When an update traps millions of players in the most advanced VR game ever made, one man discovers an exploit that might just take him to the top of the World-Tree.~~
In 2056, the world’s most powerful AI System, ARKUS, comes online. Created to extend human lifespans, it quickly designs new kinds of nanomachine therapies, in addition to making world-changing discoveries in health science. It also develops an advanced VR headset that uses consumable nanomachines to allow users to experience time faster in virtual worlds.
Two years later, ARKUS releases World-Tree Online. The game’s time-dilation makes it so that one hour of playtime feels like one month to those in-game, allowing humans to live extended, virtual lives that feel real.
However, shortly after an old gamer named Vincent joins World-Tree Online, an update begins that stretches the time-dilation to one year for every five seconds. Players are unable to exit the game during the update—with an estimated wait time of three hundred sixty years.
While trapped in the game, Vincent discovers an exploit in the physics that might take him higher up the World-Tree than he ever expected. Unfortunately, he crosses paths with the last moderator in the game, a young man named Lucas that uses his mod abilities to torture and subjugate other players.
Lucas is willing to abuse his power to conquer the World-Tree, but Vincent’s exploit might just be the key to stopping him.
My Opinion: 524 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
This is a novel that while nothing in the novel description says it is LitRPG, has been advertised in several LitRPG Facebook groups as the author’s first LitRPG novel.
The novel on the whole, while technically LitRPG, often feels more like a fantasy story with cyberpunk elements or a veneer of RPG. While the game mechanics exist and RPG progress is made, there’s not a whole lot of depth to them. Certain elements, especially the rune system, are used as wand wavy catch-alls to create everything from enhanced armor to self replicating cat food to television. There are really only 4-5 powers players have with a bunch of variation. The main characters powers, both Vincent and Lucas, are not grounded in any game mechanic and might as well be spells from a normal fantasy story. As I continued to read more of the story, more and more of it was explained in terms better fitting a fantasy story with a decent magic system. Now, this may not bother every reader but it contributed to the story not really scratching that LitRPG itch.
The story premise also doesn’t make sense, at least to me. The story starts with a 70 year old main character, Vincent, who decides to try the latest full immersion VR game. The game’s big feature, time dilation of 270: 1 or 1 month in game is the same as 1 hour of real world time. That the level of time dilation wouldn’t break people’s mind stretches the realm of believability. However, it’s stretched even further when for no ever explained reason the ruling AI traps everyone in the game by taking out all pain filters and increasing the time dilation to 6,307,200: 1, or 1 year in game is 5 seconds real world time.
The other parts of the story are actually fine. The narrative structure is divided between power hungry Lucas, the last moderator, and Vincent, the hero who just happens to have a unique not well explained spell that isn't really grounded in the described game mechanics. Lucas is a good villain, irritating and unlikable. Vincent’s story arc is mostly slice of life adventuring till the two opposites eventually collide, but not before the story makes several time skips of years or even decades. Something else that bothered me since the time jumps also made the characters stats and powers increase without any shown work or hardship, which made them feel unearned.
The big finale was satisfying but it didn’t make up for the other parts of the story that just didn’t resonate with me or really feel like a litRPG story. Not a boring story and if I just looked at as a general fantasy story or not caring about the game stuff, it would actually be good. But as LitRPG it just didn’t do it for me.
Score: 6 out of 10