Visual novels get a lot of discredit in the gaming community. Often, people argue that an “interactive book” cannot possibly hold up to the heights of some AAA titles. Yet, visual novels are often some of the most intricately designed games with complex stories, characters, and multiple endings. More often than not, some visual novels end up containing over 1,000,000 words.
But how can a visual novel be scarier than a traditional video game? Many horror fanatics will ask that question and sink back into their 50th playthrough of Resident Evil 4. But let it be known, visual novels can terrify gamers to their core. With disturbing visuals, uncanny sounds, and horrific stories, visual novels can easily take the top charts of scares.
Editor’s Note: Some of the titles in this list contain adult content. Be sure to look into them before checking any them out if you are sensitive to such material.
10 Escape Rooms Of Death In The Zero Escape Series
The Zero Escape series, first released on the Nintendo DSI with 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors, is a suspenseful series of puzzle games revolving around various groups of people trapped in a terrifying death game known as the Nonary Game. To escape, the group needs to work together to solve escape room puzzles and sometimes betray one another in the process.
Depending on the game in the series, if they lose, they’ll have their body exploded, poison introduced into the system, shot, stabbed, etc. And if that wasn’t scary enough, the game expects you to understand math as if the Nonary Games were not hard enough.
9 Higurashi Is A Sound Novel You Won’t Stop Crying Over
The visual novel that created the most infamous anime series of them all, Higurashi: When They Cry is a phenomenal series of “sound novels” that will easily get under your skin. Set in the 1980s, the story revolves around a group of teenagers in a small town investigating the strange goings on. There are no choices in the game, only the intense sound design and grisly descriptions awaiting you.
The series is split into question-and-answer arcs with the story resetting itself each time with minor changes. However, no matter which story you pick, we guarantee the cute teenagers will be stabbing and torturing each other before the novel is over leaving you wondering what happened to this peaceful gaming club.
8 Kara No Shoujo Is A Grisly Detective Period Drama
One of the more harrowing titles in the genre, Kara No Shoujo is a period drama set in Post-War Japan. You play a detective exploring a series of cases involving the graphic murders of a group of high school girls. Each case will have you interviewing multiple people and carefully analyzing the crime scene for clues.
The game holds back no punches in its gore or story going the whole nine yards to really hammer home how disgusting a corpse is. However, if gamers can push past its affinity for gore, a compelling horror detective drama awaits akin to Silence of the Lambs.
7 Corpse Party Offers Scissors, Ghosts, And Lots Of Gore
An all-time classic of the genre, Corpse Party is a visual novel RPG hard to forget. It’s so hard to forget, in fact, that they seem to keep remaking it every couple of years in one form or another.
The story follows a group of students who mess up a friendship ritual causing them to be teleported into an alternate dimension of corpses and murder-hunger ghosts. The game is screwed up in every way imaginable. No matter which version you play, expect horrific descriptions of decaying corpses and the murders that happen. Just try not to get too caught up in the game’s convoluted canon.
6 Doki Doki Literature Club Is For People Whose Waifu Is Horror
A surprise indie hit, Doki Doki Literature Club is the game everybody tells you to play and purposefully forgets to mention it’s a psychological horror game. Don’t let the bright colors or happy music fool you into a false sense of security for this one.
That Steam tag saying “psychological horror” is not there for jokes. The game follows a group of literature students inviting you into their club for poetry writing and romance. And then, well…tell the club president Monika we sent you and she’ll explain the rest.
5 Don’t Trust The Little Girl In Saya No Uta
When fans call Saya No Uta the goriest visual novel ever created, it is no exaggeration. Even the toughest of stomachs will struggle to finish this one, so unless gamers are sure they can handle it, it’s best to avoid it.
Why is it so gory? Well, the plot revolves around a recently hospitalized man who finds himself in a gory alternate dimension. Here, he meets the only normal-looking person: Saya, a small innocent child who certainly is not telling you everything you need to know. What follows is a disgusting romp through hell and images that are hard to forget. Proceed with caution on this one.
4 Divi-Dead Is A Lovecraft-Inspired Horror Mystery
This visual novel by C’s Ware is attributed as being one of the leading games in bringing the genre to the West. Now, it’s unfortunately amongst other abandonware titles left to obscurity.
However, if gamers can find themselves a copy, they’ll quickly discover a horrifying supernatural tale with plenty of gore to go around. The game is infamous for switching tones at random points going from brutal violence to lighthearted hentai at a moment’s notice. But with a story as compelling and complex as this one, it’s more than worth checking out.
3 Gore Screaming Show’s Title Tells You Everything You Need To Know
A title that tells you exactly what you are getting: Gore Screaming Show promises screams and gore and it delivers. The story centers around a creepy little girl and her monster sidekick terrorizing a small town with all the horrific grandeur gamers can handle.
The scares and gore never hold back in this one leaving readers at the edge of their seats, and those with even the strongest of stomachs wanting to play it close to a toilet just in case it makes them lose their lunch (and it probably will).
2 Danganronpa: “Pupupupupupu”
Another game whose bright cheery pink-colored blood fools players into a false sense of security, Danganronpa is one horrific mess of a gory visual novel. The story follows a group of teenagers trapped by a teddy bear named Monokuma inside of a school. To leave, they only have to murder their classmates and not get caught. Of course, it’s not as easy as it sounds.
Gore fanatics and true crime nuts will find more than enough mystery and humor inside of Danganronpa‘s twisted webs of deception and crime. The eerie hallways will soon quickly send a chill down gamers’ spines and leave them wondering, “when’s the next person going to die…and is it me?”
1 Sound Of Drop – Fall Into Poison Will Make You Hate Aquariums
Everyone loves going to see all the cute and adorable sea creatures floating harmlessly in their tanks at aquariums. It’s the danger of the ocean brought to the safety of inner cities and suburbia. But what happens when danger lurks its little head in?
Enter Sound of Drop – Fall Into Poison. This visual novel centers around two innocent schoolgirls inside an aquarium investigating the strange urban legends about it. When one of the girls sees her missing little sister and chases after her, she quickly finds herself lost inside amongst bloody water and terrible secrets. This short but phenomenal visual novel has more than enough scary moments to keep spook hunters (and fish lovers) appeased.
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