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.
User reviews:
Recent:
Mixed (13 reviews) - 61% of the 13 user reviews in the last 30 days are positive.
Overall:
Mostly Positive (722 reviews) - 77% of the 722 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Dec 10, 2013

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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

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
    • Storage: 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
    • Storage: 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
    • Storage: 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
Customer reviews
Customer Review system updated! Learn more
Recent:
Mixed (13 reviews)
Overall:
Mostly Positive (722 reviews)
Recently Posted
Freelancer Sync™
( 2.9 hrs on record )
Posted: April 30
Damnit, want a new ending. One where Dan and Linda get rid of ♥♥♥♥ing Tommy, and end up happy together, perfectly balancing Dan's writing, Linda's painting, and their shared fondness of alcohol.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Damoisme
( 6.0 hrs on record )
Posted: April 29
In my first playthrough I wrote a novel that was so good it instantly became part of the American literary canon, enjoyed a passionate and sexually charged life with my wife, and screwed up my son so badly that he was doomed to a miserable life of crappy jobs and few friends.

I think I got the good ending.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
blind_sally
( 2.3 hrs on record )
Posted: April 23
"Meh" incarnate.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
riderchoi
( 13.1 hrs on record )
Posted: April 21
The game is not very long and since I am a parent as well. It reminded me all the struggles that I have in making decisions. And it actually let me experience "what if" scenarios which makes this to have a replayability (probably not right after you finish it once)

I like the art style of the game, very nice voice over. Would like to hear more voice over from the old letters.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
James
( 0.5 hrs on record )
Posted: April 16
S'alright but nothing special 9/15
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Mightyelk
( 4.1 hrs on record )
Posted: April 11
Writer's life simulator 2013.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Ketonal
( 7.4 hrs on record )
Posted: April 3
I was warned. Saw few bad reviews and decided to play it anyway. I mean how bad could it be? Especially that more than 3/4 reviews were positive?

But believe me - it's terrible.
Gameplay, music, graphics - this is fine. Or maybe i didn't cared.

Game is ruined by it's main rule. Whatever choice you made - there will always be one person happy, one less happy and one totally unhappy. Also author doesn't really understand what compromise means. Also some choices are just stupid.. I mean - how much time you need to play with your kid? Or how much time you have to spend with wife/husband to not turn into strangers? You can spend hour helping you kid to build a car without throwing your work/marriage out of the window. But not in this game. Usually people talk with each other. Thats why they understand others needs. Here we can see letters to friends, boss, other familly members and very limited signs of communication between Kaplan's familly itself. They are rather like 3 selfish cats put in small room than familly on vacations.


IMPORTANT RULE THAT WORKS IN REAL LIFE (consider remembering it as it might be helpful):

HAPPY MARIAGE = HAPPY CHILD
In the meantime I finished game with Dan and Lisa living like on endless honeymoon and having good jobs, while their son was in terrible condition, bullied and living sad life. What the ♥♥♥♥?

Author attempted to show some "adult's live". He failed. This game is bulls***.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Jeremy
( 3.4 hrs on record )
Posted: March 31
To hear the full review, listen to the episode on Game Hoard Podcast

Gameplay
Interestingly, the game offers you two different modes at the beginning, Story and Stealth. Although the core gameplay is the same, in Stealth mode the family can see you and you must remain hidden in order to be able to influence them. You accomplish this by hiding inside light bulbs, for some reason that is never explained. Unfortunately, both modes get tedious. In Story, the game has no challenge to it and it's basically just a mix of "walking simulator" and choose-your-own adventure gameplay. In Stealth mode, you end up spending a lot of time just hanging out in lightbulbs, waiting for family members to walk to another room.

The core gameplay consists of you reading notes and letters left by the family members to find out what they want. You can also read their thoughts and explore their memories. Ultimately, you find out what each person wants and then select who gets their want by touching the object associated with the want. Gameplay then shifts to nighttime mode where you read more notes left by the house's previous owners and can choose a compromise for another family member to at least partially get their want.

There are a lot of unique ideas present in this gameplay loop that I really like. The problem is, what I have just described is the whole game and you have to repeat it for nine chapters with very little variation. What feels very fresh and interesting at the start of the game feels way overplayed and boring by the end, even though the game takes only 2-3 hours to complete. In the end, I felt that the game only really had about 30 minutes worth of ideas and the game felt very stretched and empty as a result.

Presentation
The game has a great cell-shaded aesthetic and the family members all move about and act in realistic ways. I found it immersive in this way where I really did feel like I was observing a real family go about their day. Unfortunately, the graphics suffer the same problem as the gameplay, as being confined to a single house with three characters for several hours means that you are looking at the same boring rooms over and over again.

