Toss your book and fall in love with a visual novel on the Nintendo Switch

Visual novels are hugely popular in Japan. In the last few years, they have slowly made their way to the West in greater numbers. Upon first glance, they may not appear to be a standard "game," but visual novels excel at telling unique stories that are not often told in the medium. This special form of storytelling has found an audience on the Nintendo Switch and make up some of the best games on the system.

★ Featured Favorite

Steins;Gate Elite

One of the most amazing visual novels ever created is on the Nintendo Switch. If you are interested in diving into a stellar game that does just about everything right and pushes the boundaries of what narrative can do in a game, it one of the then you should check out Steins;Gate Elite. It's one of, if not the, best visual novel game for Switch.

$60 at Amazon $55 at Walmart $60 at Nintendo

Bloody specter

Famicom Detective Club: The Girl Who Stands Behind

Staff pick

This murder mystery game is the prequel to Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir. You play as a teenage detective to uncover the mystery behind a bloody specter who appears at a school. To get to the bottom of things, you'll investigate environments, interview people, and answer questions about what you've discovered so far.

$35 at Nintendo

Dead lady walking

Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir

When a wealthy business owner, Kiku Ayashiro, unexpectedly dies, it's up to a teenage detective to determine if it was murder or natural death. You'll need to investigate the Ayashiro family and all those connected with it to uncover clues and get more information. The villagers are saying Kiku has arisen from the dead to take revenge on her killer. Could this be true?

$35 at Nintendo

The Dating Game

The Charming Empire

If you're looking to get a true visual novel game on the Switch, then The Charming Empire is likely going one of the only options for now, thanks to its focus on reading. It's further bolstered by gorgeous manga-styled art; this one definitely checks all the boxes. Like so many visual novels, this story is about love and relationships and the choices you make to get there.

$25 at Nintendo

Objection!

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy

This popular franchise comes dangerously close to being a point-and-click adventure at times, but there are definitely visual novel elements, whether you're investigating a crime, interviewing witnesses, or in court. The best part about this purchase is that you get three games for the price of one.

$30 at Nintendo

Critter Country

Night in the Woods

This game is a visual novel, adventure game, and social simulator all rolled up into one that addresses the growing pains of coming into young adulthood. You play as Mae, a hilariously macabre college dropout who returns to her dying hometown to discover that life with her friends has changed. There's also something sinister going on. Can you figure out what it is?

$20 at Amazon

Dudes-a-Plenty

The Men of Yoshiwara: Ohgiya

Another pure-bred visual novel option for your Nintendo Switch would have to be The Men of Yoshiwara: Ohgiya. It's a popular romance game in Japan that has been localized for a western audience. You are faced with a cadre of beautiful young men vying for your attention, and it's up to you to decide who to develop a relationship with.

$15 at Nintendo

The Non-traditional

Oxenfree

Visual novel purists would likely claim that Oxenfree does not come anywhere near close to ticking all the boxes required to be counted in the category. It does, however, focus heavily on character development and branching dialog choices, which are common in the genre. If you love a great story inhabited by well-rounded and deep characters, this will probably be right up your alley.

$10 at Nintendo

Mortal Countdown

Death Mark

People have mysteriously been finding a grotesque birthmark on their bodies. The thing is, those marked only have a limited time before they die a gruesome death. You play as a young man in Tokyo's H City who's just discovered a birthmark on his body. Will you be able to figure out what's going on in this horrific world?

$25 at Amazon $21 at Walmart

A Little Too Real

Actual Sunlight

This is anything but a lighthearted game. You play as Evan Winter, an overweight and depressed individual. This game will put you through some serious emotional crises and spin a tale filled with dark humor until finally coming to an end. What really makes this haunting tale worth your time is the phenomenal writing and difficult decisions you're forced to make.

$10 at Nintendo

Horror Story

The Coma: Recut

While The Coma doesn't hit the nail on the head when it comes to visual novels, it does come a little closer. There is a large 2D side-scrolling element, but it does lean heavily on text and dialog. Also, the visual aspect of the game is, at times, reminiscent of a traditional visual novel.

$31 at Amazon $35 at Walmart

Hand of Fate

WILL: A Wonderful World

A young girl wakes up in a room with a talking dog only to discover that she is a god, and it's her responsibility to answer people's prayers. How you respond and the way you complete puzzles will affect the lives of those you aid. Will you be a force for good, or will you unwittingly lead to these people's downfall?

$15 at Nintendo

Love is in the Air

Code: Guardian of Rebirth

Explore a reimagined steampunk world in 1800s London full of historical and literary characters. You play as poison-skinned Cardia as she tries to stay one step ahead of a mysterious organization who's hellbent on capturing her. The visuals are absolutely gorgeous, and the story allows you to make decisions and play out different scenarios between different characters.

$40 at Best Buy $33 at Amazon

A Modern Love

Florence

Florence is a modern love tale through the eyes of a young artist. Play short minigames in between a tender story about falling in and out of love.

$6 at Nintendo

Somebody call the freelance police!

