A major part of the reason MoeGamer exists is to celebrate the wonderful world of visual novels — a game-like form of interactive entertainment where the written prose and dialogue of a story is supported by music, voice acting, sound, visuals and sometimes animation.
Here you’ll find all of MoeGamer’s in-depth explorations of these wonderful works of digital artistry and creativity. Be prepared for adult content and spoilers — we’re diving deep into narrative here!
One-off articles about visual novels
Waifu Wednesday: Bubbles - I recently played through an interesting Taiwanese game called Food Girls. It’s a visual novel combined with a management sim about rescuing a street market from closure and demolition. You can read more about it in my feature over on Rice Digital; there’ll be more about it here when I’ve done a few more playthroughs! … Continue reading Waifu Wednesday: Bubbles Around the Network - Good afternoon! I spent my weekend frantically playing a game for (paid) review, so didn’t find time to do this then. Also it’s hot. Really hot. And I don’t want to do anything that involves the slightest bit of activity. Not that sitting on my arse typing some nonsense really counts as “activity”, of course, … Continue reading Around the Network SeaBed: What You Leave Behind - I reviewed this visual novel over at Nintendo Life — please go support my work over there, then join me back here to delve into the narrative in more detail! SeaBed from Paleontology Soft is a kinetic novel that first released in 2015. It was localised for PC two years later, much to the delight … Continue reading SeaBed: What You Leave Behind Waifu Wednesday: Rin Takato - Before we leave The Expression: Amrilato behind, I wanted to show a particular bit of appreciation for its protagonist Rin. Rin is the player’s eyes and ears over the course of the narrative, and as the game progresses you develop something of a mutually beneficial relationship with her as a player; she, more often than … Continue reading Waifu Wednesday: Rin Takato Waifu Wednesday: Yukino Tsubaki - Despite PQube’s excellent Kotodama: The 7 Mysteries of Fujisawa not being a romance-centric visual novel, it has no shortage of characters — both male and female — designed to be very appealing. My personal favourite from the ensemble cast after completing the whole thing — that is, after finding out all of their respective dirty … Continue reading Waifu Wednesday: Yukino Tsubaki Waifu Wednesday: Yuno Hayase - Who doesn’t love a good girl? That, it seems, is the angle that Yuno Hayase, valued member of game developer Judgement 7 alongside her sister Asano, is going for. Throughout the early hours of visual novel Our World is Ended, Yuno represents a source of relentless positivity and optimism. She’s always there to encourage protagonist Reiji and … Continue reading Waifu Wednesday: Yuno Hayase Waifu Wednesday: Natsumi Yuki - It’s fair to say that “insecurity” is a pretty core theme to Our World is Ended, and the different characters all express this trait in one way or another to varying degrees. To date, we’ve seen how Tatiana is a walking contradiction in terms of the clash between her naturally childish nature and her genius-level … Continue reading Waifu Wednesday: Natsumi Yuki Waifu Wednesday: Asano Hayase - If there’s one type of character voice actress Eri Kitamura knows how to play well, it’s the seemingly aggressive but actually terribly insecure tsundere. Asano Hayase from Red Entertainment’s visual novel Our World is Ended is a great example, affording Kitamura the opportunity to demonstrate her full vocal range over the course of the character’s development and … Continue reading Waifu Wednesday: Asano Hayase Waifu Wednesday: Maria Osawa - Before we bid 428: Shibuya Scramble a fond farewell from the Cover Game spotlight, I wanted to give some love to one of its main characters. Since many of the articles on MoeGamer deal with the core narrative themes of the games under the microscope, I don’t typically bother with spoiler warnings. However, in this … Continue reading Waifu Wednesday: Maria Osawa Waifu Wednesday: Aya Kamiki - We’ve had celebrities putting in appearances in video games for a good while now, mostly as voice actors, but it’s quite rare to see a performer appear in a game as themselves. Japanese singer, actress and model Aya Kamiki evidently saw a good opportunity back in 2008, though, and played a part in Spike Chunsoft’s … Continue reading Waifu Wednesday: Aya Kamiki Reflections on PlayStation Vita - At the time of writing, Sony has just announced that production of the PlayStation Vita will be ending in 