If you had to choose between your life and your dreams, would you ever wake up?
Alan Campbell thought he’d gotten his dream job working on a revolutionary VRMMORPG with Osmark Technologies, until the project was canceled. He has one weekend to dive into an untested world full of intrigue, violence, and corruption to prove that Viridian Gate Online works, but the AIs running the game have their own plans for his soul.
Set a year before the events of “Viridian Gate Online: Cataclysm,” The Illusionist: Nomad Soul takes you back to when VGO was just a game, or so it seemed.
From James A. Hunter—author of Viridian Gate Online, Rogue Dungeon, and War God's Mantle—and D.J. Bodden, author of The Black Year Series, comes an epic new entry into the Expanded Universe of Viridian Gate Online that you won't want to put down!
My Opinion: 329 pages, $4.99, Available On Kindle Unlimited
This is an expanded universe series, set in the Viridian Gate Online universe. It is set one year before the 1st book in that main series. Initially, I was a little unsure how much it would feel like a VGO novel, and if it would be consistent with the established cannon and RPG game mechanics. Thankfully, after reading the story I’m glad to say this fits right in with all the other novels. I was honestly pretty impressed how much trust and leeway the publishers gave to the author. They let him use major series characters and not just for cameos, but serious cannon stuff.
The story, is set before the asteroid hits the earth and the Viridian Gate MMO world is still in the alpha stages, just starting it’s testing phase. The main character (MC) is trying to save the project and prove that the interface issues can be worked out by staying in game for over the weekend. In-game (IG), it’s a fairly slice of life story that focuses on world building, character development, and intrigue. The MC has to navigate a world the controlling AI gods have been influencing and building as the very first player/Traveler. You get lots of new information about the Imperial side: history, small personal stories, architectural details, and customs. Some readers have complained there’s too much of this. Also, there’s some IG intrigue between different imperial factions the MC has to deal with. The author really does a good job describing a faction/place that the VGO series has been sparse about. One aspect that is lacking in the game story is action. When there is an action scene, it is good, but there’s just not much of it in the story. The IRL story line is more about getting the game to work right and proving it can be popular.
On the game mechanics side, things are relatively light. There are only a few times the reader even sees a character sheet. There are semi-regular notifications for quests, skills, and items. But the story does not focus on the RPG progression. It's more of an incidental effect of the adventuring the MC does with quest playing a hand in guiding that adventure. Instead the story focuses on world building, character development, and story intrigue. This is completely in line with the story setup, as this takes place a year before the 1st VGO book in an alpha phase of the game world. However, readers that love all the crunchiness of the main VGO series may be a little disappointed with the lack of it here.
Overall, it is a good story that is light on action and RPG but does good stuff with the world building and intrigue.
Score: 7.3 out of 10