Visual novels are video adventure games that are a kind of interactive fiction. They are to some extent a multimedia presentation of an extensive plot. The genre’s graphics are usually presented in the anime style with background music and sometimes with voiceovers. The genres can be further broken into several subgenres (that can be mixed with each other) depending on the content. Here we have games with fantasy or science fiction elements, games with erotic content, horror, and nakige (sad) and utsuge (happy) stories. All these games are characterized by branching narrative and multiple endings
Games of this type are popular primarily in Japan, in 2006 they accounted for as much as 70% of the titles published there.
Visual novels offer very limited gameplay, usually, the player must use only the keyboard or mouse to scroll through illustrated dialog boxes with static or barely animated images. The mechanics of such games are based on choosing one of the dialog options offered or selecting one of several available decisions. In this way, the player chooses which way they want the plot to develop. If the player makes a wrong choice, it might result in an unfavorable (bad) ending of the game. It is this possibility of branching the storyline is what attracts the gamers to visual novels genre.
The genre is not limited to the construction of interactive fiction and also contains elements from other game genres. An example is Symphonic Rain (game from 2017), where the player must get a high score for playing a musical instrument, which will allow him to continue playing the game.
Another interesting example of a visual novel is the 2004 Fate/stay night. The hero of the game, Shiro Emiya, is dying. If during the game he is nice enough to another heroine – Illya, she will come to save him at one point. An interesting fact is that the total number of words in this game exceeds all the words contained in the volumes of The Lord of the Rings.