Best Visual Novels Switch
Image: Nintendo Life

Updated with Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy and Bahnsen Knights! Hold it (and enjoy!).

The portability of Nintendo Switch makes it a great system to play a wide variety of genres, and while visual novels can be enjoyed perfectly well on your TV, there's something about playing them on a handheld which just feels 'right'. Since launch, the console has accrued some great examples of the genre, and the catalogue of great visual novels on Switch is growing all the time. Everyone loves a good book, right?

We've collected a selection of the best visual novels on Switch for your perusal. These are our personal picks, so whether the games below are a total visual novelty, you're dipping a toe into the genre pool for a second or third time, or you regularly burn through visual novels like matches, you're sure to find something to suit all tastes below. You'll also find the odd crossover puzzle/adventure game element in some of the titles below. Be sure to check out our selection of the best point-and-click games on Switch if your VN tastes lean on the adventure-y side.

So, let's pull up a nice comfy chair, make sure your Switch is fully charged, and take a look — in no particular order — at the best visual novels on Switch.

Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir & Famicom Detective Club: The Girl Who Stands Behind (Switch eShop)

A release from Nintendo right out of left-field, which the company describes as a 'deep cut' from its archives. The originals on NES (and one SNES re-release) were all Japan-only, and even these remasters / remakes only have Japanese voice-acting with localised subtitles. Considering the settings and stories, however, that kind of works, and they're wconderfully animated and atmospheric experiences. We give both titles a hearty recommendation; a bundle is mandatory in Europe, and there's a discount for buying both of the individual downloads in North America.

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Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator (Switch eShop)

Dream Daddy puts you in the shoes of a single-parent father moving to a new area improbably filled with beautifully buff and sexily sensitive dads. It’s a feelgood game, from its tongue-in-cheek Dream Weaver-esque theme tune to its message of acceptance and generally being excellent to one another. Head out to concerts and coffee shops with your newfound friends and chat about the trials of raising kids alone, keeping your finger on the pulse of modern culture as a cool dad, and — maybe — find something more. There’s real heart to the stories here, with textured characters dealing with a multitude of situations life throws at them. It's a wonderfully observed, toughing and hilarious visual novel with fun little mini games that's definitely worth a look.

Death Mark (Switch)

It's a rare game that can start off tense and then continuously ratchets up the mood to almost unbearable levels until the final moments of the final chapter – and an even rarer one that has enough alternative characters, dialogue, and endings to make it worth playing through more than once – but Death Mark succeeds where it really counts. There's plenty on offer here for both horror fans as well as those looking for a mystery that requires more than hoarding knick-knacks and waiting patiently for your character to officially notice something before you can proceed.

If you're a fan of this, you should also check out Spirit Hunter: NG, the follow-up.

Neo Cab (Switch eShop)

Some chats with cab drivers can be a real trial of your patience — fortunately, the conversations you'll strike up in Neo Cab will hook you into an engaging cyberpunk story that tackles contemporary issues with characters that feel genuine and interactions that feel meaningful. It might not be the most technologically advanced title, but Neo Cab takes you on one hell of a journey.

STEINS;GATE 0 (Switch eShop)

STEINS;GATE 0 is a follow-up to STEINS;GATE Elite, a critically-acclaimed visual novel of renown (and probably the best place to start if you're looking to jump on the STEINS;GATE train — we weren't able to review that one when it released, though). This sequel delivers an intriguing time-travel plot and fine character writing worthy of its predecessor, and is definitely worth checking out. And if you're looking for dating sim gameplay in the STEINS:GATE universe, you might also enjoy My Darling's Embrace.

Coffee Talk (Switch eShop)

With its unique premise and interesting take on a fantasy world (think Netflix's Bright, but actually good), Coffee Talk serves up a refreshing brew of angst, introspection and coffee beans. Its hand-crafted story mode is a tad too short for our liking, but with Endless mode you’ll have plenty of fun getting in touch with your inner barista.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy (Switch eShop)

The original Ace Attorney is getting on in years, although you may not realise thanks to how well it holds up. Sure, it’s been ported plenty of times and the jump to Nintendo DS certainly helped shake off the retro cobwebs, but as a piece of interactive history, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy is as utterly addictive and truly rewarding as it was back at the turn of the millennium. Whether you’re brand new to the world of virtual defence law or a veteran attorney, Phoenix Wright’s first adventures are still a fine set of cases to undertake.

AI: The Somnium Files (Switch)

Part visual novel, part puzzle adventure, AI: The Somnium Files starts out slow but once you've traversed a few of its delightfully surreal Somnium dreamscapes and got to an ending or two, working your way back through your flowchart and striking out in different directions, it becomes an engaging and tense affair. Fans of the Zero Escape games will feel right at home here, and director Kotaro Uchikoshi’s talent for putting the player into increasingly unsettling circumstances ensures everything takes flight in a very satisfying way as you work your way through the many strands of the loopy central mystery towards its various different endings.

And, if you love the first game, AI: The Somnium Files - nirvanA Initiative makes for one of the finest murder-mystery games we've ever played. It's an unmissable follow-up with the same outstanding writing and characters from the first game.

SeaBed (Switch eShop)

The writing is the centrepiece of any visual novel, and so long as the reader has the patience and the attention span to contend with the rather sedate pace of the whole experience – not to mention its substantial length, clocking in at 15-20 hours or more, depending on one’s own personal reading speed – SeaBed certainly delivers on that front, providing a compelling tale that stirs the imagination and serves as a fascinating exploration of loss, grief and the mental health matters that surround such things. It's a beautiful, emotional work of digital literature that won’t be to everyone’s taste, but come in with the appropriate expectations and there’s a true masterpiece of the visual novel medium waiting to be enjoyed here.

World End Syndrome (Switch)

World End Syndrome has everything you would expect from a saucier entry in the visual novel genre yet manages to add depth to characters which you may have assumed were present only to look fabulous in bikinis. It offers plenty of replayability but also provides a satisfying ending if you're more of a one-and-done individual. If you're after a well-crafted visual novel featuring a little more than the standard anime lady tropes (but also the standard anime lady tropes), this is a fine example with a pleasantly substantial and gripping story, to boot.