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: Very Positive (556 reviews)
Release Date: Dec 10, 2013

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"Recommended for gamers who love tough choices and multiple endings."

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May 8

The Novelist for $5 During the Humble Spring Sale!

Hey, everyone, just a quick note to let you know that the Humble Store is doing its Spring Sale for the next two weeks.

The Novelist is on sale there for a cool $5.09, and it comes with a Steam key so it's a great way to pick the game up for your Steam library. If you've already got it, tell your friends or gift it to them. :)

Have a good weekend!

1 comments Read more

February 23

Trading Cards Come to The Novelist! Plus 40% Off Sale!

Players have been requesting this for quite some time, so I’m very excited to announce that trading cards have been added to The Novelist! There are 6 cards, 3 profile backgrounds, 6 emoticons, and of course 6 badge levels.

It was really fun revisiting the game after a long time away from working on it, and while I’m not sure achievements will ever be the right fit (they might clash with the story content), I think trading cards are a nice addition to the experience.

To celebrate the new feature, I’m also putting the game on sale for 40% off ($8.99). So if you’re looking for some new cards to gather and trade, fire the game up and start collecting!

3 comments Read more


“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.”

“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

Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux
    • 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
    • OS: Windows 7
    • Processor: 2 GHz
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 512 MB VRAM video card
    • 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
    • OS: OS X Mountain Lion (10.8)
    • Processor: 2 GHz
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 512 MB VRAM video card
    • 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
    • Processor: 2 GHz
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 512 MB VRAM video card
Helpful customer reviews
36 of 41 people (88%) found this review helpful
2.8 hrs on record
Posted: January 4
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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8 of 8 people (100%) found this review helpful
3.6 hrs on record
Posted: May 11
  The Kaplans, a seemingly average family who've decided to spend a summer like any other, in a beautiful vacation home similar to that of any coastal holiday residence. Or not? Mama Bear, Papa Bear and Baby Bear all have down-to-earth aspirations and wishes, but that is all that is normal in this summer home. For you become the sneaky little "Goldilocks" of this household with your stealth abilities to possess flickering lamps and pendant lights, making invisible bounds across the entire Kaplan abode honed over decades of haunting the inhabitants of this house. As the resident ghostly entity minus any ghoulish intent, your new arrivals, the Kaplans will be your brand new pet project. To them it's their lives; to you it's another day at the office helping those unknowingly in need of your insightful guidance. Not only do you gallivant from room to room while becoming some variation of a peeper, you own a penetrative ability which allows you to delve into the minds of family members and look into their recent memories.

  Not as bleak as I'd worried it would turn out to be from other reviews, especially by the second month, it was an interesting look into the varying perspectives of individuals making up a family. Though it doesn't provide the depth that such a game could, it did succeed at igniting the interest I had lost for more inanimate genres where clicking objects and reading excerpts from newspaper clippings and diaries to progress a set storyline had become too routine to enjoy. This is especially a great change of pace for those who often spend time playing point and click adventure games and visual novels alike. The stealth aspect adds a light edge to the boredom and personally this vanquished the tedious norm, apparent in similar games, completely. I'd also expect this to be fun for do-gooders like myself who enjoy volunteering their own points of view and choices to others in an attempt to be an aide. Every choice and chapter requires a good deal of sacrifice and has sure consequences. Decisions are difficult and this adds most greatly to the overall suspense and amusement.

Gameplay in Detail (v. mild spoilers)
  Gameplay is simple enough though the tutorial offered will help accustom you. Across a period of three months, chapters will open up spanning within a single day where you will be greeted with shining letters and blinking objects on various surfaces (truly easy to spot) to click and read/look at so as to get a grasp on the recent affairs of the Kaplan gang. Something will always be of issue and this is reflected in the chapter titles, aptly typed at the beginning of each episode. As you check each clue that has opened up in a new chapter, keep an eye out for single objects which stand out as you will be asked to search for object words for each character later on (becomes a bit of a hidden object game if you don't keep an eye out).

