Create Media Rich Visual Novel using any of these 13 Open-source Free Apps

Create Media Rich Visual Novel using any of these 13 Open-source Free Apps

What is a Visual Novel?

A visual novel is a storytelling medium that uses text, visuals, and audio to convey a narrative. They often involve player choices that can lead to different story outcomes, similar to "choose your own adventure" books.

Usage of a Visual Novel

In education, visual novels can be a powerful tool, as they provide an immersive, interactive way for students to learn and engage with material.

As an example, a visual novel could be used to teach history by allowing students to experience key events and make decisions as historical figures.

Similarly, in language learning, visual novels can provide contextual, interactive practice with reading and comprehension.

Moreover, the creation of visual novels can also be an educational exercise. Students can learn about narrative structure, character development, and visual design, as well as practical skills like coding if they use a more advanced engine.

This makes visual novels a flexible, valuable resource in an educational setting.

In this post, you will find the best apps and engines to create visual novels. Note, that some of these apps requires some coding skills.

1. Monogatari

Monogatari is free and open-source visual novel engine that comes with dozens of useful features to create a rich visual novel stores and apps.

Features

  • Responsive out of the box
  • Supports videos, text, images, audio and more
  • Plays nice with Electron for Desktop apps and Cordova for mobile apps
  • Simple Syntax
  • Progressive Web App (PWA) Features allowing offline game play
  • Allows you to use any kind of media supported by browsers
  • Compatible with all major browsers
  • Includes libraries for animations and particle effects
  • Allows saving/loading games
  • Extensible, you just can't imagine how much!
  • Supports multiple languages
GitHub - Monogatari/Monogatari: Monogatari is a simple web visual novel engine, created to bring Visual Novels to the web.
Monogatari is a simple web visual novel engine, created to bring Visual Novels to the web. - Monogatari/Monogatari

2. Ren'Py

Ren'Py is a leading visual novel engine, supporting a variety of game genres and platforms.

Its user-friendly script language simplifies the creation of visual novels, while its Python scripting handles complex simulation games.

As an open-source solution, it is accessible and free for commercial use.

The Ren’Py Visual Novel Engine

3. Tuseday.js

Tuesday JS is a low-code visual novel editor that operates in a web browser. It's written completely in JavaScript, and uses standard rich HTML5 elements.

It also supports any media format that browsers can handle.

There's also a standalone version for Android and desktops, and all versions are fully compatible with each other.

The library, engine, and apps are totally free and open-source. It also supports multiple languages out of the box.

GitHub - Kirilllive/tuesday-js: simple web-based, free and open-source visual novel editor that can be used in a web browser. It is written in JavaScript without using any third party libraries and thus does not require additional software installation. The engine uses standard HTML document elements such as div and img. This allows the use of any media format supported by browsers including vector graphics svg, gif animations and css styles.
simple web-based, free and open-source visual novel editor that can be used in a web browser. It is written in JavaScript without using any third party libraries and thus does not require additiona…

4. Rakugo Visual Novel Kit

This is an awesome visual novel editor for Godot game engine, that makes it easy to create interactive visual novels within the game editor. It is highly inspired by Ren'Py.

You can also add and include several open-source addons to your editor to enrich the user-experiance.

Rakugo Project
Rakugo for Godot Engine, Inspired by Ren’Py, Rakugo Project is aimed at providing a better toolset for narrative-based games on Godot. Simplify your project, if it is a visual novel, point and click, RPG, interactive text game or many other styles and blends of styles. Now its a set of plugins for Godot, that can be used in any Godot project. But they are also Kits that bring together of our plugins to template that fit your project genre.
GitHub - rakugoteam/VisualNovelKit: Combo of addons + template to create visual novels in Godot inspired by Ren’Py
Combo of addons + template to create visual novels in Godot inspired by Ren’Py - rakugoteam/VisualNovelKit

5. UVNF-Unity-Visual-Novel-Framework (Unity)

Unity Game Engine users can use this amazing open-source starter to create cool visual novels without a hussle

GitHub - Velorexe/UVNF-Unity-Visual-Novel-Framework: A Node Based Visual Novel creation tool for Unity3D.
A Node Based Visual Novel creation tool for Unity3D. - Velorexe/UVNF-Unity-Visual-Novel-Framework

6. Coda

Coda is a simple, cross-platform, and open source visual novel game engine using PyQt5. It can run for Windows, Linux, and macOS.

The downside is that you should install it from scratch, because it does not have any executable packages.

GitHub - segnolin/Coda: The visual novel game (galgame) engine using PyQt5.
The visual novel game (galgame) engine using PyQt5. - segnolin/Coda

7. Oxygengine

Oxygengine is an amazing game engine and visual novel engine written in Rust and WASM.

