Edwin Morris has been playing Sakarn Online almost his whole life, in fact, most people have. While he considers himself a skilled player, he never could really find the time to take his game to the next level and pay the bills. After he is finally pushed over the edge with his job at Burger Planet, Edwin stumbles upon a man representing a game company called Stratus Labs.
Edwin is offered a lucrative position within the company to test and beat Stratus Online, an incredible, fully-immersive MMO designed to dethrone Sakarn Online. Edwin will have to unite with his friends and compete against other teams, but not everything is as it seems within Stratus Labs and the stakes are much higher than he could have ever imagined.
With the clock ticking, will Edwin have what it takes to complete the seemingly insurmountable task of beating Stratus Online before it's too late?
My Opinion: 420 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure, I got an advanced copy for review.
The first 40% of the story is good. I liked the backstory for Edwin, the main character (MC), as a twenty something that has a crap job but gets the chance of a lifetime to beta test a full immersion game. His friends never get a full backstory but the banter between them is still enjoyable.
The competition aspect of the beta test was a great way to make the story a bit different. Different teams of highly skilled testers are competing to finish the game first and get well paying positions at the company. A nice way to raise the stakes.
The Stratus Online game itself is not as well fleshed out as I would have like to see. I feel like the game mechanics of Sakarn Online, the game the main characters leave, was more detailed. Each player/group is supposed to get a unique experience created by the Storyweaver A.I., which sort of conflicts with the contest to finish the game’s content. How will they be able to play through content if new content created constantly?
There are some in-game quests that the characters go on but they don’t really matter in the end so there’s not much point in writing about them.
At the 40% mark, Jason is introduced as the villain. Who is very predictable.
From there the in game quests become predictable too. The team is saved repeatedly by the NPC Clarence and the inevitable showdown between the MC and Jason comes down to the MC using the armor He’d been told would kill him, but doesn’t.
However, what’s worse is that this big conflict and its resolution are completely overshadowed by the late revelation that the testers are all actually trapped in the game by the evil game company and have to beat the game within a year to get out (80%). Oh, if they refuse to play they’ll be sent to a version of Dallas hell.
The in-game fight ends and that game storyline is resolved after that in a big fight that should have been really exciting but it was just overshadowed by that revelation.
I can’t help but feel like the whole story was a setup for this cyber punk twist that didn't really make sense. Almost felt like I’d wasted my time caring about the game stuff. Not a good feeling. It left me feeling like all the game stuff was pointless.
Score: 6 out of 10.