For more than a decade, Corbin Rivers has been honing his skills as a private contractor and mercenary. He’s quickly become the go-to guy for perilous missions when law enforcement agencies or governments need a problem solved but cannot get involved. During his last job, he successfully infiltrated the mob and helped bring down one of the most powerful criminal families in the country.
But when he returns home for a break, he finds his brother dead with a suicide note. Completely devastated, he will swear to put his expertise to good use by finding the culprits and making them pay. As he will quickly find out, his brother was addicted to a VRMMORPG called Vatenkeist Online, and that’s where he met the bastards who bullied him until he snapped and took his own life.
Driven by his thirst for revenge, Corbin will enter this virtual world. However, in there, none of his credentials or deadly skills really matter. In there, he’s just some random noob, another potential prey for the griefers.
How will Corbin manage to carry out his plan, especially since the players he’s after belong to the Ascendants, one of the most powerful and feared guilds in the entire game?
My Opinion: 219 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The overall story is a mixed bag. Some places it’s mediocre, a few places it’s interesting, and for most it’s frustratingly annoying because it breaks it’s own game rules.
The Beginning of the story sets up Corb, the main character (MC), as a real life paid assassin working for the police. He gets a mysterious message from his brother and races home. When he arrives, he finds his brother has hung himself. In a note the brother points at being bullied and humiliated by friends he made in a the VR game he played as the cause of his suicide.
Suspecting foul play, the MC logs into this VR world and creates his own character, a human hunter, planning to ruin the guild that he suspects killed his brother.
From 1-41%, the story is half way decent. This is when the MC learns about the game mechanics, goes on several quests, and gets to level 3. There are several interesting betrayals that show that NPCS and Players can exploit players equally.
Then about the 53% mark, the story takes this weird turn. The setting changes from fantasy to turn of the century London. And there’s this convoluted plan to figure out who in the bad guild is placed in the royal court. How this is supposed to hurt the guild or lead to a resolution of who was hurting/bullying the MC brother is never explained or nor is there any type of resolution.
The story also has is one of the most annoying endings I’ve read in awhile. I won’t spoil it in case you do want to read the story. But it got a serious eye roll for its unoriginality and that it uses information for a twist that was never mentioned anywhere else in the story.
However, the most frustrating part of the novel is that it sets up decent game mechanics then ignores them. Also, many of the MC’s decisions just don’t make sense for the character or the game logic.
Early in the story ( about 20%), the MC makes the decision to do everything he can to keep his mission a secret. Makes sense for an assassin. He meets a woman and even goes so far as to say to himself, “In my job, I had learned to always keep on my toes and never just open up to just anyone with information…” Then the next thing he does is tell her all about his plan to infiltrate the bad guys guild.
It’s not just character choices that are inconsistent, the author confirms in character creation that the MC’s real life skills don’t transfer to the game. He has to build up his skills. He tries to shoot a slime with a bow and arrow and misses a lot because he hasn’t learned that skill. After his first level he gains the skill and misses less. Great, makes sense. However, only a couple levels later the MC is one shot killing Wyverns with a knife he doesn’t have a skill for, and headshotting players 2-3 times his level. He also seems to suddenly have the ability to use stealth, explosives, and interrogation. Things he doesn’t have class skills in.
Despite the few interesting quests early in the story, I mostly found myself being frustrated by the novel. The last half really doesn’t make sense to me and the end pushed me over the edge into dislike.
Score: 4 out of 10