The Novelist is an indie game developed and published by Orthogonal Games.The game centers around a family named the Kaplans, who move into a new house hoping to change things up. There is Dan, who is a novelist but is currently under pressure as his career isn’t going too well at the moment. Linda, Dan’s wife, who feels as though their relationship is slowly fading away. Finally, you have Tommy, Linda and Dan’s son, who is having trouble at school. However, you don’t play as these characters. You play as an entity in the house. Your job is to help get this family together, hoping to improve their lives for the better.
The gameplay is rather simple. You find clues, read the thoughts, and go through these characters’ memories to see what they want. There are 9 chapters in the game and each chapter is different, as each character would want something different depending on the situation. You roam throughout the house through light fixtures. You can roam freely, however you have the potential of being stopped and that isn’’t a good thing. If you get spotted by a character and you don’t move to a light fixture fast enough, you will spook them which results in you not being about to do what they want. You are able to change the game mode which involves you roaming freely around the house and don’t have to worry about the players spotting you.
When you pick who you want to help out, if you found any other family members’ desires, you can do a compromise. The compromise in this game is that you still do what the character wants, however, their relationship or life wouldn’t change that much. If you don’t do a character’s want, their life gets worse. For example, I had Dan focus on his novel in the first chapter and my compromise was to hang out with Tommy. Tommy got some time to hang out with his dad, but not as much as he would have wanted to. Linda on the other hand, was alone and was very depressed that her husband didn’t spend the time they need to potentially save their marriage. Once you make your decision, you can’t go back to it. You must live with your choices and hope you did what was right.
There some nice touches like during the times you can pick a compromise, you are able to explore the house freely, find notes and journal entries. These will give you information on people who lived there previously and how their life was like. Another touch I really liked what at the end of each chapter, they will show the results of your choices. How did this person react to you picking their choice? How did the other family member react to you picking their choice as a compromise? How did the final family member feel about not doing what they want? It’s all there to make you feel guilty about your choices.
I did have a few problems with the game however. There was nothing to unlock first of all. You can get different endings in the game and depending on what ending you get, you could unlock something. If they added that in there, that could have added some replay value. Not only that, but, the gameplay does get repetitive at times, there was little exploration if you think about it, and I feel although some of the choices were really easy to make. Sometimes, it would seem that a character’s need was much more important to fulfill than others.
The Novelist will take you about 2-3 hours to complete. For $15, unless you’re really looking to play the game multiple times through to see how much the outcome changed, you might want to wait for it to be on sale.
Majority of the choices were hard to pick
Able to capture real life hardships really well
Nothing to unlock
Gameplay Gets Repetitive
Some choices felt really easy to pick