  As everyone goes about their lives you will drift from one hanging fixture to the next, making sure not to be spotted. Each family member has the ability to spot you if you are not possessing a light. Every time you are spotted there is a split second to dash to any visible, switched on light you can get to (trickier as you progress). Once you are spotted for longer than a millisecond, the tag suspicious pops up next to the relevant character in the tab menu* and you cannot move to a light and must flee from them and hide till they can no longer see you. If you are spotted again by that same character repeatedly in that episode, they will be spooked and there will be ramifications in relation to the choices you can make. Going through the house successfully in the shadows (or more so the light), you will notice moments during the day when each character will have their back turned so as you can creep up behind them cautiously and peek into their memories with that spectacular penetrative ability I formerly wrote of. Tommy is especially swift so after you peek into his memory it’ll help to be ready to pounce on a nearby lamp as soon as you exit it or he’ll see you. This is as thrilling as The Novelist will ever really get but for a laid-back genre of its kind it is a welcome touch which most players will appreciate.

  After this initial accumulative stage, you move on to check the thoughts of each character and receive an object word. With the clues found in a chapter you'll decide who you'd like the story to move in favour of and this is done by clicking the object in relation to this decision. At this point the day will be over and the Kaplans will go to bed.

*The tab menu is a helpful resource to keep you on track of where you are in the game even if you stop halfway and come back and I found that many features in this game focus on keeping the story and immersive qualities intact, their priority.

  Night time for the Kaplans is the only time you can walk around without need to be stealthy though you can opt to start the game in story mode instead of stealth mode where stealth is not used (not advised as may end up boring). This felt like a subjectively delightful part of the game as the player is free to stretch and move around the house, reading a new set (two) of letters or journal entries from that of past residents which open up more story for yourself, the entity that has been here long before the Kaplans came and will stay for long after they are gone. It was unfortunate that this wasn't built up on though that would have lengthened the game too much. The house was more detailed than I'd initially expected as it is superficially bland but has strong attention to the minute details (as is important to the story). So it did become a slight compulsion for me to walk down to the kitchen each night and stand by the fridge, listening to the familiar whirring of the motor then stepping back to listen to the heavenly crashing of the waves right outside the door which I lamentably could not open.

Simulation sickness tip
  While playing I was happy to note that though I am usually hypersensitive, I experienced little nausea with The Novelist. The lack thereof was mostly due to the fact I was hiding in the lights and moving through them which meant a lot of the whizzing about/motion was less dominant. Even at night I would gravitate through the lights at a prompt pace as opposed to sauntering up and down the stairs and around landings as that was invariably sluggish yet still induced ever so slight giddiness.

  The idea of a visual novel or point and click adventure game with stealth as the main game mechanic seemed intriguing. It was ironic that stealth could make such games more interactive as well. This was a game I'd waited to go on sale for a while and was intent on playing despite the indifferent reviews, then nabbed as soon as I saw it during the Humble Spring Sale. I expect it has several endings more than the one I stumbled upon but I was satisfied enough with mine in which I kept the choices rounded until the end and then went with Tommy which automatically found a compromise for Linda but didn't end badly at all for Dan (you'll see what this means if you play). It was gruelling to watch the Kaplans jump for joy only to be let down after the next chapter or repeatedly depressed from the choices you make for them and I was constantly trying to find a balance without knowing whether it’d hurt or help. The narrative in this game is well done and immersive but I didn’t enjoy the voice acting for Linda as although Linda seems sweet, I didn’t expect her to sound as young. I may play again in the future to have a go at some bad endings if there are any as I have the devious mind to make Dan a world famous author and live the crazy, disorderly life of the single divorced dad with young university freshers bowing down at his feet.
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7 of 7 people (100%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
2.7 hrs on record
Posted: March 31
Do you get enough from monsters and the complex scenarios. The Novelist is the game you need to play to relax your mind. There is no fight and supernatural things. This is a totally warm family story.

