One Life is a Massively Multiplayer Online game where players can escape the reality of the classist wasteland that is the real world, and enter a realm filled with fantasy and adventure. However, when a terrorist organisation called the Shadow Prophets realise that they can manipulate the game to help fund their own dark ventures, they try to take control.
Now, a special quest has been activated and Lucas finds himself thrust into situations that are way over his head, both in the real and digital worlds. Strap in for a race against time as Lucas and his party must uncover the secrets of One Life before the game falls entirely into the wrong hands.
My Opinion: 187 pages, $3.80, Not Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure: The author sent me an advanced copy of the novel for revie
The first 15% of the novel is a muddled mix of world building, explanation of what the game One Life is, and a bit of backstory of the main character (MC), Lucas.
The world has become an unemployable mess. Thankfully, One Life has taken over and given people the opportunity to turn there in game money into real world money. Most people are still only able to earn enough to not die of starvation.
The game is initially described as a permadeath fantasy survival game with zombies. Most people stay in the starter newb zone that’s only PVE. The MC makes his living selling starter gear and also being a game guide.
The MC ends up following another player that insulted him and intends to PK her once outside town. Only he inadvertently becomes involved in this big quest to save the game from an evil group of bad guys.
The story on its own is only ok. It suffers from an over influence of Ready Player One. The MC and his group follow a series to clues to find and protect the one object that will give control of the game. They’re opposed by a shadowy organization with seemingly limitless resources that sends identical agents to capture or kill them in the game and out. There are also pop culture references galore from the 80s and 90s.
Only most of the setup for the MC to enter this quest doesn’t make sense. He sneaks off after a high level player and seeing her fighting a high level monster, makes one non-damaging attack, yet is rewarded with half the XP for the fight and gets the magic quest everyone is looking for.
The pop culture references in the story also don’t make sense contextually. In Ready Player One, there’s a shared fascination with 80’s culture because the guy who made the game grew up in that time and all the clues were based on 80’s culture and trivia. So people that wanted to win immersed themselves in the culture. In this story, that premise doesn’t exists. Instead the reader is expected to accept that a bunch of 20 year olds in the far future make 80s and 90s pop culture/tech references like: DOS chat programs, dial up modems, and various movie references.
Now, this next part is just a pet peeve. The author references a bunch of pop culture topics. However, he often gets the details wrong. For instance, Doctor Who is referenced when one of the characters, for no explained reason, flips a coin that turns into her spaceship which looks like the TARDIS. Only the author misspells Doctor Who as Dr Who and the TARDIS as Tardis. They may seem like small details but they reflect a lack of appreciation for those fandoms.
Also, another small pet peeve. The big threat to the game and real world, is that if the bad guys get this magic item, they’ll get all the players User data including their IP addresses which would let them find anyone in real life. Except, in reality, someones IP address is not the same as their physical address. There are a variety of VPN programs and other ways to spoof or show any IP address. Additionally, having this info is supposed to somehow let the bad guys drain User’s in game accounts and control the game. This is tantamount to saying that if someone finds your home address they will magically have access to your bank account and suddenly control the city you live in. It just doesn’t make sense.
Oh, sorry. One more pet peeve. The main character plays this game, in the far flung future, with a mouse and keyboard while looking at a computer monitor. That’s right, not VR. Not console. But normal a normal PC. This sort of dates the author’s experience with gaming and limits the believability of it being in the future. Plus, a late story threat of not being able to log out of the game is severely lessened when the MC can just step away from the computer.
Finally, the game mechanics in the story disappear mostly after the 20% mark. There are still references to high level opponents but the main character never again gains a level, at least not a number, for the rest of the story. Instead, the story turns into a sci-fi VR adventure. It’s this lack of consistent RPG mechanics that is the most disappointing. It really felt like the author had good intentions but after the 20% mark just stopped caring about that part of the story or didn’t feel like keeping track of things like levels.
While these things lessened my enjoyment of the story there are good things about it too. The action is decent. There are a big variety of settings that the characters go through. There’s a legitimate attempt to pull in ideas from a variety of games including stealth, survival, RPG, and action. Even if they don’t work because a severe lack of detail, it’s a good attempt. Also, a few of the characters are interesting and I really did like the attempt to explain the dangers of a society dependent on a game for economic growth.
Overall, the story just wasn’t particularly enjoyable for me. It wasn’t terrible either but I kept comparing it to Ready Player One and found this novel lacking. While there were some good things about it, they were overshadowed by the many things that bothered me.
Score: 5 out of 10