Finalist - Outstanding Achievement in Story: 2014 DICE Awards Finalist - Gamer's Voice Award: SXSW Gaming Expo The Novelist asks one central question: can you achieve your dreams without pushing away the people you love?
User reviews: Very Positive (383 reviews)
Release Date: Dec 10, 2013

Sign in to add this game to your wishlist or mark as not interested

Buy The Novelist

 

Recent updates View all (8)

October 30

$4.49 Halloween Sale + Horror Movie Blog Post!

Hey, everyone! The game is on sale at 70% off as part of the Steam Halloween Sale, and to celebrate I wrote a new blog post over on the game's site. The Novelist is full of references to old horror movies, so I created a guide that lists all of the specific references, complete with fun movie clips from the horror flicks.

I think it's a pretty fun read ... check it out here!

1 comments Read more

September 8

On Sale for $5.99!

Hey everyone, I just wanted to make a quick post letting you know that The Novelist is on sale for $5.99 over at the Humble Store. You can also pick it up directly at the game's website.

Each purchase comes with a Steam key, so it's a good way to support the game, support charity, and still add the game to your Steam library.

Spread the word!

0 comments Read more

Reviews

“The Novelist affected me, deeply and painfully ... I frequently cried at the outcomes of the decisions I made for the Kaplan family.”
Rock Paper Shotgun

“While it arrives on the heels of other notable non-combat, story-based games, it still manages to feel fresh and emotionally resonant. This is thanks to sincere, realistic writing and an inspired approach to player choice, which has you picking sides and making difficult compromises in the context of family conflicts.”
Polygon

“The Novelist is the most personal and beautiful game I have ever experienced. The creator, Kent Hudson, has quite plainly poured his heart and soul into this game, and the outcome is genuinely something to behold. Never before have I felt so emotionally involved in the characters, their situation and potential future, as in this truly player-driven story.”
10 out of 10 – GameGrin

About This Game

Finalist - Outstanding Achievement in Story: 2014 DICE Awards
Finalist - Gamer's Voice Award: SXSW Gaming Expo

The Novelist asks one central question: can you achieve your dreams without pushing away the people you love? The game focuses on Dan Kaplan, a novelist struggling to write the most important book of his career while trying to be the best husband and father he can be. The Kaplans have come to a remote coastal home for the summer, unaware that they’re sharing the house with a mysterious ghostly presence: you.

Read the family’s thoughts. Explore their memories. Uncover their desires and intervene in their lives. But stay out of sight; you can’t help the Kaplans if they know there’s a ghost in the house. It’s up to you to decide how Dan’s career and family life will evolve, but choose carefully; there are no easy answers, and every choice has a cost.

Dan’s relationships – to his work, his wife, and his son – react and shift in response to your choices. With a different sequence of events in every playthrough, The Novelist gives life to a unique experience each time you play.

The decisions you make will define the Kaplans’ lives, but they may also tell you something about yourself.

System Requirements

Windows
Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux
    Minimum:
    • OS: Windows XP SP2 or higher
    • Processor: 1.8 GHz
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 256 MB VRAM video card
    • Hard Drive: 800 MB available space
    Recommended:
    • OS: Windows 7
    • Processor: 2 GHz
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 512 MB VRAM video card
    Minimum:
    • OS: OS X Lion (10.7) or higher
    • Processor: 1.8 GHz
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 256 MB VRAM video card
    • Hard Drive: 800 MB available space
    Recommended:
    • OS: OS X Mountain Lion (10.8)
    • Processor: 2 GHz
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 512 MB VRAM video card
    Minimum:
    • Processor: 1.8 GHz
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 256 MB VRAM video card
    • Hard Drive: 800 MB available space
    • Additional Notes: Built with Unity 4.3.4, tested in Ubuntu 12.04 and 13.10
    Recommended:
    • Processor: 2 GHz
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 512 MB VRAM video card
Helpful customer reviews
43 of 69 people (62%) found this review helpful
3.7 hrs on record
Posted: November 2
As for the beginning i should mention that i'm a highly emotive person but cold-hearted at the same time, who could watch any emotionally disturbing events and never blink an eye if circumstances demand so, however this game didn't even bother to try me. I'll probably get assaulted by some who presumably were tackled by the emotiveness of this game, but i'll take my chances since, frankly, there is no single reason why i would give it a thumbs up.

