A Game Called Quest: A Retro LitRPG Novel

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March 16th, 1982, a day that Donny has been waiting and planning for.

Launch Day for Pac-Man on the Atari 2600!

But an early start, endless queuing and a mad dash comes to nothing when bully Brian, who has been after Donny for years, steals his copy in the store. In an effort to cheer Donny up, his older sister, Amanda, takes him and his newfound compadre, Kevin, to an odd little shop downtown where the shop keep rents them an Atari game called Quest--and it is like nothing the three of them have seen before.

They become sensually immersed in the world of Quintarria with the shop keep's 3D controller contraption hooked to Donny's Atari, and in this world, Donny, Amanda, and Kevin must defeat the evil overlord Serranti and bring peace to the land for the Elves, freeing them from the oppression of the dark Elves.

While they race to finish the game, Brian and his cohorts try to keep the unlikely trio from finishing the game's quest to free the Elves of Quintarria. Donny must not only save Quintarria and Earth, but find a way to stop Brian's ongoing torment.

 

My Opinion: 126 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited

Way too pricey for 126 pages.

Set in the 1982, this story makes a bid for nostalgia and combines it with a kind of transported to a game world story. It does the nostalgia part well with all the correct references and the descriptions of the town. Pac Man, alligator shirts, and Atari. Unfortunately, the game part just doesn’t do well.

The kids are sent to a game world where there’s an evil bad guy they have to beat and they’re sent on a series of quests to gather allies to face him. When they first get there, they’re given roles as a warrior, a mage, and an archer and allowed to choice from three races. And it’s here that you start to see the limitations of the RPG system in place. There’s a distinct lack of agency on the part of the players. They are given a string of ‘on the rail’ quests and they level and then move onto the next quest. The kids are never given any choice about how they develop their characters and are just given abilities and levels as they complete the quests. Whole swaths of levels are skipped in the story. The characters go from level 2 to 21 in the space of a page with no details of how they got there. No choice, no depth. And that, to me is the biggest failing of the story. The game part is frankly boring. I get that it likely references the kinds of games from the 80s, with their limited play choice options and limited ability to customize a character. But if the author can essentially bring a VR game system into the story, why couldn’t he implement a better game system too?

Overall, the story had promise. The real world storyline is very engaging and I genuinely felt bad for the kids when they were being bullied and when things turn around at the end. But the RPG game stuff just wasn’t as well developed.

Score: 5 out of 10

A Game Called Quest: A Retro LitRPG Novel

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