Steam’s Newest Game ‘The Novelist’ Is an Intelligent Mindfuck

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‘Can you achieve your dreams without pushing away the people you love?’ poses Kent Hudson’s newest game, The Novelist. But what if the one pushing the loved ones away is a ghost? And that ghost is you?

That’s The Novelist‘s premise: struggling writer Dan Kaplan and his family move to a new home for the summer, where he hopes to balance his career and family life. But there's a snag in the new dwelling: You. And you're supposed to influence them through your haunting.

Intriguing. VERY intriguing.

The game's premise basically breaks down story conventions where the player is the stereotypical hero or villain battling an opposing side. Instead of being the main character in the story, you are relegated to a supporting role as the unseen motivating force behind the events. Everyone else in the game responds to you, not the other way around. In other words, you're the puppetmaster.

The Novelist was released last December 11 on Steam, at a 25% discount for the first week after its release. Developer Kent Hudson says in a lecture on player-driven stories that the game's goal is to produce "a story in which the player makes influential decisions that create a unique narrative that is not prescribed by a designer."

So far, users who have already tried out the game have reported that despite its low-budget look and feel, the story is satisfyingly different and 'humane.' I suppose it's because instead of waging war against an opponent, you are actually working alongside a troubled character and his loved ones, and your actions will determine how their life story's outcome will be. This ultimately puts you in a position of power -- and you may be surprised at what it reveals about yourself.

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