Devon Walker has one chance to turn her life around.
A half-wit ogre, a legion of overgrown jungle beasts, and a power-tripping AI are trying to stop her.
Relic Online is the hottest new game out there, and it's Devon Walker's best hope for escaping her hard-knock life. Thanks to her rocking achievements in other games, she's been hired as a salaried player. Even better, her new position comes with cutting-edge implants that turn RO's virtual reality into a full sensory explosion. Her only task? Drive the game's creator AI to the outermost limits of its creativity.
Sounds easy, right?
But when Devon logs in, her expectations shatter like an ice golem hit with a sonic blast. Wearing nothing but a cloth tunic and ragged pants, she spawns inside a ruined city overgrown by steamy jungle. With zero skills and nothing in her inventory but pocket lint, she immediately runs afoul of the city's guardian, a stone giant the size of an apartment building. The encounter does not go well.
And Relic Online is just getting started with her.
My Opinion: 382 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The story start out with one last raid for the main character (MC), Devon, and her gaming group in their favorite VRMMO that’s shutting down that day. It’s a scene that you can sort of skip since the game is going away and won’t be featured again. It's more used to insert immediate action into the story, establish the MC’s gamer cred, and point out her teammates, who may or may not be used in future storylines.
Storywise, there’s a bit of chosen one them going on where the MC is hand picked by a lead developer to play this full immersion game, not to beta test, but to show off how fun the game is. This premise sort of falls flat since no one is able to watch her play and she’s not a game streamer. Instead, the MC is dropped into a out of the way zone in the game and left to figure everything out on her own. She comes across a village of NPCs led by a stupid Ogre and falls into a mystery of why an old major city was suddenly abandoned and what she can do about it. There’s lots of action, town building, questing, and well described relationship building. There’s even a little bit of intrigue and treachery. The author, who has a good following with her 9 fantasy books, straddles the line between full blown RPG mechanic dumping and fantasy descriptions. She has a following she doesn’t want to alienate by suddenly switching styles and I think she does a good job of gradually introducing those game mechanics into what starts out very fantasy like story (Once she’s in the Realm Online Game).
The game mechanics in Realm Online game story, while very slowly revealed, work well mostly. There’s nothing really new here. But character advancement is detailed, and the town building mechanics have enough depth to be interesting and purposeful. The only place where the game mechanics fall apart is during combat. There, the MC gets a pass on logic and not only wins just about every fight she has but comes away unscathed. This happens even when she’s outnumbered or fighting opponents many times her level. Everywhere else, the RPG game stuff works well and feels like it matters.
Overall, I had a good time reading the novel. Even though combat feels a bit wand wavy, overall there is a consistent implementation of the game mechanics. The story is interesting enough to get me to read a second book in the series.
Score: 7 out of 10