Sound Design
The music does a good job setting the tone but isn't anything to write home about. On the other hand, the voice acting is great, which really carried the game since it's mostly about listening to the internal monologues of these characters. The actors were very convincing and were able to put a lot of emotion into their lines without hamming it up.

Story
Essentially, the family has moved to a remote summer home so that the father/husband can focus on writing his novel. The mother/wife is unhappy in the marriage and an aspiring artist. Their son is struggling with bullying and schoolwork. It's not the most interesting story but it is very human and the characters feel like real people. It is interesting to see how decisions made in one chapter effect the rest and what ending you get. Also welcome is a "The story so far" feature when you load up the game.

Recommendation
Overall, I felt the game just got very stale by the end but it's still a unique experience that you may like if you want a non-violent, non-competitive game focused on family drama. If you like the "Aspirations" part of the Sims games, you may find something to like here. For most people, however, I think the experience may fall a bit flat.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
gmorel1916
( 2.5 hrs on record )
Posted: March 30
Great story with good gameplay. Played through a couple times to get the different endings. Worth buying.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Raid
( 0.5 hrs on record )
Posted: March 29
The Novelist is a great idea for a game, and it manages to mostly deliver on its premise. The idea of a branching narrative based on the decisions made by the player, interestingly a novelist, is something that has tremendous promise and has generally been carried out well in Telltale Games. Here, in the Novelist, the choices the player makes do, in fact, guide the story though it does so artificially. I say that because the choice the player is faced with are usually those that pit the various family members against each other in situations that would not necessarily present themselves as opposing ideals. While the no-win situations presented in The Walking Dead make sense thematically and situationally, the ones presented here just feel forced.

I do like the idea of the game, and think that this game is actually very well done, despite some of its false feeling delivered by the decisions, and the ultimately tough outcomes the player will receive. Regardless, the decisions you make do create some interesting situations. The graphics are good, the music is fitting, and the game is good for a playthrough or two.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Narrow
( 3.6 hrs on record )
Posted: March 29
Very badly written.
You actually don't give a ♥♥♥♥ about your choices.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
TheBeast.13
( 2.8 hrs on record )
Posted: March 28
This game forces you to make some pretty difficult decision and you get to see those decisions play out!
Helpful? Yes No Funny
CredulousLeaf52
( 4.0 hrs on record )
Posted: March 22
Very fun and relaxing game, hoping to see another game like this.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Schareazar
( 3.5 hrs on record )
Posted: March 21
4/10

Only the story keeps tha game playable, but even that has its flaws. I think (not 100% sure) no matter what you chose, you can't make everyone happy.
Gameplay is completely repeatable- search the house for clues (often same objects), read everyone's memory, pick 1 or 2 compromises. Rinse and repeat 9 times.
The mode in which Kaplans can see you and you have to remain stealthed makes it even more annoying.
Graphics look cheap and strange. Music is just 1 looped track.
I would like to see a different ending, but just can't see myself replaying 2h only for that reason.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
gяуffιи∂σя яуαи
( 1.8 hrs on record )
Posted: March 12
I just completed this game after a short 95 minute run. I would only buy this game if you want to play over and over for a different outcome. It was a waste of money if you play this only once. I went in thinking it would be just another choice after choice and nothing happens, but this game will send chills down your spine with the soundtrack and the facts. It may seem like a fictional ghost story but this game is more than real. 7/10. Doing another run for sure.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Adnawun
( 1.7 hrs on record )
Posted: March 11
I really loved this game. Played through with story mode just to get an idea of what I'd be getting myself into and could definitely see myself playing this again with stealth mode to see the challenge. I found it to be quite sweet in the way the story(ies) was told depending on your choices and made you consider priorities (work, family, life) to get the right 'balance'.

It falls more into the category of artistic/storytelling games but the game mechanics were decent and allowed enough exploration and player interaction to feel like a 'game'. I have no idea how varied the outcomes were, but it is that question that makes you want to start over from the beginning (and get your money worth).
Helpful? Yes No Funny
FisherNChips
( 3.1 hrs on record )
Posted: March 11
It was a lot easier than expected to get a decent ending. I was expecting tears at the ending, but I was just glad it was over and I could move on.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Ferret_Lover XD
( 2.9 hrs on record )
Posted: March 5
While the game only offers a handful of hours of gameplay for your first ending, it is a joy to play.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
MW2K
( 3.6 hrs on record )
Posted: March 4
The good

Getting into the character's minds and trying to balance the needs and desires of all three - not an easy task. Their personal stories were engaging too, and keep you interested

The bad

The three Kaplans do a lot of hand-wringing and worry worting. Some of their wants are ridiculous and unrealistic
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 30 days
2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
6.0 hrs on record
Posted: April 29
In my first playthrough I wrote a novel that was so good it instantly became part of the American literary canon, enjoyed a passionate and sexually charged life with my wife, and screwed up my son so badly that he was doomed to a miserable life of crappy jobs and few friends.

