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    dkirschner's The Novelist (PC)

    [June 6, 2018 01:29:18 PM]
    The Novelist is a game about a novelist. And his wife and son. It's a simple narrative set inside a house. You play as a muse (or ghost, or spirit) in the house. You see, The Novelist begins, as so many stories about writers do, with the family coming to the house for the summer so the novelist can conquer writer's block and finish his book. The Shining and Alan Wake this is not. The only horrors are the incessant demands on your time and attention of your wife, son, editor, friends, and extended family.

    The game is broken up into three months, and you play three significant days within each month. On these days, the family experiences conflict, and it is up to you, the muse, to float around the house reading letters, diaries, magazines, looking at pictures, and exploring the characters' memories, in order to find out what each character wants. In your snooping, you can walk or you can travel between light sources by "possessing" them. This is important because the game has a stealth mechanic where if family members see you, they will become suspicious. Linger too long, and they'll become spooked and you can't choose their daily resolution or compromise. At the end of each long day of snooping, you decide how the novelist should proceed and whisper in his ear at night how to manage the conflict (because he's the only one who can make final decisions in the family--burn the patriarchy!).

    Of course, you can't give everyone what they want. Only one person gets what they want! Then you can choose a second person to compromise, and the third is left unhappy. Unfortunately these options are pretty predictable and repetitive. The novelist struggling with writers block generally wants to spent his time writing. The wife, struggling with her husband and their marriage, generally wants intimacy or support. The son, who is probably 6 or so and has a learning disability and trouble making friends, always wants the novelist to play with him or take him somewhere. No matter which decision you make each day, one person is happy, one person's outcome is something like, "She was disappointed (they're always disappointed) that Dan didn't quit working promptly at 7:00 and spend the next four hours cuddling on the couch with her, but she was happy that he quit at 8:00 instead of 9:00 and only drank 1 bourbon instead of 4," and the third person is invariably upset.

    I don't think there are many endings for the game. At the end of mine, the novelist was offered a university position, even though, as far as I could tell, he only has a BA and has published 1 book aside from the one he's writing in the game. They also refer to his position as both assistant professor and associate professor, and claim that "the sabbatical program is very attractive," which means the writers don't know how professorships work. To take the job, the family had to move, so the wife is disappointed that she can't work for an art non-profit. Despite the novelist crushing her career goals, the game says a few sentences later that the couple lived in a honeymoon marriage madly in love for the rest of their lives. Aw. The son, who I only gave what he wanted one time, grew up to be an isolated teen doing mediocre in school, and worked odd jobs in his 20s with few friends. Hey, it's not my fault! How does one summer mess a kid up so much?

    I wouldn't bother with this. It's slow, borderline tedious, with no payoff. It would take 20 minutes to read this story instead of 2 hours and 20 minutes to play it, and you wouldn't lose anything because you don't see characters interact anyway. There's no humor and it's too serious and overdramatic. I didn't like the wife much, and I really disliked the kid. If this is what having a family is like, I don't want one, seriously. I did connect a little to the novelist, but I guess that's because I write and have experienced a lot of the pressures he is under, including struggling with time management and scheduling, and he is a teacher now. I do wonder if he'll ever get a sequel though.
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    dkirschner's The Novelist (PC)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Tuesday 5 June, 2018

    GameLog closed on: Wednesday 6 June, 2018

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Hopefully engaging story. ------------ Nah. Pretty boring.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstar

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