LitRPG Podcast 052
LitRPG Podcast 052
May 26th, 2017
Hello everyone, welcome to episode 52 of the LitRPG podcast.
I’m Ramon Mejia. I’m here to bring you the latest LitRPG news, reviews, and author interviews. I have 8 new LitRPG stories to review for you this week.
New Releases and Reviews:
Office Wars: The Mailroom Clerk (05:33)
Solaria Online: Launch (17:47)
(Play Music 2)
Codename Freedom written by Apollos Thorne is up for pre-order and has a July 12th release date. This is a novel that I first found on the Royal Road and loved it. I’m happy to see it come to Amazon.
Michael Chatfield has released the cover art for book 6 in his Emerillia series titled The Stone Raiders’ Return. It almost looks like team zero is going to go bust open a snow globe. The novel is scheduled to appear on Amazon on June 6th. No pre-order though.
Christopher Keene has put a new 33 page diary style prequel to his LitRPG Dream State Saga. It describes how the Dream Tech the game uses came to be and experiences of an early Beta tester. It’s not LitRPG, so it won’t get a full review but is a neat little read if you’re a fan of the series.
If you’re going to be in the London area on June the 24th, Vasily Mahanenko, author of the Way of the Shaman and Galactgon series, and the Dark Paladin series, is having a LitRPG meetup with fans.
New LitRPG Audiobooks
Out Now, Will Review next week!
Grimoire Bound (May 28th, 2017)
Spellbinder: The Shadow Legacy 1 (May 30th, 2017)
The Eternal: Dragonborn - A LitRPG Saga (World of Ga'em Book 2) (May 31st, 2017)
Eden's Gate: The Sparrow: A LitRPG Adventure (May 31st, 2017)
Hero of Thera (June 1st, 2017)
Fantasy Online: Hyperborea (June 2nd, 2017)
Stay on the Wing (The Dark Herbalist Book #2) (June 2nd, 2017).
Stone Raider's Return (Emerilia Book 6) (June 6th, 2017)
Hero of Naught (July 1st, 2017)
Codename: Freedom: Survive Week One (July 12th, 2017)
The Curse of Rion Castle (The Neuro Book #2) LitRPG Series (July 6th, 2017)
The First Planet: The Space Masters 1 (July 14th, 2017)
Kingdom Level Three (LitRPG: Kingdom Series Book 3) (July 15th, 2017)
The Glitch Fiends (LitRPG): Part 2 (Hell's Glitch Book 3) (Aug. 4th, 2017)
Onto New Releases and Reviews
(Play Music 3)
New Releases and Reviews
Office Wars: The Mailroom Clerk
Bran was one of the first to purchase a full immersion Virtual Reality Pod that he calls the Coffin, but over a century later, ironically, he finds himself part of the 1% that does not live virtually. He sleeps in a real bed and eats real food and only jumps into Neuroma to work.
All he wanted was to log in, work and log out and live in general obscurity. Getting the attention of a CEO, meeting a stranger in real life, and forced to play in a secret game of corporations were not penciled into his calendar. While that was bad, he started to question whether Odditek was still in control, or had their complacency created the noose tightening around their neck.
Bran was not yet aware of the choice before him. He could no longer stand back and watch, and he had to pick a side and fight before he lost the ability to choose. Would he recognize the inevitable in time? Was it possible to make a ‘correct’ choice, or had the lines blurred so much that hero and villain were indistinguishable?
My Opinion: 269 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The first 18% of the story is not bad but it’s not entirely relevant to the rest of the story. There is some sci fi space stuff near the beginning that’s a bit irrelevant to the story, the stuff at the very beginning with the ash and memory wipe goes on too long even if it’s part of the series plot.
At the 14% mark you’re introduced to the larger virtual hub world and given some background info on the real world and why just about everyone lives a digital existence.
However where the novel really starts to shine is at 19% mark when the story turns to Bran’s day job in the virtual world, his office job. From there on, it’s a much funnier and interesting story that meshes the observational buddy humor of Office Space with the action adventure mechanics of a real time RPG death game.
There are a few spelling and continuity errors but nothing big enough to ruin the story.
Score: 7 out of 10
The Wraith of Valenastrious: A LitRPG Epic (World of Samar Book 1)
Heroes vs Villains: What Side Are You on?
Harrison Harper has hit rock bottom. A promising e-sports competitor, he’s lost everything—his career, wife and kid—to alcohol and gambling. Today, the once famous gamer is but a shadow of his former self, struggling to keep his head out of the water and the loan sharks at bay. Because Harrison is not only broke, he owes a lot of money to the wrong people.
Unable to pay off his debt, he’s sent to spy on a revolutionary game that will make its creator rich beyond belief and forever change the face of the gaming world.