I think I got the good ending.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 90 days
3 of 4 people (75%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Not Recommended
7.4 hrs on record
Posted: April 3
I was warned. Saw few bad reviews and decided to play it anyway. I mean how bad could it be? Especially that more than 3/4 reviews were positive?

But believe me - it's terrible.
Gameplay, music, graphics - this is fine. Or maybe i didn't cared.

Game is ruined by it's main rule. Whatever choice you made - there will always be one person happy, one less happy and one totally unhappy. Also author doesn't really understand what compromise means. Also some choices are just stupid.. I mean - how much time you need to play with your kid? Or how much time you have to spend with wife/husband to not turn into strangers? You can spend hour helping you kid to build a car without throwing your work/marriage out of the window. But not in this game. Usually people talk with each other. Thats why they understand others needs. Here we can see letters to friends, boss, other familly members and very limited signs of communication between Kaplan's familly itself. They are rather like 3 selfish cats put in small room than familly on vacations.


IMPORTANT RULE THAT WORKS IN REAL LIFE (consider remembering it as it might be helpful):

HAPPY MARIAGE = HAPPY CHILD
In the meantime I finished game with Dan and Lisa living like on endless honeymoon and having good jobs, while their son was in terrible condition, bullied and living sad life. What the ♥♥♥♥?

Author attempted to show some "adult's live". He failed. This game is bulls***.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
3.4 hrs on record
Posted: March 31
To hear the full review, listen to the episode on Game Hoard Podcast

Gameplay
Interestingly, the game offers you two different modes at the beginning, Story and Stealth. Although the core gameplay is the same, in Stealth mode the family can see you and you must remain hidden in order to be able to influence them. You accomplish this by hiding inside light bulbs, for some reason that is never explained. Unfortunately, both modes get tedious. In Story, the game has no challenge to it and it's basically just a mix of "walking simulator" and choose-your-own adventure gameplay. In Stealth mode, you end up spending a lot of time just hanging out in lightbulbs, waiting for family members to walk to another room.

The core gameplay consists of you reading notes and letters left by the family members to find out what they want. You can also read their thoughts and explore their memories. Ultimately, you find out what each person wants and then select who gets their want by touching the object associated with the want. Gameplay then shifts to nighttime mode where you read more notes left by the house's previous owners and can choose a compromise for another family member to at least partially get their want.

There are a lot of unique ideas present in this gameplay loop that I really like. The problem is, what I have just described is the whole game and you have to repeat it for nine chapters with very little variation. What feels very fresh and interesting at the start of the game feels way overplayed and boring by the end, even though the game takes only 2-3 hours to complete. In the end, I felt that the game only really had about 30 minutes worth of ideas and the game felt very stretched and empty as a result.

Presentation
The game has a great cell-shaded aesthetic and the family members all move about and act in realistic ways. I found it immersive in this way where I really did feel like I was observing a real family go about their day. Unfortunately, the graphics suffer the same problem as the gameplay, as being confined to a single house with three characters for several hours means that you are looking at the same boring rooms over and over again.

Sound Design
The music does a good job setting the tone but isn't anything to write home about. On the other hand, the voice acting is great, which really carried the game since it's mostly about listening to the internal monologues of these characters. The actors were very convincing and were able to put a lot of emotion into their lines without hamming it up.

Story
Essentially, the family has moved to a remote summer home so that the father/husband can focus on writing his novel. The mother/wife is unhappy in the marriage and an aspiring artist. Their son is struggling with bullying and schoolwork. It's not the most interesting story but it is very human and the characters feel like real people. It is interesting to see how decisions made in one chapter effect the rest and what ending you get. Also welcome is a "The story so far" feature when you load up the game.

Recommendation
Overall, I felt the game just got very stale by the end but it's still a unique experience that you may like if you want a non-violent, non-competitive game focused on family drama. If you like the "Aspirations" part of the Sims games, you may find something to like here. For most people, however, I think the experience may fall a bit flat.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
0.5 hrs on record
Posted: March 29
The Novelist is a great idea for a game, and it manages to mostly deliver on its premise. The idea of a branching narrative based on the decisions made by the player, interestingly a novelist, is something that has tremendous promise and has generally been carried out well in Telltale Games. Here, in the Novelist, the choices the player makes do, in fact, guide the story though it does so artificially. I say that because the choice the player is faced with are usually those that pit the various family members against each other in situations that would not necessarily present themselves as opposing ideals. While the no-win situations presented in The Walking Dead make sense thematically and situationally, the ones presented here just feel forced.

