Visual novels or interactive movies are distinguished by their mostly static graphics, live-action stills, or video footage and minimal game-play, multiple story-lines, and/or endings typically achieved by intermittent multiple-choice decision points. They are typically (but not always) text heavy and story-driven with strong character development. While most player interaction is limited to clicking to keep the text, graphics, and sound moving not all visual novels limit themselves to clicking through text and may allow the player further interaction with the environment, objects, and characters.
More recent games implement a "play" or "fast-forward" option that now makes replays less tedious or clicking through dialogue unnecessary. Some newer visual novels dubbed "interactive movies" play like a film with occasional promps for player interaction and/or exploration.