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Visual Novels - Old or new, let's talk about them

JihyoParkXX

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I've been playing a lot of The House In Fata Morgana the past few days and it's shaping up to be one of my favorite games ever. Never read or watched Shakespeare but I imagine this is what a Shakespearian tragedy would be like. It's a tale of tragedy about the house's inhabitants one after another throughout the centuries, each one exploring the darkest sides of the human psyche like envy, violence and resentment.
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The artstyle and music creates this creepy, dreamy atmosphere that unsettles you at first and lures you in as you get comfortable with it. It's not quite a horror game, but it is a dark game; the gothic element of it all adding to the beauty of this VN. I think that if you like VNs you can safely believe in the 10/10 hype Fata Morgana gets and give it a shot. I'm still at the part where
Giselle and Michel starts getting friendly with each other after opening up
but the first three chapters alone I think were perfect.
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i recently played Subahibi aka Wonderful Everyday and it became not just one of my favourite visual novels, but just one of my favourite games period. It's got a fascinating story that explores a myriad of themes like abuse, trauma, metaphysics, philosophy, and it can get pretty deep with the literary and especially philosophical references (lots of existentialism, wittgenstein, kant, etc)
it's also just got amazing characters and really good writing all the way through, i would absolutely recommend it
if you do intend to get it, you'll have to find the patch (on the developer's official website iirc?) to add basically 90% of the game back in, since the steam version only has the prologue chapter, everything else was removed because of how nsfw it is. there's also a patch to add full voice acting, since originally only a few characters were voiced. but getting both of these patches is very easy, and it's also not that hard to find a torrent with the full game already patched. the extra legwork necessary to play the full game is absolutely worth it
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another one of my favourites is The Silver Case, Suda51's first game with his company. a surreal political thriller that is perhaps only surpassed by its sequel. if you've played any of suda's more popular games like No More Heroes or Killer7 i would highly highly recommend giving this a shot. and if you enjoy it, the whole trilogy (The Silver Case, Flower Sun and Rain, and The 25th Ward. though FSR is not a visual novel, only the first and third games are)
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№56

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another one of my favourites is The Silver Case
I absolutely love this game. Suda is an interesting guy with interesting ideas, but he has a tendency to express them in an unnecessarily confusing way and his characters all come across like psychopaths. The fact that he worked with Masahi Ooka on The Silver Case really elevated the whole project. You still have the disturbing and conspiratorial stuff Suda excels at in the Transmitter chapters, but it's balanced out by the (slightly) more straightforward and humanistic narrative of the Placebo chapters Ooka wrote. The best parts of the game are when the two storylines intersect and the border between "normal" and "abnormal" starts to blur.
Flower, Sun, and Rain is also pretty great, but I have mixed feelings about the fact that the actual game is intentionally designed to frustrate and torture the player. There are a lot of "art game" people out there, both developers and critics, who are interested in intentionally making "unfun" games in an attempt to induce, via catharsis, a more profound emotional reaction from their audience than "bing bing wahoo." I get the idea behind this line of thinking and really enjoy some of the games designed with it in mind (the first Pathologic is my favorite video game story of all time), but it also rubs me the wrong way. This is really a topic for another thread, but to be brief, I don't think the emotion of being frustrated at a video game is a good analogue for actual, real-life suffering, and that old-fashioned good writing (again, Pathologic) is still the best way to manipulate your audience's emotions.
Again, this is all tangential and doesn't really apply here because FSR does have good writing to support its experimental gameplay, and the way it implements being "unfun" is incredibly funny. I'm still kind of shocked Nintendo thought it was a good idea to localize the game before TSC, playing it first with no context sounds like a nightmare.
The 25th ward has some good moments, but you can tell it was cancelled before any of the storylines could be wrapped up. It's been a while since I played it and, except for the new Placebo chapters, the story didn't stick in my head as hard as TSC and FSR did. Seeing your profile pic made me want to revisit the entire trilogy, and after writing this I probably will.

