LitRPG Podcast 041
Hello everyone, welcome to episode 41 of the LitRPG podcast.
I’m Ramon Mejia. I’m here to bring you the latest LitRPG news, reviews, and author interviews.
New Releases and Reviews:
(Play Music 2)
Aleron Kong, author of The Land, has released a beautiful map he commissioned of the Mist Village and the surrounding area. It’s quite pretty.
Aleron also has one of the most supported Patreon pages, with over $1,000 a month in pledges. He announced this week that at the end of the month will be officially donating all the money he’s received from his patreon supporters to The Water Project - a nonprofit that provides safe, clean drinking water to people around the world.
Out Now, Will Review next week!
Digital Me (Mar 28th, 2017)
New Horizons (Emerilia Book 4) (March 28th)
Awaken Online: Precipice (March 31st, 2017)
Earth Tactics Advance Vol. 1 (March 2017)
The Karmadont Chess Set (The Way of the Shaman: Book #5) (April 2nd, 2017)
Delvers LLC: Obligations Incurred (April 7th, 2017)
Dominion of Blades: A LitRPG Adventure (April 11, 2017)
This is Our Land (Emerilia Book 5) (April 25th, 2017)
The First Player (AlterGame Book #1) (May 9th 2017)
Stuck in an RPG (Sucked into an RPG, Book 2) (May 27th 2017).
The Eternal: Dragonborn - A LitRPG Saga (World of Ga'em Book 2) (May 31st, 2017)
The Eternal: Dragonborn - A LitRPG Saga (World of Ga'em Book 2) (May 31st, 2017)
Hero of Thera (June 1st, 2017)
Conquest: A LitRPG Story (The SciFan™ Universe Book 1) (June 1st, 2017)
Stay on the Wing (The Dark Herbalist Book #2) (June 2nd, 2017).
Onto New Releases and Reviews
(Play Music 3)
New Releases and Reviews
Death Portal Online (A LitRPG Classic in the Making!)
Blake Blaster is in for the ride of his life when he (underhandedly?) secures a spot in a virtual reality contest.
Death Portal Online is a madcap romp through a virtual reality video game fantasy land. Blake isn’t particularly smart or that good at games, but he does have one thing going for him: he’s not afraid to kill everything that moves. Fast-paced and none too serious, his journey through the MMORPG’s dark fantasy world is full of humor and surprises.
Is Blake a couch potato with nothing left to lose, a reprehensible hack turning the game world inside out, or a lovable slob who just wants to be a better man? Click “buy now” to start reading and decide for yourself!
My Opinion: $2.99, 164 pages, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Death Portal Online is the best and most expensive VR game on the market. However, Blake and his best friend get a chance to beta test DPO 2, after attacking two other beta testers and locking them in the trunks of their cars. These two will do whatever it takes to win the beta contest to get permanent spots on the dev team.
This story took some time to grow on me. Most people will either hate it or love it.
Everything in the story is in service of the joke. So, whether you enjoy the novel or not is dependent on whether or not the jokes in the story are funny to you. Most of the jokes are either related to pulp culture, gaming, or just plain punny. But there are jokes galore.
The VR world is a little loose on the game mechanics, none of which are explained fully but are in line with the story. Players have to explore discover all the rules as they play. However, there are health bars, mana bars, levels, and stat points and progression according to those terms.
A few things I didn’t like:
The main characters are jerk gamers, who at the beginning of the story almost feel sociopathic. Willing to do whatever they can get away with in game to get XP.
Includes: Killing innocent NPCs, even quest givers, burn whole forest down, slaughter a village of gnomes for the punch line.
They’re eventually reigned in by the game moderators and the characters realize the importance of a ‘good reputation’. But their behavior almost made me put down the novel.
Once I realized everything in the novel was just for the sake of the joke, I didn’t take the story as seriously and had a better time reading it.
Score: 7 out of 10.
