If you’ve been playing Adult VNs for a while, you most certainly have come across sandbox games with so much padding or grind that it’s not worth to keep playing, and the game now sits on your library unfinished for the rest of eternity. We have good news for you then, because we have come up with a list of games with sandbox elements, or with straight up free-roam that don’t make you want to pull your hair out. These are in no particular order because of how different they are story and setting-wise.
This game does have free-roam, and you can collect items (there’s an inventory system and all), but before you start feeling betrayed, let me tell you that this one has most of the story available without any kind of grind, and the content you do need to collect items for is mostly secondary, plus none of the open world is just there for padding, every location has a girl or event that you can participate in. The main content is available without grind, but you’ll try to get all the secondary content when you’re done because the quality of that content is still the same as the main one, no padding here.
A House In The Rift
Here we have another one with free-roam, but in contrast to the last one, this game doesn’t have a whole map, just one House In The Rift (see what I did there? I’m so clever), and what this means for the gameplay is no scavenging for items, except for collecting food from the fridge. The free-roam consists purely of walking around the house to get to the girls/events. There’s also easter eggs to be found, but those are purely extras.
Here we have another one with free-roaming, but this one is different because it’s built into the Turn Based Combat gameplay. The game also has a very small “management” portion, but the game doesn’t get to be repetitive even with the repetition of the paths you move into because the combat changes things just enough every time. MIST’s free-roam also has an exploration aspect to it that make the first time you go through somewhere in the map a completely unique experience from the rest of the times you will go through there.
This game doesn’t have any kind of free-roam, instead you have an open-world map where you choose where to go, there’s no exploring or anything, and all you have to do to trigger an event is click on the place where you see a girl is and have enough points with her from previous interactions, there’s no grinding except for spending time with the girls to get enough points to level her relationship up. There are two reasons doing this “levelling up” doesn’t get too repetitive, one is because the spending time events are mostly new content and when you get to the point they repeat, there are other girls, but also, the repeating scene are short, so you can blast through them to get to the new content.
Being a Dik
Being a Dik is a kind of hybrid, it has sandbox sections, it has management gameplay, and it also has a turn based combat system that requires reaction. The reason this game is in this list, is that yours truly believes that the sandbox portions are just the exact length to be palatable. These sections are where the combat system mostly resides (it’s a secondary activity that usually just to gives extras). There’s optional content throughout these, but if you’d prefer to go straight to the rest of the story, most of the sandbox sections can be completed by talking to someone or interacting with the environment as soon as they start. The are sections where you actually need to talk to everyone possible and explore to finish, but those aren’t the majority. Every time there’s a sandbox section, you also get a ton of optional content like text messages or a fictitious social media app on the MC’s phone, both of which give extra world-building content that make the cast of characters feel more like real people.
Time For You
Time For You (much like the last game), has sandbox sections, which means that the games is mostly a normal style VN, except that there’s sandbox section in between. Similarly to the previous entry, these sandbox segments have a ton of secrets hidden, except that in this one you can always leave before finding everything, and the times you’re supposed to find everything tend to be small spaces. This one is on this list also because the sandbox makes sense given that you are supposed to investigate, which is one of the main story points. The areas that you explore are also small, so there’s no opportunity for getting lost. The only reason you’d stay a long time on one specific free-roaming area is to find all the secrets. Which in this one are also world-building, but have way more impact because the information you get from these give you a clearer picture of what’s happening.