At thirty years old, Phil is an unemployed gamer who struggles to make ends meet. His only source of income is freelance writing (when he feels inspired enough to add another article to his less-than-popular blog). His wife has just walked out on him, leaving him without money, purpose, or food in the fridge.
On the day his wife dumps him, Phil receives a mysterious piece of wetware. A game interface seems to have been implanted in his brain which allows him to see the world through the eyes of an RPG player.
Now that Phil discovers his real-life stats, he can see they're far below average. With 4 pt. Agility, 6 pt. Strength and 3 pt. Stamina, his most advanced life skill is predictably gaming.
Luckily, real-life stats can be leveled up just like virtual ones. But will it help Phil get his wife back? Can he stop being such a couch potato? Would the new game help him become fitter? Or more successful? Can his gaming skills finally come in handy in real life?
Last but not least, can he find out who could have uploaded the mysterious game to his brain? And how is he supposed to deal with this unknown but apparently omnipotent force?
My Opinion: 413 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure: I received an advanced copy for review. I purchased the novel when it became available.
This is a slice of life, real life LitRPG. The premise: what would you do if you got RPG powers? That’s the question Phil asks himself the day he sees his first notification and skill increase. Soon after, his wife leaves him because he’s devolved into a lazy gamer sponging off her. It’s the last straw for him. He realizes that he needs to make some changes in his life and now he has an mysterious system in his brain quantifying those changes and even giving him information he would never have otherwise.
Game mechanics wise, the notifications are mostly informational. Giving the main character (MC) information about the skills he’s improving. He doesn’t get any magic, or any super powers, rather bouts of euphoria every time he levels or improves himself enough to achieve a sense of happiness. There are things about the game system that give him a unique power that he uses to advance himself and solve problems, but it’s nothing fantasy like. Still, it’s consistent and I really liked seeing the progress and how the MC tried to find the boundaries and cheats in the game system and completed quests generated by himself and others to level.
Story wise, it’s slice of life. There’s no combat at all in the story. Yet, it’s still a compelling tale. I’m not sure if it’s the social commentary about self improvement, the fleshed out relationships between interesting characters, or the social and economic conflicts the MC faces that makes it so interesting. But it is. It’s really fascinating to read about how the MC uses his RPG powers to not only address his personal issues but also aid others. The twists with where the RPG system comes from is equally interesting and I honestly didn’t see it coming. There’s plenty of gamer humor here too, my favorite being the debuff he gets for not getting laid in a while, ‘sexual frustration’ which includes random erections as a side effect. Lol.
Overall, a good read. The story is grounded in reality and even though it’s slice of life, it’s not a fantasy adventure. It’s really about the MC making a decision to be better using system that appeals to his gamer nature.
Score: 7.5 out of 10