THIS IS ALTERRA, where you can be the master of your own castle... or a field hand on a farm.
And this is Jack, who wants to make his way to a different continent, hidden in the virtual mist.
And this is an ancient quest line, buried under new versions of the game.
Jack's goal: create his own guild. Buy a ship. And set off on the Great Journey. The journey of his life. The dangerous Gravediggers are not the only ones opposing him. Necromancers from sinister Nightmare, elite alpha-citizens, and relic hunters are only a small fraction of the enemies that the First Player will have to face.
In the perilous Wasteland, the drifter Jack finds an abandoned truck, where an old-world game console is hidden. This moment marks the beginning of Jack's path to the lost continent, hidden in the virtual depths of the colossal Alterra. He still isn't aware of the enemies standing in his way. Not only are the guild of Gravediggers and the sinister necromancers of Nightmare against him, but also the secret masters of the game world themselves. The discoveries of ancient quest lines, long buried under new versions of the game, give Jack access to the Dark Service. This is a special branch of character development, which is no longer available in the modern version of the game. Now Jack, the messenger of a great Goddess, possesses a Night Weapon, and is venerated by an entire race of NPCs...
Just how will this road end? And it does indeed have an end...
My Opinion: 314 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure: I received an early copy to review. I purchased the novel when it became available.
In the far future, the world has suffered a major catastrophe, plunging it into ruin. In this post-apocalyptic future, a small part of the population, the Alphas, lives behind an impenetrable barrier in a healthy, wealthy, advanced city. Everyone else, the Omegas, have to try and survive in the ravaged, mutated, resource scarce wasteland that is the rest of the world. However, everyone plays the same virtual reality game, Alterra.
When ultimate wanderer and survivor, Jack, finds the remains of an old console he logs into the game under the user's old account and is thrust into a set of quests that could bring him fame and fortune. If he survives being hunted by greedy guilds, relic hunters, and cruel necromancers.
This is one of those novels where the story takes place as much in the real world as it does in the VR game world. For, me that doesn’t pose a problem in itself. However, the descriptive differences between the two worlds does. Before I get into that here are the things I like about the story.
The real world, post-apocalyptic, setting is wonderfully described and I could picture myself in the desolate wastelands of the world. Everything. From the characters to the mutants that roam the wild parts of the world are interesting and this is one of the few instances where I enjoy the time the story spends in the real world.
The main character, Jack, is hard as nails when he needs to be and is the ultimate survivor in the cruel post-apocalyptic world. Yet, he still has a soft spot for the weak and needy. Great character.
I liked the real world consequences of the main character stumbling upon an abandoned game quest line. It made the things the character did in game have more weight since he’s not only being hunted in game but in real life too.
The meta-theme of the underdog struggle of the lowborn against the well funded powerful upper class.
One of the fundamental problems with the story is that it asks me to suspend my sense of reason just a little too much. Perhaps it’s because I’ve watched too many post-apocalyptic movies or read to many of those types of novels but I regularly found myself asking ‘why does everyone seem to have so much time to play this game?’ In a post-apocalyptic future where most people are struggling to find enough food to survive, you’d think they’d have something better to do. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t something that ruins the story or anything. It’s just something that bothered me through my reading.
Found the real world, more fleshed out than the virtual one. There’s a lot of lore in this novel but not a lot of descriptive text that makes the virtual world feel fully fleshed out. I never really felt like the VR world was real, it always felt hollow.
Early on, the story feels a little awkward. This is likely due to some minor translation issues but it’s mainly because of the lack of detail about the game world. The main MC travels to several locations in the game world following an old quest chain for the dark goddess. Yet, each place never feels fleshed out. Even though the MC is being chased in game by a guild. There’s no sense of urgency until there are also real world consequences which don’t happen till about half way through the story.
Overall, I enjoyed reading the story. However, that was mostly because of the real world aspects. The game world never felt engaging and the lack of details about game mechanics was a real turn off. There’s enough there that I’m comfortable calling it LitRPG but not enough to give a strong recommend based on that part of the story alone.
Score: 6 out of 10.