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The Best Visual Novels on PS4

Get lost within these visual novels on PlayStation

This article was originally published in 2018 and has been periodically updated since.

Historically, visual novels have been mostly restrained to the PC, only accessible through fan translations and the occasional official localisation.

Thankfully, we live in a different age. Now, plenty of high profile visual novels release every year – and many of them find a home on PS4. However, the genre’s recent surge of popularity has also created a whole new problem. With so many visual novels to choose from, which ones are worth your time?

Worry not: we’ve got you covered with a list of the best visual novels on PS4. Each and every one of these will surely captivate you, making the hours fly by. Click on through to see the best visual novels you can play right now.

Want to support GameSpew? If you decide to buy any of the games on this list, please consider doing so via our affiliate links, included below each entry. It won’t cost you anything extra, but we’ll get a small slice of the purchase.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy

Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney Trilogy

Ace Attorney is perhaps one of the better known titles to appear on this list. And while the focus on solving cases may make it slightly more involved than your typical visual novel, there’s still enough written storytelling here for it to count.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy bundles together the first three games from the Ace Attorney series: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Justice For All and Trials and Tribulations. They originally started out as Nintendo DS titles, but an excellent HD remaster brought them to consoles in 2019, allowing a whole new audience to play. And they’re very worthy games indeed. Each one sees you step into the shoes of Ace Attorney; as Ace, you’ll explore crime scenes then question witnesses and suspects in court to try and ascertain the truth behind a crime. There’s a huge amount of cases to work through in the Trilogy, and each one is as gripping as the last.

If you enjoy mystery, comedy, over the top drama and getting sucked into a good story, then Ace Attorney Trilogy is one of the best visual novels on PS4. And if you enjoy this, there’s also The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles to jump into, which takes the same addictive gameplay to an all-new time period.

Read our review of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy

Buy Ace Attorney Trilogy on Amazon

Zero Escape: The Nonary Games

The Nonary series at large is, without a doubt, one of the greatest visual novel games of all time. All three are playable on PS4, but The Nonary Games, which combines the first two are the obvious pick here. Containing the original 999 and Virtue’s Last Reward, The Nonary Games centres on a group of people trapped and forced to play the titular nonary games; a series of life-and-death events that pits characters against one another.

Forced to act under pressure, characters show their true selves in the most shocking ways. A poignant and cynical meditation of our modern society, this is a game that will leave your jaw dropped and eyes wide, no matter who you are. If you’re after the best visual novels on PS4, consider Zero Escape: The Nonary Games absolutely essential.

Read our review of Zero Escape: The Nonary Games

Buy Zero Escape: The Nonary Games on Amazon

Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness

It’s no surprise that the visual novel genre is rife with anime adaptations. In Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness, you play as a pair of cops in a dystopian future where your feelings and emotions can be scanned, giving you your own titular “Psycho-Pass”.

Like the anime its based upon, there’s plenty of heady science fiction themes explored here; it feels a hop, skip, and a jump away from Philip K. Dick’s Minority Report. Beyond that, however, is a story that packs enough twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat. Definitely check this out of you’re after one the best visual novels on PS4.

Read our review of Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness

Buy Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness on Amazon

Arcade Spirits

Advertised as a “romantic visual novel”, Arcade Spirits is much more than that. It’s a slice-of-life story that casts you as a new employee of Funplex, a run-down arcade. But tatty around the edges it may be, it’s full of life thanks to its eccentric owner and its enthusiastic staff.

Throughout the course of Arcade Spirits, you’ll follow your protagonist – who you can name and choose the appearance of – as well as several staff members from Funplex – as you fight to restore the arcade to its former glory. That means rivalling the mega-corp that’s moved into town, dealing with troublesome visitors and, of course, dabbling in some love interests along the way. Your romance options are wide, and the decisions you choose along the way will shape not only the outcome of your love life, but the outcome of Funplex.

Arcade Spirits is a down-to-earth story, but it’s one packed with character, humour and heart. It’s full of classic video game references too, so any gamer will get a huge kick out of it. As far as visual novels on PS4 go, this is without a doubt one of the best.

Read our review of Arcade Spirits

Buy Arcade Spirits on Amazon

Steins;Gate Elite

Steins; Gate Elite

Steins;Gate is known as one of the best visual novels of all time, and for good reason. On PS4 it arrives in the form of Steins;Gate Elite; a remaster that incorporates animated scenes from the anime. Needless to say, it’s a journey worth taking.

A time-travelling adventure that smartly plays with many conventions of the genre, in Steins;Gate Elite you follow a team of Lab members who discover how to change the past. How, you ask? Using only email and a modified microwave. They soon attract the attention of an organisation known as SERN, however; and from there, the story escalates, filled with exciting twists and turns. If you have any love for the visual novel genre, this is one of the best you can play on PS4.