Sam & Max Save The World Remastered

Sam and Max were once adventure game icons during the golden era of PC gaming in the early 90s. They've been on a bit of a hiatus but have recently resurfaced in Sam & Max Save the World Remastered, a remaster of their 2006 reboot. It's still packed with plenty of goofy dialog and ridiculous interactions to keep fans of visual novels entertained.

$20 at Nintendo

Fear the Walking Dead

The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season

The Walking Dead is an incredibly popular horror comic book series that has been successfully translated to TV and video games. While there are many entries in the Telltale Game's The Walking Dead, you should definitely start at the award-winning first entry.

$15 at Nintendo

Music to my ears

Across the Grooves

Across the Grooves is a handcrafted adventure soaked in magical realism. When Alice plays a record from an ex-lover, it forces her to relive old events, and when she emerges, she comes back a different person. Determined to figure out what happened, Alice sets out to uncover the record's origins and get her life back on track.

$17 at Nintendo

Be Batman

Batman - The Telltale Series (Nintendo Switch)

Who doesn't wanna be Batman? Another Telltale series makes our list and tells a story that focuses more on Batman's investigative skills (he is the world's greatest detective, you know). Unravel a story about the deep-rooted corruption of Gotham City that'll require the help of both Batman and Bruce Wayne.

$15 at Nintendo

Not a typical walk through the park

Thimbleweed Park (Nintendo Switch)

From the creators of Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion comes Thimbleweed Park, a neo-noir mystery that fans of X-Files and Twin Peaks will enjoy. Discover a town packed full of quirky citizens, satisfying puzzles, and plenty of jokes.

$20 at Nintendo

The truth is hidden

Syberia 1 & 2

Experience the first two classic graphic adventure games on your TV or on-the-go in this package. Fans of surreal stories will find a lot to enjoy as they follow Kate Walker on her journey across Europe.

$35 at Nintendo

Something surreal

Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition

Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition is a magical realist adventure game told in five acts, with a soundtrack by The Bedquilt Ramblers. This is a series of bizarre but grounded stories about the fall of America that are sure to stay with you long after putting down the controller.

$25 at Best Buy

The bureaucracy of the dead

Grim Fandango Remastered

Another adventure game classic reemerges on the Nintendo Switch. Follow Manny Calavera, the travel agent at the Department of Death, as he struggles to unravel a conspiracy that threatens his very salvation.

$15 at Best Buy

Does a drink compute?

VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action

In a world where corporations reign supreme and society lives in an oppressed cybernetic dystopia, you have one purpose. And that's to serve drinks. As a bartender named VA-11 Hall-A or Valhalla, you must keep your patrons happy with the right drink. Get to know your clients and learn more about their lives with each new drink prepared. Enjoy a moody soundtrack as you unravel the stories unfolding on the other end of the dystopia.

$15 at Nintendo

No love lost

When the Past was Around

When the Past was Around is a story about a girl in love. Experience a surreal story about love, moving on, letting go, and the joy and pain of everything in between.

$9 at Nintendo

Daddy AF

Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator

Everyone deserves love, especially daddies. You play as a daddy who just moved into the sleepy seaside town of Maple Bay. As it turns out, there are many dateable dads in your area. Create your own dad and see if you can find love in the only Dad-dating simulator.

$15 at Nintendo

Wake up to something hot

Coffee Talk

In an alternate version of Seattle, elves, orcs, mermaids, and humans live together in a modern world, and they all love a good cup of coffee. Learn about the cast of characters who frequent the coffee shop and find the right drinks that'll help them open up their hearts to you.

$13 at Nintendo

Down on your luck

Neo Cab

In a future that's almost totally automated, you play as Lina, one of the last manual cabbies on the streets of Los Ojos. Choose which passengers you pick up and learn their stories — who knows, maybe someone in the city can help you with your problems?

$20 at Nintendo

Another chance at prom

Monster Prom XXL

Monster Prom XXL is just like high school all over again, except that this time you're a monster. Find a date, pick a perfect outfit, and rise from a nobody to totally-not-lame prom royalty. Featuring gorgeous artwork, local multiplayer, and all of the DLC, Monster Prom XXL is loaded with hundreds of things to do and collect. Just try to be cool this time, OK?

$16 at Nintendo

Where do you find visual novels for Nintendo Switch?

It is still pretty rare for a visual novel to make its way to the console. I am sure we will see more visual novels pop up in the future as the console matures. Visual novel-loving Switch users are just going to have to hold on a bit longer. Some more great titles are sure to be on the way. No matter if you're playing on the standard Switch or a Switch Lite, the system seems like the perfect platform for the genre.

For now, Steins; Gate Elite is a great time travel story for players to enjoy where each choice makes a difference. You'll follow a young group of people who have discovered how to change the past using e-mail and a modified microwave. See what story unfolds as you play.

If you're really into murder mysteries, you should check out Famicom Detective Club. There are two Switch games in the series, both of which have you playing as a teenage detective. You'll need to examine environments for clues and interview people to uncover the mysteries in both stories.

Now, if love interests are more your style, The Charming Empire offers you plenty of suitors to choose from. Your choices determine which person you end up with, so save often and replay to see what other endings you can get.

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