Unlike real life, Max is pretty good at playing games, so when a new limited time dungeon opens up in the virtual reality game he plays boasting a huge cash prize, Max knows he needs to try and complete it if he wants to be able to pay rent this month.
Fortunately, the only guild strong enough to attempt to take it on before the timer runs out needs a tank.
There’s just one problem, he’s never played with them before, and even if he convinces the Sisters of Artemis to let him join in time to tank the dungeon and collect the prize money, if they wipe, it’s all over.
That would be bad because without that prize money, both he and his baby sister will be sleeping in a cardboard box under a bridge, and Max really hates sleeping in cardboard boxes. Been there, done that, sold the T-shirt.
My Opinion: 296 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Quick heads up the last 6% of the novel are an appendix and a sample of another unrelated story.
Things I like:
Even though the main character is in a wheelchair in real life, he never comes off as being whiney. Instead, it’s a statement of fact and a reason he enjoys playing the game so much.
The combat oriented game mechanics of the story are described early on in the story. In game, there are gems that give abilities and bonuses and allow for a great deal of character customization. The gem slotting system allows for a combination of unique skills and abilities that almost eliminate the need for the game's classes. I always like it when characters can switch abilities to become more versatile and not relegated to predetermined choices.
Though it takes a while to get going, the budding romance between Kayla and Max is cute.
Things I didn’t like:
All the Quotes from People before chapters, annoying and unnecessary. With a very rare exception, they didn’t add anything to the story or give insight into the minds of the game designers.
Max is supposed to be under some pressure to pay his family’s bills through online gameplay but I never felt the urgency. You’d think he’d be a bit more frantic to find the best way to make money if he and his sister were only a month’s expenses from living on the street. Instead, he focuses on winning the prize for being the first to explore the latest content patch.
He does have a sort of business of being a mercenary for hire. However, why not power level and sell characters? Or farm loot? Become a merchant? Crafter?
The story starts out with characters already near max level. Lose opportunity to discover the game world along with the main character.
The game world is not explored outside of combat-oriented situations. The majority of the game time is spent either theory crafting the best way to use ability giving gems, updating quests, or in combat furthering the new expansion quest arc. No time is taken to flesh out the larger world and the other things people do in the game like: Exploration, crafting, trading, rare item hunters, guild battles, player vs player combat, etc.
Neural Hacking - Brought up in the beginning as being something that occurs in the world and as a reason people don’t ever give out their real life info while playing the game. But it doesn’t seem to be a part of the story so why bring it up in the first place?
The title “Ring of Promise” refers to the only way for players to reveal their information to each other. Otherwise the game system uses an infallible ‘filter’ to stop people from revealing anything about their real life selves. This ring of promise, though it’s brought up a couple of times in the story, doesn’t really matter till very end of the story and even then it’s more of a lead in for the small romance aspect of the story.
The threat of neural hacking never feels real. There are no examples of it happening in the story, so the entire ‘filter’ system not only seems unnecessary but also unrealistic. People that play games together will eventually start talking about real life stuff and there’s not a system that’s been invented that can’t be circumvented either by specialized software or just plain old human ingenuity. What really stops anyone from establishing a code, sign language, written notes, or some other method that the filter doesn’t recognize to give out personal details?
There’s nothing wrong with the story in a technical sense. There are just a lot of little things that prevented the story from clicking with me beyond my usual enjoyment of LitRPG.
Score: 6 out of 10.