LitRPG Podcast 053
LitRPG Podcast 053
June 2nd, 2017
Hello everyone, welcome to episode 53 of the LitRPG podcast.
I’m Ramon Mejia. I’m here to bring you the latest LitRPG news, reviews, and author interviews. This week 15 New LitRPG stories came out this week, I unfortunately couldn’t read them all this week and will be reviewing 8 of them.
New Releases and Reviews:
Hero of Thera (07:56)
Grimoire Bound (11:08)
Fantasy Online: Hyperborea (35:11)
(Play Music 2)
Daniel J Schinhofen, author of the LitRPG series, Last Horizon and Alpha World. He’s started a Patreon for his readers that want to support his writing. Supporters get some nice rewards, like early access to new chapters for the book he’s writing, mental pats on the back, and can even get story characters named after them.
Justin Miller, author of one of my favorite series World Seed, sent me a nice message letting me know that the audiobook producer Tantor has decided they want to produce his World Keeper series. That includes the short stories and yet to be written books 2 and 3 in the series.
Travis Bagwell, author of the Awaken Online series is doing an AMA this weekend over on LitRPG subreddit. Remember, AMA stands for Ask Me Anything, so think of the most embarrassing questions and go ask Travis them.
The AMA starts at 1pm CDT on June 3rd. The link is below.
Alero Kong, author of the Chaos Seeds series will be doing his second Facebook LIVE this Sunday, 6/4/17, 3pm EST on his author page. Go ask him questions.
On Facebook this week, Vasily Mahanenko revealed the title and approximate release date of the next book in The Way of the Shaman series. The english translation of book 6 will be called Shaman's Revenge and should be available Aug. 30th, 2017.
New LitRPG Audiobooks
Out Now, Will Review next week!
Stay on the Wing (The Dark Herbalist Book #2) (June 2nd, 2017).
Stone Raider's Return (Emerilia Book 6) (June 6th, 2017)
Restoration: The Rise of Resurgence: Book II (June 15th, 2017)
Hero of Naught (July 1st, 2017)
The Curse of Rion Castle (The Neuro Book #2) LitRPG Series (July 6th, 2017)
Codename: Freedom: Survive Week One (July 12th, 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)
SHARDS OF REALITY: A LitRPG Adventure (Enter the Realm Book 1) (Aug. 22, 2017)
Shaman's Revenge (The Way of the Shaman Book 6) (Aug. 30th, 2017)
Onto New Releases and Reviews
(Play Music 3)
New Releases and Reviews
Hero of Thera
BE A HERO IN THE ULTIMATE GAME
Are you a top-rated gamer?
Then you might have the skills to play the Game … where players are sponsored by actual demon lords, gods and goddesses, or Lovecraftian nightmares.
Enter Thera, a real kingdom at the crossroads of many other worlds, but with all the augmented-reality interfaces, character progression, and game mechanics that players know and love.
And the stakes of The Game?
Nothing less than Creation—every world in every universe and reality.
So … no pressure.
Thus Hector Savage, gamer extraordinaire, comes to Thera. Nothing can prepare him, though, for the schemes of Abyssal Lords, rampaging barbarian ghosts, and a host of nefarious forces who want him dead—before he can even make fifth level!
My Opinion: 517 pages, $5.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure: I received an early copy to review but purchased the novel once it became available.
Hector is a computer geek who is sitting on death row for a bombing attack he never committed. He’s visited by a demon who offers to send him to a new fantasy world ruled by RPG mechanics.
Hector Savage, takes him up on the offer. First, he must pass the free trial period to prove he’s worth the Lords of the Abyss’ faction support in a game world where the stakes are higher than Hector can imagine. If Hector can’t survive his trial period, then he’s bound to a fate worse than death.
It’s difficult to review this novel without spoiling some of the plot. So, as far as the story goes, it’s really good. The main character goes on lots of seemingly unrelated adventures in Thera but it’s all tied together quite nicely by the end of the novel. There’s lots of action, but also a bit of intrigue as various factions vie for power through the game world of Thera.
As far as the game mechanics in the story go, they’re really detailed. I truly enjoyed learning about all the cool abilities, weapons, items, and factions in the game world of Thera. There’s more than enough information to roll your own character in the game. Personally, I’d like to be an Ent Sun Mage.
Overall, this is a great story and I read it in just a couple of sittings. It’s a real page-turner. The ending ties all the loose story threads in the novel together and though part of it is a bit over the top, it’s still a satisfying end. I can wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone looking to read a good action LitRPG story.
Score: 8 out of 10
Chaxin awakes in a world completely unfamiliar to him. His memories are clouded, except for images of glass and metal. He quickly finds that he's not alone in this new realm. There are others who all arrived just as he did.