I also loved Subahibi, but viewed from a cold, objective viewpoint it's a confused and poorly-written mess that I absolutely wouldn't recommend to anyone who doesn't have a high tolerance for hentai and anime bullshit. I can't babble on about that game like I can with TSC, but in my opinion it has stuff going on under the surface that make up for its faults. I don't think the game is as philosophically profound as most people make it out to be, but at the same time some of the themes and images really stuck in my head.
I'm honestly not a big visual novel fan at all, and in fact actively dislike most of the VNs I've read, but there's still something about them that gives me a unique, postmodern, Y2K-type feeling that I've never gotten from other forms of fiction. I have a hard time putting it into words, but I think there's something vital (and probably unpleasant) about our culture that VNs are uniquely qualified to express. Maybe it's the way they totally embrace modern escapism, or the internet-inspired fan translation prose, or the fact that they tend to be written by obscure weirdos on the fringes of society, or that fact that for a long time they had the status in the west of being forbidden artifacts from a foreign culture. Whatever it is, Subahibi gave me a strong dose of this VN Feeling™ that still hasn't worn off despite the fact that I'm much less of a weeaboo now than I was when I played it.
 
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manpaint

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I am suprised to see not a single mentions of Higurashi or Umineko in this thread.

The "meat" of those VN are good, but I dislike various part of their execution.

In general, Higurashi is very good, but I did not like how it ends with "the power of friendship". I get that the message is to not hestiate to seek help, but having a mysterious goat lady stop time to prevent a bullet from killing someone because of friendship™ left me with a bitter taste.

I liked the "chessboard" aspect with the logic games were you need to find a logical way for how X situation happened. That being said the cosmology of the meta world is way too complicated and non-sensitical. The "real world" plot (things that happens on the chessboard and not the meta world) itself is fine but sadly you need the manga adptation to get the true ending that actually explain the mystery.
 
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I absolutely love this game. Suda is an interesting guy with interesting ideas, but he has a tendency to express them in an unnecessarily confusing way and his characters all come across like psychopaths. The fact that he worked with Masahi Ooka on The Silver Case really elevated the whole project. You still have the disturbing and conspiratorial stuff Suda excels at in the Transmitter chapters, but it's balanced out by the (slightly) more straightforward and humanistic narrative of the Placebo chapters Ooka wrote. The best parts of the game are when the two storylines intersect and the border between "normal" and "abnormal" starts to blur.
i absolutely love how insane suda's characters can get, both conceptually and literally when it comes to their personality, and i also love how wild he is willing to go with concepts and ideas in his stories, and the silver case just gets better and better as these insane conspiracies come to light and start more directly impacting the characters, especially with the way the story is split between transmitter and placebo.
it's hard to choose a favourite but i do think i love the 25th ward a bit more than the 2 other games tbh, partially because of how wild it's willing to get with its concepts and the elements of its world, like the postal service, the observers, kamui, etc etc. it's unabashedly inspired and off the wall, and not afraid to be confusing and weird which i'm all for. i also love FSR and i despite what a lot of people say i don't think it's unfun or tedious at all, i had a blast playing that game, extensive walking sections and all

I also loved Subahibi, but viewed from a cold, objective viewpoint it's a confused and poorly-written mess that I absolutely wouldn't recommend to anyone who doesn't have a high tolerance for hentai and anime bullshit.

i love subahibi and think its writing is great, but i absolutely understand how it's not for everyone, especially if they aren't used to or don't have a high tolerance for anime tropes and eccentricities (i wouldn't even call it 'hentai bullshit', given how sex is really not the focus of the game unlike in something like Euphoria, and half the ero scenes are kinda deeply disturbing and uncomfortable, in a way which entirely contributes to the story and characters)
 
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L. Rhodes

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The GBC version is called Air Pocket, and you can find a sample here:

View: https://youtu.be/wfE5a9GHbSk

I just thought this was pretty cool and had to share it here. An archive of their official website and page on their Air port is still up, but it's all in Japanese (link). Unfortunately they don't have any roms available for download. The way their ports work is that they have a converter which takes the files of the VN on your computer and converts them into a gba compatible version. I suppose that is how they got around copyright law, but it kind of sucks because it seems like a complicated process tbh. Especially since the software is long out of date at this point. Although a good point about it, is that theoretically an English patched version of Air might be compatible with the converter.

