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VNs with good world building.

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Games and series with good or great world-building

The Silverio series

The Tiny Dungeon series

Sorceress Alive

Komorebi no Nostalgica

Fake Azure Arcology

Re:Birth Colony Lost Azurite

The Akagoei series

The Dir Lifyna games by Eushully (Ikusa Megami, etc)

FSN and Tsukihime

Tokyo Necro

Soukou Akki Muramasa

Bradyon Veda

Bullet Butlers

Evolimit

Ayakashibito

Devils Devel Concept

Hapymaher

Nanairo Reincarnation and the other games in the same series

Hyper→Highspeed→Genius

Otome ga Tsumugu Koi no Canvas

Ou no Mimi ni wa Todokanai

Kikan Bakumatsu Ibun Last Cavalier

Ryuukishi Bloody Saga

Vermilion Bind of Blood

The Shinza series (Dies Irae, Paradise Lost, KKK)

Yami to Hikari no Sanctuary

The Baldr Sky series

Ojou-sama no Hanbun wa Ren'ai de Dekiteimasu

Zero Infinity

Draculius

Sora no Tsukurikata

Sakura, Sakimashita

Abyss Homicide Club

Sukimazakura

Realive

Aoi Tori and Amatsutsumi

Dracu-riot

Gleam Garden no Shoujo

Izuna Zanshinken

Yurikago yori Tenshi Made

Shirogane no Soleil (the Soleil series by Skyfish in general)

Tayutama (the original)

Toko o Tsumugu Yakusoku

Tsuki ni Yorisou Otome no Sahou

Valkyrie Romanze

 

 

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I'd say, overall it depends on whether or not the VN in question manages to makes the reader believe that the world it is portraying could actually exist in real life. Often it comes down to the amount of details it gives about what makes this world function. In urban fantasy and near future sci-fi it usually comes down to how the fantastic elements of the world function, what underlying principles they use, and how the existence of these elements affects the lives of people of this world. In the "other world" fantasy, more futuristic sci-fi and alternate history it also may include other things like economics, language and political systems in the world.

When it comes to sci-fi VNs, the only one where I was completely satisfied with the world building is Muv Luv Alternative. For some reason, sci-fi elements in VNs are never developed too deeply. When it comes to fantasy, the situation is a lot better. What comes to mind is Fate Stay Night (+ Tsukihime and other Type-Moon titles, though I stopped following them after the milking of the franchise became completely ridiculous), Rewrite (it's never really brought up in threads like that, but I remember liking what it did with its world, though it may not mean much considering it was my first VN) and arguably Tokyo Babel. I'd also like to bring up Eternity Sword series which could have amazing would building if it tried a bit better, but, sadly, there are too many things about the world that are left completely unexplained.

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I think that worldbuilding in most media has two main challenges and how they deal with them decides whether I'd consider them successful. The first is keeping the world believable and consistent – you'll notice that most media, especially the relatively short-form ones such as movies and animation, don't really give a shit about this aspect. The worlds they create won't survive any kind of deeper scrutiny and they rely a lot on the suspension of disbelief and the watchers/readers not caring about smaller details. Also, if something is made into a longer series, there's a good chance it will destroy its own lore and rules of its world for the sake of convenience – look at Mass Effect for example, with the third part ignoring tons of pre-established events and lore. Or the new Star Wars trilogy for some extreme self-mutilation of a fictional universe. Thus, actual effort being put into creating a consistent world is something I very much appretiate.

The second part is the delivery of the information, which in literature and VNs has a unique risk of turning into massive infodumps – after all, you have all the time in the world to throw in a few tomes of encyclopedia between the story events to make sure the player doesn't get lost. :P And  If the writers really suck, it might also become the Awkward Expository DialogueTM, which can easily become even more unreadable than plain infodumps. Building up your fictional world without using either of those two "techniques", but through natural-feeling events and conversations is hard, but definitely most satisfying.

And having said all this, one game that I think did some really cool stuff in this regard and that will not get brought up by anyone else is Sable's Grimoire. It's all about worldbuilding and does its best to convey it all through the protagonist's and heroines' stories, rather than just bombarding you with textbook-like excerpts. And it has some really, really cool elements to its modern-fantasy setting.

Edited by Plk_Lesiak

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@Clephas Could you please explain what in your opinion makes the world building in Hapymaher good? I personally think it didn't even have that I would define as a well-defined world (since the narrative is fully focused on a small group of people) so I'm a bit intrigued by your decision to put it on your list.

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In Hapymaher's case, the protagonist's and antagonist's perceptions (conscious, subconscious and otherwise) defined the setting at any given time, with some interaction from the heroines.

In that sense, the world was fluid, but vagueness about how much was reality and how much was dream was deliberately orchestrated the way it was, to give the impression of the lines being blurred between the two.  World-building isn't just something like Dir Lifyna's grand setting, but also the more immediate setting.  In that sense, Hapymaher does an excellent job.  Moreover, even characters can be considered world-building elements, depending on their roles.  I honestly consider Maia to be one of the single most powerful living world-building elements I've ever seen in a VN, lol.

Edit:  I'm going to go ahead and clarify my viewpoint on what I consider to be world-building.  

First, world-building is an aspect of creating the setting.  The difference between the creation of a setting and world-building primarily lies in unique lore or aspects that require you to step beyond what can be called 'common sense' or 'things you should know as a matter of course'.  As such, the creation of a high school setting in a charage wouldn't be considered world-building.  However, the creation of a unique aspect of such a school - such as the election system in Primal Hearts - would be considered world-building, as this aspect does not exist as a base template of what a high school is.

Similarly, merely placing a story in a typical fantasy setting is not an act of world-building.  However, adding unique cultural elements, filling in details of daily life for the average person, etc are world-building elements.

In the end, world-building is an extension of establishing the setting, where the writer fills in the gaps left by the template he/she is working from.  Do you have elves?  An elf is a template.  What kind of culture do the elves have?  That is world building (if you aren't working from an obvious template, lol).  

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Oh, incidentally, I excluded games where the world-building and setting weren't utilized effectively from that first list I posted.  Sadly, there are some games with good world-building that make no effort whatsoever to utilize the tools and structures they built (Koiken Otome comes to mind).  

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