A visual novel is a type of video game that focuses on interactive storytelling. As the name suggests, visual novels prioritize visual elements such as character sprites, backgrounds, and text boxes, and often feature anime-style artwork. The story is usually told through text dialogue and narration, with occasional choices presented to the player that affect the outcome of the story.

Visual novels have gained popularity in Japan and other parts of Asia, where they are often marketed towards a predominantly male audience. However, the medium has also gained a following in the West, with many visual novels being translated and localized for English-speaking audiences.

Overall, visual novels offer a unique storytelling experience that combines the interactivity of video games with the narrative depth of literature, making them a popular choice for fans of both mediums. In this article, Gurugamer is going to showcase the top 10 best visual novels on PC in 2023.

1. Muv-Luv Alternative

Despite not having the best-written plot, the most endearing characters, or the most stunning artwork, Muv-Luv Alternative has been my favorite visual novel for the past five years and counting. It's a memorable love story with elements of hard science fiction, and every fictional concept in the game is explained in a plausible manner. I was completely captivated by the story when I first played it in 2013 and have yet to find another visual novel that has provided me with the same level of engagement and excitement. Muv-Luv Alternative continues to be one of the most highly regarded visual novels in the western market for a good reason.

Muv Luv Alternative Title
Muv-Luv Alternative

Initially, the visual novel appeared to be a charming high school romantic comedy, but it gradually subverted both the genre and format, taking me on an emotional roller coaster. There were moments of happiness when the protagonist, Takeru, found love with his friends, but they quickly gave way to confusion and disappointment. This cycle repeated itself, causing me to experience a range of emotions, including nausea during certain scenes. Despite this, the story's ultimate resolution brought me immense joy, as all the questions were answered, and each character's life was given meaning. The amount of despair I experienced throughout the story was surpassed only by the elation I felt at the conclusion.

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The Mechas

It is not advisable to play Muv-Luv Alternative before finishing Extra and Unlimited in the first game. Doing so would be similar to watching Return of the King before viewing the first two parts of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and would result in missing out on crucial character development and world-building necessary for the third game.

2. Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception and Mask of Truth

Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception and Mask of Truth are two halves of the same story and can't really be broken up.

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Utawarerumono anime

I absolutely adore this visual novel - it's my all-time favorite. The combination of the story, characters, sound, art, world, and gameplay creates something truly magical, and I believe even those who are new to the genre can appreciate it. I could go on and on about how much I love it, and I hope that my enthusiasm will persuade you to give it a try.


The story is lengthy, taking around 80 hours to complete on your first playthrough, but every moment is used effectively. The characters are developed in an organic manner, and I found myself growing attached to them over time, much like in the original Mass Effect trilogy. The world-building is intricate, with both ancient secrets and mundane details, making it an engaging and intriguing place to explore. The story builds up to big moments that hit hard, and then balances them with lighthearted moments, like a Robin Hood wannabe throwing gold bars through people's windows, giving a catgirl a suggestive backrub, or getting drunk and stupid with friends. And then it's back to political maneuvering, fate, war crimes, mecha Godzilla battles, and suffering.

3. Higurashi

In my opinion, the Higurashi series is hands down one of the most exceptional works of fiction I have ever encountered. I finished reading all eight story arcs around seven years ago, yet even now, just thinking about it can elicit a sense of wonder and amazement that I usually experience when completing an outstanding story. I have yet to come across any other books or movies that can match it in terms of storytelling. It captivated me so much that I often found myself unable to sleep, consumed by thoughts of the plot and creating theories in my mind.

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This story was clearly crafted with a well-planned idea from the beginning. Upon rereading the first arc, there were many little details and foreshadowing that make more sense after knowing the whole story. The way everything fits together is satisfying to discover gradually. Higurashi employs psychological horror, which is not about shock scares or graphic imagery, but rather leaves things to the reader's imagination. It slowly creeps up on you.

The immersive music and sound effects play a significant role in creating an emotional impact. In the later arcs, the OST left a lasting impression on me. Alongside the mystery, each of the main characters has a well-written, compelling backstory that adds to the overall plot. Their emotions, experiences, and fates are given equal importance as the central mystery, which makes the story truly remarkable. Without the characters, the story wouldn't be as successful as it is.