2019, with no plans for a successor. This follows news from earlier this year that we’re counting down the days until the last Western physical Vita release, with many of the last releases coming in limited … Continue reading Reflections on PlayStation Vita The MoeGamer Awards: Best Couple - The MoeGamer Awards are a series of made-up prizes that give me an excuse to celebrate games, concepts and communities I’ve particularly appreciated over the course of 2017. Find out more and suggest some categories here! I love the fact that modern gaming is such an interesting, broad medium that it is possible to even contemplate … Continue reading The MoeGamer Awards: Best Couple The MoeGamer Awards: Best Waifu - The MoeGamer Awards are a series of made-up prizes that give me an excuse to celebrate games, concepts and communities I’ve particularly appreciated over the course of 2017. Find out more and suggest some categories here! Today’s suggestion comes to us from Annie Gallagher, longtime friend of the site and self-described trans feminist philosopher, critic, gamer … Continue reading The MoeGamer Awards: Best Waifu Waifu Wednesday: Shizuka Masou - This week’s waifu is once again drawn from the extensive cast of the Rance series, and is a character who has been part of the brutish hero’s saga almost since the very beginning. First appearing as an antagonist in Rance II: The Rebellious Maidens, Shizuka has been a fixture in the series alongside her best friend … Continue reading Waifu Wednesday: Shizuka Masou Waifu Wednesday: Alice Kamishiro - It’s the last Waifu Wednesday before Halloween, so who better to explore this week than an honest to goodness witch? Alice Kamishiro is one of the central characters of minori’s Supipara, a proposed five-part series of visual novels of which we’ve seen the first in the West so far, thanks to MangaGamer. Although the first chapter isn’t … Continue reading Waifu Wednesday: Alice Kamishiro Space Live: Flawless Fanservice - Sometimes a good palate-cleanser is just what the doctor ordered, and that’s exactly what Space Live: Advent of the Net Idols provides. Developed as a West-first release by a collaborative effort between Da Capo creator Circus and localisation specialists MangaGamer, Space Live markets itself as a “short and sweet visual novel that will add some kick into your step … Continue reading Space Live: Flawless Fanservice Waifu Wednesday: Al Azif - Nitroplus’ Deus Machina Demonbane is an absolutely remarkable visual novel. Combining elements of Lovecraftian horror and giant robot anime with a generous dash of noir, it is quite unlike any other piece of interactive entertainment I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. And a big part of that is due to one of its major characters: Al … Continue reading Waifu Wednesday: Al Azif Waifu Wednesday: Hanako Ikezawa - In this new weekly series, we’ll be taking a look at some of the most memorable, interesting, attractive, sexy, badass and just plain awesome female characters in Japanese gaming, as well as highlighting some great fanart. And what better place to begin than with Hanako Ikezawa from Katawa Shoujo, my favourite character from the game that truly … Continue reading Waifu Wednesday: Hanako Ikezawa From The Archives: Man, I Feel Like a Woman… Oh, Wait - What would you do if you suddenly found that you’d changed sex? That’s the core question in Crowd’s X-Change, localized for us Westerners by Peach Princess. At heart, it’s an interesting question and, frankly, one that I have found myself pondering in quieter moments — as, I’m sure, have many of you reading this, regardless of whether … Continue reading From The Archives: Man, I Feel Like a Woman… Oh, Wait Fate/GO: Servant to the Gacha - I’ll freely admit that, up until the time of writing, I’ve had little to no familiarity with the Fate series as a whole aside from recognising various Saber incarnations and Tamamo no Mae on sight, and having some complicated feelings towards Astolfo. But with the North American release of Fate/Grand Order — accessible outside the … Continue reading Fate/GO: Servant to the Gacha From the Archives: Reasons to Read - Those of you who enjoy visual novels have probably come up against at least one gamer friend who has refused to even entertain the possibility of exploring this interesting medium on the grounds that it’s “too much text” and/or “not enough gameplay.” In fact, in several cases, visual novels which have hit “mainstream” platforms such … Continue reading From the Archives: Reasons to Read From the Archives: Hospital Affairs - The Nintendo DS might not be the first place you’d