My Opinion: About 200 pages, $3.99, available on Kindle Unlimited
The novel drops you into what first appears to be a fantasy world with the main character naked and without memory on a stone altar. He makes his way to shore, only to be attacked by a mereman. Our unnamed main character is rescued by some guards that happen to be nearby and he’s taken to the nearby city. There our MC remembers his name, Chaxin, and we get our first glimpses into the RPG game aspects of this world as it’s revealed to him that there are things like health, mana, stats, and special magical effects and spells in the world. After that it’s really a series of battles and scene changes that take the main character to different places in this world.
There are some really odd changes in the story which I won’t spoil but at one point the main character even jumps ahead in time some ten years. Then there’s a revelation that the entire world the main character had come to know changed and there are several weird plots involving nameless gods, time magic, and mimics.
It’s not really until the very end that things even start to tie together. While I won’t spoil the twist ending, it was a surprise I should have seen coming.
As far as the LitRPG aspects of the story, they’re pretty minimal. The mechanics of level, health, stats, status effects are only accessible through artifacts called Grimoires that are rare enough to be available one per town or community. So to access that information the main character has to visit the center of town to use the item. This puts those game mechanics into the background for most of the story and it’s not really until the story is almost 70% done that the main character even trains his stats. Up until they’re really relegated to an informational level. However, this doesn’t mean the story isn’t LitRPG. The narrator weaves the character sheet stuff into the very culture of the world, creating things like taboos about sharing stat information with others and a magic system that can temporarily boost those stats and make a person more effective in combat.
One of the major flaws in the game mechanics in the story is that that it references health, magic, and stamina in terms of percentages. Which is fine during combat. Ie: The hit takes 25% of my health. However, on the actual character sheet it’s just annoying and unhelpful to see the same information in terms of percentages. After all, percentages are only meaningful when they’re tied to actual numbers. That the MC’s character sheet says his health is 65% doesn’t really mean anything unless you first tell me what it should be at 100%.
Overall, this is a good story if you can stick around till the end. It has some flaws. A lot of the events in the story won’t make sense until the end. Some of the battles seem like random monster encounters without the setup of it or explanation that it’s the case. The main character seems like he’s only following other people around until the last 25% of the novel. Still, the ending was interesting enough to make me glad I stuck around.
Score: 6 out of 10.
Terra Reforma: A Post-Apocalyptic LitRPG Series
Terra Reforma. The virtual game world set in the time period after humanity hit the reset button. A time after the bombs dropped, and before society was able to reform into the tech-driven megacities it consists of now. For many players, the grind of the game is more than just a brief escape from the real world. It's the perfect drug. It's their way into the next rung of society. It's the answer to the question of life.
Phase Gannon and Kym Bit are both looking for their own answers. Even though their paths cross in the city of New San Diego, it's Terra Reforma that holds vindication for the both of them.
My Opinion: 306 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
There are two distinct stories told in this novel. There’s no cross over after the two characters briefly meet in very beginning of the novel.
The first, an guy who wakes up with amnesia but knows he has to log back into Terra Reforma. You follow him as he creates his character and completes newb quests.
The second narrative is about Kym, a hacker girl who got banned from the game and put in jail for using game exploits. Her lift goes to hell and she goes on the lamb from the authorities in a cyberpunk reality and scours the shadiest parts of the city to find a way to get back into the game.
Every few page the story switches between the two narratives and it gets annoying after awhile because I expected the stories to merge as some point and they never did.
I thought the game stuff, with the amnesiac, who we learn is called Phase, is decent. It’s definitely LitRPG and the smuggler class he chooses is interesting. I liked that there were game mechanics that allowed for non-violent ways of completing quests as well as a little bit of crafting.
The dystopian cyberpunk stuff with Kym, isn’t interesting to me.
Overall, it’s an ok story. Neither the cyberpunk Kym story nor the VR game Phase story were amazing. You spend equal amounts of time with each character so only half the story is really LitRPG.
Score: 5 out of 10.
Reternity Online: Rescue Quest: A LitRPG Epic
Logan hated full-immersion virtual reality MMORPGs like Reternity Online. He’d watched his younger brother Jason and countless friends throw away their lives because of their addiction to playing RO. He vowed he would never put on a NeuraLink headset and waste his life like they had.
Then he received an anonymous email from kidnappers demanding a real world ransom payment of $150,000 USD to release his sister Emily, who they held in an undisclosed location. To keep her compliant, the kidnappers used a NeuraLink headset to log her permanently into RO. In-game, Emily’s character was locked away where no one would ever find her.