It is indeed a game which tends to appeal on emotions, but it fails this part too, except a few occasion when it manages to touch the player, and further on i'll explain why. First of all, it's almost one year after release and the game is still buggy. You can see that for yourself in the 2 screenshots i've posted on the game's community hub. Characters can sit on invisible chairs, type on invisible typing machines or read books while their heads are stuck in the table, etc, and all of that in less than 4 hours of gaming... Also, Dan, the main character developed a habit to close the doors of his office when he needs to rest or focus on the book he's writing, and doesn't want to be disturbed by his family. I got stuck in his office for quite a few times, having nothing to do, just waiting and wondering when will he finally open the doors so i can get out. At first i relied on the fact that me being a ghost, i'm not supposed to be seen opening doors, but imagine my surprise when i saw for the first time his wife walking in the office right through the closed door, and walking out through the other one. I was like "WTF? I am the damn ghost in this house or this this family who clearly posseses more supernatural skills than i do ?!"

Leaving all bugs and glitches behind, the whole purpose of the game is to find out what the family members wish for, and try to make them all happy, or at least feeling less miserable, by choosing somebody's wish and make a compromise with other member. Problem is the choices are sometimes ridiculous. For example: the mother wants to go camping on some place far from home, the father wants to go camping somewhere near by, and the son wants his father to help him launch his toy rocket. You choose father's wish to go camping somewhere near by and try to reach a compromise with his wife based on the fact that he's behind the schedule with his work on the book. Done. The son remains unhappy. WHY ?! Even if the father is so ridiculously busy at home, why can't he just take 5 minutes and help his son launch a toy rocket while they were camping for almost an entire day? And this is only one example from an entire list of unrealistic stupid choices one has to make.

What else made me be so cold-hearted towards this game's attempt to appeal on my emotions ? The almost empty house, the dull environment, the repetitive actions of the characters which walk from a part of the house to another over and over, and mostly the lack of any active emotions between them. Upon the interaction of the characters in the house you'll just hear "Hi mom" and the answer back "Hi darling", and that's all, after which they all go do something different, mother watches TV, the son plays with a toy, and the father drinks by himself in the office or sticks his head again in the table and starts to read. Does that look like a busy family to you where they presumably can't find the time to satisfy each other ?

There are many other things i could list, but looks like my review is becoming too long, so i'll just stop here. The overall experience felt boring and tedious. There is no way i could recommend to anybody this clearly overpriced and overrated game.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
6 of 7 people (86%) found this review helpful
2.6 hrs on record
Posted: November 7
Great title for Dear Esther/ Gone Home/ Vanishing of Ethan Carter Fans. At the end of the game I really cared about Kaplans Family. Graphics are "sufficient" and soundtrack really suits the game.Score 8 out of 10 [ 10/10 if u got it from humble bundle for few $]. It takes about 2,5 hours to complete the game and I guess you can complete it few times to get different endings.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
6 of 7 people (86%) found this review helpful
7.3 hrs on record
Posted: November 8
Once I started this game, I could not stop. Recommended buy!
Was this review helpful? Yes No
4 of 5 people (80%) found this review helpful
2.8 hrs on record
Posted: November 7
Really refreshing and interesting experience, although ocassionally shallow and boring will leave variety of different kind of opinions varying from person to person.

It is a game that your actions and choices have certain consequences on the story and its development. I would say that the game starts slowly at the beginning, and then follows a safe line not trying to be too initiative on trying something new over the time. As I've already said, really lackluster experience, especially at the end given that the actions and gameplay focuses on you doing the same thing over and over again.

The game sums up in: you trying to figure out how to help people and overcome their obstacles whether publishing a book or painting or going on a trip. You can't please everyone, hence why your actions will have different effect on people around you. Mechanics that this game tries to implement and force are nothing too astonishing, and will often be recognized as tedious after a while.