Father Dan is a writer who wants be successful in his writing career. Mother is a painter who wants to sell her paintings and be famous. Little boy Tommy is just an innocent little boy and he just wants to play with his toys. You are the invisible person controlling their destiny. You need to make some difficult choices to give what do they want. This game has a good atmosphere and you can feel the responsibility game gives to you.

+Relaxing piano soundtracks
+Nice graphics that reflects the atmosphere
+Good gameplay mechanics
+There's no cons for me :)

I recommend this game to all indie lovers.
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9 of 12 people (75%) found this review helpful
2.5 hrs on record
Posted: January 12
Moje česká recenze:

I don't know where to start with The Novelist. It's a brand new game modell which I appreciate and I'm very happy it got successfully through its development and is now available in here. First thing that I saw was the price, I'm sorry, but it's way too high. The feeling from playing it is great, don't get me wrong, but I just can't realistically imagine that many people choosing to buy this over some AAA that have similar price.

I bought The Novelist on sale and I'm happy I did. By reading the family's thoughts and finding clues in their summer mansion, you can help them solve their relationship problems and choose wether it's worth it to focus on career in stead of your dearest ones. It's like you write their story by yourself, it has many possible outcomes. You can find a compromise, although the person whom you couldn't help will react kinda overly histerically, especially the kid. I was lucky to get a good ending and that left me feeling just wonderful. 7,5/10
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9 of 13 people (69%) found this review helpful
2.7 hrs on record
Posted: December 18, 2014
Despite how the other reviews are saying it's a bad game, I really loved it.

The graphic style was ever so unique that I was drawn to the game. I'm a person who doesn't usually cry at the end of games, but I got attached to these characters - I learnt so much about these characters and about their backstories that each outcome left me sad.

This game really left an impact on me because this relates to my home life too, as a child I found myself like Tommy in multiple ways and the surrounding characters were too similar to be comfortable at times.

The ending of the game was a bit abrupt in some ways but ever so touching, I actually got watery eyes in the end. I felt like I had made the right decision for the family, even though one of them was hurt in the end.

Overall, I really liked this game, although since it left an imprint on me, I wouldn't be able to play it again. I highly recommend it to people who suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), or low depression.

8.5/10 :)
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4 of 4 people (100%) found this review helpful
8.3 hrs on record
Posted: April 13
The Novelist was such a superb game; just what you'd want from an indie title. The game is basically a story about a family struggling to balance priorities. Your role is to help nudge the decision making along the way. You play as some kind of paranormal entity that moves around the house unseen and silently influences the choices that the characters make.

The actual gameplay is very limited but the story here is excellent. It's a lovely story, brilliantly voice acted, and the whole thing just has a unique style to it that's hard to explain but really works.

It has replayability too because in each chapter you cannot please everybody; you have to make compromises and so by the end of the game you wonder how it might have turned out if you'd made different choices.

The game is fairly short and I wouldn't pay full price for it (I obtained it through trading) but if you see it on sale then snap it up!
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4 of 4 people (100%) found this review helpful
5.0 hrs on record
Posted: March 16
Or, Life is Tough Simulator. The Kaplans are a family of three, each one living through their own struggles; the writing is very effective in letting their dilemmas resonate with the player: if you've ever had to make a difficult decision, prioritizing one aspect of your life to the detriment of another, there's a good chance the Kaplans will click with you.

If you've liked The Walking Dead, you'll probably like this game too, even though the tone is a lot more domestic and down to earth, more slow burning than the life or death choices or gut-wrenching moments TWD has. It's also an excellent game for introducing new players to first person games, for a variety of reasons, some of which are explained below.

Playing in Stealth mode is very easy, but adds a little tension I appreciated, and I'd recommend keeping it on for a first playthrough, while Story mode (which will let you explore unhindered) is probably more suited to replays, should you be interested in finding out how your decisions could have shaped the story differently.

The interactive sections will have you looking for 'clues' in order to advance the story, are not challenging at all and work well to break up the game in different sections that support pacing and the sense of time passing. However, there is a degree of repetition in them, and your enjoyment of the game will likely be greater if you don't try to finish it in one sitting (two worked well for me).