4. Steins;Gate

Steins;Gate is an exceptional visual novel that I've had the pleasure of experiencing. The story quickly drew me in, which is quite impressive considering my limited attention span. Time travel is a complicated topic that's easy to mess up, but Steins;Gate manages to avoid this pitfall with ease. The universe's rules are clearly presented to the readers, and the story manages to make sense within those rules. The characters are well-written and their conversations are always engaging, whether they are comedic or emotional. My only complaint is the slow pace of the first half, but I understand its purpose in making the second half even more impactful.

Steins Gate Elite 01

Okabe Rintarou is portrayed as a mad scientist wannabe in Steins;Gate who possesses the ability to remember events from other timelines, called "READING STEINER," which is later explained in the game. Although his cocky and delusional alter ego put me off at first, it later grew on me as it added drama and emotional depth to the story when it was eventually phased out.

The way all the lab members interacted with Okabe was remarkable and helped bind the storytelling together. The chemistry between them was fantastic, especially between Kurisu and Okabe (who I believe is the best girl). Unlike other visual novels, I didn't find myself mindlessly clicking through Steins;Gate waiting for the climax, but instead, I was actively paying attention and engrossed in the story.

5. The House in Fata Morgana

The House in Fata Morgana is not just a game, but a well-crafted work of art. Its unique and clever Gothic art style, along with its magnificent story and moving music, provide players with a unique gaming experience.

The House in Fata Morgana

The game's plot is a grand romantic tragedy that spans from the Middle Ages to the Industrial Age, incorporating some magical elements while still maintaining its standard. The suspenseful atmosphere and gradual approach to the truth of the experience will allow players who can immerse themselves in it to appreciate the script's charm. The game's subject matter is also unique in the visual novel genre and should not be missed by interested players.

The lack of full voice acting is a significant regret for the game, as it limits immersion despite providing space for players to imagine. The plot may be too slow for some players, and the antiquated system interface and feedback are major flaws. Additionally, the Gothic art style may be a significant threshold for players who do not enjoy that style.

6. Umineko

In my subjective opinion, Umineko is a rare type of story that only emerges once in a while. It has the power to alter your thinking and challenge your views on reality in various ways. The story delves into questions about truth, perception, and the role of emotions in the search for truth. After experiencing it, you will come out changed, and I wish I could forget it all and experience it again. Nonetheless, I am eager to replay it multiple times as the story has hidden depths that will keep me discovering something new with each playthrough.


Umineko initially appears as a typical murder mystery, heavily influenced by Agatha Christie's 'And Then There Were None'. As a mystery, it is successful with its unforgettable characters, which the story takes the time to introduce and explore. The characters' first impressions will be challenged, and their true nature will be revealed as the story progresses, giving readers a chance to empathize with or pass judgement upon them. The story is accompanied by an exceptional soundtrack, featuring an assortment of compositions that perfectly complement the various moods and atmospheres of the narrative. However, Umineko is more than just a great mystery novel. The real magnificence of the story begins to emerge in Episode 2 after the readers have been given time to absorb the initial premise.

The story takes an unexpected turn and shifts into metafiction, bringing the philosophical themes to the forefront as the reader is pulled into a battle of distorted reasoning to uncover the truth behind the island's murder mysteries. It's difficult to describe without revealing too much, but the story introduces a distinctive tool that challenges and aids the reader in uncovering the truth. This tool, known as the 'red' device, is a major draw for the series, and transforms debates of logic into thrilling and engaging experiences for both the reader and the characters involved.

7. Clannad

At first glance, I thought Clannad was just another anime about high school girls, but I was completely wrong. It turned out to be the most captivating and emotional story I have ever experienced. I highly recommend it to anyone. Originally released in Japan in 2004 as a visual novel, Clannad was re-released in 2008 with added voices and an official English version came out in 2015. It is considered by many in the visual novel community as a masterpiece and one of the best examples of the genre.

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The game features several love stories, which can be read in almost any order. Unlike other visual novels that cater to sexual fantasies, Clannad's stories focus on tugging at the reader's heartstrings. I found some of the stories to be so relatable that I had to pause and collect myself before continuing. Some were so good that I went back to reread them again just a few days later.

Prepare yourself to shed tears at least once when you finish Clannad; don't be fooled by anyone who claims otherwise. If you're hesitant about playing the game, know that I was once in your shoes. I was uncertain about whether or not to give it a chance, but I took a leap of faith after hearing positive reviews. And now, I can't stop praising it as one of the most outstanding pieces of fiction I've ever encountered.

