Total Quest, a “full immersive virtual reality game” is releasing to the public. As the beta players prepare for new release, Ken suits up for the first time unlocking his personal AGI, Vera. The technology offers more than a “good time” online. The public release of the game brings a new opportunity, get paid to play. When you’re the best, companies want you to play for them. Corporate obedience strains friendship and loyalties, as the virtual game becomes a real life nightmare when players’ minds become the prize.
My Opinion: 210 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
This is the author’s debut novel and you can tell, especially early on. There are a lot of grammar, tense, and structural issues. The most noticeable are the mixing of past and present tenses in the same sentence.
The story is a mix of action raid battles in a full immersion MMO and an awakened AI sci-fi story. It’s told from multiple perspectives. I believe there are six POVs used, five players and an AI.
The beginning of the story is one last raid battle for the beta version of the game organized by three gamer friends. It then shifts to a long real world storyline where each of the players is either setting up equipment for the full version of the VR game, setting up their personal AI assistants, or being offered odd jobs to play the game full time. Outside of a brief scene where one player levels, it doesn’t return to the game until the 56% mark. After that, it stays in the game and all the players and the AI come together. It’s an interesting story from there and is a lot of MMO raid combat and exploration of various NPC towns. There are neat sub plots about AI going out of control and trying to escape any way it can.
Game mechanic-wise, it’s pretty light on the RPG progression. There’s lots information about how combat works, spells, skills, and classes. There are even some original ideas about using physics, chemistry, and wave patterns to determine class abilities and how they progress. But actual RPG progress only takes place in two places at the 34-38% and 72-74%. That’s it. In the entire story, one guy increases his skills and gains levels. This is despite lengthy fights that occur involving multiple characters. I liked the information provide and I think it has potential, but it’s not applied to the majority of the players. Instead, the game time mostly focuses on raid battles with good descriptions of formations, strategy, and tactics. The scenes use spells and abilities in good combos but there’s no progression of skills or abilities for the characters in the fights. It’s kind of odd.
Overall, I was kind of bored for several sections of the story. There doesn’t seem to be a plot, so it feels very slice of life. Only it’s following 6 different lives so the story gets scattered. Most of the stuff that happens in the real life part is not needed and doesn’t develop anything that advances the story. At most it does some character development, helping you to appreciate each player’s personality. The raid battles were well described and I could visualize the battles well. I also feel like the sci-fi aspects of self-aware AI were neat, but for much of the story nothing really happens with it and the story just peters out instead of getting a solid resolution for many of the story threads.
Score: 5 out of 10