I would say that this game is a solid 5/10, nothing too special, but enough to get you intrigued in this 2-3 hours long journey. Definitely worth picking up when it hits the bigger discount, but bare in mind that this game focuses heavily on story and your actions on the progression, rather than gameplay and whatelse.




Was this review helpful? Yes No
3 of 4 people (75%) found this review helpful
0.8 hrs on record
Posted: November 15
Absolutely great game, makes you think about the value of small choices and about how your life interacts with that of others around you. Beautiful, deeply immersive and interesting. Thanks for a wonderful experience!



*recorded time is wrong- I finished the game in around three hours*
Was this review helpful? Yes No
4 of 6 people (67%) found this review helpful
5.4 hrs on record
Posted: November 1
Upon reading about the gameplay, I was quickly excited to see what this game had to offer, hoping for variety and a good story. Thankfully I got both! I was also surprised to hear some rather good voice acting that I hadn't expected to find in this game, but it really helped set the immersion.
The game "was" short, but it was very fulfilling, especially having done it on Stealth-mode. Being short, I feel I can even play it a few more times to see what the results will be like if I make different choices.
Some of the choices were easy to make, some were minor, but there were a few VERY tough choices. I beat the game in a few hours, but the choices, story, and affect from the characters made this feel like it went on for days, but in a VERY good way. I'm hoping for a sequel, given that there is room for it, but I don't even feel like there's much need for any change outside of making a new story and maybe a new environment.
If I had any negative comments about the game, it would be reading up on the former entries of those in the house. They were great stories too, but I felt like they didn't explain much beyond that the ghost helped people who lived there. I was hoping to find out who the ghost is or learn more about one person at a time. It seemed the stories of the past got rushed by a bit.
All-in-all, I highly recommend this game. Very easy-paced, simple, and enjoyable. A nice break from more intense games or a tense day.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
4 of 6 people (67%) found this review helpful
0.3 hrs on record
Posted: November 12
While the story is fairly interesting and the number of different outcomes is impressive for an indie game, I honestly couldn't focus on any of that because the environments and character models, as well as the gameplay, were so incredibly drab and dull.
Games are supposed to be interactive, even if that method of interaction is just Quick-Time Events (see also: Heavy Rain). This game reminds me of Myst, only instead of a mysterious island with lots of secrets you have a generic, uninteresting family of three with some not-altogether-interesting problems which you have to decide how to solve after taking a stroll about the house and finding things that unlock options for you to choose.
You would get about as much gameplay out of a DVD menu, if you had your neighbor come over periodically while you were out defecating to hide your remote on you.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
5 of 8 people (63%) found this review helpful
2.2 hrs on record
Posted: November 2
This game's narrative complexity in how close to reality it is is what sold it for me. The reality of every choice is very well laid out for you and there are no right answers and no way to make everything great. Some choices you make affect different characters differently and in varying amounts. Definitely worth a look. This is another video game that proves that video games at large are an art form.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
15 of 28 people (54%) found this review helpful
7.1 hrs on record
Posted: October 26
It is true that there are some tragically underrated indie games that try to takle personal, emotional narratives. This is not one of those games.

The premise is actualy quite good: you are a ghost inhabiting a summer home where you stealthily uncover and influence one family's problems. I tend to be a big fan of similarly narrative-driven indie games like Gone Home and To The Moon. Unfortunately, this great idea is executed poorly at almost every opportunity. The art-style is bland and repetitive, the house is small and inadequately designed, the music is boring and ill-fitting, and the levels do not get more challanging or though-provoking as the game progresses. By the end of your two hour play-through you will have experienced an interesting but ultimately disappointing game.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
1.8 hrs on record
Posted: November 10
A really touching game that makes you question the impact of the choices you make. I especially liked the mechanic of how you couldn't please everyone, so you have to choose who to please, depending on the circumstances. I definitely recommend!
Was this review helpful? Yes No
1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
4.9 hrs on record
Posted: November 12
The Novelist is a indie, story rich game that revolves around the Kaplan family. The members of the family are Dan and Linda, and their son Tommy. They move into a vacation house for the summer, where Dan is looking forward to the peace and quiet of the seaside so he can write, while his wife Linda is exiceted about the scenery of the woods and the sea. The player takes on the role of a spectral phantom-like creature who watches over Dan and his family, learning about their thoughts and memories. I liked this game in general A LOT. The descision making was well thought off. But it was so hard to make the descisions. I tried balancing everyone, but the story just got more and more depressing over time, that every descision wasn't just going to dissapoint the other 2 people, it was going to crush them. The artwork was very beatiful and simplistic, showing off some beautiful lighting and a very tensioned ambient.

