In 2049, the Singularity has emerged from the depths of the internet, and the world is better for it. Earth has entered a golden age of technology, and man and artificial intelligence share the world in peace. For those that aren't satisfied with the physical humdrum of Earth, the Singularity's people eagerly welcome humans into their home of Incipere.
But new golden age or not, the world keeps on turning as it always has, and it still isn’t always datum and daisies. Just ask Athos Aramis.
After being mugged, stabbed, and left with a critical spinal injury, Athos’s last option is to trade one machine-supported life for another and let his mind be downloaded into the world of Incipere. Thanks in part to some outdated guide books, his journey is less than ideal, and as the newest alchemist of Incipere, Athos must learn to survive as he goes. His biggest lesson? Incipere - and its denizens - shouldn't be taken lightly.
My Opinion: 357 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure: I received an advanced copy of the novel for review.
This is a transported to an A.I. created game world with simplistic crafting mechanics. The main character (MC), Athos, is dying and has to qualify for a brain upload to a virtual world created by self aware artificial intelligence. The author does a really good job of efficiently establishing why the MC wants to live in this world, while simultaneously creating empathy for the MC and some world building. The MC is in the game world by the 4% mark.
Now, once there he creates a character and there’s this Alice in Wonderland section where the MC wanders about learning about the world. The MC is constantly surprised by all the weird and wonderful things he finds in the new world. Like deer with knives on their antlers. It’s probably the slowest section in the story but it reveals the game mechanics of the world and introduces all the important characters in the story.
The pace picks up about the 20% mark when the MC goes on his first dungeon dive all by himself. From there the story takes many interesting turns. There’s action, betrayal, failure, PvP combat, and guild intrigue. Good stuff.
The game mechanics in the story are moderately detailed. You get plenty of information about the MCs class. Data integrity takes place of health and stamina bars. Strenuous actions and damage from fighting reduce it. The MC needs to rest to recompile or special items. There are ranks instead of levels for players and native A.I. inhabitants, but nothing like that for the monsters. So, that combined with the lack of damage notifications makes it harder to tell how difficult a fight is. Crafting and gathering are almost automatic. With the most difficult part being collecting new recipes. Information on other classes/monsters/abilities sometimes feels made up on the spot, especially towards the end.
The only minor gripe I’d say I had was with the ending. It’s not a bad ending or anything. It’s very interesting. But it’s a lot like the LOTR movie trilogy ending. Just when you think the story ends, there are really like 5 more endings. It really just went on longer than it needed to.
Overall, I enjoyed the story once it got a bit more action. I especially liked that not all the problems in the story were solved with violence. It made for some nice variety to problem solving.
Score: 7 out of 10