Summer is almost here! It’s the sunny season of relaxation, travel, and adventure. If you find yourself stuck at home with no plans for the summer, don’t worry, as I’ve found ten great visual novels that’ll be perfect for your summer vacation.
Note: As always, this list isn’t in any particular order. Just because a game you enjoy is at number ten doesn’t mean it isn’t as good as or even better than the game sitting at number one!
10) Camp W
Platforms: Windows (Steam)
Camp W has you playing as either Liliandra or Lysander, young witches who are away from their family for the first time. While both are from the magical Witching Realm, where magic is in every corner, you’re instead enrolled at a summer camp attended by humans in the Human Realm. It’s your job to make sure that you keep your identity under wraps while also making friends along the way!
Camp W is a short, cute game that has a great ensemble in it. You won’t be able to hang out or make friends with everyone in a single playthrough, so the game encourages you to replay through its two-hour runtime over and over to see the different paths you can go down. If you like titles like Magical Diary or are interested in forming platonic bonds with rather than romancing your fellow campers, you can’t go wrong with Camp W!
For more information, you can also check out our review of Camp W.
9) Monster Prom 2: Monster Camp
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux (Steam)
Monster Camp is the sequel to the hit multiplayer choose-your-own-adventure game Monster Prom. In this title, you and your amazing monster pals are attending summer camp. Much like its predecessor, your goal is to have a partner at the end of a six-week period. There are six characters you can romance: Damien, Milo, Calculester, Dahlia, Hoy, and Aaravi. In order to win their heart, you have to impress them by picking the correct choices during events and raising your stats.
If you’ve played the first game and loved it, then there’s no reason you wouldn’t like this one. I’ve enjoyed my time with Monster Camp, even if my favorite blob is missing in action. If you haven’t tried out Monster Prom, you can still check out Monster Camp, as you don’t really need to play the first game in order to enjoy this one. There’s so many events and endings to experience that you and your friends won’t be putting this game down for a very long time.
8) Heileen: Sail Away
The first of three games, Heileen: Sail Away focuses on its titular character on a voyage to the New World! On her journey, she meets some colorful folks, some of whom you can romance if you so choose. You’ll also be undergoing various quests to add some spice to your journey.
This is one of Winter Wolves’ earlier works, so things such as the resolution show the game’s age. Despite this, for the price of a few bucks, Heileen: Sail Away is a nice start to the trilogy. I do believe the other games improve on where this game faltered, such as by giving more time to character development and adding more things the player can do. But if you’re looking to find a game where you can kick back with some sailors, then look no further than Heileen: Sail Away.
7) Flower Shop: Summer in Fairbrook
Another early work from developer Winter Wolves, in this game, you follow Steve, a young man who is down on his luck. His grades are something left to be desired, he and his girlfriend are taking a break, and his father is forcing him to work on a farm so he’ll grow as a person. At first, Steve is as irritated as anyone would be in his situation; it’s one thing after another. However, when he arrives in Fairbrook, he meets a cast of girls who make his situation a little bit better.
While there’s a dating sim aspect, there’s also farming attached to this game. Every day, you have to take care of your crops and the farmland. You also have to maintain your relationships with the game’s characters if you’re hoping to get with someone at the end.
There’s a sequel to this game called Flower Shop: Winter in Fairbrook. I consider it the otome version of this game, as you play as a woman named Natalie and date some of the men in Fairbrook, including Steve!
6) Amnesia: Memories
Price: $9.99 (PC), $22.99 (iOS & Android)
Amnesia: Memories puts you in the shoes of an amnesiac heroine. She wakes up in a mysterious world with a boy named Orion. Orion instructs you to visit various worlds, all of which hold a different reality, in order to piece together who you are.
You have to act as normally as possible so no one catches on to your memory loss. There are five men you can romance, one of whom you can only romance after you finish the other four routes. For the most part, I enjoyed the love interests except for one guy, but I won’t spoil who that is, as it’ll ruin the handful of surprises in his route.
Amnesia: Memories is a wonderful otome game that had me crying at a few moments. If you’ve played the game, I’m sure you know which in-game events I’m talking about. The art is stunning, a quality I hadn’t seen before in otome games at the time I played it. Amnesia: Memories is a must-read for otome fans and any visual novel player looking for a plot that goes from being a peaceful, lighthearted mystery to something more serious.