The music is minimalistic and fits the game very well, complementing and lending extra power to the writing, the voice work is also well done. The visuals are a little sketchy, and the environment limited, Gone Home this isn't, but it's obvious the budget and the size of the team were very different (The Novelist is a one man project), overall the artstyle works well for this game IMO, and there's just enough detail to support the interactive sections.

Two thumbs up from me.
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3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
35.8 hrs on record
Posted: January 5
Short but great if you like story driven games.

I imagine that I could replay this 3+ times before seeing everything this game has to offer.

Definitely worth it if you like game "experiences" or story heavy games, but maybe not for the non-sale price.
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4 of 5 people (80%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
2.9 hrs on record
Posted: April 24
It's a good chill and slow paced game. Shows that family is something you need to work on. If there's no teamwork, then you're doomed.
You doctor yet? Talk to me when you doctor.

7\10 would disappoint my dad again
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5 of 7 people (71%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
7.9 hrs on record
Posted: February 25
The Novelist was an interesting concept. The idea that you are a ghost and you affect someone else's story in a good or bad way is really appealing. Unfortunately, for The Novelist, gameplay variety was lacking, the story (which is the main part of the game) was boring and predictable, and the voice acting was meh.

BASICALLY how the game plays out is this: there are three people in the house. The Father, the Wife, and the Son. The Son wants to do stuff with the Father. The Wife wants to pursue art and have more family time, and the Father must deal with that crap while also trying do his work. Every level, something each character desire changes a little bit, and it is your job to find out what everyone wants, and which two people will get what they want.

Also, you must never be seen by any of the residents or else you will not be able to make them happy. So you get to teleport from light fixture to light fixture. The problem is, you can almost get anywhere without going out of a safe-zone light. This makes the game TOO EASY. Though I wouldn't really expect it from a game like this, there is isn't any sort of progression for your ghostly character gameplay-wise, so your ghostly powers stay the same throughout the game.

The plot is boring and uninteresting as well. Half-way through the game, I realized I didn't care for the characters at all. Everyone is so unhappy all the time, and even if you fix all their dang problems, they're just sad in the next level with more problems to fix. It's honestly most fun to just "level up" the dad and make no one else happy. Then his after story makes him a world renouned author who drinks his nights away in misery because his Wife left him and took the Son. You can go through the game and try to make everyone happy by balancing out their wants, but the game part of it is dull, and the story is predictable.

And also, it doesn't look that great either. If for some reason, you are waffling between this and Dishonored, get Dishonored instead. It also has a predictable story where you can mildly affect the outcome, but the gamey side of it is just so much more fun and enjoyable.

Final rating: Meh/10
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
3.3 hrs on record
Posted: March 24
I thoroughly enjoyed this game - the decisions you have to make are tough calls and I can see where making different ones would make the story branch. My first play through was 3 hours - and I will definitely be doing another play through (if not more) to see how making different decisions changes the outcomes. Especially considering I purchased the game on sale, I feel like I will definitely get my "money's worth" from it. Game mechanics are simple, graphics are nice, story very interesting.
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
2.4 hrs on record
Posted: April 23

-Unique gameplay, you play as a paranormal like fly on the wall and embrace objects
-Really interesting to follow this genuine family life with characters that live detailed lives
-I found the game relaxing, you can go around as you please and the decisions are not life and death but more realistic and domestic tasks
-The soundtrack is very suitable
-Graphical style of this game is refreshing
-Whilst I havent done this myself you can replay for different endings, I can see where they would mount from but I dont have the overall desire to do this

-Whilst I cared for the outcome I found myself getting bored of reading notes and began to skip them as the game went on and just caught up on the summary towards the end of the chapter.
-It is a story rich game but not as rich as it possibly could have been, it ends up becoming a bit of an anti climax
-Just like family routine, the game play become monotonous as you began to search areas in a patern of effiecieny, this is where reading notes becomes a chore.
-Whilst the style is refreshing the overall house is very simplistic and bland, little encouragement to explore as there is nothing to explore!