Burning Eden: A LitRPG Digital Thriller
FBI agent Maynard Haile believes in old-school policing. He’s never touched the incredibly popular virtual reality world of Eden Online, and he’s got no intention of starting now…
…until his fellow agents assigned to the case start dying - killed by something inside the game itself.
Paired with Alyx Jirra, a half-reformed hacker who’s reluctantly chosen to help the authorities instead of accepting a jail sentence, Haile takes his first steps into the massively multiplayer world of Eden Online. He’s on a deadline, trying to find the responsible parties while navigating this wild new world. But there’s a conspiracy, deeper than anyone realizes, twisting and altering the world of Eden itself.
My Opinion: $4.99, 225 pages, Not Available on Kindle Unlimited
Hard boiled FBI agent Maynard Haile has been assigned to follow up rumors of a possible terrorist attack. Only this attack is supposed to take place in the world's most popular VR game, Eden. He’s assigned as a temporary partner, hacker Alyx Jirra, who’s agreed to help the FBI instead of going to jail. When the FBI team logs into the game, they’re attacked and it turns out that the agents killed in the game have died in real life. The stakes for the case have risen and it’s up to Haile and Alyx to solve the case before more bodies start to drop.
Doesn’t that premise sound good? It did to me. I got all excited about the first LitRPG detective story. Then it turns out it isn’t the first LitRPG detective story, it’s not even LitRPG. I spent $5 on this story so you don’t have to.
Looked so promising. I really hoped that the author would be able to take her experience with paranormal detective fiction and hacking and apply it LitRPG.
Those parts of the story that deal with either the detective, fantasy, or hacking are written well. You can tell the author has done lots of meticulous research on those subjects and has experience telling those kinds of stories. Her other stories listed on Amazon are paranormal detective stories with some romance in there. To be clear, those parts of the story are good.
It’s the game stuff, you know the LitRPG parts, that are just superficial and hidden away.
The game world of Eden is presented as an MMORPG but is actually described as a Virtual Hub Universe of the likes of the Metaverse from Snow Crash. Where player generated content,(like a fantasy, cyberpunk, dystopian future, and westerns sections) exists alongside official game content with hackers being able to create and influence the world through their scripts, exploits, and illegal programs.
That hub is the extent of this novel's connection to LitRPG. It’s supposed to be a game world and there are a few game terms used but all the mechanics of how the game works and how characters develop or grow stronger are missing. Eden is just a setting where the cyberpunk paranormal detective story takes place sometimes.
58% into the story I stopped reading because it’s very clear that it’s not LitRPG. Which is really frustrating because the story isn’t half bad.
As a cyberpunk paranormal detective story it would get a better score but as LitRPG it fails and gets a 4 out of 10.
Never knew what hit him! (I was reincarnated as a Magic Academy! Book 2)
Reincarnated as a Godlike Dungeon Lord, Illsyore was forced to live as the Fellyore Magic Academy’s janitor and repairman.
He tried his best to adapt to his new life, but his past life memories and dungeon instincts could not be tamed so easily. His desire to grow more powerful and build ridiculous dungeons kept growing with each passing moment. This gave rise to unexpected situations and attracted dangerous enemies.
Now, the young Dungeon Lord must do everything in his power to protect those he cares about.
Dungeon building and leveling up had just become Illsyore’s number one priority.
My Opinion: 365 pages, $3.99, Not available on Kindle Unlimited
I enjoyed reading book 1 in this series. It wasn’t amazing but was a nice change from serious adventure stories. Sure it was a little Ecchi but that’s ok. Book 2 has everything I enjoyed about book 1 and adds a bit of plot.
The story revolves around the Illsyore the Dungeon Core making his dungeons/labyrinths and dealing with the coming of Dankyun (Evil Guy) who is both an enemy of Nanya (Cat Lady) and Ayuseya (Dragon Lady), who the accidently on purpose married.
The dungeons created are interesting and rather devious in their complexity sometimes.
The dungeon core continues to level up and get even more overpowered but he needs to if he’s going to face off with Dankyun (Evil Guy).
