With the ever-growing audience for visual novels, some players are looking for visual novels that they can play on the go or don’t own a computer powerful enough to run games. Thanks to ever-growing technology, you can play them on your phone! However, with the overwhelming amount of choices on the app stores, it can be hard to find something you’ll want to play. That’s where I come in! Today’s post will be dedicated to giving you some recommendations on what you should play on your phone or tablet.
In the future, I might do a recommendation for Nintendo Switch. For now, though, I’ll be focusing on Android and iOS devices.
Disclaimer: Unfortunately, since many mobile games are free-to-play, 99.9% of the time they have microtransactions. I’ll be sure to disclose if there are any in the game.
Micro-transactions: Yes. You can buy coins in order to play exclusive scenes.
Perhaps the most popular dating sim on mobile outside of Mystic Messenger and for good reason.
You play as a magician’s apprentice who has a natural gift for fortune telling. One day, your master, Asra, leaves for a trip. Before he does however, he tells you to look after the shop and leaves a tarot deck for you to use.
Of course, once he leaves, things start to happen. You meet Nadia, a powerful countess who hasn’t had the best luck with romance. You also meet Julian, my favorite doctor, whose reputation has been tarnished. Even though the main character is great at fortune telling, not even they could predict how these individuals would change their life.
As of right now, there are six romance options: Asra, Julian, Nadia, Portia, Muriel, and one last, mysterious individual. I won’t reveal who the last one is, so you’ll just have to play the game to find out!
The prologue in the game is completely free. However, as you progress, there will be times where you’ll have spend in-game currency, coins. You can get coins by logging into the game continuously or doing the daily item spin on the Wheel of Fortune.
The Arcana offers an intriguing, magical story that’ll definitely put a spell on you if you decide to download it.
Urban Legend: Shin Hayarigami – Blindman
Originally released for PlayStation consoles in Japan, Urban Legend: Shin Hayarigami – Blindman received an English release on phones and tablets. Over in Japan, the game has a CERO Z (18+) rating because of how violent and horrific the game can get.
You play as Saki Hojo, a recent graduate of the police academy, who’s immediately put on a case revolving around a serial killer named the Blind Man. The game utilizes a system called Logic, where you try to deduce someone’s statement. Are they lying to you or do you think they’re telling the truth? That’s for you to figure out.
The game originally had issues with its translation, but it’s been greatly improved by Evelien Smolders, a YouTuber who often plays Japanese games on her channel with translations.
The only con with this one is that this is one game out of a trilogy. There hasn’t been any news on whether the remaining two games will be localized. Still, if you’re looking for a good horror mystery visual novel, then check out this game.
Choices: Stories You Play
Micro-transactions: Yes. There are keys which you use to play the chapters which refresh every two hours. Then there are diamonds which you can use for either exclusive scenes or outfits. You can get free diamonds by playing complete chapters, watching ads, or completing their challenges (e.g., finishing a book awards you 15 diamonds).
Choices is an interesting specimen in which there are multiple stories from different genres for you to experience. Feeling a little adventurous? Blades of Light and Shadow is the title for you. Maybe you want to live in a foreign land surrounded by royalty? Unexpected Heiress or The Royal Romance series might tickle your fancy! There’s something for everyone.
Not only that, but the art is surprisingly beautiful for a free mobile game. I would be lying if I said I didn’t screenshot a few images here and there.
While each story features a customizable main character and even love interests, they’re often “gender-locked,” as dubbed by the community. Gender-locked means that the main character is locked into being a female, a design choice that alienates their male player base. While the company is trying to feature more inclusive books with a MC whose gender is left up to the player, they have a lot more work to do in that area.
My recommendations, which all feature a completely customizable main character, are Blades of Light and Shadow, Endless Summer, Hero, Open Heart, Perfect Match, and the It Lives series. In my personal opinion, those books showcase not only Pixelberry’s best work, but set a standard for many mobile games like it.
High School Dog Simulator
Micro-transactions: No. You can pay $2.49 to remove the ads in-between chapters and get a wallpaper of Rei, but nothing is locked behind a paywall.
High School Dog Simulator is a very fun and quick game. You play as Shiba, a dog serving a life sentence for a crime he committed. He joins a program where he can get a reduced sentence by attending a high school. All he has to do is stay out of trouble. Obviously, you can expect shenanigans to happen because nothing ever goes right.
If you know me, you’d know that I love outlandish games like this. I loved Hatoful Boyfriend, a game where you’re surrounded by dateable birds, one of whom thinks he’s a pudding god. So if you’re like me and enjoyed Hatoful Boyfriend, you’ll be right at home with High School Dog Simulator.
In this game, no one thinks it’s weird that there’s a talking dog attending their high school, and you can make some ridiculous choices that will result in some pretty funny endings. High School Dog Simulator is a nice little treat that you should indulge yourselves in. After all, it’s completely free!
Lovestruck: Choose Your Romance
Micro-transactions: Yes. Much like Choices, Lovestruck has two types of currencies: tickets and hearts. Tickets allow you to play a chapter while hearts let you play certain scenes. You can get them for free by waiting an allotted amount of time or by logging onto the game.
Personally, while I adore Choices, they need a lot of work when it comes to LGBTQIA+ representation. Lovestruck, thankfully, doesn’t have that problem and are making queer-inclusive stories. A group that’s severely lacking representation all across entertainment are non-binary people, and Lovestruck includes multiple non-binary love interests. Last year, they featured their first main male character who is gay. Voltage, the company behind this and many other dating sims, are heading in the right direction.
The stories are engaging and keep you interested throughout the multiple seasons each one has. My personal recommendations are Astoria, Ever After Academy, Love and Legends, Queen of Thieves, and Wicked Lawless Love!
Micro-transactions: Yes, and expect to spend a lot.
It wouldn’t be a list for mobile visual novels without talking a little about the one that blew up on social media, Mystic Messenger. Personally, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the game but I understand why so many people absolutely adore it.
In Mystic Messenger, you play as a young woman who downloads a messaging app because the plot demands it. While browsing through the app and its features, she receives a message from a complete stranger asking her to go to an secluded apartment. When she gets there, she’s tasked to organize a party for an organization called RFA. While planning for the party, you get to know those involved with it, and of course, there’s more to the story than meets the eye.
There’s two unique aspects about this game that can either make you lose sleep or turn you off completely: the game takes place entirely in a chatroom. The game is synced up to real world time, and just like in real life, you can only talk to characters and trigger events at certain times. So, sometimes you’ll find yourself waking up at 1 AM to chat with your favorite character.
Of course, if you can’t bear with waking or staying up at ungodly hours, you can use hourglasses to rewind to any events you missed. You also use them to purchase the stories, such as the deep stories, which are necessary to unlocking two of the games’ routes. You can get them for free, but it’s a hassle to. Ultimately, if you want to really experience the game in its entirety, you’ll have to spend some cash.
So, those are my personal recommendations for anyone wanting to try out visual novels on phones and tablets. Originally, I wasn’t the biggest fan of phone games. However, once I got past the microtransactions, because those developers need to make money somehow, I really found myself opening up to them. There are some hidden gems on the app stores so I highly recommend checking out some of the games on this list. I can guarantee that you’ll have fun!