Oxygengine is a comprehensive game engine with a focus on web platforms, but is expanding to desktops and consoles. Its goal is to be a Rust version of Unreal Engine for 2D games, and it is designed to be asset-driven with a game editor primarily for Game Designers and Artists.

However, it requires a good coding experience to use.

Cons

  • Require a good experience in Rust.
  • The book and documentation are not complete
Introduction - Oxygengine Essentials Book

8. MatchaNovel for Defold

MatchaNovel is an open source multi-platform engine for narrative works, like visual novels and adventure games.

It can be integrated with the Defold game engine or other Lua based engines, to use narrative features like a writer friendly scripting system and automatic textboxes in other genres as well.

Features

  • writer friendly scripting language
  • you can make a full release with only MatchaScript code, or you can use Defold to edit the GUI and scenes in a WYSIWYG editor
  • strong math and logic support by using Lua expressions and math libraries in the script, or import full Lua files as extensions
  • Spine support
  • FMOD support
  • particle effects
  • inbuilt pronoun system
  • make your own syntax by changing the MatchaScript definitions
  • can be used as dialogue system in a full Defold game, or use mini games made in Defold in your visual novel
  • small build size: less than 5 MB, plus your assets

Platforms

  • Windows
  • Linux
  • macOS
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Web

Parts

It consists of these parts:

  • MatchaScript: a Lua based scripting language for narrative works, that can be imported into an engine
  • MatchaNovel: a Lua backend for visual novels that extends MatchaScript, and allows renpy-like scripting
  • MatchaNovel for Defold: a library and GUI for the open source 2D+3D game engine Defold
  • Jasmine: a textbox library for Defold

Cons

  • Requires experience in Defold game engine
GitHub - HalfstarDev/matchanovel: A visual novel framework library for Defold.
A visual novel framework library for Defold. Contribute to HalfstarDev/matchanovel development by creating an account on GitHub.

9. WebGAL

WebGAL is a free, open-source, web-based visual novel engine with a visually appealing interface and rich features. It requires no web development background, supports all features of mainstream visual novel engines, and allows for easy development using WebGAL scripts or a visual editor.

Features

  • Super friendly user-interface
  • Powerful functions
  • Rich media support
  • Works for WIndows, Linux and macOS
  • Requires minimal hardware support

License

  • MPL 2.0 (Mozilla Public License 2.0)
GitHub - OpenWebGAL/WebGAL: A brand new web Visual Novel engine | 全新的网页端视觉小说引擎
A brand new web Visual Novel engine | 全新的网页端视觉小说引擎 - OpenWebGAL/WebGAL

10. AVG.js

AVG.js is an open-source web-game framework designed to facilitate the development of various game types, including AVG, puzzles, renai simulation, kancolle-like, and TCG/CCG. The goal is to enable players to enjoy games anytime, anywhere via the internet and to simplify the game development process for creators.

Please note that the project is still in its alpha stage and is not suitable for large projects due to ongoing significant changes.

GitHub - avgjs/avg-core: A Future-oriented Adventure Game Framework based on React & Pixi.js. Docs: https://avgjs.github.io/docs/
A Future-oriented Adventure Game Framework based on React & Pixi.js. Docs: https://avgjs.github.io/docs/ - avgjs/avg-core
AVG.js Documentation
A Future-oriented Adventure Game Framework, Based on Pixi.js and React.

11. NovelRT

NovelRT is a cross-platform, flexible Visual Novel and 2D game engine targeting both designers and developers, with many designer tools and features yet to be implemented.

GitHub - novelrt/NovelRT: A cross-platform 2D game engine accompanied by a strong toolset for visual novels.
A cross-platform 2D game engine accompanied by a strong toolset for visual novels. - novelrt/NovelRT

12. Ayaka

Ayaka is a free and open-source novel editor and visual novel creator that is written using Rust, Tauri and Vue.

It features a cross-platform runtime, a YAML-based config file format, an embedded custom script, CLDR-based i18n support, and a flexible plugin system based on WebAssembly.

It is released as an open-source under the MIT license.

GitHub - Uni-Gal/Ayaka: A visual novel engine written by Rust. Just Ayaka.
A visual novel engine written by Rust. Just Ayaka. - Uni-Gal/Ayaka

13. JS-ViNE

JS-ViNE is a Visual Novel Engine written in JavaScript. It was created to transfer a tutorial, originally made in the Ren'py visual novel engine, to the web.

It's not intended to replace Ren'py, but rather to offer a web-based alternative. The engine allows you to proceed through the visual novel by clicking in the novel window.

JS-ViNE: A JavaScript Visual Novel Engine