Japanese material is that when I was done with one thing I hated not knowing what the next thing would be. So in order to help prevent that for readers of Jalup, I decided to start a visual novel or text heavy game recommendation article since there seems to be a good deal of interest in these among this community. I’ve assembled a list of some of my favorites so far in differing categories and difficulties. Here we go!

5. ペルソナ3 (Persona 3)
Japanese Level: ☆☆☆

5 Visual Novel And Text Heavy Game Recommendations 1

Ever wonder what it would be like to be a transfer student at a Japanese high school by day and fight demons with your friends by night? Wonder no more! This classic JRPG combines two great game designs of dungeon crawling and a social simulator together for one epic school year you won’t soon forget.

Why it’s so great:

This game lets you live through just about every day of the school year and you make choices about how you spend your time every day which gives it a fun and realistic feel. There’s plenty of comedy, drama, and demon slaying all thrown together to make this my favorite game of all time.

4. シュタインズ・ゲート (Steins;Gate)
Japanese Level: ☆☆☆☆

 5 Visual Novel And Text Heavy Game Recommendations 2

For those of you who have wanted to time travel by sending your memory back into your body in the past through your cell phone, this one’s for you. Play as a mad scientist who can’t decide whether he is going to rule the world or save it in this amazing culmination of a great cast and story that will have you guessing what will happen from the get go.

Why it’s so great:

Throughout this game you affect the ending by choosing how to respond to texts you receive on your cell phone which I think is a really cool gameplay mechanic. A lot of the time you aren’t exactly sure which way the story will go based on your texts. Maybe that’s is a negative for some people, but I enjoy the realism it presents as we don’t know how exactly what we say to people will affect things in real life. It has a lot of different endings so there’s plenty to read.

If you feel like your Japanese is in need of a challenge then this one is for you as you’ll need to get through science lectures and the finer mechanics of time travel and black holes.

3. デート・ア・ライブ (Date A Live)
Japanese Level: ☆☆

5 Visual Novel And Text Heavy Game Recommendations 3

Yes, there had to be a dating sim on the list. I haven’t played too many of them but this one makes me want to change that. Play as an average guy who gets sucked up into a world where beautiful girls fall from the sky, (literally). Very fun and an easy read.

Why it’s so good:

The art style in this game is very good and the girls aren’t just a drawing on the screen. They will blink, breathe and make other small movements that really make them seem like they’re almost alive. (Date A Live…. Ohhh I get it, Date. A. Live, alive, it makes sense!) Rewarding story with every girl complete with a secret true ending that happens after you finish every girl’s story.

2. グリザイアの果実  Le Fruit de la Grisaia
Japanese Level: ☆☆☆

5 Visual Novel And Text Heavy Game Recommendations 4

What you thought was going to be a typical story you thought you’ve heard a million times becomes one of the most heart breaking, thought provoking stories I’ve read in a long time, maybe ever. Play as a transfer student with a mysterious past who enrolls at a school with only five other students in it. However, it won’t just be hitting the books at this academy. The protagonist must help these five students overcome their pasts while trying to make sense of his own.

Why it’s so good:

Despite starting out a tad slow this game has a very surprising and original story that will have your tissue box emptied out a few times before the credits role. The author presents a story that I really haven’t seen before, and it sure is a good one, which is why it made the list. I don’t want to give away any spoilers so I’ll leave it at that. The story does get a little ecchi at times which is either a plus or a minus depending on your preferences.

1. ペルソナ4 ダンシングオールナイト (Persona 4: Dancing All Night)
Japanese Level: ☆☆

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RPG meets rhythm game – what’s not to love!? This is a very entertaining spinoff of the persona 4  game, and can be picked up without having played the previous one. Who would’ve thought that dance moves were an effective way to kill demons? Not me, but thankfully someone did.

Why it’s so good:

This game does what persona does best. It combines something with an RPG – this time a rhythm game. You might be worried that this is not a lot of reading, and you won’t get to practice your Japanese. Surprisingly, it’s mostly story. There is enough dancing to make it really fun and lively while still remaining a text heavy game. Once again, this is a game that does something original which is a huge plus for me. That combined with songs that get stuck in your head way too long, and filling up your playlist for your next dance party, makes this game a must have.


For the people that love using this type of the material, I hope you’ll add some more recommendations in the comments! Let’s get our heavy-text reading game going.

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Power leveler. Just a regular guy trying to learn Japanese as fast as possible.


5 Visual Novel And Text Heavy Game Recommendations — 23 Comments

  1. I read Steins;Gate in English back when it was released, and even if you have already seen the anime, it is well worth it. There is quite a bit of content not included in the anime, and it’s amazing!

    • That’s one of the best parts about most games that get adapted into an anime, you get to experience multiple endings and pick a favorite!