I do like the idea of the game, and think that this game is actually very well done, despite some of its false feeling delivered by the decisions, and the ultimately tough outcomes the player will receive. Regardless, the decisions you make do create some interesting situations. The graphics are good, the music is fitting, and the game is good for a playthrough or two.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
3.6 hrs on record
Posted: February 27
What is The Novelist?

Genre: first person exploration game for adults
Setting: family on vacation trying to solve problems
Difficulty: 3/10 --> basically easy
Length: 2 hours for a single playthrough
Mode: singleplayer campaign


First of all: The Novelist is a game for adults. It confronts you with interpersonal situations you will encounter in your adult life (or have encountered yet). It is about taking responsibility, making decisions and achieving a balance in a family's needs.

You play some sort of a poltergeist observing a family on vacation in a secluded house. The family consists of Dan, father and writer who is facing writer's block and has to finish his latest novel; there also is Linda, Dan's wife and former artist, trying to get a grip on her marriage with Dan and to start over her working career; and there is Tommy, their little boy struggling with grapho legasthenia and the need for playmates.

Now, in every chapter you read their thoughts, find out about each of their needs and have to decide which sounds the most important to you to have this character make a progress. At the same time, the other two will be disappointed. As you can choose another one for a compromise, you might soften negative aspects for one further character.

Eventually the player is absolutely free in his decisions; you can push forward only one character, letting both the other two drop badly; you can try to make them all happy; depending on what you choose the story developes further.

And that is why I would recommend the game: How would you decide? What is your priority? And, in the end, how would you rate your decisions made?

Really worth the price - and even more the experience!
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 180 days
49 of 62 people (79%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
6.3 hrs on record
Posted: January 3
"Human beings are born solitary, but everywhere they are in chains - daisy chains - of interactivity. Social actions are makeshift forms, often courageous, sometimes ridiculous, always strange. And in a way, every social action is a negotiation, a compromise between 'his,' 'her' or 'their' wish and yours." - Andy Warhol

The Novelist is a story driven narrative exploration game that strolls around quite loaded terms like choice, goals, drives, relationships, priorities and compromise. The concept that the game revolves around - influencing social dynamics to observe the result of interrelated choices and their consequences - is an interesting and hard to accomplish one. Sadly its presentation within the game both in definition and execution, is definitely flawed.

Here, we take a quick glance at the Kaplans - a family of three going through a though time. Dan is an author who's stressed out to complete the novel that he's been working on, Linda has some worries about her marriage and family ties - also struggles on going back to being a painter. Tommy, their only son is having some adaptation and learning difficulties who needs his parents' attention and support full time. At the beginning of one summer, the Kaplans decide to pass their vacation in a rental villa by the seaside to have some quality time and possibly work through their problems, a villa that YOU reside in... In this detached little game, you are a ghostly entity - who's presence within the house will never be explained properly. You have the ability to stalk, observe and influence the Kaplans, thus deciding the story of this specific family in the end.

The game has two distinct modes: Stealth or Story. In Stealth Mode, you have to avoid being seen by the Kaplans if you'd like to explore everything. If you are seen, they get nervous and focus on their annoyance rather than their actual problems. You are capable of travelling through possessing light sources within the house while you hide from their perception. This mode quickly gets annoying and breaks the immersion of the storyline that you are trying to reveal quite fast. In Story Mode, you are free to roam as you wish without worrying for them to see you, but even excluding that limitation, everything becomes boring and repetitive. You are stuck within the same house with the same tense mood and you basically memorize the possible locations a note may spawn after the second chapter. They never change or surprise you. It is not possible to miss something. You roam around, read notes, watch some memories, whisper what you decided to Dan while he is sleeping and you are done. Another chapter conquered. You only decide whose need is a priority and see the accumulated conclusions in the end.

In each episode - there are 9 in total - you are presented with a couple of conflicting desires of family members. Everyone got different priorities and you must choose one specific desire to influence and accomplish, and maybe another one to half way accomplish through "compromising" which leaves you with one desire completely ignored. This is where things get a bit ridiculous. These 9 encounters oddly end up defining the whole being and interdynamics of a whole family! The definition of compromise in the dictionary is "a settlement of differences by mutual concessions; an agreement reached by adjustment of conflicting or opposing claims, principles, etc., by reciprocal modification of demands". Here, there is no middle ground between parties, no given opportunity to work on different needs, there is basically no settlement. Even real life doesn't work like this! We surely either act selfish or make sacrifices on things little or grand, but a human being is capable of undertaking more than one deed, feeling or accomplishment in a timely manner.

A human being comes with dimensions - which is another huge flaw in this game. The Kaplans are obscenely selfish - without much appreciation for sacrifices or understanding of shortcoming. Their personal desires never seem to even coincide with the desires of others. It is not possible to sympathize with any one of them. Heck, they even do not talk within the same house hold! You are a ghost, stuck within their household for his/her all being and never see them talk more than a couple of automated remarks and some memories. They seem to communicate through written notes scattered around the house. I mean, what kind of family does that?