To summerize this review:

Graphics: Simplistic, wouldn't want them any different.
Sounds: Realistic, annoying at times.
Characters/Character Development: Very good, every descision alters their thoughts.
Story: Super rich story, well-thought of and you can tell the auther dedicated himself to it (wink wink.)
Game lenght: This isn't a really long game in itself, but playing through it makes you realize that it's not too short, and not too long.
Mechanics: Not bad, the phantom mechanics weren't too good, or too bad. They could have been improved though.


Final thought: I just think that this game is awesome, and everyone should give it a try. It gives you a new perspective on life, and on how one has to balance himself between his work, his wife and his son. You're not the one telling the story, you're the one shaping it. It's a pretty depressing game, but seeing one of the characters happy for once makes it worthwile and rewarding. All in all, I give this game a 8.8 out of 10.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
3.3 hrs on record
Posted: November 16
I think you might need a spouse and children to appreciate this game. My guess is there's just not as much emotional impact if you don't have real life experience balancing family choices trying to make everyone happy while still taking care of yourself.

The gameplay itself is very simple: you just explore a house, reading clues, looking at drawings, and listening to snippets of dialogue to figure out what each family member wants. Then you tell the title character, Dan, which choice he should make, which moves the story into the next segment, with a brief update on each family member's progress. There is a mild stealth element in which you can "spook" family members if they see you moving around, which will close off their choice. This can be turned off if you don't want to worry about it, but I kept it on and only spooked somebody once in my entire playthrough.

I found some of the decisions pretty tough, but in the end I kept a very balanced approach and got an ending in which everyone seemed basically hapy and successful. I'm somewhat curious to try it again while pushing really hard in favor of one family member or another to see what happens, but I'm not sure I want to see the sad endings. Overall, I don't know if three hours of gameplay is worth full price, but I could recommend this on sale.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
3 of 5 people (60%) found this review helpful
2.2 hrs on record
Posted: November 5
Although this game is 'story rich', I dont think the story is very good. Its full of cliches (writer with writer's block, boy wants to play, dad wants to work, mom tries to hold family together, etc) and extremely superficial. You make choices but they dont mean anything when the consequence is just text at the end of the scene. Its just so...predictable. All the kid ever wants to do is play, so, shocker, when you dont play with him he gets depressed. So what? Why am I suppose to care about the kid at all? The game doesnt give you any reason to like any of the characters.

And we are suppose to believe that Dan is so busy he cant do anything else with his wife and kids but. . . hes not. He sits around the house all day, goes camping, fishing. In one chapter they show a schedule. It has 8 hours sleep, 1 hour break, 2 hours decompression. Really? Thats 11 hours where hes doing nothing. Real busy people rest half that amount on any given workday.

I really hate to hammer an indie game. But it has a steep price tag so people should know what theyre in for. And for what it gives you there are better options out there. Gods Will Be Watching is a brilliant game about choices and consequences, with much better dialogue and characters that felt. . . alive. Or if you like walking simulators with notes all over, I would even recommend Gone Home before this, which has a very cute story, is the same length, and doesnt have you revisiting the same 4 rooms 15 times.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
4 of 7 people (57%) found this review helpful
3.7 hrs on record
Posted: November 4
I would give this game a solid 7/10. Great idea, decent story, but very poor execution. The gameplay began to get repetitive very quickly and I found myself skipping through character's letters because of the mundaneness of them. I still managed to play through the story, though I wouldn't reccommend spending $14.99 on this one.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
6 of 11 people (55%) found this review helpful
2.2 hrs on record
Posted: November 1
9/10 - One of the best novel/epistolary driven game experiences since Dear Esther. If you are looking for action - it's not for you.

