Know Thy Enemy

KnowThyEnemy.jpg

Trapped in a broken body, Pierce earns the right to enter the hottest new game. Following his warrior instincts, he’s determined to annihilate the enemy, whoever it may be.

With the hopes of winning the ultimate prize, respect of his peers, and protection for his brother, Drayk joins the Guild in the fight of his life, not realizing what’s truly at stake.

To save New Ararat, they must commit to their quests. Yet, the planet’s residents aren’t all they seem, and enemies must become friends and fight together.

 

My Opinion: 333 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited

This  is a multi-narrative story told mostly through the eyes of two characters. Drayk is a lizardman alien who hopes to join a good guild and play the game to earn enough to support his twin brother and prevent him from getting drafted. Pierce is a human from earth. He was a professional gamer and was training to become a soldier. Now he’s humanity's last hope to win the right to colonize an alien world before earth dies. Each narrative is independent and the story switches between the two every 2-3% of the novel. The two stories cross about the 66% mark but even after that the chapters continue to switch between the characters.

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Things I like:

The novel has a strong start. There’s good character development, the character’s backstories are interesting, and the stories emphasize how important the game is for each character.

The early game parts of the Drayk storyline are interesting. It’s in his storyline that we first get a glimpse into the game and the story teases some neat sci-fi sub plots. Unfortunately after this brief peek it takes entirely too long to Drayk back into the game (36% mark). Pierce doesn’t have any game time until the 24% mark of the story.However once the characters get to the game, they’re there the rest of the story.

The action is well written and the last 20% of the novel is a huge series of battles.

Things I think could be improved:

I’d describe this story as SciFi LitRPG, heavy emphasis on SciFi. Yes, the story is absolutely LitRPG. The majority of the story is set in a obviously stated game world with RPG mechanics and the characters progress according to those RPG mechanics. Once the characters eventually get to the game, there are regular game notifications, level ups, and XP gives from completed quests.

Yet, the story surrounding those things often ignores them or gives a two word recognition, ‘he read’. In other LitRPG, characters interact with the game system, study it to figure out a way to progress, or make skill/ability/magic choices. That doesn't exist here. The RPG progression is automatic leveling and honestly the increased levels don't seem to affect the story. There’s a sci-fi twist near the end of the story that explains why this is the case but it doesn’t take away from the lack of interaction before that.

Additionally, there are inconsistencies in the game mechanics. Early on in the Pierce storyline, he notes that he can either pay for new skills with money or just practice endlessly to get them. Yet, in the Drayk story, the character is given a card that gives him a new skill and later he gets a skill through touch by another character. There are also issues with the respawn system. One, it’s not even mentioned until the characters are deep into the game story and then later it suddenly becomes die in the game die in real life.

The Drayk storyline, in the game, is pretty boring from the 30% until about the 66% mark. It feels like filler with only one notable story revelation.

As the story progresses past the 75% mark the SciFi twists makes the game stuff feel irrelevant. While these revelations explain why the game stuff never got particularly in depth, it also shifts the story almost entirely into the Sci-fi and away from the LitRPG.

Also, note that there’s a seriously dangly cliffhanger to this story.

Overall, a good sci-fi read with weak RPG game mechanics. If you’re looking for a LitRPG story that makes you feel like you’re in a great Sci-Fi game, this isn’t it. It just doesn’t do that. But it is a fairly interesting Sci-Fi novel that uses a RPG VR game to tell a story.

Score: 6 out of 10.

Know Thy Enemy

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