think to look for some quality visual novels, but in actual fact Nintendo’s diminuitive and immensely popular handheld has played host to a number of interesting titles over the years. Besides the well-known Ace Attorney series, there’s Kotaro Uchikoshi’s Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, the Hotel Dusk series… and … Continue reading From the Archives: Hospital Affairs Puzzler Essentials: HuniePop - HuniePop from Ryan Koons’ studio HuniePot was partly developed as a sort of “protest” game: an attempt to fight back against the growing trend of political correctness that was starting to take root in the games industry. There was clearly demand for such a game, even back in late 2013; a successful Kickstarter campaign allowed … Continue reading Puzzler Essentials: HuniePop Virtual Intimacy - The arrival of relatively affordable virtual reality solutions has the potential to allow us to explore narrative and characterisation in all-new ways — and I’m especially excited to see what Japan comes up with. An oft-cited strength of narrative-centric Japanese interactive entertainment is the sense of “intimacy” it engenders between the player, the protagonist and … Continue reading Virtual Intimacy From the Archives: A Fine Romance - The terms “visual novel” and “dating sim” are used somewhat interchangeably in the West — even by those who publish them — but in actuality, this isn’t particularly accurate. Visual novels often involve romantic and/or sexual relationships as a key part of their narrative, sure, and dating sims involve a lot of reading text and … Continue reading From the Archives: A Fine Romance From the Archives: Why Do We Play? - A philosophical question for you today, prompted by a thought-provoking discussion I had with a friend the other evening. It’s a particularly interesting question with regard to visual novels, which are regarded by some as not being “games” in the traditionally-understood sense, but it also applies to the interactive entertainment medium as a whole. The … Continue reading From the Archives: Why Do We Play? Negligee: Pretty Girls in Sexy Pants - With a title like “Negligee”, you probably think you know what you’re getting — and in this case, you’d probably be right. Mostly. Negligee is a short visual novel from the UK-based (but heavily Japan-inspired) developer Dharker Studio, whose previous work has included Beach Bounce, Summer Fling and Club Life, among others. To date, the team has put out works … Continue reading Negligee: Pretty Girls in Sexy Pants Sexual Healing - Visual novels have been around for a lot longer than some people realise — and, like any art form, they’ve changed noticeably over time. An excellent example of the way they’ve changed — aesthetically, thematically and in terms of gameplay — comes in the form of Nocturnal Illusion, a title first brought to Western shores by … Continue reading Sexual Healing In Pursuit of Several Truths - One common aspect of modern Japanese narrative-centric games and visual novels that we tend not to see quite so much in contemporary Western titles is the matter of multiple endings. In some cases — visual novels being the prime example — seeing another ending is a relatively straightforward matter of picking different choices throughout the … Continue reading In Pursuit of Several Truths There’s Not Always a Happy Ending - The modern world is incredibly concerned with spoilers: the giving away of surprises before you, yourself, have reached that part in the narrative. But some of the most effective stories out there are pretty up-front about their most surprising elements and still manage to forge a compelling, interesting narrative. D.O.’s Kana Little Sister is a good example … Continue reading There’s Not Always a Happy Ending Guidebook to Another Culture - Video games are a great means of immersing yourself in another culture. For years now, Western gamers have been enjoying titles like Yu Suzuki’s sadly unfinished Shenmue series and Atlus’ Persona titles not only for their enjoyable gameplay and overarching storylines, but for their ability to make you feel like you’re “living the Japanese life”. There’s … Continue reading Guidebook to Another Culture I Lost My Heart to a Starship - Ell, or Starship Ezekiel to give her her full name — yes, she really is a starship — is the resident “cute” character amid the cast of Alcot’s comedy visual novel My Girlfriend is the President. My Girlfriend is the President tells an eminently silly story about how the protagonist Junichiro’s childhood friend Yukino becomes, through a series of … Continue reading I Lost My Heart to a Starship