I've completed the game just now, and I would say that I am freaking amazed how a simple idea can make such a wonderful, soul-soothing, but at times - heartbreaking experience. It is a wonderful story about a family, the story that is shaped by YOU. You are a ghost, indeed, but it is not really about that. The game is called "The Novelist" because, despite the fact that Dan - the father in this family - is trying to write a book, you are actually the one who is writing a novel. You are writing a novel about the life of this family, and you make actions that are shaping the story, and I am sure this game has multiple endings, depending on what choices you make.

Dan is trying to write a novel, his wife Linda is trying her luck at painting pictures. Their kid Tommy is trying to adapt to the new environment in new school and tries to deal with dyslexia. You choose who gets the momentum, and who will be dissapointed with their days. Sometimes you will try to make VERY TOUGH descisions.... Thats how the gameplay works, and your actions will lead to different branches of the story...

I cried in the end, most of the actions I did were trying to help everyone... But that is not always how it is in real life. I cried in the end because I am going through the exact moment of my life right now. It's either my career, or my family. And in this game - i chose family. And now I am quite sure that this is what I am going to do in my life.

I salute you Orthogonal Games for writing and developing such a good, mesmerising story that could actually make me think about my choices, and maybe think about life and family in general.

I am giving this game 9 out of 10 for creating one of the best emotional experiences i've had in a while. This game made to shed a tear even though I am a grown man. *<[:D I will take 1 point from this game because I didn't feel the gameplay gave me just a little bit more freedom to explore the house or the outsides and sometimes it felt a little bit repepetive and very straightforward. I felt it could have a bit more on the visuals, i mean the outside terrain could be improved (sometimes i am very picky on details) But other than that - it is amazing.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
7 of 14 people (50%) found this review helpful
4.3 hrs on record
Posted: October 30
After playing through this a third time, I've decided this game will never get old to me. Storyline is excellent, has a nice art style. I like it more each playthrough.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
3.5 hrs on record
Posted: November 2
This game really got me thinking about life.

It was very beatiful and...I never thought a game could make me think like that. But it looks like it happened. It really told me something about myself and the choices I made. I plan on changing some of my choices later to see if I can change.

The ending was outstanding. I don't even want to go into any detail why.

The soundtrack was beatiful and peaceful. I could sleep to it.

And like I mentioned earlier with the emotions, I haven't felt or thought that why since I played The Walking Dead series.

This game was peaceful and made me feel happy, it's not for everyone, but it's worth a shot.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
2.6 hrs on record
Posted: November 2
It's unfortunate for a game called "The Novelist" that the general plot and characters aren't very engaging. The family trio here is more irritating than anything else (two artist parents and a kid with no personality? ughhh, no thanks), and playing the game amounts to looking at scraps of paper on the same 12 counters over and over and over again.

Still, it's impressive that someone managed to make an effective game about what it feels like to live with a family or a loved one you're dedicated to: compromises galore! Everyone wants to do what they want at the expense of what their loved one wants!

The experience of playing the game is kind of a bummer, but I played through it making the decisions that seemed best to me, and I'm happy to report that I was rewarded with a satisfying ending. Despite my best efforts, Dan the Novelist's career died an early death. But I'm told he maintained a close, loving relationship with his wife for the rest of his life, and their son became a famous graphic artist and a really nice guy. So that's pretty nice--my protagonist ended up with no dream job, but he's a Real Rad Dad.

Recommended for people who think the following sounds like a good time:
"It's like Gone Home, but you get to make a lot of choices that change the narrative. But it's not quite as interesting as Gone Home."
Was this review helpful? Yes No
1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
0.9 hrs on record
Posted: November 6
Such an amazing game, Couldn't be any happier with purchase.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
1.4 hrs on record
Posted: November 6
Story isn't worth the price of admission. Just watch some Netflix or something. Terrible.
Was this review helpful? Yes No