They called it mind-locked. Emily wasn’t the first person to fall prey to mind-lockers and she wouldn’t be the last.
If Logan didn’t pay up, the kidnappers would sell her real body on the black market for organ harvesting.
If he had any idea where Emily was, Logan could do something to save her. But he didn’t. Nobody did. And he didn’t have $150,000 to pay off the kidnappers.
He only had one choice. Go inside Reternity Online himself, level up, and try to find his sister in-game to gather clues to her whereabouts before they murdered her in the real world.
My Opinion: 555 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Logan Bryne, hates VRMMOs but his sister has been kidnapped and held permanent captive in Reternity Online. MC has to log into the game and level up to find his sister and the clues he needs to rescue her in real life.
The premise of the story reminds me a bit of the storyline from Sword Art Online season 2, only without the lovable main character. Going into the story, I really wanted to like like it but there were just too many issues that couldn’t over look.
The author does a great job of capturing the complicated relationships brothers have with each other. The way the older brother Logan and Jason fight is something a lot of siblings go through.
The action in the story is well written and varied. There’s lots of different enemies that the characters fight.
The game mechanics of the story have a bit of depth. You can tell that the author put a lot of time into them. Not just action stuff either but the consequences of reputation in the game.
There’s a long setup,where the main character describes in agonizing detail how much he hates VR gaming and gaming addiction.
The real life search by Logan for his sister at the beginning of the story takes too long. I understand that he has to exhaust all other avenues before he feels like he has to look in the game but the author’s description of the novel does the exact same thing in a few paragraphs.
MC is kind of an ass. Very pessimistic attitude, judgemental of gamers, AI, and his family. Yet, when the MC enters the game finally he immediately starts to flirt with his NPC trainer. Ughg.
For a lot of the early story, there’s no real urgency about saving the sister once in the game.
I like the idea of behaviors having consequences in the game but the Evil /Good reputations shifts seem arbitrate sometimes.
Some of the twists in the sister’s kidnapping narrative were a bit annoying. They were unexpected twists but they were still annoying.
Overall, it was an ok read. The actual game story isn’t bad. There are some good stories there and some interesting humor. However, the story has some serious fundamental flaws. The main character is a jerk and it was hard to empathize with him. It also seems like it would have been faster to let the high level younger brother do all the in-game work rather than wait around for Logan to level.
Score: 6 out of 10.
Dragon Web Online: Dominion: A LitRPG Adventure Series
Being the Saint of Shadows is murder...
I used to be an ordinary thief, but now I'm the most wanted man in the world's most popular virtual reality game: Dragon Web Online.
A simple quest to shake down a crooked merchant landed me in the middle of a deadly conspiracy. Now I'm on the run from bloodthirsty nightspawn killers, ruthless bounty hunters, and a fanatical priesthood. Did I mention I can't even trust my own brother?
Fortunately, I've got a plan that can save my hide—if it doesn't get me killed.
My Opinion: 686 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Last book, two brothers sign up to play a full immersion VR game to earn enough money to pay their bills and pay for their mom’s medical treatments. The game is unique in that players don't choose their classes, the game does based on what the players do. One brother, Bastion, gets a warrior that he hopes to turn into a paladin. He planned to make his brother become a cleric but the game had other ideas. Our MC, Saint, instead becomes a thief.
Through some interesting adventures the two managed to get enough money to pay all the bills they needed.
Now I book 2, the brother are still trying to earn some money to make a living while taking care of their mom’s medical issues. However, forces in the game are pushing Saint down a path he never intended to go and one that may change the game forever.
The cover art for this novel makes it look like it has something to do with the Borg from Star Trek: The next generation. But don’t let that stop you from reading a really good LitRPG novel.
Not only do we finally get to learn why the series is called Dragon Web but the story is full of great LitRPG goodness. There’s a lot more detail in the story about how the game mechanics of the world function. Even going so far as providing actual formulas for readers interested in that sort of stuff.
The real world storyline seems to exist to push the brothers into trying to game as much as possible and functions well as such. It’s really the in-game stuff that I find the most interesting any ways.
The broken family dynamics between the brothers is well written and I could empathise with Saint as a fellow younger brother.
Overall, this is an improvement over the first novel in the series and I had a good time reading it. The part of the story I enjoyed the most was the first half of the novel when Saint is struggling to find his path in the game while being pulled in multiple directions from the thieves guild, the church, his brother, and anyone else that thinks they can use him. I was never sure what was going to happen next. There’s intrigue, conflicting powers pulling at the main character, burglary, and spying. Once the story leaves the city it becomes a little more predictable and action oriented but no less an enjoyable read.
