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.
Posted: December 9th, 2013