Harrison will use those skills that made him a champion to navigate these new intriguing lands where demons roam free, and steal the software running the simulation. But as he gets deeper into the game, connects with a few other players and rediscovers the meaning of friendship and loyalty, he’s going to have to betray the trust of his friends to save his own life. Will Harrison be able to escape the clutches of the loan shark and his goons? Is he forever doomed to repeat the same mistakes and hurt those close to him?
When the virtual becomes real and the lines between good and evil become blurred, it gets increasingly difficult to make the right decision.
My Opinion: About 200 pages, $0.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
From page one, good character development.
Harry Harrison, former pro gamer turned drunk gets in over his head with a loan shark. Gets one last chance to make good by beta testing the world’s first full immersion VR game and reporting what he finds to the mob. However, once he’s at the testing facility and playing the game Harrison finds the hero inside himself he thought lost forever. Will he still be able to spy on the game for the mob or will he give into the digital temptations posed to him?
The first 10% of the story is character backstory for the main character, Harrison. It’s really well written and interweaves the his fall from pro gaming and how he got involved with the loan shark. It also introduces the beta testing facility for the world of Samar.
11%- Actually get to the game where the main character chooses to become a half-breed hunter named Bishop. Be aware there are no explanation of gaming terms or abilities. AOE, NPC, Spec, Execute Ability.
Game stuff is not bad but doesn’t expand the boundaries of what's possible in a full immersion VR game. The game mechanics are standard in current gen MMOs and while accurate, they don’t bring anything new to the table either. Most of the game mechanics are pulled from games like WOW and Elder Scrolls Online. NPCs have question marks and exclamation marks over their heads from quests. Set class abilities are given to players each level with customization allowed at level 10. There are random monster encounters with demons when a rift appears and they pop out and players have to defeat them and close the portal.
LitRPG is a great opportunity to create mechanics that just aren't possible with current games. It can be an opportunity to fulfill the lofty gamer dreams everyone has when they play a new MMO.
Story excels in the real world storyline. Harry Harrison’s road to redemption and the ever present question of ‘will he do what the mob boss says?’ Also creates strong stories with other players and starts building friendships.
In game storyline is kind of boring until about 50% into the story when Bishop’s guild gets into PVP and goes into their first dungeon. Get more interactions between group members and Bishop starts to be tempted to the dark side in game too.
Good if slightly predictable ending. Overall a good read.
Score: 7 out of 10
The much-anticipated second novel in the bestselling Fayroll series. Get ready for more epic battles, legendary artifacts, and incredible quests… As Harriton’s Fayroll articles spark interest and his real world career seems to pick up, he remains a low-level noob in the challenging virtual world of Fayroll. Although he is an incredibly lucky noob. Without breaking a sweat, Harry – a.k.a. Hagen the Warrior – stumbles across one of the most coveted “hidden” quests. He is to save the four Dryad sisters starting with Ogina in the East. As he haphazardly sets out on The Long Road East…
He manages to come out unscathed of many perils; happily swimming between two worlds; making new friends when necessary and facing foes along the way. It is at this stage, when Harry is forced to pursue a real-life mission within the world of the game, that the thin line between the two worlds appears to be much thinner. It is only a matter of time before he is bound to start asking himself the hard questions. Like what if his admirable luck runs out? Or, more importantly; is he playing his own game or just being manipulated right off the hop?
My Opinion: 448 pages, $6.95, Not Available on Kindle Unlimited
In Fayroll book 1, Harriton Nikiforov fulfilled his journalist mission of writing about the hottest new VR game. He also managed to participate in some epic quests, join a guild, and even stumbled upon a rare quest chain. After completing his assignment he was promised a long vacation in Spain.
However, in book 2 that vacation is cut short and he’s called back to his work at the newspaper. Only to find out he’s not in trouble but actually getting a promotion when the makers of Fayroll buy the company that makes his newspaper. Now he’s responsible for a weekly series of articles on Fayroll and has to go back in the game to get more material.
Not only that but his new bosses want him to finish the quest with the dryad and bring back the old gods to Fayroll.
The first 8 % of the story details what was described above. After that Harriton logs back into Fayroll and becomes Hagen the level 33 warrior.
Most of the game storyline is Hagen traveling east to complete the next part of the dryad quest chain. He doesn’t get there till the 75% mark. The rest of the time, he’s just adventuring, killing monsters, raiding dungeons, participating in some PVP, and Guild vs Guild battles.
The real world storyline revolves around him training his new staff for the Fayroll paper, getting into a new romantic relationship, and doing some favors for his new bosses over at the game company.
