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Old 2007-10-06, 13:45
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TDOMMX TDOMMX is offline
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Darkside Translations
Posts: 82
Thumbs up Visual Novel Recommendations

Hmmm... The majority of visual novels contain romantic or sexual undertones. It's a little difficult to recommend titles that don't involve these aspects at all. On the other hand, there are many titles in which these elements are eclipsed by a grander plot. If you prefer to stay work-safe, I can recommend Phantom of Inferno, Ever 17 -Out of Infinity-, Eve Burst Error, Exodus Guilty, and Snatcher.
  • Phantom of Inferno is easily my favorite of the bunch, telling the story of an amnesiac young man who is forced into the world of organized crime.

  • Ever 17 is an excellent title with beautiful, sometimes heart-breaking endings. It focuses on the plight of a handful of people who are suddenly trapped in an underwater theme park. Since you don't like romantic elements, a few scenes in the game might aggravate you. Despite this detail, I think you would enjoy Ever 17 anyway.

  • Eve Burst Error is a detective story that fits your criteria quite nicely, but the game is no longer available at Himeya Shop, and I doubt you'd be able to find a copy since it's been out for about a decade.

  • Exodus Guilty is a game whose presentation takes a little getting used to, but I found the overall story to be pretty good. Though Exodus contains some romantic themes, most of the game focuses on its three intertwining narratives (I should note that Exodus Guilty is a three-volume game).

  • Snatcher is a cult classic clearly inspired by Blade Runner that fits your criteria to a T. However, the game was released a long time ago for the Sega CD, and those involved in the aftermarket have proven themselves to be quite greedy. If you can find a copy at a decent price and have a Sega CD (or an emulator) available, you won't regret the investment.
All of the titles I have mentioned thus far have reviews at RPGFan, if you feel like doing a bit more research.

If you don't mind treading into adult territory, you might want to check out Chain. It's a murder mystery title similar to Eve Burst Error, but the gratuitous nature of many of the sex scenes got on my nerves a little (though some of the scenes are well-incorporated into the story).

Also in the adult realm, I hear great things about Divi-Dead (pronounced "divided"). Apparently, it is a very good horror story, but I cannot give it my personal recommendation simply because I have not finished it personally. I picked up my copy for a mere $10 US, so I'll be checking it out myself in the not-too-distant future.

Dipping into the world of fan translations, you might want to give Tsukihime or Fate / Stay Night a try. I'm a little hesitant to recommend Tsukihime since romantic themes are present in all routes. Romance takes a back seat in Fate; have a look at its anime adaption or the translated demo by insani if you'd like proof. The only downside is that, as of this post, only a partial patch has been released.

Judging from what you have said, you might want to stay far, far away from Wind -a breath of heart- and most of the other fan-translated titles.

I should also mention a few of the al|together dojin titles. I personally enjoyed Narcissu, A Midsummer Day's Resonance, and Red Shift. You might also be interested in Night of the Forget-Me-Nots. None of these titles contain love stories, though a couple of them hint that romantic developments might occur later in the story (which of course never happens). Best of all, they're free and don't take very long to complete (compared to other visual novels -- the longest of the bunch takes 3-4 hours).

There are a lot of titles that I have not played and thus cannot vouch for, so this list is by no means comprehensive. Hopefully, it'll be useful to you nonetheless.
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