At long last, an extraterrestrial civilization reached out and made the First Contact. However, no one on Earth took their communique for the genuine article. In a similar vein, very few people appreciated just how little time our new suzerains had promised to keep our planet safe. Regardless, the end of their message showed humankind how to access a mysterious game. The objective of this game is unclear. No one can say where its servers are located, and its inner workings are beyond comprehension. But the game slowly gained momentum, pulling in more and more players. Soon enough, it became impossible to ignore the fact that things that happened in the game had a direct impact on our reality. And not only ours...
But as people figure out this mysterious game, the countdown timer ticks away. And no one can say exactly what will happen when Earth’s safety is no longer guaranteed.
My Opinion: 459 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure: I received an advanced copy of the novel for review. I purchased a copy once it became available.
The premise of the story is very similar to the Gam3. Humanity has been contacted by an alien civilization. We now have a limited time to enter a reality bending game and prove ourselves worthy to enter the larger galactic system. If we can’t, once our safe time runs out, we’ll be fair game for the more aggressive species in the universe. At least, that’s the bigger macro storyline for the series.
The micro storyline is much simpler. The main character (MC) Kirill, or Gnat as he’s called in game is blackmailed into joining this game to help his faction progress. It’s his willingness to break the rules imposed by his superiors and play the game like only a veteran game junkie can that lets him progress faster than anyone thought possible and have lots of impactful adventures. The story is mostly a slice of life adventure that’s well organized and you see recurring antagonists come back again and again to make trouble for our MC. Unlike the Dark Herbalist, there is very little real life story.
Game mechanic-wise, there’s a standard Str, Con, Agi, Int, Wis, Cha, Luck stat system. There’s the addition of the stat Perception which plays a major role for the MC and his ability to notice things. There’s a class system that applies firm restrictions on things non-combat related classes can do. Though there isn’t a restriction on skills players can learn, other than the number of total skills at any given level. Skills increase as you practice them and overall usage + general actions increase a players level. If you’ve read the author’s other novel, the Dark Herbalist, a lot of this will feel familiar.
Overall, this is a really good story. The sci-fi adventuring of the MC is never boring, and the RPG game mechanics always feel important and impactful to the story.
Score: 7 out of 10