Top 10 genuinely scary visual novels
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6. Fatal Hearts
This independently developed visual novel from Hanako Games appears innocent enough on the exterior, but cleverly disguises a romantic saga riddled with plenty of ways for the heroine to meet with an early death.
While it's actually a little more depressing than scary, the fact that even one simple wrong move can ensure protagonist Christina doesn't live to see the light of one more day is distressing, heightening the stress level while playing.
7. School Days
To be fair, most of the time you're actually playing School Days is spent shaking your head at main character Makoto's boneheaded decisions. Where the game can absolutely lead to compassionate and warm endings in which all characters are treated respectfully and given a chance to live happily ever after, School Days also plays host to a menagerie of much darker endings, depicting bloody suicides, murders, and other equally disturbing occurrences that will no doubt jar players originally on board for the drama and H-scenes originally advertised.
In a nutshell, when School Days goes south, it goes south -- we're talking people get killed, and plenty of them. Play it, and you'll see what we mean.
8. Gore Screaming Show
As if the title weren't a dead giveaway, you're in for some seriously twisted chills with Gore Screaming Show, which centers around a mysterious being known only as a Gore and the cherub-faced little girl he seems to have sworn loyalty to. We won't spoil the specifics of the plot for players who haven't experienced it, but like School Days before it, if you happen to go down the wrong path be prepared to face up to some particularly grisly scenes involving mutilation, nonconsensual sex, and other disturbing depictions of violence that will chill you to the bone.
9. Umineko No Naku Koro Ni
While this is actually the third in the series (also including the aforementioned Higurashi) it rivals Higurashi in terms of sheer creep factor and some particularly decadent scare chords. Not only is its musical direction superb and supremely disconcerting, it also features many grisly murders and head-scratching plot twists that will undoubtedly leave you guessing.
Perhaps one of the most standout moments involves a simple game with a mother and child that involves "playing dead." Are you a fan of candy? You won't be.
One of the first next-gen visual novels available, Imabikisou relies on real actors and actresses as well as real-world situations to prey on its players' imaginations. While there isn't a full English translation yet so as to find out exactly how horrifying the game can get, simply viewing a few trailers and "let's play" videos on YouTube reveals this novel feels much like being stuck in a dark and atmospheric J-horror film like that of The Grudge or The Ring. And if the trailers can scare you out of your wits, imagine what playing the game will actually do.