Penning the Great American Novel in Writer’s Rush

Writer’s Rush
Reviewed On
Steam (PC)

As a writer myself, I was excited to try out Writer’s Rush by developer Frogstorm, a title that promises to challenge players to become the best novelist in the world. It’s a dream that many authors like me probably have, and because achieving that goal in real life is next to impossible, being able to at least experience it in a video game sounds like a nice little substitute. Given that Writer’s Rush is likely aimed at aspiring writers like me, I figured I was right there in the sweet spot for the target market.

Writer’s Rush starts off well enough, with constructing your author profile. However, you can’t create a female author, which is a huge oversight that is not easily forgiven these days. I pushed on, selecting a guy that looked like Alan Wake and making up a cool name for them. Then it was time to meet the other NPC authors.

You see, in Writer’s Rush you are not so much trying to develop a great novel and then market it to an adoring public, although that is part of what you do. But more so, you are competing against 24 other authors in some kind of famous writers club. There are six levels, and on each level, you will be competing against three other writers for the top spot. If you meet the challenge and rise to the top, then at the end of the round you will be able to move up to the next tier where you will be competing against three new writers. Each of the writers represents a real famous or historical author with just enough little changes so that the developers won’t get sued. For example, Simon Ring is obviously Stephen King.

I have to say that I was really disappointed by the focus on competition versus one where you actually got to concentrate on the creative aspects of your books. I was even more let down when subsequent levels gave challenges other than trying to write a good book. Some levels reward the player who can write the most books within the timeframe of the round, regardless of how good they are. One level even requires players to write the worst book, something that goes against anything resembling reality for up-and-coming authors. I’m pretty sure that there is no secret cabal of famous authors making bets on who can create the worst-reviewed and received book just for fun. Then again, I am not in that club, so who knows, but that aspect of Writer’s Rush just seemed rather bizarre.

Whether or not you are trying to write a great novel or a bad book in Writer’s Rush, the procedure is still the same, which is actually the best part of it. You are given a long list of possible themes to choose from with everything from Animals to Hospitals to Time Traveling in the mix. Some choices are grayed out but can be unlocked by doing research into them or paying to take a class to get up to speed using the game’s two main resources, money and prestige.

You then get to pick a plot to go with the theme, and combining the two can be pretty fun, like a crime story set in the Middle Ages or a science fiction story featuring insects. You also get to designate the target audience from little kids up to elderly people and name your pending masterpiece. There is no real guide to figure out what works and won’t fly with the public or the literary critics other than your own intuition. For example, my real-life experience told me that older readers would probably like Westerns more than young adults, which turned out to be true in Writer’s Rush. And as you play and get more experience, you will figure things like that out if you don’t already know them.

Once you set up the basics, your character will start writing. At key points, you will be given opportunities to set up the main plot, the climax and the resolution of the story. All of that is done from a list of choices, with more experienced writers having more choices. At first, most of the choices will probably be grayed out. Here again, I was kind of unsatisfied with the choices. For example, I was trying to write a serious drama, and one of my choices was to have my character’s horse transform into a car so they could cheat and win a race. That made no sense, but the other available choice was even worse. Strangely, the public ended up loving that book, thinking it was hilarious, and it ended up being one of the highest rated and best-reviewed novels I wrote during Writer’s Rush.

Once a book is complete, you need to edit it, which can be done yourself by spending prestige points, or you can hire an editor which requires money and sometimes prestige as well. When you are ready to publish, you can sit back and watch the professional reviews come in and the sales numbers for each week tick up. Honestly, I never really figured out why some books did so well and others bombed given the limited choices I had when creating them. That is kind of the worst part of Writer’s Rush because everything seems kind of random, at least to some extent, where things that should work don’t, and things that should be universally panned by critics and the public become wildly popular.

You can influence some of what happens in Writer’s Rush by buying better writing tools like an advanced word processor or taking classes, both of which cost a lot of money for a starting writer. There is even a class you can take that will make you luckier, something that influences the randomness of the game in your favor. You will probably need to take a lot of classes and upgrade your writing gear, but even then, don’t expect those improvements to radically change your fate.

I actually had a decent time with Writer’s Rush. It’s not what I expected and in no way accurately reflects the writing process or the way that authors market their books. But it’s a funny title that can surprise you, especially when your Western about a horse-transforming into a robotic car that was used to cheat at a big race becomes the next Great American Novel, and Simon Ring has to pay you $500 because he totally bet against you being successful with such a ridiculous plot.

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