Score: 7 out of 10.
Fantasy Online: Hyperborea
Nineteen-year-old Ryuk Matsuzaki and his best friend Tamana decide to start over with new avatars. When Tamana is suddenly killed right in front of him in a Tokyo subway, Ryuk knows there is only one place he can search for answers –Tritania, the world’s most popular online fantasy world. Standing in his way are a mysterious guild known as the Shinigami, and his older brother, a Yakuza crime lord hell-bent on squashing his dreams.
As a lowly Ballistics Mage, Ryuk must quickly recruit guild members, level up, loot and shoot his way across Tritania to discover the dark and sinister secret behind Tamana’s untimely death. Joining him in his quest are a famous Swedish gamer, a powerful half-dragon half-human female assassin, and a devious ax-wielding goblin.
Get started on this action-packed, coming of age LitRPG saga from the author of The Feedback Loop series now!
My Opinion: 570 pages, $5.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure received early copy for review but purchased it when it became available.
This is one of the few LitRPG novels where I thought the real world storyline was as interesting as the game one. There’s an interesting power dynamic between Ryuk and his mob boss brother that’s just intriguing.
Most of the novel’s in game storyline revolves around Ryuk gathering allies, getting cool gear, and leveling up enough to move the main plot forward. Not that that part of the story is boring. Far from it, some of the stories best moments occur in this part. I especially came to like the smart talking goblin NPC, Hiccup, during this part. Through FeeTwix the live streaming heartthrob is also a fun character.
Just note that the game storyline of rescuing the main character’s friend, Tamana, after she’s kidnapped doesn’t move forward till about 60% into the story. Then 70% into the story does Ryuk’s guild strike back at the guild that kidnapped Tamana.
There is also a nice twist ending that I didn’t see coming but it’s also kind of a cheat. You’ll see what I mean when you get there.
Overall, I had a good time reading the novel. I thought the story could have gotten back to the main quest of rescuing Tamana a bit sooner but other than that it was good action read.
Score: 7 out of 10.
Into the Black (A SciFi LitRPG Story): Book I: Game Start
The first truly immersive Virtual Reality system has just been announced. Made by NERV, the EVA-series immersion pods promise a Better Than Life experience, unlike anything that's been seen before. Gone are clunky goggles and wired controls. Now you simply lie down, and the machine does all the work.
Following up on their previous hit games, NERV has created the first true VRMMORPG, a sci-fi offering called Dreams Amongst the Stars. Because of the impressive display he made during the closed Beta of the game, one player has been offered a contract as a paid streamer, and the chance to play the game on the highest difficulty possible. Watch as he forges his own path, into the black.
My Opinion: 91 pages, $0.99, Not Available on Kindle Unlimited
This is a short but fun LitRPG story. Warning: At the 54% mark, there is a brief sex scene that’s a few sentences long. I just skipped over it.
The first 10% reads like straight space sci fi. Then it’s revealed that it was really a demo played by a wheelchair using former Navy man who is beta testing the first FIVR rigs for a game company. He then agrees to tests a long term VR pod on Nightmare mode to get the best Beta tester bonuses.
He’s then plunged into an immersive sci-fi world where he’s takes on the character of Mirikon Mollen, a chimera or genetic combination of other species. He choses one of the most difficult classes,the infiltrator and specializes in information gathering, small shapeshifting, and psionic attacks.
20 - 37% mark the MC goes through alot of the game’s backstory and game mechanics as he goes through Character selection process.
At the 38% mark, the main character actually logs into the game and starts out in a lab and has the goal of figuring out how to escape into the larger scifi universe.
Once the main character is in the game, things are really fun. There’s action, adventure, psionics, spaceships, and even a little political intrigue.
For such a short read, it was very enjoyable. Be aware that the last 15% of the novel is an appendix with player character sheet, gear, ability descriptions and glossary of characters.
Score: 7 out of 10
Eyrth Online: TMOLW: Episode 3 - Die Trois - Menage A Drie (3rd playlist)
Welcome back true believers! The adventures of our weed loving hero Lawrence Wrath continue. After saving the day yet again he is back for some more dancing, fighting, flying, and crowing! No seriously, just another stoner adventure.
My Opinion: About 50 pages, $1, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Another great episode in my favorite stoner LitRPG story.
Brief tease about MCs uncle's death. Love the Captain Planet and David Hasselhoff references. It’s just a fun, actiony, stoner story that doesn’t pretend to be anything else. I liked it. Good international playlist too. I especially liked Zou Bisou Bisou (Zoo, Bee Zoo, Bee Zoo).
Score: 7 out of 10.
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