If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about visual novels in my various playthroughs, I’ve found that it is very easy to treat them in the same way I do books. That is, I play them until I am done, because once I start reading anything, I have to finish. (It’s a blessing and a curse, really.) That means it can be easy to swiftly speed through such games.
For people like me, there is a resource you can turn to. It is actually Steam! There are actually a few import visual novels available through the distributor for free. To help you sort through, we’ve created a guide to the free import visual novels you can find there right now. We’ll keep it updated as more and more free games appear!
Beneath the Cherry Trees
Do you like historic pieces of literature and poetry? Beneath the Cherry Trees will scratch both of those itches. This is a free visual novel from Katsudon Mangaya and Henteko Doujin that takes “Beneath the Cherry Trees,” a short story from Motojiro Kajii, and turns it into a visual novel. It may not be for everyone, since it is a translated piece of literature from Japan’s Showa period, but it is a rather pretty game you can play.
Narcissu 1st & 2nd
Do you enjoy Sekai Project projects? Then Narcissu 1st & 2nd is a game you should grab. This is a stage-nana tragedy documenting moments in the life of two people who are dying. 2nd is actually a prequel to the original game and focuses on a young woman named Setsumi before her illness becomes terminal, while the first game follows both Setsumi and an unnamed avatar character as they are in hospice. You may want to have a box of tissues nearby as you play!
Red Spider: Vengeance
Red Spider: Vengeance is a thriller with a rather unique art style from a Japanese indie developer called studio wasp. (I hope you like blank faces!) Players follow Yvet, the wife of the Red Flower Society mob and former assassin. After her husband is attacked, she becomes the leader of this Hong Kong group and tries to find out who shot her husband.
If you enjoy it, there is a second installment you can grab. (It is also free!) Red Spider2: Exiled may have a “2” in the name, but it is actually a prequel. Players follow Lycoris, an assassin for a group called Web until she killed one of the people who used her services. Players help Lycoris evade arrest and expose the truth about the situation. There are multiple routes, depending on who Lycoris ends up working with throughout the story.