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These games can have rather complex paths with multiple endings.To be clear, they originated in Japan and, while many visual novels or dating sims are erotic (or at least sexy) in nature, it's not true that all dating sims have erotic content.Visual novels are a graphic novel of sorts and a story with optional paths the reader can follow.Dating sims are very similar in that the reader chooses from on-screen options but the purpose is to develop skills and personal relationships with in-game characters.Both visual novels and dating sims usually have a "Gallery Screen" where you can replay previous scenes which are typically still images.
That is the shortest and smallest VN I've made.
Learn to use it well enough and you can also create a visual novel role-playing hybrid much like my RPGs Loren The Amazon Princess As you might imagine, visual novels include a lot of art.
I'd dare to say that, for a commercial product, the art is as least as important as the writing, if not more.
While it certainly helps - especially for gameplay - it's really not necessary to play original Japanese visual novels or dating sims.
For example, I've produced several visual novels and dating sims.