I thought I might post an update on how my search is going so far.

I managed to obtain the proper version of AIR that works with the converter, only to learn that the website itself doesn't actually have any download links to the converter itself. It was sold at conventions, so I guess they didn't want release it for free.

Worse, I was unable to find any dumps of the converter online, even on the Japanese sites which usually have this type of thing. This means that if I want the converter, I'll have to purchase a copy of the physical release myself. This poses more issues, as I couldn't find any trustworthy sellers who offered it overseas. This means that my best chance at getting it would require me to visit Japan directly, and see if I can find it at there. I wonder if second-hand stores in Japan are active enough to carry this type of thing.

I tried searching for a rom of the converted version, as well. Obviously, there must be some way to obtain it, as this channel seems to have gotten the full thing somehow. I tried searching for a dump of this version, but Yandex only pulled up a single mention on a torrent site, and it's not one that I really trust. His Twitter account is still active, and I've tried getting in contact with him, but I guess he didn't see it because he never got back to me. I don't want to bother him too much, but I think I'm going to try and get in touch with him again soon.

tldr; I haven't managed to get anywhere at all :lainDissatisfied:. Just thought I'd post an update for anyone who's still interested in this and let them know that I haven't given up on the search yet.
 
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Sylph

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I am suprised to see not a single mentions of Higurashi or Umineko in this thread.

The "meat" of those VN are good, but I dislike various part of their execution.

In general, Higurashi is very good, but I did not like how it ends with "the power of friendship". I get that the message is to not hestiate to seek help, but having a mysterious goat lady stop time to prevent a bullet from killing someone because of friendship™ left me with a bitter taste.

I liked the "chessboard" aspect with the logic games were you need to find a logical way for how X situation happened. That being said the cosmology of the meta world is way too complicated and non-sensitical. The "real world" plot (things that happens on the chessboard and not the meta world) itself is fine but sadly you need the manga adptation to get the true ending that actually explain the mystery.

They're both still my favorite VNs to this day. I agree with the Higurashi ending being disappointing, but I don't really like what they did with the Umineko manga.
Feels like he just drastically changed EP 8 in the manga because his fanbase was super angry at him but personally I liked the ending being less about 'what exactly really happened' and it being up to interpretation rather than the EP 8 manga painstakingly going through everything it possibly could to explain everything that popped into Ryukishi's head for people. I was disappointed when it came out tbh and I remember some of the things that it tossed in seemed unnecessary and whatever to me, and also half because I always had a soft spot for the Rosatrice/alternative theories people would come up with back in the day and now nobody really does that. (unless you count the Erikantrice guy who I'm pretty sure is just purposefully trolling anyway lol.) Feels like explaining it in the manga went against the entire point of the original ending of the story to me.

Unfortunately I think Ryukishi hit his head sometime after finishing Umineko and a few years ago as the Higurashi "remake" was absolutely dreadful and Ciconia phase 2 is a meme that will never come out. Sucks, because I was excited for both.
 
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I thought I might post an update on how my search is going so far.

I managed to obtain the proper version of AIR that works with the converter, only to learn that the website itself doesn't actually have any download links to the converter itself. It was sold at conventions, so I guess they didn't want release it for free.

Worse, I was unable to find any dumps of the converter online, even on the Japanese sites which usually have this type of thing. This means that if I want the converter, I'll have to purchase a copy of the physical release myself. This poses more issues, as I couldn't find any trustworthy sellers who offered it overseas. This means that my best chance at getting it would require me to visit Japan directly, and see if I can find it at there. I wonder if second-hand stores in Japan are active enough to carry this type of thing.

