Just as visual novels tend to incorporate different kinds of gameplay as a supplement to text, other kinds of games can possess visual novel elements with segments of heavy text-based dialogue and storytelling. Games that combine long visual novel scenes with a significant amount of gameplay are commonly known as hybrids. A prime example of this is Persona 4 Golden, an RPG that is primarily a dungeon crawler, but contains long visual novel-esque scenes and even gives you the option of romantically pursuing most of the characters in a dating sim-like fashion. It also allows you to make game-changing decisions that lead to any of seven possible endings.
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is another text-heavy game that incorporates story-altering decisions that you get to participate in. It also has a visual-novel style of presenting thoughts and dialogue, using both the common adventure-game style of bottom text as well as the older full-screen format. It’s primary gameplay function is puzzle-based and the focus of the game.
Some argue that the Ace Attorney games are hybrids that shouldn’t be defined as visual novels due to their point-and-click investigations, but I tend to disagree. While interactive, they are not as complex as the tap-and-drag gameplay in Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective. They are also officially categorized as “visual novel adventure games,” so I’ll leave it at that for now.
gameplay in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney vs Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective
On the left you can see Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney‘s point-and-click investigation, and on the right you can see the more involved tap-and-drag puzzle solving used in Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective. This is why I would describe Phoenix Wright as a visual novel game and Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective as a puzzle game with visual novel elements.
These are only a couple examples of these kinds of games, but many exist. A few more examples include: Valkyria Chronicles, Sakura Wars, Catherine, and Neo Cab.