Log-in or die.
Those are the only choices left for Clay Hopewell. Infected with the ZERO virus, he has less than twenty-four hours before he bites the dust. With no cure available, there’s only one option left: digitally reincarnate himself in the most advanced virtual reality game ever, the mysterious and newly released Arcane Kingdom Online.
But cheating death and gaining immortality isn’t that easy. If Clay survives the risky cognitive upload process, he’ll still have to contend with a fantasy world teetering on the brink of crisis. Worse, a quarter of the in-game population hates his starting race, he can’t unlock the mage class he wants, and a malevolent glitch threatens to upend the very existence of his new reality.
If Clay doesn’t learn the rules of his new surroundings quickly, his second chance at life will be a lot worse than his first.
Press play to start.
My Opinion: 232 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The first 10% is annoying as it sets up a zombie apocalypse virus in the world as a reason for the main character (MC) to get his mind uploaded and then it’s only mentioned again once at the end and doesn’t impact the story. The in-game story starts out kind of promising with the spawning initially captured by some rat people. He has to make his escape and fight his way out with the help of another NPC prisoner. There are some good game mechanics shown here and I thought for a moment that the story was going to be good. Unfortunately, I was proven wrong with the first few fights. The rest of the story is pretty much power leveling and some magic unlocking until the MC deals with the major plot point.
Another reviewer mentioned that the in game story was a rip off of .hack//sign and to a degree I can see where that statement is coming from. This story does seem to borrow a major plot element from that series, one where corrupted monsters with jumbled names appear and can permanently delete players. Only the MC seems to hear the voice of a girl and has the power to stop the monsters because somehow he himself became corrupted or gained some control of the game. Yeah, it’s a bit familiar to .hack//sign in that major plot arc. But the world is original, the characters are mostly original, and the remaining game mechanics, while not wholly original are different from that anime.
Game mechanic wise, there’s a good amount of detail given. Character sheets, item descriptions, game notifications, skill gains, damage notifications, and more. Unfortunately, the author doesn’t really follow his own rules and twists the story so that his characters are saved again and again, either by omitting information (like monster levels or being saved by characters with unrevealed levels) or by conveniently creating mechanics to save them.
The biggest culprit of plot armor game mechanics is that when someone levels, all injuries are healed, HP and MP are restored, and all status ailments and debuffs are removed. Now, I don’t necessarily have a problem with that mechanic in itself, though it’s severely OP. I do have a problem when it’s used no less than 4 times in the first 25% of the story to miraculously save the MC from death because the NPC (who is only level 1 like the MC) he’s grouped with just happens to kill enough monsters out of sight to get the MC a new level. The rest of the story follows the same wand wavy combat situations. The MC should really have died more than once in the story because he regularly fights monsters 3-5 times his level and only survives because information about damage suddenly disappears and the reader is told he scores a series of critical hits until the monster is dead or he’s saved by that plot armor.
Overall, while the initial in-game story showed promise, it quickly became a disappointment when I recognized the .hack//sign plot and the MC turned out to have so much plot armor.
Score: 6 out of 10