Matias Temno is a man with bad anger issues. After a tough childhood and a lifetime of petty crimes, he is arrested for a botched armed robbery and sentenced to a five year prison stretch. While serving his time, Matias continues to display his anti-social behavior and total rejection of authority. The last straw will come when he will injure one of the guards. As a result, he will be forced to take part in Doctor Calladyce’s rehabilitation project.
Now one of the test subjects in this new experiment, Matias will be immersed in a virtual world where he will have to face and address his violent ways. Playing as a peaceful druid, he will be given a chance for redemption.
However, upon entering the Alchemy Worlds, Matias will quickly realize that this is not the stupid game he first thought this would be. Right off the bat, this will turn into a race for survival, and Matias will have to learn to contain himself if he is to get out of there in one piece. Because if he always resorted to violence to solve his problems in the real world, here he is bound by the laws of the druids.
With no room for error (as death in-game means death IRL), will Matias be able to find the goodness buried deep inside and use it to save himself? Or will he fall victim to his rage one last and final time?
My Opinion: 237 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The main character (MC), Matias, is a violent criminal in jail. He’s thrown in a fantasy VR game with a set class build of druid and told he’s stuck there until the overseeing AI is sure that he’s been rehabilitated. In game he tries to be just as violent as he was in prison but the game punishes him with physical pain and character stat penalties. He then goes on to find a town and ultimately go on a massive quest.
There’s also this supernatural theme mid-late in the story where the game and a bunch of monsters in the real world are really a quantum creation by a mad scientist gone monster. This thread seems wholly unnecessary and isn’t really developed.
The story premise has lots of promise but it’s never realized. The novel takes the idea of a VR prison and merges it with the idea of virtual rehabilitation. But then after the the 17% mark it sort of disappears and the MC seems to do whatever he wants. The MC is pushed and threatened into just about every potentially redeeming action and by the end of the novel he’s still essentially the same as when it started. This story concept could have been an intriguing speculative commentary on the where prisoner rehabilitation could go in the future.
RPG game mechanics in the story exist but most of the story reads as fantasy portal fiction. There are item and monster description and the MC gets all the way to level 4. However, aside from the informational aspect, the game mechanics don’t seem to matter.
The story isn’t bad but it doesn’t do anything to impress. Additionally, the there’s an abrupt end to the novel that does nothing to setup the next story or address any of the unfinished story threads.
Overall, I was disappointed that the story didn’t make good use of the virtual rehabilitation concept better and the rest of the novel didn’t impress.
Score: 5 out of 10.