I tried searching for a rom of the converted version, as well. Obviously, there must be some way to obtain it, as this channel seems to have gotten the full thing somehow. I tried searching for a dump of this version, but Yandex only pulled up a single mention on a torrent site, and it's not one that I really trust. His Twitter account is still active, and I've tried getting in contact with him, but I guess he didn't see it because he never got back to me. I don't want to bother him too much, but I think I'm going to try and get in touch with him again soon.

tldr; I haven't managed to get anywhere at all :lainDissatisfied:. Just thought I'd post an update for anyone who's still interested in this and let them know that I haven't given up on the search yet.
You're a fucking a chap man, I can't believe that tracking this down has become such a journey. Please keep us (honestly probably just me) updated!

It's not much, but recently I found this cool PC-98 mix of Tori no uta, so take that as a vague reward for your efforts lol

View: https://youtu.be/9B_DIb1WtZw


@Sylph: Completely agree with your opinion of Ep.8. Ryukishifags in general though are super autistic and aren't able to appreciate ambiguity. Also, the 2006 anime was pretty good imo, there was no need for a remake, and definitely no need for a remake turned "sequel".
 
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manpaint

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Unfortunately I think Ryukishi hit his head sometime after finishing Umineko and a few years ago as the Higurashi "remake" was absolutely dreadful and Ciconia phase 2 is a meme that will never come out. Sucks, because I was excited for both.
I think the story of Ciconia as the potential to be really good, but that would require Phase 2 to actually come out.

As for the Higurashi "remake"... yeah that was something lol.

At first I was fine with the show since it was just more Higurashi, but that yeah I agree that Ryukishi hit his head at some point. The ending was pure non-sense. Satoko and Rika having an "epc magic fight" was very out of place. The whole "Eua became smol" thing was even weirder. I wouldn't be suprised if Higurashi Mei (the gacha game) has a better plot (can't read it as I don't know japanese).

Anyway, I really hate when thing are marketed as a remake but turns out to be weird reboot-sequel thing. I guess having things remade faithfully is too much to ask nowadays. At least Higurashi Gou and Sotsu did not have "time ghosts" trying to prevent plot divergences like in FF7R.
 

Sylph

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I think the story of Ciconia as the potential to be really good, but that would require Phase 2 to actually come out.

As for the Higurashi "remake"... yeah that was something lol.

At first I was fine with the show since it was just more Higurashi, but that yeah I agree that Ryukishi hit his head at some point. The ending was pure non-sense. Satoko and Rika having an "epc magic fight" was very out of place. The whole "Eua became smol" thing was even weirder. I wouldn't be suprised if Higurashi Mei (the gacha game) has a better plot (can't read it as I don't know japanese).

Anyway, I really hate when thing are marketed as a remake but turns out to be weird reboot-sequel thing. I guess having things remade faithfully is too much to ask nowadays. At least Higurashi Gou and Sotsu did not have "time ghosts" trying to prevent plot divergences like in FF7R.
Oh yeah I agree. I quite liked the first part of Ciconia but... yeah. I don't know if it'll ever continue at this rate. I feel like using Corona and all the real-life stuff going on as an excuse to not release the game was a mistake. If anything it would have only made the story more meaningful if he did it right.

And yeah, pretty much 90% of the new content they tossed into the new Higurashi was ridiculous, not to mention the fact that just about 80% of it was...
Aired twice with very minor edits to scenes. Gou and Sotsu literally copy-pasted so many scenes it was such a waste of time. Seriously, they could have just tossed the last 2 episodes of the second season onto the first one and basically nothing would have changed lol. The only thing I cared about that was new was like... Teppei?

And yeah what they did with FF7 was also... lol. I couldn't take it seriously after a point. I'm pretty sick of re-makes in general because not only are they not done super well a lot of the time... I'd also really just rather have something new in the same vein rather than writers re-hashing a plot they've already done. Seems like everything and anything needs a half-assed remake now lol.

