The market for visual novels outside of East Asia is small, though a number of anime based on visual novels are popular among anime fans in the Western world.Visual novels are distinguished from other game types by their generally minimal gameplay.This distinction is normally lost outside Japan, where both NVLs and ADVs are commonly referred to as "visual novels" by international fans.Visual novels and ADVs are especially prevalent in Japan, where they made up nearly 70% of the PC game titles released in 2006.This characteristic makes playing visual novels similar to reading a book.Most visual novels have multiple storylines and more than one ending; the mechanic in these cases typically consists of intermittent multiple-choice decision points, where the player selects a direction in which to take the game.
Often, the protagonist is left unvoiced, even when the rest of the characters are fully voiced.
More importantly, visual novels do not face the same length restrictions as a physical book.
For example, the total word count of the English fan translation of Fate/stay night, taking all the branching paths into account, exceeds that of The Lord of the Rings.
Some visual novels do not limit themselves into merely interactive fictions, but also incorporate other elements into them.
An example of this approach is Symphonic Rain, where the player is required to play a musical instrument of some sort, and attain a good score in order to advance.
The digital medium allows for significant improvements, such as being able to fully explore multiple aspects and perspectives of a story.