Read our review of Steins;Gate Elite

Buy Steins;Gate Elite on Amazon

Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception

The west never received a localisation of the first game in the Utawarerumuno series. As disappointing as that is, we did get its superb follow-up, Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception in 2017. It was worth the wait, too, as it’s one of the best visual novels on PS4. Taking the role of Haku, a young man with little more than a splitting headache and a bad case of amnesia to his name, you’ll meet plenty of colourful characters in this wild fantastical tale.

What’s most compelling about Mask of Deception isn’t its story, however; instead, it’s its surprisingly fast-paced strategy RPG combat system. Yes, this is another hybrid game with mechanics as satisfying as any you’d find in a more robust RPG. So, if you want a story that will keep you glued to the screen and engaging gameplay to boot, give Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception some attention.

Read our review of Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception

Buy Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception on Amazon

Root Letter

One of the most intriguing visual novels in recent memory, √Letter – or Root Letter – is the first game to be released under Kadokawa’s Game Mystery umbrella. In it, you try to unravel the mystery of Aya, a young girl who went missing after receiving the titular root letter.

Split into two parts, you’ll have to both interview characters that once knew Aya in traditional visual novel form, while also reliving past memories with Aya herself to piece this story together. Root Letter is as inventive as it is melancholy, and you’ll definitely want to give it a go.

If you enjoyed this, there’s also Root Letter: Last Answer; a reimagined version that allows players to use either the original animated graphics or all-new live-action video. A sequel, Root Film was also released earlier this year.

Read our review of Root Letter

Buy Root Letter on Amazon

Clannad

From the famous visual novel studio Key, Clannad was originally released in 2004. Rather than anything fantastical, Clannad is a grounded slice-of-life story that centres on Tomoya Okazaki. He’s a high school delinquent who is plagued by a life of tragedy. With multiple potential relationships to follow, each character represents some type of change to Tomoya himself. And, as you may expect, the relationships you choose to pursue will affect how the story pans out.

Be ready to cry your eyes out along the road of this touching, heartfelt romance. It’s just as much about overcoming tragedy as it is about living through it. Needless to say, visual novels on PS4 don’t come much better than this.

Buy Clannad on Amazon

428: Shibuya Scramble

428 Shibuya Scramble 1

428: Shibuya Scramble made quite a splash when it first released onto the Nintendo Wii back in 2008. But only when it was ported to PS4 and PC in 2018 did anyone outside of Japan get to play it. We may have had to wait an extra 10 years, but it was worth the wait – and it’s stood the test of time excellently.

A spiritual successor to the Sega Saturn game Machi, 428: Shibuya Scramble tells the story of a kidnapping. There’s much mystery surrounding the kidnapping, however, and as the story unfolds you’ll realise just how much more to it there is. What’s most intriguing about 428: Shibuya Scramble is not just its story, it’s how its all delivered; you’ll be forced to juggle between multiple stories at once. It’s like a sort of interactive Pulp Fiction, and that can only be a very good thing.

Read our review of 428: Shibuya Scramble

Buy 428: Shibuya Scramble on Amazon

The Silver Case

Originally released in 1999 for PlayStation, The Silver Case was one of Japanese developer Goichi Suda’s earliest hits, before rising to fame with Killer 7 and No More Heroes. Though we were never able to play it for ourselves until recently, when it was finally localised for PS4.

A serial killer murder mystery set within the unique world of the 24 Districts, The Silver Case uses the “film window engine”; game scenes, dialogue, controls, and other aspects of the game are viewed through their own windows. It’s a truly surreal game to say the least. The Silver Case is one of the most striking games in the visual novel genre, and it  shouldn’t be missed by genre enthusiasts and Suda 51 fans alike.

Read our review of The Silver Case

Buy The Silver Case on Amazon

Danganronpa 1-2 Reload

Easily one of the best combos in gaming, Danganronpa 1-2 Reload packs in both the original Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and its sequel, Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair. Trapped within a school with the twisted Monokuma, students are forced to play his game. The premise? To kill one of your classmates and get away with it.

Although there are plenty of interesting characters you’ll meet, the true highlights of these games are in the courtroom scenes, playing out like an abnormal game of Phoenix Wright. Unsettling and, sometimes quite shocking, this is a pair of visual novels that belong in any gamer’s collection.

Buy Danganronpa 1-2 Reload on Amazon

Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters: Daybreak Special Gigs

There are many different types of visual novels, of course, yet one of the most fascinating is the RPG hybrid. Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters (and its re-release Daybreak Special Gigs) might be more than a visual novel, but it’s still one of the best on PS4.

In it, you take the role of a high school transfer student who finds themselves entangled in the shenanigans of an after-school ghost hunting club. There’s plenty of conversing to be done, visual novel style, but there’s much more to Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunter‘s gameplay. You’ll also spend plenty of time dungeon crawling; its mechanics will undoubtedly remind you of the classic Shin Megami Tensei games. What’s not to love about that?

Read our review of Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters: Daylight Special Gigs

Buy Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters: Daylight Special Gigs on Amazon

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