The Best Pulp Visual Novels

Niche genres in video games include interactive dramas, FMVs, CRPGs, and point-and-click adventure games. However, one of the coolest has to be pulp visual novels. The term “pulp novels” comes from decades ago, when books were the best way to tell unique stories. Back then, the biggest distinction between magazines was often their price due to the quality of the paper.

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People called the higher quality paper books “glossy papers”, while the cheaper wood pulp paper books were “pulps”. Although those days are now over, the term pulp is still around and is used to refer to heroic adventure tales or crime stories that are not quite on the same level as mainstream content.

ten Ballads at midnight

Ballads at midnight is an interactive fictional visual novel with elements of vampire pulp fiction. It’s a free game on Steam that has an Otome vibe. However, almost anyone can enjoy this one because it has a wide cast of unique characters and a story that isn’t that complicated.

Ballads at midnight is a dark fantasy love story with original music. It contains over forty thousand words, with dialogue full of hidden meaning. The game also has three different endings, so there’s plenty of incentive for players to replay it multiple times.

9 whispered books

whispered books is a pulp visual novel containing multiple stories. This is a collection of high-quality tales filled with amazing hand-drawn visuals and interactive game elements. whispered books is a 2022 release and already boasts a very positive steam rating.

This visual novel game features interesting stories like The Bee Effect and Circle of Nightmare. These genres of pulp fiction range from time travel in ancient China to a mix of mythologies between Vikings and monks. whispered books is a must-have visual novel that’s currently fairly inexpensive on Steam.

8 will die alone

will die alone is a text-based visual novel with story-rich narrative, simulation, and pulp-like storytelling elements. The game was released in May 2022 and is pretty cheap. However, it’s a lot better than its modest price tag would otherwise suggest. In the game, players will start their journey as an employee of Dewitt Corporation and solve people’s problems by erasing the past.

Players will need to exercise caution as each deleted memory will greatly affect the course of events. will die alone features a great minimal art style and several stories from different clients that cover mature topics including bullying, depression, and addiction.

seven Blacksad: under the skin

Blacksad: under the skin is an old school crime pulp visual novel set in a fictionalized version of New York City. The game tells the story of detective John Blacksad, who handles a case involving the disappearance of a popular man. The game is full of twists and offers 3D visuals with full motion animation.

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The 2019 game currently sits at a very positive review score from over two thousand players who think the story is worth living. Unlike other visual novels that recommend minimal system steps, Blacksad: under the skin needs players to have a Nvidia GTX 1080 to fully enjoy it.

6 By candlelight

By candlelightalso known as candle light puzzle, is a hybrid of 2d gameplay and hand-drawn artwork. It’s an adventure game with elements of a pulp visual novel. By candlelight also has a Lovecraftian vibe and an old-school black and white art style that you rarely find in games these days.

It’s a short game that allows players to take control of a grandfather investigating the disappearance of his granddaughter on a cold snowy night. With multiple endings and visuals that feel like they’re straight out of the 1970s, By candlelight is truly a one-of-a-kind game.

5 Do you see the waved cape

Do you see the waved cape is a unique visual novel with a children’s book art style and a deep story. It is a point and click adventure game with a strong emphasis on narrative gameplay. The graphic novel tells a story about growth, dreams, and reality, as players experience emotional stories from the author’s childhood.

The game has almost 11 different chapters and 50 unique levels, and each one is full of new interesting gameplay elements. Do you see the waved cape is currently pretty cheap on Steam and is a must-have for anyone who loves healing stories.

4 more heroes

more heroes is a visual novel with linear gameplay, a simple story, and a charming comic book style. This 2022 game is a refreshing new title in the realm of similar indie games and focuses more on story than anything else.

In more heroes, players will experience the story of a girl named Emeline, who wants to be a superhero after being inspired by her friends. This visual novel is nearly an hour and fifteen minutes long, depending on reading speed and player interactivity.


CONTESTATION is a unique pulp visual novel focused on choices and narrative progression. This game was released on Steam in June 2022 and is a free-to-play title. In CONTESTATIONplayers will discover the story of a corporate headquarters, Moniker Innovation, where mysteries lurk around every corner and a disturbing truth awaits.

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The game features a black and white art style with hand-drawn anime-like characters and dark creepy backgrounds. According to critics, Dissent is a short game, but that’s part of its charm. Many consider it one of the best pulp visual novels on Steam and so it’s well worth checking out for fans of the genre.

2 Mothmen 1966

Mothmen 1966 is the true definition of modern pulp visual novels, as it encapsulates everything that makes the genre so good. It’s a ‘Pixel Pulp’ game, which may be a callback to its art style which is exactly like the visuals found on old personal computers from the 80s.

Mothmen 1966The main page of describes it as a game of “mid-20th century pulp fiction” that focuses on divergent narratives and brain-tickling puzzles. This pulp novel was released in July 2022 and is already highly regarded in the community for its rich story and unique visual design.

1 Varney Lake

Varney Lake is a visual novel from LCB Game Studio, the same developer who created Mothmen 1966. The game tells the story of three children who went on an adventure near a lake in 1954 but found a vampire. Years later, a paranormal investigator tracked down the trio to find out more about that day at Varney Lake.

The game shows the three friends trying to remember and reminisce about their encounter with a vampire and uncover the mystery. As Mothmen 1966, this game is full of interesting puzzles and features beautiful pixel art and illustrations. As far as high-quality visual novels go, they don’t get much better than this.

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Briana R. Cross