The HOPE Engine

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When a game has the power to bring peace to the planet, you're damn right everyone plays. Every person on the planet can choose if they want to live their life in the physical world or the digital, and Quentin has been waiting for his chance to go all digital.

Once in the game, he chooses a powerful caster, but quickly finds out just how fragile he is. His advisor is a little girl, the village he builds is filled with raving lunatics, and the only edible food for miles around is poisonous to humans. But hey, his friends seem nice.

High level players are fleeing from their towns, beaten by a great force in the East. Will Quentin rise to the challenge and fight these evil forces? Will he pledge his allegiance to them instead? Will he find a meal that doesn't make him sick?

Find out in The HOPE Engine!

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My Opinion: As of this article, 17 chapters, but the author publishes about 1 chapter a week.

Andrew Lynch has a couple novels under his belt. He’s published two on Amazon. Demi Heros and Sanctuary Fiend but this is his first attempt at writing a LitRPG novel. He’s testing the waters with the genre by on the Royal Road putting out on average a chapter a week.

There are some interesting things happening with this story but its biggest issue is that it’s trying to be too many things at once. Especially early on in the story.

It’s not until the story gets to chapter 8 that it feels like it’s starting to find its voice. There the MC explores how to build his first buildings, manage his minions, and other resources. Then the MC creates a portal in his town that lets him participates in ‘scenarios’, or stand alone adventures where he can gain more XP, loot, and resources. It’s a nice way to seperate the straight action scenes from the resource management part.

When you read the beginning of the story you can tell the author is trying to figure out what kind of game world he wants to use. It starts out as a standard fantasy VRMMO but also hints at possibly mixing in sci-fi later on with a cross MMO update. Then after character creation, the story mixes a single player tutorial with sci-fi elements of all the NPCs being self aware. Then it introduces base building and resource management. Then later, real time strategy elements.

It’s great that the author has experience with these games. However, RTS, Resource Management, MMOs, and Single Player games are all different and each focuses on different gaming elements. Trying to mix everything in the same story not only requires a big info dump for each type of game but the story loses focus when the game jumps between so many types of games.

There are also random story elements that aren’t consistently implemented. For example, early in the story there’s the revelation that all the NPCs in the game are self aware and know that they’re in a game. But a chapter later, the MC recruits NPCs that are dumb and totally unaware of the game. Then shortly later, more self aware NPCs.

Then there are things that feel like they’re dropped in without setup. For example,the introduction of a digital to physical virus called N-Plague. Something never mentioned before.

It’s like the story wants to have all these different types of game elements but also wants to be an action story, an AI story, and a sci-fi medical plague story.

I think the story has the potential to be good. I was very entertained by the resource management aspects of the novel and the scenario system attached to it. But all that other stuff just cluttered things for me. The story needs to decide what it wants to be and stick to that.

Score: 6 out of 10

https://royalroadl.com/fiction/13451/the-hope-engine