While You Wait

The other day, someone asked me about recommendations for branching path stories. While Aurora’s Nightmare won’t be done for a while yet (though hopefully not too much longer), here’s some other great visual novels you could try out in the meantime.

Fate/Stay Night is my absolute favorite visual novel. The story is brilliant and it makes better use of branching than pretty much any other game I’ve ever played. It was also a key inspiration for Aurora’s Nightmare. Not in terms of plot, but in terms of interactive structure. Unfortunately, while many entries in the large and complex Fate multimedia franchise have made their way outside of Japan, the original Fate/Stay Night has not. There is a good English fan translation patch, but you’ll need to import a copy of the original game from Japan if you want to play it.

Anything by Key. Kanon, Clannad, Rewrite, etc. While their branching structures aren’t as complex as Fate’s, Key’s visual novels are full of memorable characters and highly emotional stories that really hit you in the gut and stick with you for a long time after the credits roll. Fortunately, many of them have received official English releases in recent year so you can easily pick up copies on Steam.

The Zero Escape trilogy aren’t pure visual novels, they’re a combination of visual novel and escape room style Adventure games, but if you don’t mind a bit of clever puzzle solving with your story, they’ve got very engaging (if slightly flawed) storylines. Even better, they actually tie the branching structure directly into the plot, making for some of the most clever uses of branching path storytelling out there. The originally trilogy was released across the 3DS and Vita, but now the whole thing is available on both PS4 and Steam.

You and Me and Her: A Love Story is a title by NitroPlus. If you’re a fan of visual novels (or even certain anime), that probably tells you something. If not…well, the less you know about this game before you play it, the better. Let’s just say that it’s unique and amazing and leave it at that. While it took quite a few years for them to bring it to the US, it’s now available on Steam and from JAST.

That’s nowhere a complete list of good visual novels, or games with branching path stories, but it should be plenty to keep you busy while waiting for Aurora’s Nightmare.