5) A Summer with the Shiba Inu
Price: $8.99 (PC), $9.99 (Consoles)
When Syd the shiba inu returns to Shiba Island after 10 years, a series of events occur that affect all who she’s crossed paths with. Upon her return, she rekindles her friendship with Max. She even forms a weird relationship with a mysterious labrador named Quei-Li. With no one else to rely on, she, Max, and Quei-Li investigate what’s happening on Shiba Island, some of which remind Syd why she left the island in the first place.
At first, I wasn’t sure what to expect with A Summer with the Shiba Inu. When I first watched the trailer, I was like “oh cool, a visual novel with dogs!” Then, the tone of the trailer shifted at the very end, hinting at something much bigger than cute dogs. To say I loved my time with this game would be an understatement. Just play A Summer with the Shiba Inu.
Feel free to check out our full review of A Summer with the Shiba Inu for more information.
4) We Know the Devil
Platforms: Windows, Mac (Steam)
Neptune, Jupiter, and Venus are sent to a cabin in the woods in order to confront the Devil. It’s said that he and God can be overheard on the radio at night time. Can the trio’s relationship with each other survive the night or will they succumb to the Devil?
There’s so much to We Know the Devil other than the character mentioned in its title. The game focuses heavily on the main cast’s relationship with each other and how it can either get stronger or deteriorate depending on the player’s choices. While the Devil is a being that many are scared of, I personally think losing a friend is something much scarier.
If you want a spooky little game for the summertime, We Know the Devil will exceed your expectations.
3) Root Letter
Price: $19.99 for the original, $29.99 for Last Answer
15 years ago, Max had a penpal named Aya Fumino. However, one day, the letters stopped. At first, Max thought nothing of it and moved on with his life. In the present day, he finds an unopened letter from Aya. In the letter, Aya states that she killed someone and that she can never speak to Max again in order to atone for her sins. Determined to find out what happened to Aya, Max sets out to Matsue, where his beloved penpal lived, in order to get some answers. He asks Aya’s former classmates what happened to Aya, and what should be a simple question expands into a thrilling mystery about who Aya really is and what happened 15 years ago.
The game is separated into multiple chapters, eight of them dedicated to one of Aya’s classmates. The game then goes off to one of five paths depending on the player’s choices at the start of each chapter. As I played through the game more and pieced together the mystery that is Aya, I started to like the game more and more.
Root Letter has two versions: the original game and Root Letter Last Answer, which includes more added content. Last Answer even has the option to let you change the visuals from an anime art style to live actors. Personally, I liked the art better.
2) A Summer’s End – Hong Kong 1986
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux (Steam)
A Summer’s End tells the love story between two women, Michelle and Sam. Their happenstance meeting evolves into something much deeper and more meaningful.
Taking place in the 80s lends itself to a lot of different things for the game: not only telling an accurate story during a time where the world is evolving and cultures are clashing, but also providing a strong aesthetic. A Summer’s End is beautiful, to put it simply. You can tell how much this game was influenced by the 80s, from the fashion to the colorful backgrounds.
A Summer’s End – Hong Kong 1986 tells a story of love, self-discovery, family, and acceptance during a time where many found themselves stuck, unsure of where to go. It’s a stunning game with a beautiful, bittersweet narrative that’ll have many players coming back to it years later.
1) Café Enchanté
In Café Enchanté, you play as Kotone. She inherits her grandfather’s café in Tokyo, and during a quick tour to refresh herself, she discovers a large door hidden away. The door opens to reveal beings from mystical worlds—from the king of demons to a headless knight, all of whom were regular patrons of the café. At first, Kotone thinks she’ll be able to handle it. Sure, you have a fallen angel raving about video games all day, but hey, it’s nothing too bad. Then the government shows up! Despite having every reason to run away from this place, Kotone stays put and runs the café her grandfather entrusted her with.
Café Enchanté is yet another wonderful otome game. If you’re looking for a title that starts off as something cute and innocent then quickly turns to a rollercoaster of drama after the common route is done, then you’ll enjoy Café Enchanté!