Platform: PC, Mac
Price: £11 U.K., and $14.95 for U.S. players
I am a writer; not the best of the lot out there, but I certainly love to scribble down stuff. Naturally when I see videogames based on frustrated, failing and struggling writers, I am attracted to them. For instance, I loved Alan Wake; both versions on PC and Xbox 360. By the way, Alan Wake was not a struggling writer; he was a huge in game success.
Lately, I heard about ‘The Novelist’ – it attracted me beyond anything because someone told me that the game involved a writer, a ghost and a family; all living in a remotely isolated house. However, as soon as I ruffled through the first few scenes, I realized that this guy probably meant to pull a practical joke when he told me about ‘The Novelist.’
‘The Novelist’ sucks beyond anything – Here’s why:
For starters, the protagonist happens to be a voyeuristic ghost, and not the writer which you were probably thinking of. The story revolves around a family of 3 (I think); Dan Kaplan, a struggling writer, Linda Kaplan, the unsuspecting wife and the cute son whose name I don’t know, but he is known for drawing his dad’s pictures.
Dan thinks it has to stop – Do you want the same thing?
The Kaplans appears to be a normal family; they have moved in very recently. The house, on the other hand, is possessed by you; a nosy ghost who has to scour the family’s memories through writings and household furniture. Now I think that since we assume the role of a ghost, the concept of free movement was not introduced in a very creative manner.
Think of the entire gameplay as a dull experience where you cannot go through the stairs, you are already in stealth mode but if you are “spotted” or “felt”, the points are deducted, and you cannot go through walls or floors. The best thing you can do is move very slowly in free movement mode, or move from object to object throughout the house.
Nothing like remaining unemployed and living in a grand house
Each chapter of ‘The Novelist’ challenges you with a set number of objectives. You have to whisper ideas or decisions into your victims’ ears in hopes of reshaping their destinies at the end of the said level. By the way, the developers of ‘The Novelist’ do give you the option of choosing one of the following modes at the start of the game:
- Story Mode
- Stealth Mode
Technically, we all know that ghosts are stealthy; so the stealth mode does not make any sense to me. In this mode, you can snoop around through in game objects; such as lamps, photos of the family, furniture etc.
Your movement allows you access to perform a number of common ghostly actions. Clattering, noise in the air, turning light switches On or Off, spilling a perfectly made coffee and all the stuff that can distract the family from “seeing” you write something or whisper something in the characters ears.
Other things that make ‘The Novelist’ a bad choice for gamers:
I don’t hate ‘The Novelist’ or its developers for that matter. I never post hate comments or anything just for the fun of it. I see this game and any other software invention as a product. Game developers create their product and they market it; if the said product has potential, it succeeds eventually.
‘The Novelist’ can be downloaded through Steam account for a small amount of money of course. In return you will get a game does not have much to offer in terms of creativity. The initial curiosity level won’t last long as soon as you will realize that the in game characters, including the Kaplans, the ghost and other inanimate objects are simply not life like.
The voice over acting could have been a little better. I think that they had to cut down on budget, so they hired one guy or two people to do voiceovers for all the characters. The software programmers did not “rig” the game to make it more homely or lifelike. I mean the characters seem so lonely and lifeless that you are eventually going to give up on them.
The best thing about ‘The Novelist’ is that it can have a sequel, or an addon, followed by intense marketing campaign. At the moment, the core of the game is centered around objects and stuff that you will probably forget in a weeks or two – therefore I cannot recommend this game to anyone out there.
U.K. Steam account holders can purchase it for 11 quids; U.S. players can buy ‘The Novelist’ for $14.95. if you think that you can develop some sort of emotional attachment with the game, feel free to download it and give it a try. They are a bunch of middle class family, but the house looks more like a manor. The reason I am mentioning this is because a lot of things in ‘The Novelist’ don’t fall into the context of the game.
- Bottom Line:
In terms of a narrative experience, ‘The Novelist’ is good. It is the kind of game that is to be enjoyed in small doses. Gamers above 24 or 29 year age bracket will not enjoy this title that much. I’d rather recommend redeem codes, access to other games or downloadable content. Meanwhile, I as I go through the final chapters of this game, I am hoping for our lovely ghost to vomit, spit, poison food and do all kinds of nasty sh*t…