Just to make some conversation, what was you guys' first VN? Mine was Saya no Uta :schitztroll:

Mine was Fate/Stay Night. Which was decent but tbh I really didn't like the Fate route. If it wasn't my first VN I don't know if I would have made it past that. UBW and HF were thankfully much better for me.

Saya no Uta is fun. Creeped the heck out of me so much since I read it for the first time when I was like 14.
 

Sulfate

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I found a demo of a Pokemon high school visual novel when I was about age 10. I stopped playing because I only wanted to see the characters platonically, but it kept funnelling me into a romance route. I just wanna make friends, man.

Still, GameJolt was/is the shit.
 
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JihyoParkXX

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Just to make some conversation, what was you guys' first VN? Mine was Saya no Uta :schitztroll:
Mine was Divi-Dead on the PSP. I was around 12 or 13 at that time and was fixated to find the edgiest shit available out there. It wasn't even an officially released game, the game was a homebrew project ported over by fans and I downloaded it from a site that hosted a ton of niche ROMs; it had a total makeover and it's known as CDRomance today (it was named something else at that time but I forgot the name).

Divi-Dead had this mysterious atmosphere to it and being somewhat of a pussy back then I was kinda creeped out by it. But being the horny teenager that I was, when the game got to the H-scenes with uncensored pussy licking I thought it was the wickest shit ever, especially for a kid who hasn't watched his first real porn yet. Fuck I was so impressed I told my friend in school about it and he lent me his memory stick asking me to share the ROM so he could try it himself. (some other good shit that I gave him were Ikki Tousen and Queen Blade)

The game itself wasn't very good I remember. There's a lot of walking around until you trigger some event and it gets repetitive; I thought it was too confusing and never beat it myself. The story was also pretty generic; sickly high school boy gets transferred to new school, strange shit starts happening, sexy stuff and demonic crap. I don't remember the characters being too likeable and they tend to fall into the usual anime cliches. Although the art style still holds up pretty well today as most 90s VNs do.

26218-divi-dead-windows-screenshot-aki-the-nurse.jpg

5621.jpg
 
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jaedaen

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Roadwarden just came out on steam. It's quite a solid mostly reading type game. I guess it's a visual novel, though it has more of a kind of tabletop RPG feel with very atmospheric music. Good stuff so far, I'm about 4 hours in to it.
 

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Jade

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I downloaded Katawa Shoujo recently. I'm up to the culture festival (so not that far in) and while the game is very impressive considering the limitations it had to work within, a big problem I have so far is that the main character just sucks. I thought it opened really strong showing the hospital stay and how the MC just gets his life completely destroyed without any warning, I found it really emotional. But any sympathy I had for him evaporated pretty quickly. This guy SUUUUUCKS. He's so wishy-washy it's just painful. I can believe it gets better but the MC is really making it hard to keep going, and so far I don't find any of the romantic interests super compelling, even though I don't think there's any that I didn't at least find interesting.
 
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My first VN was this EVN I found on some random website, Memo. For an amatuer freeware VN, it was actually pretty decent and gripped me for the 3 or so hours it took to read. Doomfest is really quite talented, and although I don't think he works on VNs anymore, he's definitely one of the most talented artists I've seen in the English language VN scene. (In fact, he did this impressive opening for another VN several years later). Regarding Memo, despite being his first work there's something about the water color-esque look to the backgrounds that I really liked, and the story was simple but charming. After finishing Memo I then tried the other freeware VNs on that website and was very quickly disappointed by all of them. Then several months later I summoned the courage to torrent for the first time and finally read Kanon, which I had been wanting to do since I first watched the anime like a year before.

I downloaded Katawa Shoujo recently. I'm up to the culture festival (so not that far in) and while the game is very impressive considering the limitations it had to work within, a big problem I have so far is that the main character just sucks. I thought it opened really strong showing the hospital stay and how the MC just gets his life completely destroyed without any warning, I found it really emotional. But any sympathy I had for him evaporated pretty quickly. This guy SUUUUUCKS. He's so wishy-washy it's just painful. I can believe it gets better but the MC is really making it hard to keep going, and so far I don't find any of the romantic interests super compelling, even though I don't think there's any that I didn't at least find interesting.