I surely do understand the limitation of the developer team, thus I won't mumble much about the scenes, the environment and chapters being dull, stolid or repetitive; but I cannot accept the term "compromise" being misused for "forced priority and selfish desire". No remotely eligible father of a small boy would be so consumed with his ongoing artistic pursuit that he'd end up not putting together a toy car that would take 3 hours to assemble for 3 months! This really is ridiculous! So, I personally think this game comes with a possibly good concept executed without much sentimental or even practical depth. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for narrative exploration. I actually love games like Gone Home if they are capable of presenting the echo of an emotion, an idea or at least a state of being. In its current state and price, The Novelist surely doesn't deliver. Wait for a huge sale to satisfy your curiosity if you wish.

Please also check out Lady Storyteller's Curator page here - follow for regular updates on reviews for other games!
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
11 of 14 people (79%) found this review helpful
Recommended
1.7 hrs on record
Posted: December 16, 2015
Life is hard. Working is hard. Having a family is hard.

The Novelist tells the story of The Kaplan family during their summer break. To which through playing the game you can heavily influence the events of that summer.

THE GAMEPLAY
You are some sort of ghost that when not inside a light bulb you are probably slightly more opaque or corporeal than what the traditional notion of a ghost is. You can either play the game having the Kaplans react and cause you to fail upon discovery or just throw it into story mode and become invisible and focus on the objectives. The ladder is what I did.

The game revolves Dan, his wife Linda and their son Tommy. You explore the home WASD'ing around and teleporting between lights. You must find notes, pictures, documents and items laying about the house; additionally being supernatural (I guess) you can delve into the memories of the characters as well and see what they are thinking at any given moment. Each chapter you'll find clues of what each characters desires are and how they want to go about moving forward. You will choose which (by this I mean whose) outcome you want each chapter and possibly working out a compromise with one other character. My only complaint is that this really, more or less, is just a walking simulator; It might have been served better as a text adventure to be honest.

THE GIST
The outcomes will be very different based on who you decide to “resolve” certain situations with, as well as (if any) you compromised with. I'll tell you right now. Granted, I did not try my very best to keep everyone happy however one aspect of one characters life went exceedingly well. While the rest of that characters life among the rest got sorted out in a very mediocre (almost realistic) but very depressing in its delivery sort of way. Perhaps it was due to summarizing future decades into a few paragraphs. Though to be honest, I guarantee there are far worse endings than I got.

Yeah, its one of those sticky indie art games that you've already made a decision if you like or not. However, this is one of the better ones yet its still not stellar. Its interesting.
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6 of 6 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
2.7 hrs on record
Posted: December 25, 2015
In this game you play as a ghostorsomething who can positively interfere with the everyday life of a family.

Every level you explore the house and the minds of the residents (yes, you have mental superpowers) and decide who to help, being careful to not disappoint the others.

I like the idea and the overall realization, although the character design could have been more complex and engaging. Nothing really dramatic happens, and for most of the cases the individual desires you have to support or not with your actions are somewhat stereotypical and repetitive; basically the child wants to play, the wife wants attention and the husband wants to succeed in his work. At least for me, the choices were not very difficult, in the sense I did not perceive them as very strong moral dilemmas.

In my opinion the game can be tried at a low price; it is an original idea and it constitutes an affordance for some kind of phisolophical reflections on the impact everyday choices have on life. Unfortunately, it does not the same for emotions too.

6/10
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3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
3.6 hrs on record
Posted: December 24, 2015
Above all else, The Novelist succeeds at its stated purpose: to examine the continuous struggle of balancing conflicting needs. Through the lives and thoughts of the three Kaplans, this constant give and take becomes apparent, as does the internal back and forth between their own personal needs. The player is then put into the position of deciding both whose desire will win out and also what individual needs are going to have to go unfulfilled that week. Then they must stand back helplessly while their choices play themselves out. Due to the stress involved, it's likely that more game time will be spent deliberating than exploring or interacting with the Kaplans, which is a good thing as the actual act of playing gets rather repetitive and dull. There is only a single cabin with a handful of rooms to search and an explicitly limited number of things to uncover per chapter. The experience of playing as a whole quickly changes from pleasantly defined to restrictive and joyless.

