Welcome to Retha, the full submersion video game where you can be the hero of your own adventure. Unfortunately for Kit, it only takes one moment to turn the game into a nightmare.
When Chronicles of Retha experiences a software malfunction, Kit—a disenchanted veteran player—is stuck in the game without a way to log off. Even worse, she’s trapped playing as the most defective character possible, an elf dancer that was meant to be a prank.
Thankfully, she receives word that there is a way out. But the only escape route is to defeat the game’s ultimate villain. Kit, in her joke character, must fight her way through some of the worst Retha has to offer. Her only help is a party of low-leveled players just as powerless as she is, and the occasional act of mercy from one of the best players in the game, the taciturn (and aloof) Solus Miles.
Can Kit and her new friends finish the quest, or will Retha be their end?
My Opinion: 258 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure, I received an early review copy. I purchased the novel when it came out.
Things I liked:
The characters were relatable. Kit is put into a bad situation and even though some of her actions seem inconsistent with a veteran player, she’s interesting. She has room to grow into becoming a leader. The rest of her newb team provide opportunities for game stuff to be explained and banter for the reader's enjoyment.
Some of the unique classes in the game: Saboteur - able to set traps, Echo - Hardcore spellcaster,
Combat is overall decent and there are some good fight scenes. The inventive way the characters resolve some situations.
Things I didn’t Like: (Mostly Game World related)
The premise is kind of unbelievable. There are so many things that have to go wrong for it to work it stretches the reader’s willingness to go along with it. Honestly, I was annoyed by the 10% mark.
Kit wants to play a Space VR game, but a prank from her cousin Brice instead forces her to play a fantasy VRMMO with a unplayable character, an elf with the class of dancer with a negative reputation with everyone.
Her developer cousin is not only a jerk but willing to risk his job over a prank. He has to hack her game account to set this up.
Instead of just logging out immediately once she discovers the prank, the author gives the MC a sleeping pill that forces her to stay in game.
Then on top of the server she’s on goes down, but instead of being able to log out, she’s trapped in some backup system.
Her cousin Brice is only able to get her one message, that the devs can’t shut down the corrupted backup server or risk player brain damage, so she has to beat the final boss of the game.
Why can’t employee cousin send more messages to other players or guild leaders?
A simpler solution? Sit and wait till the people that made the game fix things. Go kill some mobs if you're bored. Or, level up till your max level and then you and the other max level players can easily beat this boss.
The author tries to use SAO premise without keeping the thing that forces players to do anything. SAO, mad game designer made only way to beat the game was with player activity, put a kill switch in everyone’s helmets. Nothing like that exists in this story, so there's little to no real motivation for anyone to do anything.
Levels don't seem to matter except as reflections in relative strength between the MCs team and the monsters. Ie: story skips MC from level 5 to 11. Then from 11 to 20s.
The whole bit with the maxed out negative reputation with everyone gets old fast. Fundamentally, why would being a dancer make all the elves hate you enough to kill you on sight?
Some of the game mechanics seem created just to hinder/help the main character. No thought of balance for realism.
- The main character has access to her 5-year-old apartment with a bunch of high level gear and unbound mounts.
- Reputation system - Elves hate MC because of a chosen class.
- Non-Changeable crafting skills - used to say, ‘aren’t you luckless’
Don’t get numbers or fine details about combat, character stats, spells, etc. So, the advancements in power for the characters feel less impactful. Feels very ‘oh, by the way Kit is now level 20, fyi’
Some of the decisions made by the main character don’t resonate as true for someone that’s supposed to have been a high level player and part of the highest rated guild who’s super choosie about their members.
- Doesn’t know that mages and dancers don’t wear metal armor, so chooses to be an armorsmith as one of two non changeable crafting skills.
- MC doesn’t know anything about their quest or how they might beat it, even though all the other veteran players seemed to have tried it before.
The game system chooses your class abilities for you based on your play style, your current stats, and your gear.
- WTF? Why would it be cool that the game chooses that for a player? It’s taking away the ability to choose from players. Seems like justification to not having to detail a bunch of abilities and skills for the story characters to chose.
The end problem is solved by a power the main character just remembers (that reader had never read about) and by the intervention of a high level character they just met and seems to have been inserted into the story for this one purpose.
Overall, not a horrible story. There are just a bunch of things related to the game world that stop it from being good to me.
Score: 6 out of 10.