Once catering to small, niche audiences in Japan, visual novels (VNs) are now entering the mainstream. And their popularity is growing rapidly: r/visualnovels subreddit subscribers nearly doubled in the last 8 months, soaring to 185k+ members.

VNs straddle the border between a game and a story, and could perhaps be described as akin to R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps, where the reader is presented with choices — but in an interactive, video game format.

Source: Screenshot of an OXENFREE VN

Traditionally released in Japanese and featuring anime art, VNs are now branching out to include multiple genres, illustration styles, and levels of immersion. Development is fast, simple, and low cost, so you could create your own (check out this guide).