In addition to guiding the Kaplans, the player is also given the opportunity to learn more about the previous inhabitants of the haunted cabin. Those vignettes, however, end up falling equally flat as they seem to avoid any real answers to the mysterious nature of the player's ghostly presence. But those shortcomings are easy to forgive, and forget, due to the slow-forming, but genuine emotional bond with the Kaplans and how their tangled lives turn out. That is the focus after all, and unless you were taking notes, that's likely all you'll remember about this flawed but brilliant game.
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2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
Recommended
3.4 hrs on record
Posted: January 9
A story telling game that tries to and succeeds at doing something unusual with not only style of graphics but also mechanics. You have to help the occupants of a house find one of 3 happy endings, well actually there are many more possible endings and routes. I hope you love the fresh and well executed way The Novelist lets you make the story your own.

You play the part of a ghost or "sprite" who lives in the lightbulbs and must stay hidden at all times. This adds a hint of tension to the game, but never distracts from the actual storyline. You must weave the story through your decisions, and the game actually is so clever it's actually more fun on the second play-through.
I gave it a 5/5
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2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
Recommended
1.4 hrs on record
Posted: January 22
I haven't finished, but what I played I liked. There are choices, so it's not entirely linear. Proper review will come one day.
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
Recommended
3.9 hrs on record
Posted: November 25, 2015
The Novelist is about the summer of writer Dan Kaplan, his artist wife and mentally challenged kid. You play as some kind of spirit, that follows the family's actions and helps steer them on the right path. You get information about what is going on by exploring the house and reading their notes and a few other things. You also get information by seeing flashbacks. These flashbacks are pretty bland, and often only a 1-2 sentences. The game appears to be set sometime before the 80s, as Dan uses a typewriter and paper instead of a computer, and Tommy, your son Tommy, has no high tech toys. For the most part, exploring the house for clues is interesting. What isn’t interesting is the somewhat failed attempt to throw in some half baked gameplay. They tried to throw in some stealth element, where you travel between lights so the family doesn’t spot you (the spirit). As to why they even included this, is a mystery to me. Although at least they included a option to easily turn off the stealth and make it a straight up walking simulator adventure game. After you explore the house, and watch the flash backs for each day, you choose what you want to do. This is a game all about choices. Each family member wants to do different things, and there simply isn’t enough time. So you have to compromise, but still one character always gets left out. The game is broken into three chapters, and each one has about 5 acts. A act is a few days, maybe almost a week, and each chapter is equal to one of the three months of summer. Each act has a different sub story, and something's always going on. Things like deadlines for the book, art shows, vacations, or even a funeral. A few of the acts are pretty interesting, but i’d say about 50% of them are kind of generic. Not necessarily bad, but just nothing special. This is really a game about relationship building and task management. Your marriage is falling apart, your son needs more attention due to his disabilities, and you have a very stressful career, where meeting deadlines is always difficult. In this game you have to prioritize, and just do what you think is right for the family. Each chapter heats up in the later acts, where they throw a pile of problems together. All of this is great, and it seems like your choices do matter. Except the ending ruined it to a certain degree. The choice you make at the end of the game renders almost everything else pointless. All the work you did, building relationships, getting that book done, can be reverted or changed to something completely different by the ending. When i got done with the game i was happy with the ending, but it left me wondering why i even bothered taken the road to get there. Im pretty sure i could have just messed everything up and ended it on the same happy note. One other inclusion that bothers me is the side story about the family before you. It’s really pointless, and from what i gathered all it was there for was to show you how haunting beautiful the house was, or maybe some other high brow pretentious message that went over my head. The music and sound effects are pretty good, and the voice acting for Dan and his wife are particularly good. The graphics are nothing special, but they aren’t gonna make your eyes bleed either. Overall, the Novelist is a solid adventure game, and if it wasn’t for the ending and some of the idiotic design choices, it could have been so much more. Being that i came out of it disappointed, i kinda struggle to give it a thumbs up, but i think my expectations might have been too high for a indie adventure game. It’s certainly not a bad game, but i probably wouldn’t pay more than $5-$10 for it. You could certainly do worse, but just don’t expect to get your socks blown off.
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3 of 6 people (50%) found this review helpful
Recommended
3.7 hrs on record
Posted: January 22
6.5/10 - Push and Possess your way to the end

This game is a basic possession game, nothing extremely bad or exciting. I wouldn't pay $15, more like $5.

You are Dan Kaplan, a struggling writer who has taken his family to a remote cabin in hopes of meeting his fast approaching deadline. In this story you push, read minds and possess 3 people; Dan, his wife and son. The choices you make impact not only your life but that of your family.

Worth $5 or so, I purchased for $0.74... So I feel good about that.

Accidently Reviewed
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
Recommended
3.9 hrs on record
Posted: November 12, 2015
In some aspects The Novelist is quite like Gone Home: you also get into the strangers' house, and not only can you go through their notes and belongings, but also memories. And though that The Novelist tells you a story of a family who goes to a summer vacation house. The father wants to write a book, the mother wishes to paint, and their son just wants to be with the parents.