  2. Warning:
    -For those who want to play Steins;Gate is Japanese, the choice system is pretty confusing. Never go blind. Never.
    – Grisaia’s ecchiness is a BIG minus for me, and it is distracting. Do yourself a favor and buy the VITA version. Or even the android version, since it’s based of the console port.
    I read Visual Novels. A lot. VN are one of my main motivations for learning Japanese, and I believe that this article is a bit lacking.

    So here are my personal recommendations, with estimated stars:

    Axenael : 2 Stars. Don’t worry, this seems tough, but it’s really EASY, and the plot is fantastic.

    Saya No Uta : 3 Stars. Kind of a horror game.

    Clannad : Can’t believe you missed it. 3 Stars.

    999 and VLR : 3.5 Stars. The story is amazing, probably my favorite VN.

    G Senjou No Maou : Probably 3-4 Stars. Amazing plot and twist.

    Shari No Kuni : Mixed feelings. When it’s good, it’s REALLY good, but it has it’s down times. 3-4 Stars.

    Gyakuten Saiban (Ace Attorney) 1,2,3,4,5 : Amazing series. Nice plot is “easy” vocabulary. 3-4 Stars.

    Planetarium : 3-4 Stars.

    Baldr Sky

    Reading all these visual novels put me in a – state of intense happiness and self-confidence-.

    …the list goes on, but these are some really good and relatively easy VNs to get you started.
    Alternatively, if you want EASIER VNS, go here :

    • Thanks for the recommendations.

      I have heard great things about clannad, I’d really like to check that out. Also I love plot twisty games so I’m definitely going to have to check out G Senjou No Maou.

      • If you really like twisty games, and don’t mind some game-play, I’d suggest playing 999 and Virtue’s Last Reward , rather than G-Sen. They start off simple, but start adding layers of mystery. The series is REALLY spoiler sensitive, so tread carefully.

    • I actually did a double take when I realized this was a guest post AND it wasn’t yours! :D

    • Yeaaaaaah, love for G-Senjou! I also read that one when it was released, and yeah absolutely agreed, that plot is fantastic.

    • “For those who want to play Steins;Gate is Japanese, the choice system is pretty confusing. Never go blind. Never.”

      So since I literally just got this game (in Japanese, yes), could you elaborate? lol

      • Visual Novels require you to make choices, and your choices determine the ending you get. Steins;Gate has a phone system, i.e. you’ll be using your phone to make choices most of the times. If you want to complete the game, 100%, you need to do some really specific things in the VN (miss any one, and you’d have to restart the game). So I would recommend using a walkthrough (攻略 in japanese).

        • Ah, well, that seems pretty typical then, lol

          Personally, I usually just go in blind the first time I play a VN, then use a guide to get the specific endings.

          • Yeah, by going blind I meant trying to get true ending on your own, without walk through. It took me 2 hours of doing nothing but watching skipping text to get to true ending, and another 3 hours for all the extras.

  3. I’ll have to add some of these to my list at some point. Thanks for the suggestions =)

    I picked up Chaos;Child a little while ago (the most recent game from the studio that made Steins;Gate), but haven’t had a chance to play it yet. It’s the first game I’ve seen with a Cero Z rating, so I guess we’ll see just how brutal it is >_>

    And yeah +1 on Clannad based only on having seen the anime.

    • A “Z” rating? I didn’t even know that they had that? What is it rated that for?

      Make sure to leave some of your recommendations as well! I know you’ve played some good ones.

  4. i like playing vns too,they have both voice and text to help me improving both skill.

    good ones i’ve read are

    Tsuisou no Augment 2 stars;every route has drama

    Amairo * Islenauts 3 stars;ez and nice slice of life

    evolimit 4 stars;i’m playing this one atm,fighting scenes are amazing

    • Yes, that’s my favorite part of VN’s is that they have plenty of reading along with good voice acting.

  5. I’ve already mentioned it here once, but: Code:Realize. It’s a dating sim (of the otome variety), so the romance aspect is definitely important, but there’s an interesting story to go with it. It’s set in steampunk Victorian-era London, the plot is heavily focused on alchemy and it touches on quite a few intriguing topics. I got strong Fullmetal Alchemist vibes from it (though maybe it wasn’t -as- good, but then again, what is). There’s drama, there’s action, there’s comedy. And airships!

    Honestly, I’d recommend it even to people who aren’t all that into dating sims.

    I’d rate the difficulty at three stars.

    • I’m currently playing Starry Sky in Spring (an otome game) and it’s a lot of fun. Though plotwise there’s not much exciting happening, so only play it if you want to chase after cute guys.

      Difficulty is probably 2 stars.

  6. I looove Persona 3. I need to own that game, I keep getting it illegally and then I have something go wrong with it.

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