Story still meanders a bit and has harmish themes but is as funny as the first book.
Score 6 out of 10
The Eternal: Awakening - A LitRPG Saga (World of Ga'em Book 1)
Do you fear the darkness?
Do you fear the pain and terror within?
It wasn’t my fault. I didn’t mean to look for things I wasn’t supposed to. I didn’t mean for death to come after me. I really didn’t.
But it still happened.
I’m Zoran and my name is the only thing I remember about myself; not why I woke up in a forest, not why I taste blood in my mouth, and certainly not why I see weird screens in front of me. Ever since I first woke, all I wanted to do was find out who I really was. But what I didn’t expect, was for my search to spark something that was never meant to happen.
It has started now. I can see it. Cities will burn and towers will fall. Chaos will descend the heavens and ravage the earth. The darkness is coming, and the world will tremble in its wake.
My Opinion: $3.99, 281 pages, Available on Kindle Unlimited
MC wakes up not knowing anything about his past or the world around him. Is killed by a pack of wolves and is surprised to wake up whole, only to discover he has the ‘resurrection’ ability that lets him come back to life after death, randomly teleported to a new location, and with a loss of XP as a penalty. Oh, and he suddenly starts to remember things about the game world: skills, races, how the game system works, etc. Just nothing about his past.
Things I liked:
There are some interesting game mechanics.
I like the premise of someone waking up in a game world and having to figure things out.
Things I didn’t like:
Everything is very convenient for the main character.
Fighting an Ogre more than 12 times his level? The MC just happens to remember a magic spell that obliterates him just before he’s going to get squashed.
About to be tortured by a evil mage? Don’t worry, the main character is conveniently be teleported away from any danger.
MC has a quest to find out more about his past and when he reaches the city where he’s supposed to search for answers, before he even steps foot in the city he’s conveniently found by a group that provides him the information that he’s an Eternal.
Loads of this kind of stuff: remembers skills, spells, gets over powered equipment for no good reason,
Game Mechanics presented don’t make sense or aren’t followed:
The MC level 11 finds himself surrounded by a group of well-armed enemies, each 17 levels. Including: At least men with swords and spears, archers, and a mage. Each of whom have an extra 24 stat points than the MC, higher health, stamina, and mana due to being higher level. Yet, at the last moment he magically remembers a weapon skill that lets you defeat most of them in a single action and the rest decide to teleport away.
Magically remember a weapon skill that lets you defeat most of them in a single action and the rest decide to teleport away.
Because the MC magically remembers information about everything he encounters there’s no sense of discovery for the reader, just a bunch of explanations.
The combat scenes are not exciting because you get to expect that the main character will magically find some way to win or be conveniently whisked away from danger.
This story isn’t particularly bad, it’s just not good either. It’s pretty meh.
Score: 5 out of 10
Shadows of the Great Forest (Realm of Arkon, Book 4)
A great war encroaches following the turbulent events of patch seventeen, casting a menacing shadow over both Demon Grounds and lands of the light races. Roused from a millennia-old slumber, dark gods seek to exact vengeance for their past defeat. Max finds himself at the epicenter of it all—with the lives of his woman, his friends and all his people in the Wild Wood dependent on him. Two unlikely heroes must stand—and endure—against all odds: one a Black Demon from an ancient prophecy, the other a fabled Gray Lion…
My Opinion: 262 pages, $5.99, available on Kindle Unlimited
This novel is all about Max, the MCs friend. In book 4, Max has to deal with the consequences of being a nightwalker as his beast form comes out more and more. Max fights through monsters galore with the friends he’s made as he marches through the Great Forest to complete his Epic Quest to restore the altar of the goddess of vengance.
Lots of action, great raid battles, follow up of several threads brought up in books 1-3 for Max.
If you’re only interested in Roman/Krian and his story in the Demon Lands then skip this one because it’s all about Max.
Score: 7 out of 10.