It's not really a game, but not an interactive movie either. On one hand, it does have a bit of gameplay. On the other, it doesn't really have cut scenes and whatnot. What it really feels like is reading a book where you can influence a story to some degree (doesn't look like too much, though).

And while The Novelist has it's flows, overall it's an enjoyable experience which makes you wonder what are the most important things in life.
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
Recommended
3.5 hrs on record
Posted: November 26, 2015
A fun little story-driven game, and a great buy during a Steam sale.
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Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
440 of 487 people (90%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
2.1 hrs on record
Pre-Release Review
Posted: December 9, 2013
The Novelist is a 'narrative adventure' that is similar in many ways to games like Gone Home and Dear Esther, which is to say that it's not everybody's cup of tea. That being said, if you enjoyed those games or are open to experiencing a mature and realistic story, you might find that you enjoy The Novelist as much as I did. You play as a 'ghost' (for lack of a better word) that observes and influences a family of three (Dan, Linda, and their son Tommy) during a summer spent in the Oregon countryside. The game is sub-divided into 12 chapters, each of which has a central problem such as a family member drinking too much, a death in the family, or a child's difficulties learning. Your task is to explore the thoughts and memories of each family member and determine how they would deal with the outcome in the way most desirable for them. Inevitably this leads to a prioritization of people that results in a lot of uncomfortable trade-offs: Do encourage Dan to spend more time on his novel at the expense of his relationship with his wife and son? Or, do you make the family spend as much time together as possible at the risk of their professional obligations? And, perhaps more importantly, which of these outcomes do you choose consistently?

This is a game that you may only get 2-3 hours of playtime out of, but I valued those 2-3 hours a great deal.
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380 of 500 people (76%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
1.0 hrs on record
Posted: December 10, 2013
When I first saw this game I was intrigued with idea of being able to interact with and influence the lives of a family. I was expecting something akin to Heavy Rain (minus the murder mystery), with choices presented very naturally through events and conversations within the game. That's not what I got.

The Novelist started off as a quirky game that I believed could offer a few hours of enjoyment. For that first day, I was intrigued with my ability to sneak around the house, observing this family while trying to learn from each family member what they wanted. However, by the end of the first day I found that my interactions with the family were limited to taking one persons side (or maybe finding a compromise). What this game boiled down to was picking up notes, listening to a few snippets of dialogue and then being offered the dreaded choice of A, B, or C (or red, blue, green if you prefer to see it that way). I didn't feel like I was involved with their lives. If they happened to see me, the only penalty was losing the option to choose a compromise. You don't feel as though you have any real role in their lives, except for making that one choice at the end of each day. This is something that gets repetitive very quickly.

Even worse, you don't actually watch the family live their lives, you learn about it through notes. The sole role of the physical characters is to simply be there and provide (optionally) a watered down stealth mechanic. You don't interact with them, you don't learn about them from watching their routine, at most you get not even a sentence from choosing to listen to their thoughts. They may as well not even be there in the game.

I have to say, I was thoroughly disappointed with this game (it hardly has the interaction to be called a game) and could not recommend it.
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71 of 79 people (90%) found this review helpful
5 people found this review funny
Not Recommended
2.8 hrs on record
Posted: January 4, 2015
I was briefly torn about whether or not to recommend the game, but after about five minutes of reflection, I can safely say that this game isn't worth buying. Despite having a great concept and being superficially well-made for an indie game, for the brief and predictable story, the asking price is extremely steep. The enticing story-and-gameplay concept is, sadly, completely and utterly wasted. This game could have been made between fifteen and twenty years ago as a college project and would be expected to be distributed for free.

Most of the critique of the game will be about the story, so a bit about the gameplay first. As far as point-and-click adventure games go, this is one of the most simplistic. I've seen -more- simplistic games that I did play, but I can't think of any right now. There are no puzzles, nothing to figure out. You just find all the stuff that glows when you mouse over it, then sneak up behind everyone to see what they're thinking. Playing in stealth mode is a joke, no challenge (even for the minimally competent) whatsoever. The graphics are acceptable for the style (and one might assume, budget). The sound and music are pretty good, but they don't really seem to fit the mood of the game very well. It's sort of like matching up Silent Hill's music and sound with Casper the Friendly Ghost.

The main part of the game is its story, and while I'm not opposed to a cliche setting or starting scenario, sadly the story does not really progress beyond the starting situation. Which is a shame, because the voice acting was pretty good. I played in stealth mode, looked at every interactable object, viewed every memory, unlocked every story option, and was never seen by any of the family members. Finished the game in 2.8 hours, got an ending I would consider 'good', and I have no desire to play it ever again.

