The idea for this post hit me like a freight train. While I have been playing a lot of The Old Republic recently (literally half my life in those first two weeks? Holy crap), last night (literally 30 minutes after I probably should of gone to bed) I was playing the very recently released Katawa Shoujo, an english language, free, Visual Novel.
Visual Novels are an interesting type of ‘game’ for the most part, the best way to describe them in layman’s terms is kinda like a choose-your-own-adventure book. Not every VN has choices, but a large majority of them do. Using Katawa Shoujo as an Ur Example (Warning, TVTropes link) is hilariously inappropriate, but will suffice for being a good example of an Eroge, that more importantly, is super easy for you to get your hands on, it being a free download.
The primary thing you do, is, of course, read. I like to read (while always relevant pony images aren’t my thing, here you go), so this suits me quite nicely. While I certainly don’t read as much as I did when I was younger, I still read a good two dozen books a year, at least (with a few rereads thrown in for good measure).
Occasionally a choice is presented to the player, and these can dramatically alter the path of the story. While they’re often less common than choices in your choose-your-own-adventure books, they usually alter the course of the story in a more dramatic fashion, even if it’s not immediately apparent.
The ‘VN’ (actually, it’s a Sound Novel, although it plays like a VN, it tastes like a VN, it practically is a VN) I have been playing a lot of recently is Umineko no Naku Koro ni. It has 0 decisions to be made for the most part. I am at the beginning of the final chapter, but am dragging my feet there, as I don’t want it to end. I just want to keep the cat box closed, although that’s the same as believeing in the Endless Witch. Haha.
Ultimately, I think the key thing here is that they are an interesting way to experience a story, and probably the best version of books to exist in a digital form. I cannot recommend Umineko highly enough, and Katawa is a very cool thing, although it’s entirely possible that a VN is simply not your cup of tea. They’re certainly not the sort of thing the vast majority of gamers would enjoy, but that doesn’t make them any less enjoyable to me.