The Best Visual Novel Format: NVL or ADV?

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The Best Visual Novel Format: NVL or ADV?

Ok, boys and girls. If you read this, there is very slim chance that you don’t know what are Visual Novels. In fact you are probably ready to start writing one. That’s the perfect time to learn the difference between ADV and NVL style of Visual Novels.

Normal vs Weirdo

Visual Novel has to be one of the most easily recognized game genres out there. If there is a cute text-box in the bottom of the screen, if there is a flamboyant giggling anime-girl sprite in the middle (or cute effeminate guy, whatevs), followed by choice printed out in elongated choice boxes – that’s Visual Novel alright.

This ‘normal’ format actually is just one of the many forms Visual Novel can take and for quite long time there was almost equal number of NVL and ADV visual novels. Origin of the terms is, of course, Japan – cradle of Visual Novels.

ADV denotes ADVenture kind of novels which incorporated problem solving, puzzles, different styles of gameplay that initially was more similar in design to graphic adventures, point and click adventures and other similar genres.

Who did you just call Weirdo?

NVL was actually not the weirdo of the two. Short from NoVeL, the format NVL simply referred to original way Visual Novels were played. Narration was predominant and therefore there was a lot of text across a static background image.

Today, role of background image is to give stage for character sprites to prance across, as well as to torture authors with less talent in visual arts. But in NVL format, background was not just a backdrop. They were illustrations, purporting the mood of the story.

Pros and Cons

ADV format prevailed because it makes Visual Novel look more like ‘real game’ (feel free to roll your eyes here). Visual narration is as important as words, and everyone likes to see colorful characters, even with minimalistic animations or sprite changes. It makes dialogues more immersive.

There is no wall of text, there is no need to mind typography and dynamics of text printing. Story is served in bite-sized chunks and burden of narration is divided between characters, dialogues, narration and overall design.

NVL format was very cool because text was in the focus and it allowed skilled writers to really immerse their players with superb writing. Story can flow smoother as there are no distractions. Text comes to life as suddenly it’s not only about reading words, it’s about when and how these words appear.

Great comedic, horror of suspense effect could be achieved by words fading in or out, melting away or adding different effects. Formatting style becomes part of the narration and while minimalistic, design of text and its effects becomes very delicate tool for storytelling.

Why not both?

Of course, nothing prevents you to use the best of both worlds. Narration-heavy Visual Novels with lot of introspection could profit from NVL-style sequences, switching to ADV-style once dialogue-intensive scenes begin.

Sometimes, if a novel features battles or combat that is not graphically represented, ADV can be strenuous to read. NVL format is better suited for volumes of fast scrolling text. Also, there will come the time in a novel when you want to stop, pause for a moment. When the story will freeze and let reader to take moment to soak in everything that transpired. Using NVL-style can be great tool for achieving this, almost cinematic, slo-mo moment.

How do we do it in the Cloud?

While default CloudNovel’s approach to Visual Novel style is contemporary ADV-format, there is no reason why you can’t deploy your entire story in NVL-format. If you visit Library section of your Visual Novel, you will notice that one of the assets for your story is Text.

With ability to customize size of your text box, then use different fonts, colors and font sizes, you have all the tools to create NVL-format Visual Novel, or at least to create parts that you want in NVL-style.

Also, we’d like to hear it from you? Did you know about NVL-format? How do you find it? Are you happier with ADV-format? Do you think NVL-style could be used to enhance your future stories? Share your experiences with the kind community of CloudNovel!


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