Visual novels have found quite a foothold for themselves in western gaming. Originally trapped in Japan, this niche genre has worked its way into other regions, primarily due of dating sims. Because sometimes, you can’t help falling in love. There were quite a few visual novels released in 2015, but there were the two in particular that captured Michibiku’s heart.
Best Visual Novel of 2015: Amnesia: Memories
Amnesia: Memories was a success because it didn’t exclude anyone. Yes, this is an otome game geared toward female players. Once you pick a storyline, you’re following a young woman who has lost all of her memories due to mysterious circumstances and is attempting to determine if her “boyfriend” is someone she can trust with her secret. However, what makes it special is the mystery surrounding the characters. Rather than being a straightforward romance, Amnesia: Memories makes a player think about the implications of parallel universes and alternate histories. Yes, you’re falling in love, which is always pleasant, but finding out what happened to the heroine and why she’s a victim of circumstance is far more appealing. And not just to women, but to players of any gender. You won’t know the whole truth unless you find your way through all five storylines, which makes it even more compelling. – Jenni
Runner-up: Norn9: Var Commons
With a visual novel, you’re only seeing things from one character’s perspective. If you don’t like the protagonist, you’re going to have a bad time. With Norn9: Var Commons, people who don’t enjoy their first playthrough as one character can simply be someone else the next time. There are three possible heroines, each with three routes tied to their potential suitors, as well as a brief, more generic route starring the young boy that people follow through the prologue. If you don’t like the way things are going, restart. There’s a good chance things will be different or more appealing the next time you play. – Jenni