Instead of really giving you choices that matter that actually branch out the storyline, the three maladjusted characters are put on a sacrificial altar and the player gets to decide who will get to act all pissy/mopey/whiney this chapter. Some of the 'choices' offered are split between propriety and a non-sequitur option. Not chosing the non-sequitur option has the same level of consequences for the affected character as failing to fulfill social/societal expectations. Additionally, the choices are made for an entire week at a time, but most of the life-altering 'choices' are things that might take anywhere between fifteen minutes and a couple of hours in most of the chapters, or wouldn't be mutually exclusive no matter how you looked at it.

Minor Spoilers: Hilariously, despite being myself in a somewhat similar life position as Dan, I could not find him interesting or identifiable. He's mopey and non-commital, and if I think of Tommy's reading troubles as hereditary, that would explain Dan's writer's block pretty well. I found it so hard not to disparage Linda as a selfish, whiny bellyacher, that I kind of just did. Tommy is a static and boring character, even for a kid. He exists in the story to be the sacrifical lamb whenever you decide talentless Dan should do his job or do apparently incapable Linda's work for her, however more often than he seems neglected, he seems more like a spoiled and undisciplined crybaby with more cognitive deficiencies than poor reading comprehension.

I have problems with the writing for the game, as the game's primary tension is the supposed marital problems between Dan and Linda, which are barely mentioned. The only problems I can see the two having are related to Linda being an implacable whiner who blames Dan for her lack of drive, focus, and ability for most of the game (for perspective, I still got what I would consider the best ending for their relationship). This is made worse by the half-hearted attempts to frame Linda's personality as creative and indepenent using her own words, which make her look hypocritical and even more selfish and listless. While this can be considered a negative personality trait written into the character, I can't help but feel the writer is tacitly implying that women expect their husbands to do everything for them. Personally, I can't stand her the way she is written.

There's never even an insinuation that Dan is writing the book to provide a living for his family, and given that zero of your decisions seem to change which or how the chapters play out, all the more reason for the player to never help him do it unless you think supporting his pride/hubris as a writer is important. The characters certainly never act like the book is at all important to their well-being. That said, Dan's choice is almost always about industriousness, the other two choices are usually about him satisfying the demands of his family, so it would make a lot of sense if you could 'lose' the game by failing to help him write a good book and meet deadlines. Several of the choices -seem- like they would be weighted to give you a better score with both the book and with the family, but that does not actually appear to be the case.

Finally, I did not feel any of the decisions were particularly hard or weighty, and I feel I would not ever have made different decisions at any point in the game. The fully linear chapters and extremely repetative gameplay made my stomach hurt with frustration as I wanted and tried to hurry up and finish. The ending (as with all of the chapter plots) was mundane and predictable. The character outcomes were clearly linked to a hidden score and had no relationship to any of the actual decisions made throughout the storyline.

If I didn't get this game with a bundle, I would be extremely upset about having paid any specific sum of money for the product.

And, there you have it, folks. A review that nearly took longer to write than the game took to finish.

Edit: Clarified the intro paragraph.
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79 of 92 people (86%) found this review helpful
Recommended
6.9 hrs on record
Posted: May 20, 2014
This game made me confront the fact that I was slowly destroying my relationship with my partner through neglect. That it was able to speak to me on such a human level is probably the greatest accolade I could give it.
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61 of 77 people (79%) found this review helpful
Recommended
3.0 hrs on record
Posted: December 10, 2013
The Novelist is a story driven adventure game that takes place in a summer home. The main character, Dan, takes his family to this place so he can get away from the city and focus on his book. You don't actually play Dan, or any of his family members, you play some sort of ghost, who is trying to influence their lives.

First of all let me adress a small issue. This game is what I would consider "Art". Therefore, there isn't much in terms of the standard definition of gameplay. There are definitely choices, and different endings, but you really aren't doing much. Your watching the story unfold based on your choices. Especially if you play in story mode.

There are 2 different types of modes. Stealth and story. In story mode, the family is unable to detect you, leaving you to be able to discover clues and read their memories with ease. This is what you would want to choose to just focus on the story. Stealth includes a stealth mechanic to the game, you must remain out of site. For the first time, I'd recommend using stealth. It makes it feel more like a game, even though without the mechanic I would still call it a game.

Okay, the story. The story is great, and the choices, unlike other games that claim this, actually count. Your choices will reflect in the ending no matter which exact "ending" you choose. And I do not believe there is a perfect ending. No matter what, someone will end up disapointed one way or another. That's what I love about this game, because that is life. You can't make everyone happy. And when your in an outsider situation, that makes it even harder. The story isn't complex or epic, and it doesn't have to be. It's a simplistic story about a families life and problems. But it feels real, and I love it.

I absolutely love story driven games, and I'm glad I spend 15 bucks on The Novelist. If you enjoy games like The Stanley Parable, Gone Home, and the sort, you will love The Novelist. I surely hope people give this game a chance.

Buy At Full Price
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