Overall, I had a good time reading the story. There’s lots of action, adventure, and exploration of the game world. Don’t expect this novel to be an epic tale or anything. It really is just about a guy going on adventures and balancing his real life job with what he has to do in the game.
Score. 7 out of 10
Solaria Online: Launch
Three days before his high school graduation, Jacob Milroy learns that the military draft has been reinstated. With a war raging on the other side of the world, he realizes that he might soon be thrust into battle.
But then a groundbreaking contest within the immersive virtual reality game, Solaria Online, is announced by its visionary creator, a man who has grand plans for the human race. The prize for four lucky winners: recruitment into the Mars Colonization Initiative (and exemption from the draft).
Will Jacob be able to assemble his dream team in time to compete in the first round of the contest? With so much at stake and so many players vying for the adventure of a lifetime, he’ll have to rely on his wit and ingenuity to have a fighting chance.
My Opinion: 289 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Jacob is teen is turning 18 who’ll soon be graduating high school. He loves playing the best VRMMO Solaris. Only soon he’ll have to sign up for the draft and be sent off to war, unless he wins a contest set up by Solaris. The company promises that the 4 lucky players that win the game contest will instead get a ticket to help colonize Mars.
The first 33% of the novel sets up all the details from the description, establishes who Jacob and who he chooses for his ‘dream team’ of players to help win the Solaris contest.
There is also a real life storyline with Jacob rebelling against his parents and figuring out how to live in real life while playing in this contest.
Jacob’s gaming group consists of: Himself, his best friend, a girl they sort of know in real life, and a 35 year old that MC met ingame. There’s also a badass fighter girl neighbor girl knows but she leaves the team in what feels like a very forced way. Heck, the group feels pretty random and there’s little to no backstory on most of them.
There are some descriptions given about monsters and gear and a little about leveling but it all really doesn’t matter.
At about the 33% mark, the contest actually starts and contestants levels reset to level 1 and their be able to create a new character or modify reset one. The contest will take place in a new unique realm in game with new NPCS and monsters. So any information the reader has gotten in now useless. One life for contest. Die once and you lose.
There are some interesting twists to the game contest but not enough to make it a page turner.
Overall, this was just an ok read. The game mechanics in the story are never fully fleshed out. Heck, I didn’t even know there was magic in the game until about 45% into the story. The contest itself is a series of fights. However, most of the combat is just mediocre.
Score: 5 out of 10.
Immortality Experiment: A LitRPG Adventure (Territoria Book 1)
Immigrant. Criminal. Genius.
Abandoned as a child and fostered around a foreign city, Nikolay Somov had little hope of a successful life. Then he was wrongly convicted of a heinous crime and all hope was dashed.
Imprisoned and awaiting execution, Nikolay receives an offer: Go on a mission inside the secret, government-controlled virtual world known as Territoria or die.
Within the virtual world, Nikolay enrolls in the mysterious Ravenscroft Academy alongside humans, ogres, faeries and gargoyles. As he continues to explore his new home, Nikolay discovers a conspiracy wrought with inhumane actions, driven by his captors’ boundless lust for power.
What he thought was a school for the gifted turns out to be something else altogether. Surrounded by avatars, under constant surveillance, and fearing his mind has been infiltrated, Nikolay must escape or never see the real world again.
This is the second edition of "Ravenscroft Conspiracy," revised and rewritten with the input from readers.
My Opinion: 513 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
In the novel description on Amazon, the author acknowledges that this is a heavily revised edition of the novel the Ravenscroft Conspiracy: A LitRPG Thriller. Gave that one a 4 out 10 because it wasn’t LitRPG. (http://www.geekbytespodcast.com/litrpg-database/2017/3/17/ravenscroft-conspiracy-a-litrpg-thriller?rq=ravens )
This story really is a rewritten version of that one. There’s a new introduction to the game world of Territoria, a space walk in VR, and attempts to establish more itself as LitRPG with more game notifications. However, the basic plot is the same. The MC is sent to Ravencroft academy to try and discover the dark secrets it holds. It’s gotten a makeover with lots of game notifications. The author explains away why the other people at the academy act like they’re at a magical academy by telling the reader that they don’t know they’re in a VR simulation.
The author rewrote his story and added enough more than enough game mechanic details to qualify as LitRPG to me. However the novel still isn’t particularly appealing to me since at it’s core it’s still the same magical academy story.
Score: 6 out of 10.
Travail Online: Resurrection: A LitRPG Series
Coral, Daniel, and their friends have their heads in the game. But what happens when the game gets in their heads?