I quite like Katawa Shoujo, but I'll be straight with you, if you're hating the MC this much I'm not sure if it's worth it to keep reading. I mean the point of his arc is for him to learn to accept his condition, and part of his wishy-washiness is his inability to truly accept that fact early on. But if it's just the tone of his internal monologue that bothers you, that doesn't really change.
 
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瑠璃の鳥

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he's definitely one of the most talented artists I've seen in the English language VN scene.
The OEVN-sphere is completely alien to me. Do you have any recommendations (next to your own piece, of course) to get a good feel for it? I've read KS and DDLC already, those are the only EVN giants other than Sekimeiya I'm aware of
 

RIG

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vns are an untouched medium for me, i'm planning on getting into that when they cry series (i may skip 1 and go 2-4 cause i think they are unrelated.)


what should i expect ? are vns video games?

i played danganronpa btw but that seemed more game like than most vns but again i know nothing
 
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L. Rhodes

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vns are an untouched medium for me, i'm planning on getting into that when they cry series (i may skip 1 and go 2-4 cause i think they are unrelated.)


what should i expect ? are vns video games?

i played danganronpa btw but that seemed more game like than most vns but again i know nothing
If your talking about WTC in the 4-chapter order that they were released in, then start with either 1 or 3. 1 and 2 are Higurashi, while 3 and 4 are Umineko. A lot of people really dislike Higurashi's ending, but I never got that far into it. As for Umineko, I'd say it's a mixed bag. It has some genius ideas in it, although its execution is rough. I'd say it has 'bad writing', and not in the usual way people use it when they talk about plot, characters, and pacing, etc. I mean that it has 'bad writing' in that the sentences are often rigid and paragraphs of text repeat words too often and could just generally be structured better. It makes reading each line slightly more difficult, although that could just be because of the translation I used.

I suspect that the translation you choose for a VN is perhaps the biggest factor when it comes to whether you enjoy it or not. I've seen some say that some translations have arguably better prose than their original versions, meanwhile others completely lose the meaning of the Japanese script. AIR, which I realize I talk about a lot, is a good example of this. The translation I used when playing it through the first time was closer to the ladder. Looking at a looser, more English-based translation of it however, I'm very impressed with how much more subtleness and meter gets added to the script, it makes it much more enjoyable to read.

Also, most VNs aren't video games, even though they're still common on /v/. I'd consider things such as Ace Attorney to be closer to a western-style point-and-click adventure game than a full kinetic-novel style like WTC.
 
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The OEVN-sphere is completely alien to me. Do you have any recommendations (next to your own piece, of course) to get a good feel for it? I've read KS and DDLC already, those are the only EVN giants other than Sekimeiya I'm aware of
OEVNs are in general a different vibe for sure. I'd recommend checking out Juniper's Knot and Digital: A love story. Both are short, free, and quite good. I think Juniper's Knot is better written, but I love the clever use of the UI in Digital: A love story and how it's excellently integrated to tell it's story.

vns are an untouched medium for me, i'm planning on getting into that when they cry series (i may skip 1 and go 2-4 cause i think they are unrelated.)
I quite like Umineko despite all it's faults, but I'm not sure I'd recommend it as a first VN for the reasons @L. Rhodes mentioned. The pacing and writing-style is horrible, and it's not a translation issue. It's just as poorly written in Japanese. The story, ideas, and many characters are fantastic and imo redeem a lot of the faults. But it's a 100+ hour experience all the same.

Might I suggest you dip your toes into the medium instead. One of my all time favorite VNs is a free, short, but intensely sad VN called Narcissu. I also think you would quite enjoy Saya no Uta. In some low-key ways I think it shares vaguely similarities to Disillusion (just a little bit). It's also fairly short and an intense experience, but it's not free. So just shell out like $20 or pirate it.
 
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