This has been a wonderful year for visual novel fans, with many great releases of every genre. I first wanted to do a top three list, but when I started narrowing down the choices, I knew there was no way I could do less than four titles this year. In the coming year, one of my goals is to cover not only more visual novels, but cover a wider range of titles as well. Now, let’s get to the titles I felt were the cream of the crop in 2021.


Onigokko! tells the story of the Phantom Thief Ura, who is secretly Urabe Keisuke, as he travels to Onigashima Island where an imposter is causing major issues. Ura earned his reputation by stealing powerful “Mystic Treasures” from all over Japan. These artifacts are very powerful, and if they fall into the wrong hands, it could spell disaster for the world. Keisuke will meet four incredible heroines on this journey: Akari, Kana, Hureha and Otome. Each of these girls are amazing in their own way. Akari is that serious type of girl with a heart of gold; Kana has a very unique personality; Otome will come off as an airhead but is actually very smart; Kureha is very tsundere, which made her my favorite. If you love a good romantic comedy, you really can’t go wrong picking this up.

VenusBlood HOLLOW International

VenusBlood HOLLOW | Combat

The most recent game I played on this list is certainly VenusBlood HOLLOW International. I was very excited for this release since the previous game was one of my favorite games from 2019, and this entry didn’t disappoint. Better combat, more story choices, and an amazing cast made the game a pure joy to play. The story takes place in the Holy Land of Helvetia, where the Empire has just declared war on the Dark Lords. A war hero named Leonhardt will use this opportunity for his own ends, to gain enough power so that nothing is taken from him again!

Majikoi! Love Me Seriously!

Majikoi! Love Me Seriously! is a visual novel that I wanted to play for a very long time. It took JAST quite a while to get this one ready for release, but I can safely say it was worth the wait. This is one of the best romantic comedy games out there. The story here follows a young man named Yamato and his group of friends, known as the Kazama family. They are a very talented group of individuals. In fact, the five girls in the group are such strong martial artists, they could likely take down an army by themselves! They all attend Kawakami Academy. This is a very competitive school. Any disputes are decided through a very unique duel system that most would find over the top. We will now learn about their daily lives. Yamato will discover that one of these amazing girls has a special place in his heart, or that he really loves hermit crabs!

Full Metal Daemon Muramasa

I don’t think there is anyway I could express to you just how amazing Full Metal Daemon Muramasa is in one paragraph. This is by far one of the best visual novels I’ve ever read, and a testament to the quality work the JAST team does. This story follows a man named Minato Kageaki as he tries to destroy the Silver Tsurugi that has been laying waste to village after village. They call this Tsurugi the Silver Star, Ginseigo, and it is said her song drives all who hear it to madness! Minato has a great connection to this pilot, but the armor he wears himself is cursed. For every life of an enemy he takes, he must also take the life of someone he sees as pure. Just like the tagline says, “This is not a Story of Heroes,” but it’s sure a damn good one. If you decide to read one visual novel this year, make it Full Metal Daemon Muramasa. It’s certainly not a short read, but it’s one of the most thoughtful stories ever told.

And that’s it for my list this year. There are plenty of wonderful titles coming from MangaGamer, JAST, Nekonyan, and others I am looking forward to. I’m sure these fantastic companies have lots of surprises in store for us as well. I am starting a new series this year as well. Once a month, I will review a classic title from JAST’s back catalog. The first title is Moero Downhill Night, and that review is up on the site now.

Steve Baltimore
Steve started with oprainfall not long after the campaign moved from the IGN forums to Facebook. Ever since, he has been fighting to give all non-mainstream RPGs a fair voice. As the site admin, he will continue to do this and even show there is value in what some would deem "pure ecchi." He loves niche games and anime more than anything... well, except maybe Neptune.