7 PC Games You Need To Play During Steam’s Latest Fest

7 PC Games You Need To Play During Steam’s Latest Fest

Online game store Steam kicked off its annual Visual Novel Fest this week and, now until August 14, you’ll have the chance to demo and grab discounts on some of the horniest games humankind could imagine.

Though a dorky band kid reputation—strangely sexual, heavy on the schmaltz, questionably eager to engage in lightly medieval themes—is often ascribed to interactive fiction, you shouldn’t let preconceptions keep you from some of gaming’s most heartfelt and boundary-pushing stories. Visual Novel Fest is stacked, so I narrowed down where to start with seven suggestions.

Keep reading to learn about a few demos and full, free games that will challenge what you think a visual novel can be. I’m admittedly also biased toward aforementioned lightly medieval themes, and I prioritize women protagonists. But, listen, give these games a chance. You might even learn something new about yourself—or cartoon lesbians.

missed messages.

Angela He’s 2019 game missed messages. has it all: romantically marbled art, all of it soaked in sunshower orange, girlfriends, and blood. A playthrough should only take you about 30 minutes, but the game’s four possible endings and earnest dialogue (and Airdropped memes) about love, family, and depression make it instantly replayable. It’s sweet and a little scary, like dreaming about something you didn’t know you wanted.

Misericorde: Volume One

Misericorde is the first installment of a planned visual novel mystery about a 15th-century convent, which is to say, its dialogue is deeply moody with fantastic art that seems like it might have once been buried under coal. You arrive in the story after a murder.

“As an Anchoress, you took an oath to never leave your cell; to devote yourself entirely to God and provide spiritual support to all who came to your door,” the game’s Steam description says. “But as the only Sister who couldn’t possibly have committed the crime, you have a new mission: solve the case, before the bishop shutters the convent and the killer goes unpunished.”

Lilith Wants to Buy Your Soul

This is a brief (under 30 minutes) and funny game where demon mother Lilith appears to you as an anime babe in a tailored blazer. She asks you 20 banal personality questions (are you addicted to your phone? Is vanilla a disgraceful ice cream flavor?) to evaluate the price of your soul, which you can then choose to sell. Your matchless, special soul might be worth as much as the average Iowa home, or only as much as a fistful of chicken nuggets. Either way, you should seriously consider the deal—the job market is kind of ass right now.

Death and Taxes

2020 game Death and Taxes—in which you play an office worker Grim Reaper deciding whether or not to kill someone after evaluating their paperwork—got a few million views on the “let’s play” YouTube video circuit a few years ago. It has a free demo, so if you’ve been curious about the facetiously philosophical business sim with, as its Steam description says, “one really catchy tune in the elevator,” now is your chance. The full game is also 70 percent off through the end of Visual Novel Fest, putting it just under $4.

Flowers: Le volume sur printemps

Flowers, the first in a series of four yuri games (though not all have English translations), is a ridiculously sappy, pretty game about high school girls who all look identical and like they’re made of whipped cream. Despite some puzzle sections and an underlying occult mystery, Flowers can be one-note and relies on some stereotypical visual novel conventions, particularly in centering high school girls who all look identical, but it’s relatively chaste and charming. It’s a jump-off point for those who are interested in but skeptical of the genre.

It has a free demo, and the full game is $12 until Visual Novel Fest ends.

one night, hot springs

Solo developer npckc’s 2018 one night, hot springs is a beautifully simple meditation on gender and culture. As its Steam description says, you play “Haru, a young transgender woman, and join her at the hot springs in Japan” in the brief game with seven possible endings. It’s cozy, illuminating, and guess what? It’s free.

Goodbye Volcano High

Despite some 4chan losers’ best efforts, Montreal-based indie studio KO_OP’s very queer dinosaur game Goodbye Volcano High is still stomping around. Chewing leaves on tall trees. Smoking cigs with friends, undeterred by the asteroid.

In a 2021 most-anticipated games article, Kotaku staff determined that Goodbye Volcano High, which features voice acting by The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina star Lachlan Watson, will “probably make us cry. […] At least based on the pre-release materials, the whole thing is steeped in the particular flavor of saccharine indie rock that’s perfectly suited for saying farewell to one part of life—and hello to the next.”

After a delay, the narrative adventure (with some rhythm game elements) is out on August 29, and its demo is available to download now.

What visual novel are you most looking forward to playing?

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