Adaira, you stated that you're looking for VNs with a woman main character, "gen" plot elements such as mystery/fantasy/sci-fi/action, and relatively high production values. Some stuff you might enjoy...
Some of Hanako Games
' creations seem to meet your criteria. Magical Diary
is basically a life simulation with a variety of romance options, and the game seems to balance both. Likewise, the indie game Spirited Heart
is similar to Princess Maker
2, but with both guys and girls as romance options if you purchase the expansion pack. (The player takes the girl's role, and she turns 18 right after the intro, which helps to reduce the squick factors seen in several Princess Maker games.)
is a fairly simple and not-very-serious RPG about girls fighting aliens. Also, I believe it passes The Bechdel Test
Loren: The Amazon Princess
is an interesting example, as I think it's more of a Western RPG
than a visual novel. The same creators at Winter Wolves made a similar game called Planet Stronghold not long ago, which is basically a western RPG with combat more reminiscent of eastern RPGs. Anyway, both games feature mostly plot with some romance options. There are male and female main characters, and Everyone Is Bi
The freeware story Faery Tale
has a unique art stye and a woman as the main character. While it does appear to be a romance game, it does not seem to be reverse harem. (The creator is one of a few people creating VNs with a distinctly western art style. If this is your interest, search the VNDB for "Cinders," which is set for release in the near future.)
Much of the Atelier Series
features women as main characters. They're general fantasy fiction stories with Eastern RPG
/ Simulation Game
gameplay, and not much emphasis is placed on relationships. If you own a DS, look for Atelier Annie
— it should be fairly inexpensive. If you own a Playstation 3, look for Atelier Rorona
and Atelier Totori
— I've been seeing their prices slowly decreasing.
Both Hyperdimension Neptunia
and its sequel feature women as main characters. They're ridiculous comedies about moe console girls
and game piracy. If you're concerned with reviews, the first game got rather bad ones, while the latter got a few decent ones, including RPGamer saying that it "doesn't suck."
is a VN with great visuals and a woman as a main character. Though I'm not sure how much emphasis is on relationships, and it's a worksafe example of the Yuri Genre
. A full English patch is available. The original host site Solelo seems to have died quietly, but I had no difficulty searching for the patch.
Shikkoku No Sharnoth
is another VN with great visuals and a woman as a main character. Some explicit content, and not reverse harem. The setting is a fantasy version of Victorian Era London. Was translated by Amaterasu
Cherry Tree High Comedy Club
is a doujin VN that was recently localized by Nyu Media. The main character is a girl, and the story is about comedy rather than relationships.