Gone Home: Ghost Edition – Deus Ex Dev’s The Novelist

By Nathan Grayson on May 14th, 2013 at 2:00 pm.

This is just one mode of ghost-o-vision. Don't worry: ghosts aren't colorblind.

Do you have a radar? Does it frequently detect submarines, aircraft of questionable origin, and reruns of bad ’90s sitcoms? Well then, you’ve calibrated it horrendously and should bonk it with a wrench until it picks up exclusively on the only thing that matters: promising-looking videogames. Case in point: The Novelist, a crazy polter-and-geist adventure from Deus Ex: Invisible War, Thief: Deadly Shadows, and BioShock 2 vet Kent Hudson. The basic (and exceedingly interesting) premise reminds me a bit of Gone Home, except the family’s still around, and you don’t play as any of them. Instead, you’re a ghost just going about your typical haunterly business when a troubled novelist and his family show up on your doorstep. You, however, are more Casper than creepy Ring murder child, so it’s your job to observe behaviors, read thoughts, and pour over messages and belongings – all without revealing the fact that you’re, you know, a nightmarish specter from beyond the beyond. Using that knowledge, it’s up to you to manipulate this dysfunctional puzzle into whatever shape you see fit. Trailer after the break.

Yeah, the look’s a bit plain, but the idea is utterly brilliant. Gone Home meets Gamecube potential-squanderer Geist? Yes please. A thousand times yes please. Here’s the ghostly gist, straight from Hudson himself:

“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.”

So yes, you have to reshape Dan’s life and career while doing your best to stay underfoot. Or above-foot. Maybe even inside-foot. You’re a ghost. Traditional laws of footness do not apply to you.

Oh, and then there’s this bit, which sounds tantalizingly Ion-Storm-y: “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.” Oh yes. Oh my yes.

Obviously, I quite like what I’m hearing. But can Hudson actually pull it off? Well, he’s got a very pretty pedigree, but this is an exceedingly ambitious idea for one guy (with assistance from an artist friend, apparently) to tackle. My fingers are, of course, crossed, knotted, and tied in delightful bows, but I can’t even begin to guess how The Novelist will actually turn out. Sure, worst-case scenario, it’s an easy target for headline wordplay (ghastly, a-boo-mination, etc), but there’s no fun in that sort of thing. Only sadness.

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17 Comments »

  1. Drayk says:

    I find the idea behind the game amazing. Will see the execution but it can be brilliant.

    • jemkem05 says:

      If you think Patrick`s story is impressive…, five weaks-ago my son in law earnt $8989 workin 40 hours a month from their apartment and the’re neighbor’s mom`s neighbour done this for 3 months and made more than $8989 parttime on there pc. apply the guidelines on this site grand4.com
      (Go to site and open “Home” for details)

  2. colw00t says:

    This sounds like it was tailor made for me. It might have been ripped from my own dreams.

    Has anyone checked: is Kent Hudson actually a dream-stealing ghost? Worth looking into.

  3. Wurstwaffel says:

    Those are some giant ass rooms in that house.

  4. Kyber says:

    Looks a bit pretentious to me, but then again I always find the struggling novelist archetype a bit boring. Looking at you Stephen King!

    • andk7 says:

      I wonder if it is possible to make them go insane. That would be interesting.

  5. kwyjibo says:

    The novelist is Alan Wake.

  6. Curundir says:

    Yes I do have a radar, but I have set it to detect excessive punctuation marks. It usually goes bonkers whenever I try to decipher one of Nathan’s articles. But I think this one may be his masterpiece. My radar just burnt a fuse.

    • cowardly says:

      Mine is set to innapropriately used homophones, and tends to bleep so regularly on RPS articles that I turns it off (puns aren’t filtered, you see ^^) Really, I should just give in and get a new model ; alternatively, I could just choose to ignore this entirely and pretend that this is a game where you, in fact, vandalise people’s belongings by pouring ghostly water all over them.

    • The Random One says:

      Mine only detects gay men.

      I shouldn’t have bought it second hand.

  7. Scone says:

    Gah. I can’t remember the name of it, and Google isn’t helping, but there was definitely an old-ish Japanese game with a similar theme, though it was one person in an apartment instead of a family in a house. I remember having to knock a (I think job?) magazine off the table at the right time to get the person to notice it, etc. It was more interesting than fun, but The Novelist’s bigger size and backstory having characters will probably help with pacing; more to do/learn and all that.

  8. Acksiom says:

    What’s sadder is how one of the most serious problems in gender issues today — fatherhood and male work-life balance — doesn’t even get mentioned as such in an article about a game where it’s a primary plot theme.

    Oh, well. . .baby steps, baby steps. At least they’re mentioning suicide every now and then, even if they’re categorically refusing to address it as the male gender discrimination issue it clearly is, let alone acknowledging how their bigotedly one-sided coverage of such things likely only makes things worse

  9. Aardvarkk says:

    I have to agree this does look interesting, always nice to see games push the envelope in a non-shooty direction.

    I wonder if this is considered breaking the fourth wall

  10. povu says:

    Deus Ex

    Oooh!

    Deus Ex: Invisible War

    Oh.

    Seriously though, sounds interesting!

  11. Hauskamies says:

    This game seems to share the premise with Everybody’s Gone To Rapture.

  12. The Random One says:

    Deus Ex: Invisible War and Bioshock 2. Poor dude is pretty much typecast as Mediocre Cash-In Sequel Guy.

    Sterling concept, though. I’ll keep an eye out for it.