Strange things are afoot in Travail Online. People like Coral who couldn’t find jobs offline joined Travail so they could grind away at the virtual reality video game and sell in-game items for a bit of real world cash. Travail, however, has just launched new content that turns that premise on its head. The game resurrected a dead god and is using it to brainwash players into pouring their life savings into the game, ruining their livelihoods and threatening to destroy the game’s economy worldwide. Coral can’t stand by while the game mind-hacks players and siphons away their gold, but will getting involved cause more harm than good?
Meanwhile, Daniel has his own concerns. The head of the Assassins’ Guild is still trying to recruit him, the Regent of Travail’s human city wants him to start a war with the dwarves, and the elves seem to be hunting him and his friends. The game just keeps throwing roadblocks in their way, not to mention the mess it’s making of their minds…
Welcome to Travail, where hard play makes fun work!
My Opinion: 336 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The novel starts out with of who Coral is and her nifty skinweaver crafting skills. She can make clothes out of monster skins.
Then the group, (Daniel, Coral, Sal, and Sybil) get rewarded by the human kingdom’s specist regent for their good work in the last book and are given two quests: Explore the elven forest and scout out the invading elf army, and conquer the dwarven mines for the human kingdom. However, the quests don’t turn out as simple or straight forward as they first appear.
I won’t spoil any of the in game quest plotlines but they really don’t get good until the team gets to the dwarven mines. Until then they feel pretty standard. A lot of the in game stuff is like that, good but not amazing. There’s lots of crafting, fighting, questing, and cool loot. The end of the story is actually interesting.
However, it is not the action or adventure that I like best about the novel, it’s the characters. Their interactions, their emotional journeys. Where the author really shines is in creating engaging characters that the reader can empathize with. The most interesting moments in the story are the ones where the characters are just talking and not fighting.
Ie: Dwarven caves - contest that lets Sybil’s little sister see what she’s sacrificed to pay the bills and take care of her. It’s a touching scene.
Overall a better story than book 1. Tighter more coherent storyline. At least once you're past the part in the forest.
Score: 7 out of 10.
Resigned to his fate, Robert must adapt to his new role as King of Anika. Expected to cleanse the kingdom of its many festering problems, he starts by trying to gain levels and useful skills.
But the daunting task quickly becomes a lesson in humility as he finds himself underpowered and overwhelmed. Desperate for gear and experience points, he stumbles upon a secret place so terrifying he questions whether he can be an adventurer king at all.
For here he must learn the one true skill that matters above all others:
My Opinion: Amazon lists it at 327 but I’d say it’s no more than 150 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Kingdom level 1 re-released at the same time this one was. Originally gave the the first story a poor review because it had over 300 pages in the story, only 30 of which were the actual story. The rest being an entirely different novel. The author has re-released Kingdom Level 1, this time with only the main story, which isn't bad. It’s still a bit expensive for the page count but it looks like those comments you folks left had an impact.
At the beginning of book 2, King Rob is in shock from his actions in book 1 and realizing that he’s been marked by the gods. When he eventually leaves the castle, he takes quest to clear a group of goblins from a nearby farm. Turns out combat is hard, especially when you're still level 3 and don’t have magic.
About 30-70%, there’s a shift and the main characters teleported to a new Zone where he meets another adventure that is much higher level than him. There he gets a few free levels and some free equipment. Once he’s out of that zone he tries to complete a few more quests on his own.
Overall this is a hack and slash story where the action in only meh. Spelling errors are regular and there are none of the kingdom building mechanics I liked in book 1.
Score: 6 out of 10.
The Other Side (A LitRPG Series): Book 1
Janik is just the newest of the many tags that Jo Frog has gone by.
He's been on his sister's trail for two years now, searching every game world on the Neural Network, or Nunet. Her mind was abducted two years ago, and ever since, he's been hacking and shooting his way through every game on the planet in search of her.
The Other Side: Book 1 is the beginning of a series of stories that follow Janik in his epic quest to find his sister. He's heard of a guy in the game March on Cretchena, who has been bragging about how he can sever the connection between the bodies and minds of gamers, and it's the closest thing to a lead he's had in months. To get to him however, he's got to survive the alien hordes and make it back alive. Just when he thinks he's safe of danger, he meets a mysterious stranger who knows more than they should about who he is and what he's doing. Can he trust them, and if he can't, then what will this mean for his quest, and ultimately, the life of his sister..
My Opinion: About 20 pages, $0.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Short story. Not LitRPG, yet. This is the set up story in the serial. It explains why the MC is searching through the neural net, a hub of VR networks and games. There’s a small fight scene in a FPS game but no details on game mechanics or progressions in power. I can see potential for this to become LitRPG. Especially since the author is setting up the series to let the MC pop into different types of games. For now though, it’s more cyberpunk or VR fiction.
Score: 4 out f 10.
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