Dragon Mastery: Daybreak: A LitRPG Adventure
Blake Frostdeth dreams of becoming the first player ever to recover Captain Ravencrest’s cursed treasure. To do so, he must collect three clues. One big problem: each clue is heavily guarded by high-level monsters and lethal traps. After failing repeatedly to retrieve the very first clue, Blake gets so discouraged that he nearly calls off the quest. All seems lost until he lucks upon a young Shadow Dragon that he raises as a pet named "Ravage". With Ravage at his side, Blake may now stand a chance to become the first player to set eyes on the legendary treasure.
My Opinion: 358 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
From Garrett Boggs, the author of the funny novel Warscapia (http://amzn.to/2na64r5).
At its core, this is an adorable story about a boy and his dragon. They adventure in this game like world to solve a puzzles and get the amazingly unspecific treasure.
The story takes the Ready Player One story hook of a secret treasure hidden away by a series of clues and challenges and combines it with pet raising in a fantasy game world. It was enjoyable.
MC is likeable most of the time, except when he gets a little whiny, but thankfully early in the story he gets a dragon pet that can slap some sense into him, literally with his tail.
The dragon pet Ravage is more interesting than the MC.
Skill based game system with levels, and stats. So you can level up any number of martial, crafting, or magical skills as long as you put in the work.
It’s not really clear if this is a VR game someone is playing or if this is a fantasy world ruled by RGP mechanics.
No references for some of the numbers used for skills and stats. How does having a 200 in one stat compare to having a 50?
The gamer speak early in the story that seemed out of place. If this is a world with RPG mechanics why would people use language (Noob, Leet, Gamer tag names) from earth video games? It’s a small world building inconsistency that just stuck out in my mind.
Score: 7 out of 10.
Arcadia Unlocked: A LitRPG Novel (Arcadia LitRPG Book 1)
As a code monkey for Goliath Corp., Trent Webb feels like a cog in the machine. He wants nothing more than to visit the newly discovered magical continent of Arcadia. But the price is too steep for mere mortals like him, so Trent settles for the next best thing … Arcadia VR.
The virtual reality vacation outfitters at VR World have a package that provides an MMORPG experience in Arcadia—complete with elves, mythical creatures like griffins and unicorns, and lads and lasses in distress—in short, everything Trent needs to become the hero he yearns to be.
However, once he’s in the game, Trent discovers a much larger quest, one that may actually affect the real world as he knows it.
My Opinion: About 230 pages (not listed on Amazon), $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Feels like two separate stories: 1) A geeky VR fantasy homage to Total Recall. 2) A general LitRPG leveling-up story with MMO and gamer jokes.
1st 14%: is a big homage to Total Recall (1990) where the the author introduces her main character, Trent, the same way almost beat for beat that Arnold is in that movie. Only instead of “get your ass to Mars” it’s “get your ass to Arcadia”, in a fantasy VR world.
Warning: There’s an oddly graphic sex scene very early in the story. It actually feels out of place when compared to the rest of the fantasy story but does fit in with the homage to Total Recall.
From the 14% - 63% : After that the story becomes its own tale of adventure as Trent Webb logs into an expensive full immersion experience in Arcadia VR, the next best thing to visiting the recently opened elven world. He plays as a dual wielding rogue and goes one quests after another as he tries to get to the max level of 20 and fulfill his fantasies of helping the beautiful elven rebel leader Catriona.
Even though there are a few references in this section to the larger story, most of this part is spent with the main character questing and exploring this fantasy world. It’s a simple, enjoyable experience with plenty of gamer jokes.
At the 63% mark the novel returns back to the larger story introduced in the beginning and this is where the novel loses me. The author returns to the fantasy VR Total Recall storyline and the rest of novel becomes very predictable since it continues to follow the almost exact same plot points as the 1990s movie including the ambiguous ending.
I really enjoyed the story the most when it was just the main character going on quests, learning new skills, and leveling up.
Score: 6 out of 10
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