To survive you must win. Nothing else matters.
Max is a top-level gamer, a battle mage with enough fire-power to level a city. Or a small village at least. Lots of people want to be him. A few want to hire him.
But most just want to kill him.
At least, in the game. Things in real life aren't so easy.
After double-crossing the all-powerful Corporation, the shadowy tech company that runs the world’s biggest gaming tournaments, Max finds himself on the run. His only chance of escape is to enter the world of Rogue Online, a prototype full-immersion game that just might let him evade his enemies.
But he soon discovers that Rogue Online isn’t the safe haven he’d hoped. Especially when he’s been stripped of all the abilities he’s worked so hard to build.
If he wants to get home, Max must use all his skills and ingenuity to level up and uncover the dark conspiracy at the heart of the Corporation. A conspiracy that threatens not only Rogue Online but all of humanity as well.
My Opinion: 198 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The first 10% of the story is the best part of the novel. It recounts a big raid fight led by the main character (MC), Max, against the reigning champ Nightshade. Anyone that’s played an MMO will find things well described and relatable.
The story becomes RPG portal fiction after that. Max is supposed to throw the match and when he doesn’t he’s chased down by people that want to kill him. He meets a mysterious stranger that offers to help him escape by sending him to a new world where he can be ‘the chosen one’. (Actually what it says)
May agrees and is sent to the Rogue Lands, also called Rogue Online for some reason. Unfortunately, this is where the story falls apart. In this new world governed by RPG mechanics, Max finds a bunch of familiar RPG mechanics: A character sheet, stats, mana, etc. There’s a lot of text devoted to the description of how the game mechanics work in this world. It’s a shame that none of that really matters because the game mechanics don’t really matter to the story. Additionally, the story itself is very ‘on the rails’ and the MC is just led from one event to another and makes almost no decisions the entire novel.
The RPG Game Mechanics in a LitRPG should feel like they’re an important part of the story and like they affect the world. In this story however, even though things like character sheets, stats, quest notifications and item descriptions occur throughout the novel, they don’t feel meaningful. A good example of this is how health is treated. Even though there are actual stat numbers used on character sheets, health is represented in a fight as a percentage. There’s no reference point to what each characters actual health is, just that a % is lost from an attack in a fight. It doesn’t matter who’s attacking or who’s defending or what that characters shown stats are, it’s always a % lost in health. And often that percent doesn’t even make sense. One chapter, the MC one-shot kills a bunch of mercenaries with a bow and arrow when he has stats of 1-3. But when the MC fights a troll with str 25, he magically avoids all attacks or only takes 10% health damage.
The mechanics in the story have a host of other issues including: never giving the reader a baseline for a good attack damage, stat increases never reflecting any change in the character, item descriptions not making sense, and much more. It almost feels like someone either wrote the story first and added in RPG notifications after, or they just got tired of the creating a RPG system half way through.
The first 10% is a nice section. The game play in the MMO raid feels like it’s based on someone’s personal experience. Authentic.
The premise of transporting the MC to a new world, is a little looser. He didn’t lose the game, so now the game company wants to murder him and a stranger sends him to a new world? Sure, I guess.
Once there in the Rogue Lands, the MC is told he’s the chosen one and can’t go back home till he beats the game and saves everyone. Only he’s given no direction, no quest, not told who he’s saving or from whom, and literally told ‘it’s something you’ll have to figure out on your own.’ So, it’s understandable that the story feels like the MC is wandering around just doing what people tell him.
Worst of all, is that I was never given any reason to care about any of the characters in the story. Not a single one. There’s almost no character development.
For me, it wasn’t necessarily bad. It just felt half done. So, it wasn’t entertaining.
Score: 5 out of 10