Verdict: The Novelist is a different kind of gaming experience, one which I enjoyed but could have soon out stayed its welcome but I can recommend it if your on the fence.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
2.9 hrs on record
Posted: January 11
This is an interactive story where you play an author struggling to balance his life and his career. Your choices shape how the story unfolds. The unique mechanic of playing a ghost, peeping in on people's lifes and advising them in their sleep was really interesting.

Beyond what the game is objectively, it was meaningful for me on a personal level as well. I played this game as I am struggling with my dissertation, marriage and kid. The game had an almost therapeutic effect on me.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
2.8 hrs on record
Posted: January 15
This is a great story, although I think it may be slightly pricey for what you get. Yes, I like the different outcomes you can get from this, but if you're someone that likes to skip dialouge and does not like to read, this is absolutely not for you. The mechanics are really repeptitive, and it is really easy not to get "caught", even in the hardest mode. This is less of a skill-based game, and moreso a game based around character development. There are more action packed, engaging games out there for the money, but this isnt a bad game for someone who is looking for something different. I am having fun though :D

Justifying the price though, that might be a little tricky. As this review is written, the price stands at 14.99 USD
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
2.5 hrs on record
Posted: March 1
the touching narrative of father and novelist Dan Kaplan struggling to deal with the horrible mistake he made in marrying an overly controlling and needy wife that he should've dropped like a bad habit years ago
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
4.3 hrs on record
Posted: April 1
The Novelist is, not surprisingly, a story telling game.

You’re a being, a spectre or ghost. It is never explained. There’s a family of three and the entire game takes place in a small cabin in the woods. The goal? Make decisions for the family.

Gameplay is.. lacking. All you do is move about the house while trying to avoid being seen. Each chapter you need to find a certain amount of items, over and over. Once you’ve found all the items, you can enter the memories of the family members to find three memory snippets, again and again. The items aren’t very well hidden, nor are the snippets which can easily be tracked by listening. This cycle repeats itself for the 9 chapters it counts. It’s mind numbingly repetitive.

The story is tailored towards the choices you make, a promise made in lots of games these days. This game does deliver. For the purpose of this review I’ve ran through the game twice, making different choices each time. I’m avoiding spoilers, but you can choose to truly neglect a family member, with devastating results. While this is pretty interesting, the final outcome is given in a typewriter animation, which fails to make you care about the results.

The Novelist has potential, but it doesn’t utilize a lot of it. It’s not a fun game and it doesn’t have a great story either. While the character are relatable they never really come to life inside the game – only in the diary segments which got narrated. That only leaves you with a tale with an interesting dynamic outcome, but sadly that isn’t enough to make this a recommendable title.

+ Your choices truly matter
+ Decent cell-shaded graphics
+ Fairly original

± Solid voice acting, but not everything is narrated

- Boring, repetitive gameplay
- Too easy
- Small scale
- Lacking conclusion

4+ / 10
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
1.4 hrs on record
Posted: March 9
I got this in a humble bundle, and I didn't ever really get into it. I reccomend it because the story and gameplay are unique and interesting, but just not my thing. It does have cards though, so that's a plus.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
3.4 hrs on record
Posted: May 12
tl;dr -> Learned a lot about myself playing this game - with a three-person family, I would be an amazing husband, decent writer, and absolutely horrible father. 11/10 predictive of future behavior.

I got this game in a bundle and was very interested to try it because of the emphasis on family dynamics and interaction. I was very pleased with my gameplay experience.

If you like family dynamics, choosing between difficult decisions, making compromises, and watching how your choices affect the lives of three people, then you will enjoy this game. Note, however, that I think it may be difficult to empathize with the main character (the father) and appreciate the writing in the game if you are too young to be thinking about how to raise a family. Personally, I know that I would not have enjoyed this game very much if I had played it even 5 years ago, when I was 20. During my playthroughs, I took a very long time making some choices because they were so difficult and pulled at my emotions.

