Screenshot from the trailer of Hatoful Boyfriend

5 Indie Visual Novel Games You Must Play Immediately

1) Hatoful Boyfriend 2) Hatoful Boyfriend 3) Hatoful Boyfriend ...

This article is written in partnership with Gamecamp.gg.

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If you’re into the visual novel sub-genre of games, there are a few prominent titles that always pop into mind: the Danganronpa series, Steins;Gate and Steins;Gate 0 (my personal favorites), and the Ace Attorney series. Even Atlus’s beloved Persona series is as much a visual novel as an RPG. But what about the visual novels from indie developers? Here are the incredibly choice games that may have fallen a bit under the radar.

Hatoful Boyfriend

A few months ago, a friend who is not a gamer in the slightest called me out of the blue, his voice dripping with the utmost urgency. I thought there was an emergency, like he needed a ride to the hospital. But no. Instead, he needed to know if I’d heard of Hatoful Boyfriend.

Hatoful Boyfriend is your average dating sim, except it’s not. Instead of hot humans, you are a human being finding the love of your life among a cast of very haughty birds. Many of these birds will die during the narrative. Hatoful Boyfriend is a treasure.

Synopsis: “Congratulations! You’ve been accepted as the only human student at the prestigious St. PigeoNation’s Institute, a school for talented birds! Roam the halls and find love in between classes as a sophomore student at the world’s greatest pigeon high school. Finding happiness won’t be easy, but it’s not all academic – there’s always time for a little romance in this delightful remake of Hato Moa’s popular visual novel / avian dating sim Hatoful Boyfriend!”

Paradise Killer

Paradise Killer is a fascinating blend of the RPG, visual novel, and mystery genres. And it boasts a flawless chillwave aesthetic and killer soundtrack to boot. All of the weird gods you’re investigating for murder are hilariously sexy, even if they are a skeleton. You play as a woman named Lady Love Dies, and the game has insane replay-ability. Seriously, find me a flaw here.

Synopsis: “Paradise Island, a world outside reality. There’s been a murder that only ‘investigation freak’ Lady Love Dies can solve. Gather evidence and interrogate suspects in this open world adventure. You can accuse anyone, but you’ll have to prove your case in trial to convict. It’s up to you to decide who’s guilty.”

Doki Doki Literature Club

Doki Doki Literature Club starts off innocuously and innocently enough, seemingly ticking the boxes of the classic high school dating sim. But beware: the trailer itself says the game isn’t suitable “for children or those who are easily disturbed.” Doki Doki Literature Club is actually a psychological horror game. It’s highly acclaimed and regularly lauded for its innovative storytelling, but take those trigger warnings very, very seriously.

Synopsis: “Welcome to the club! Write poems for your crush and experience the terror of school romance in this critically-acclaimed psychological horror story.”

Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator

Just after watching this trailer, the Dream Daddy theme song is going to be stuck in my head for days. I’m both amused and upset by this. Regardless, we love all things Daddy here at the Mary Sue, so this game will be right up your ally if you are a fellow Daddy fan and want a Daddy dating sim. Plus, the mini games are cute and fun.

Synopsis: “Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator is a game where you play as a Dad and your goal is to meet and romance other hot Dads. Are you ready? Hi ready, I’m Dad.”

Pyre

Hades was one of the quintessential games that got me through 2020 and 2021. The game immediately preceding Hades in developer Supergiant Games’ oeuvre is Pyre, a party-based RPG and graphic novel rolled into one. If you feel nostalgic for the voice acting, art style, and music of Hades … here you go!

Synopsis: “A party-based RPG/visual novel/sports game hybrid wherein the player, dubbed the Reader for their literacy by the group of scavengers who discovers them, is sent in exile to a lawless wasteland called the Downside and has to lead their ever-growing party of misfits to locations wherein many similar parties compete in Rites in order to attain freedom and be absolved of their crimes.”

What are some of your favorite visual novel games? Tell us in the comments!

(featured image: Devolver Digital)


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