The Novelist

The Novelist review

The Novelist is a game where you play as a voyeuristic ghost who possesses household lamps. Lamps you say? Why on earth would a ghost do that? What kind of - okay, okay. Back up. Let me explain.

The Novelist is about a middle-class family comprised of a budding painter and mother, Linda Kaplan, a father, Dan Kaplan, who is the titular novelist, and their cute son who mainly likes Crayola-ing dorky moustachioed pictures of his father. The player takes the role of an incredibly manipulative and nosy ghost who haunts the family's oversized American house. It is your job to read every piece of writing, scour the memories and thoughts of each family member, and then choose their destiny in each chapter by whispering the decision in the father's ear as he slumbers. The idea is to temper their family life, to have them each follow their dreams in a satisfying way.

You can choose whether you play on stealth mode or story mode. In stealth mode, you must snoop from light fixture to light fixture all around the house, pressing space to jump from one to the other. You can flicker a light to distract someone. If you are spotted by a family member as you try to investigate their memories or letters, your persuasive powers toward them become limited, and as a result this alters the outcome. In story mode, you are always invisible to the family, but your ghostly 'walking pace' is extremely slow, so you need to use the light fixtures to navigate quickly and simply without frustration.

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Indie developer Kent Hudson's dilemma-heavy supernatural drama The Novelist may sound a lot like Stephen King's The Shining at first glance. An author brings his wife and young son to a remote estate where he can work on his masterpiece, but little does he know that there's a ghost in the house. Unlike King's cult-classic, the disembodied spirit in the Novelist is a benevolent ghost controlled by the player with the goal being to help protagonist Dan Kaplan finish his book while still retaining a deep, meaningful connection with his family.