A visual novel is a game that takes on the form of interactive storytelling. Most visual novels utilize static graphics such as character sprites and backgrounds, often in the style of anime or manga.
Visual novels can take on different variations, with two notable distinctions. One is a kinetic novel format, which is predominantly made up of linear narration with very limited player interaction. The other takes on an adventure format, which is dependent on player choices, puzzle solving, and other types of gameplay.
Other features found in visual novels include philosophy and morality. Depending on how the player character would behave or respond to different conversations or situations, non-player characters (NPCs) may also behave differently. Oftentimes, these features will be accompanied by simulation elements, where building relationships with different characters is a focal point of the game (e.g. dating sims). For visual novels that feature these elements, it is no longer just about reading speed as the player will have to take the time to think and consider each individual option and how the story may progress from that point.
Some more complex visual novels also include an assortment of mini-games or entire engines built from the ground up. Many role-playing games incorporate visual novel elements or vice versa.
With all the different elements combined, it is possible for single playthroughs of a visual novel to reach dozens or even hundreds of hours. When individual branching storylines are factored in, the number of hours one can sink into a visual novel is astronomical. Notable examples of some of the longer traditional visual novels include Fate/stay night, Katawa Shoujo, and Shin Megami Tensei: Persona, a series of RPGs.
Pokémon Academy Life
Pokémon Academy Life is considered a traditional visual novel with some more complex elements added in and more planned to be added. Based on the current demo (version 1.0.3a), there are already many instances of dialogue branches, though the existing storyline is mostly unaffected. Included are traits that are often found in RPGs, and relationship points in the likes of those found in dating sims. In addition, open world exploration is a feature, which greatly expands player options.
Future features under development include a Pokémon battling engine and Pokémon catching engine.