The aesthetics are decent - the amount of detail in the characters and background is fairly low, but not at all ugly to look at. The game takes place exclusively in the main character's vacation house, and it can get boring at times looking at the repetitive scenery. The sounds and music are okay, however, the voice acting is pretty good - a lot of things you can read are voiced by whoever wrote it (father or mother). The story is quite nice, but I do not want to spoil anything - in general: you play as a ghost who lives in a house, and find out through the lore that the ghost likes to help people with their problems. A father, mother, and child move in for 3 months - with the hope to fix their familial problems. The father is an aspiring writer, the mother an aspiring painter, and the child just wants some attention and love. There are also marriage problems going on.

Controls are super simple, however, moving around in the house can be slow at times. You can offset this by using the lights to travel quickly. There isn't really a tutorial, but tips are provided to help you along your way. The learning curve is mostly non-existent, although the most difficult part of the game will probably be how you decide which choices to make. There is a stealth (must avoid being spotted by the family members) or normal mode, and the former adds maybe 10-15mins, if even. Note, I have 3.5 hours of playtime, but that accounts for 3.5 playthroughs. The game is very short and can be finished quickly, especially if you are doing a new playthrough and know all the items of interest.

Gameplay consists of you moving around the house, finding clues as to how each family member is feeling. There are 3 "events" or days each month, and the game lasts for 3 months (9 days). A dilemma always exists where each member wants something specific, but you can only choose to please one person. If you find all the clues, however, you can do a compromise for a second person, where they will be half-pleased; one character will always be sad/disappointed no matter what you do. At the end of each event, you will tell the father what to do, and the consequences of your choices will be shown. After 3 events/days, the month will end, and a summary will be given on how each member is doing.

One thing that makes immersion a bit difficult is how every action revolves around the father - I was trying to get my gf to play this game, but knew it would be a different experience because the mother is always in the background. I would've liked for the events to be resolved with more of a group decision, but I still understand this design choice. After all, the game is titled "The Novelist," and it shouldn't come as a surprise that it revolves primarily around the father. I immersed myself and tried to view it as my own family, however, hence my perspective.

Something I found really nice about the game (especially after multiple playthroughs) is how the consequences of your choices are visibly shown as you play. For example, in the very first event, the mother wants to spend time with the husband, husband wants to find his notebook to help with his writer's block, and son wants to play with the father. I chose to fulfill the mother's desire, and on the next day you see the bottle of wine the couple had been drinking stashed on a cabinet in the bedroom. Many other things like this can be found depending on your decisions, warranting multiple playthroughs. Another big indication of how the family is progressing is the child's drawings, ranging from sad, lonely portraits (if he is neglected) to happy illustrations with his family.

Overall, the game plays very well if you are looking for a slower, narrative-driven experience that centres around a three-person family and the troubles any family could encounter. If you are interested in this type of playthrough, then definitely give it a try. I will say that this game is not for everyone, especially if you prefer fast-paced, action-oriented titles.


DJSF @DJSF's Rogue Reviews
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
5.5 hrs on record
Posted: May 11
I really liked this game. Of course, it's actually more of a commentary on life than it is a computer game, and understanding that makes it better. Essentially, you're a ghost of sorts whose job is to read the thoughts, memories, and desires of the family that comes to temporarily stay in your house, and then helps the father to decide what choices to prioritize in his life. Play your cards right, with balance, and everyone in the family ends up really happy and successful, or if you sacrifice a character's needs too much, they may end up miserable. I do think the endings were too preset (not really being directly linked to the precise decisions you make), and that some of the "bigger" decisions could have been weighed more heavily in favor of that character's happiness. Yet, still, I found myself replaying the game a couple times to try for different endings. I do think it would have been better if done on a bigger and more realistic scale, and yet it is pretty impressive for what it is.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
5.9 hrs on record
Posted: May 17
Maybe I'm not experienced in this area of life yet
But how does my family get by without someone wiping their ♥♥♥ for them.
I mean I get it, sometimes your wife/child need their husband/dad

But I swear it seems like the choices go like .....

Honey, I need some help in the back
- Ok dear, just let me finish this sentence......
'Wife bursts into flame and subsequently burns down the house for not being having their needs met immediately'

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