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Visual novels may have originated in Japan, but their popularity has spread worldwide. Most of them offer little interactivity in terms of gameplay, although some, like dating sims, might ask you to make strategic choices from time to time. Instead, they focus more on telling an engaging story, with a mix of text and graphics. The games mentioned below are each set in a wondrous alternate world and offer an immersive and thrilling experience.

1. Coffee Talk

Image via Steam

Coffee Talk is a cozy and wholesome game set in an alternate Seattle, where humans and magical creatures coexist. You run a cutesy café, brew coffee and tea for your customers and listen to their problems and stories. With elves, vampires, aliens, werewolves, and mermaids all thrown into the mix, Coffee Talk is a delightfully relaxing game about empathy and understanding, with a lo-fi soundtrack and pixel art, that will definitely appeal to lovers of fantasy and slice-of-life genres. 

2. True Remembrance

Image via True Remembrance/official Japanese site

A free visual novel by Shiba Satomi, the game is set in a future where humans suffer from a pandemic depression called The Dolor ( (which literally translates to “the pain”), and patients (guests) are assigned specialized doctors (Mnemonicides) who can alter and erase memories, to treat and heal them. The game follows the poignant tale of two characters- Blackiris a Memnocide who is tasked with curing La, a 17-year-old girl with a hidden past. Tear-jerking and captivating at the same time, True Remembrance as the title suggests, makes for an unforgettable playing experience.

3. VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action

Image via Steam

In VA-11 Hall-A, you play as a bartender in a dystopian future, mixing cocktails for your tired customers who all have interesting stories to share. The game deftly captures those little moments of unguarded conversation that paint a picture of humans surviving and struggling against corruption and oppressive systems. Lovers of cyberpunk and dystopias will absolutely adore this title.

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4. Arcade Spirits

Image via Steam

Arcade Spirits is part romance and part problem-solving that captures the magic and nostalgia of video game arcades. Set in an alternate future where the video game crash of 1983 never happened, the game allows you to design your own character, offers diverse dating and friendship options, while you manage Funplex- a gaming arcade where strangers become friends and then family. If you’re looking for something cheerful, uplifting, and fun, give this one a try.

5. Cinders

Image via Steam

Cinders is a choice-based fantasy game that offers variations on the traditional Cinderella story. With four different endings, the game allows the player to retell and relieve Cinderella’s narrative on her own terms. Does she romance the Prince? Or plot like a Machiavellian schemer? Will she take the help of the faeries? Or will she elope with the Royal Guard? With a great cast of supporting characters and a well-written plot, Cinders is a deeply satisfying game about fairy tales and happy endings.

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