8. White Album 2

This game is ideal for those seeking a visually stunning and musically rich Visual Novel that portrays romance in a soul-crushingly realistic way. It's no surprise that White Album 2 is considered one of the best on Vndb and often referred to as a "God-game".

White Album 2

To sum up, White Album 2 is a remarkable romantic visual novel with a love triangle theme, and it stands out among the best in the genre due to its deep story, well-developed characters, and exceptional soundtrack. Although the game starts off slow, this is part of its slow-burn romantic drama formula, which takes you through the daily lives of the protagonists until it finally culminates in an emotionally intense finale that will move you to tears. It's not an exaggeration to say that this game is unique and one-of-a-kind, as no other game quite matches its level even after a decade since its release. If you're looking for a game that will leave a lasting impression on you and make you cry, then White Album 2 is the perfect choice.

The main focus of the game remains on the love-triangle, which is prevalent throughout the entire story from the Introductory Chapter to the Coda. The two main heroines, Kazusa and Setsuna, are at the center of the plot, although the Closing Chapter offers other options with three additional heroines - Chiaki, Koharu, and Mari. I personally rank these heroines based on the complexity of their characters and the intensity of their routes.

The route of Chiaki is particularly noteworthy because in order to unlock her true ending, you must replay the Introductory Chapter and understand how intertwined her story is with the other heroines. Chiaki's character is multifaceted and controversial, and her route can evoke strong feelings of love, pity, or a combination of both.

For the Coda, you must follow Setsuna's route in the Closing Chapter, which is known to elicit even stronger emotions than the previous two chapters. Be prepared for a heart-wrenching experience.

9. Baldr Sky

Baldr Sky is one of the best recent VNs and JRPGs to have been localised to the West, delivering an entertaining story, memorable characters, and robust action RPG combat.

Baldr Sky Battle
Baldr Sky

The game is set in a cyberpunk version of urban Japan that has been ravaged by a disaster known as Gray Christmas. The event has left an entire city in ruins and various parties, including local and federal governments, a private corporation, a research team, and a religious cult, have been implicated in the disaster, each blaming the others. The main cast of the game includes survivors, many of whom are alumni of a prestigious school, who believe they had witnessed suspicious events prior to the disaster during their school days.

The game's protagonist, Kou Kadokura, is a survivor of Gray Christmas and works as a freelance mercenary, trying to uncover the truth behind the tragedy. In this world, conflicts are often resolved in cyberspace, so mercenaries are skilled in online combat using avatars. As Kou encounters his old school friends, he realizes that many of them have aligned themselves with factions he suspects. The game draws inspiration from various sources such as classic cyberpunk series, popular manga and anime, and other visual novels. It delves into themes of technology, identity, and reality, while also incorporating politics and religion. The storytelling is masterful, with the unraveling of the core mystery and character development occurring simultaneously. Once you start playing, it's difficult to put down until you've reached the end.

10. Majikoi! Love Me Seriously!

Majikoi is widely considered to be the best romantic comedy visual novel. I had read the original English fan translation back in 2015, but I'm enjoying re-reading this version as it seems to be an improved translation overall.

Majikoi! Love Me Seriously!

At its core, Majikoi is a light-hearted visual novel that combines comedy, slice of life, and action scenes. The characters have exaggerated personalities and interact in humorous ways, with jokes being a frequent occurrence. While there are a fair number of action scenes, they are often intentionally over-the-top and accompanied by punchlines. If you enjoy the comedic style presented in the first 15-20 minutes of the story, you'll likely find the rest of the novel to be similarly amusing, as the humor remains consistent throughout without becoming repetitive.

Although the visual novel is generally light-hearted, some of the main characters face real personal and psychological issues, adding occasional drama to the story. These issues include finding true friends, realizing that hard work may not be enough, and disagreements between close friends. Despite this, the personal drama does not detract from the overall feel of the visual novel, and instead helps to make the characters feel more like real people rather than caricatures.

In contrast to many protagonists of romance harem visual novels, Yamato Naoe, the main character of Majikoi, is outgoing and active. He is social with many of his classmates and acquaintances, while remaining most loyal to his close friends. Yamato's most notable trait is his unabashed use of trickery, cheating, and calculated actions during conflicts and fights. However, he remains a good and moral person at heart, making him an entertaining character to watch.

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