Wot I Think: The Novelist

By Alec Meer on December 10th, 2013 at 6:00 pm.

The Novelist is a narrative-led, sort-of-stealth, sort-of-point’n’click-adventure game by Deus Ex: Invisible War, Thief: Deadly Shadows, and BioShock 2 dev Kent Hudson (with playtesting help from a remarkable number of renowned developers, according to the credits) in which you direct and decide the fate of a tormented family who’ve gone to stay in a remote house for the Summer, in an attempt to resolve their respective career and relationship difficulties. But they are not alone…

My head says this.

My heart says this.

The Novelist is out now.

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20 Comments »

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  1. mouton says:

    Words, so many words. Words from heart, words from head. Words.

    This is why RPS is great.

    • WrenBoy says:

      My heart spoke to me the other day. He said, reduce your cholesterol, shithead.

      • DuneTiger says:

        My heart told me it makes $78/hr or something like that, doing absolutely nothing at all. I’m not quite sure how it works since I never actually read those messages, but it has something to do with its sister or cousin or something?

        I dunno.

        • WrenBoy says:

          If someone is paying your heart $78 to do absolutely nothing for an hour they mean you no good. No good at all.

    • S Jay says:

      Was it written by Dishonored’s Heart?

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    daphne says:

    Not sure if it’s fair to attribute anything of this to “raw, commercial hunger”, even though it might have been better off interactive fiction. We live in a world where Analogue: A Hate Story is sold for Real Money, and I don’t see the difference.

    • Ragnar says:

      The difference being that Analogue doesn’t try to hide that it’s all about text – a visual novel – and the interactions are all quick and immediate. Making a choice is clicking a button, not wandering through an empty house to find an interactive item.

      Had the Novelist been made as a visual novel, I think its “gameplay” – its player interaction – would have been improved, but its sales would have diminished. Just look at all the adventure games on Steam, while I think Analogue: a Hate Story and Hate Plus are the only visual novels.

  3. womp says:

    Glad to see @PeterMolydeux game concepts are being actualized
    https://twitter.com/PeterMolydeux/status/404681522159972353

  4. Swabbleflange says:

    One of the novelist games I’ve played recently.

    • noom says:

      Really? I might take a page out of your book and try playing it too.

      • Ibed says:

        I might too, it seems to do a lot of things write.

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          P7uen says:

          I’ll give it a miss, I’m a bit emotional like Alec and don’t want to start blurbing.

          • Neurotic says:

            I’m turning a new leaf – no more games about novelists.

  5. Premium User Badge

    AngelTear says:

    I wasn’t expecting to read that the game is so flawed (head), but it still sounds like one of those stories worth experiencing (heart), even if the container of that story is a bit broken.

    Also, the “heart” review was very touching and definitely worth reading in and of itself. Thanks Alec.

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    colossalstrikepackage says:

    A game that makes you cry? Where do I throw my money? I’m a total sucker for such journeys.

    Beautifully written, Mr Meer. I for one am glad you are writing these and not making big bucks elsewhere. How else would I be convinced to play what logically sounds like a terrible game?

  7. RagingLion says:

    I’m glad I read this … both pieces. I’d already heard Cara Ellison speak a bit to the flaws of this game but it would have been a loss not to have read how the life-battles that this story focuses on were able to have personal impact and hold up a mirror and parable to real-life struggles. There are obvious struggles in many ways but I think I benefited from just reading this and knowing how someone a few years ahead of me in life is finding life and therefore what to consider myself. It helps to be prepared for these things. I’ve been thinking recently that one of the most powerful benefits of absorbing stories (interactive or otherwise) is be able to explore realities that are not currently our own but that may at some point be. It means we have already chewed over these aspects of life and hopefully can make better decisions if we ever find ourselves in these same circumstances. Family v career is of course pretty much a given for anyone, but I like to think I’m more prepared for a collapse in society as well by having read/watched/played those stories already too – I’m completely serious when I say that.

    Also, I thought this was a really beautiful turn of phrase: “but it still speaks in a voice that flays me with sorrow and swaddles me with solace.”

  8. Zwiebelrostbraten says:

    I really appreciate you putting your heart into this, Alec. Your emotion resonated strongly with me. It takes courage to be this vulnerable, and I felt honoured to be the reader.

    • Zekiel says:

      Seconded. Thank you Alec.

      (I am the father of a seven-month-old who rarely screams, but also rarely sleeps. You have my sympathy)

  9. Gira says:

    Bit late to the game, but, well: “The Novelist is interactive fiction in disguise, and it’s difficult not to conjecture that the reason for its not being unadorned interactive fiction is raw commercial hunger, to gain itself attention it otherwise might not.”

    I think that is the worst sentence ever written by a human.