New Videogame ‘The Novelist’ Doesn’t Involve Guns
Bored with videogame violence? Looking for a different kind of challenge in your gaming life? Well, The Novelist might be what you’re looking for. Rather than shooting everything that gets in your way, this new game requires you to try to balance the family and work lives of author Dan Kaplan, his wife and son. Novel idea (sorry).
After more than ten years spent developing games like BioShock 2 and Deus Ex: Invisible War, Kent Hudson felt “creatively restless”, left his job and started making a new game with a different goal. What he came up with started paralleling real life, imitating art, imitating reality… As he said in an interview with Kotaku:
The idea is to make us all think about how we approach our own major life decisions. "There’s no winning or losing… You play through and get a story that my hope — and this sounds so pretentious — but my hope is that as you’re presented with the same fundamental question in nine different ways over the course of the game, that you start to learn about your own values. And by the end... maybe your guy has written the greatest book ever but his wife left him and his kid is getting in trouble at school at the time. Well, I guess when push comes to shove you’ve decided that career’s more important than family. Or vice versa."
Right. It’s a third-person game, as you don’t control Dan or his wife or the son, “instead you are a ghost who inhabits his house”. It sounds a bit frustrating as you can’t really do more than observe the characters and influence Dan to do things.
You can watch, observe, and manipulate at your discretion. One day, you might direct Dan to sit and work on his novel, boosting his career at the cost of neglecting his wife and son. Another day you might have him help out his wife at an art show, or take his kid to the beach. Every time you go down one branch, the other two could suffer.
Hudson calls this “player-driven narrative” meaning your choices affect the way the story goes. The sequence of the game is also randomised, so events never occur in the same order.
Would you play this or would the need to kill something drive you away? I might give The Novelist a go just to see what happens, but if my life starts copying the game, I’m quitting.
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