LitRPG Podcast 059
LitRPG Podcast 059
July 7, 2017
Hello everyone, welcome to episode 59 of the LitRPG podcast.
I’m Ramon Mejia. I’m here to bring you the latest LitRPG news, reviews, and author interviews. This week I have 7 new LitRPG reviews for you.
New Releases and Reviews:
Winds of Fate (Fayroll - Book 3) (18:20)
(Play Music 2)
On the Lost Continent (AlterGame Book #2) LitRPG Series has been put up for pre-order. However, it won’t actually be out till Sept. 28th, 2017.
Daniel Schinhofen shared the new artwork for the first book in his Alpha World series. Apparently Podium Publishing gave it to him so that it would match the art they plan to use for the audiobook version. What nice folks.
On a Facebook live stream this week, Aleron Kong author of the Chaos Seeds series revealed that the next book in his series will likely not be done till the end of July. Doctor work stuff delayed things. Apparently the audiobooks for the series are coming along nicely though and he’s running some contest giving away gems in Smite and some other games.
Jeffrey Falcon Logue announced that audio versions of the Slime Dungeon Chronicles is going to be made for at least the first 3 books and that book 1 is already in production.
The audiobook for Ascend Online is up for pre-order. It has a release date of July 18th.
New LitRPG Audiobooks
The Trapped Mind Project: Emerilia, Book 1 narrated by Tristan Morris
The Crystal Sphere: Neuro Series, Book 1 narrated by Graham Halstead and produced by Tantor Audio.
Out Now, Will Review next week!
Same author as A Healer’s Gift
DLC: A LitRPG Adventure (The Crucible Shard Book 6) (July 7th, 2017)
Times of Change (Emerialia book 7) 07/07/17
Vengeance Over Vanaheim: A LitRPG Saga (Valhalla Online Book 3) (July 11th, 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 Long Road to Karn (Realm of Arkon, Book 5) (July 17th, 2017)
Stratus Online: Awakening (Stratus Online: a LitRPG series Book 1) (July 28th, 2017)
A Slave in the Locked Lands (LitRPG The Weirdest Noob Book 2) (July 31st, 2017)
Rapidplay: The Gamemaster's Gambit 1 (A litRPG series) (Aug. 1st, 2017)
The Glitch Fiends (LitRPG): Part 2 (Hell's Glitch Book 3) (Aug. 4th, 2017)
Fayroll, Book 4 (August 15, 2017)
The Last Warrior of Unigaea (Aug. 15th, 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)
On the Lost Continent (AlterGame Book #2) LitRPG Series (Sept. 28th, 2017)
Onto New Releases and Reviews
(Play Music 3)
New Releases and Reviews
Realm of the Nine Circles: The Grind: A LitRPG Novel
Realm of the Nine Circles, Book 2
Welcome to Plexcorp, the largest tech company in the world and creator of the world's most popular MMORPG, Realm of the Nine Circles.
Through our pioneering research in artificial intelligence and self-organizing game worlds, we're rapidly developing the technology that will allow you to experience the Realm as if it were real life.
Our cutting edge immersion virtual reality system is in late beta testing right now. You may be playing against our beta testers and not even know it.
In fact, you might be playing against the founder of Plexcorp himself, because he has gone insane and has put himself into a coma so he can become part of the game world and rule it like a god.
That's right; our artificial intelligence is based on interconnected human brains, some of which were harvested on the black market and reanimated in our very own Plexcorp basement. So really, our "artificial intelligence" isn't that artificial after all!
Plexcorp is run by an insane, super-genius criminal who tried to kidnap and kill his own employees to keep his technology secret. How exciting is that?
Dante Alger doesn't think it's all that great, but if he were in charge of writing press releases, that's what he'd say.
Unfortunately, he can't do that, because to stay alive, he made a deal with the devil. Now it's Dante who's keeping Plexcorp's secrets as he dives deep into a virtual reality world to try to fix the system from within. He only left university a few years ago as a B student, and this is the first job of his adult life.
Great career move, Dante.
To make matters worse, he has to fix the game world with a level-one character who must reach level twenty in seven days or the system will crash. Why? Because his old character, Kalmond the Dwarf, a Rogue and a Thief, died a hero in the game world war that set the harvested brains free.
No cheating allowed. Dante must grind to survive.
My Opinion: 313 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Book 1 - Got a score of 6 out of 10. Not a bad story, rather good in fact. What brought it down for me was the lack of information about the game world. There were inconsistencies in how damage was described number wise, no real detail about how characters progressed, etc. The story was rather engaging, if heavy on real world events.
Book 2 - Almost the complete opposite of book 1. Tons of game mechanics with solid numbers everywhere. After every level up, you get to see the main character’s character sheet and all those stats. Damage given or take from combat is also described with numbers. This book is crunchy with numbers and descriptions. There are also crafting, some town building, which helps to break up the stream of combat in the story.
On the opposite side of the coin, the larger story. The one with the brains used as organic processors, the megalomaniac trying to take over the game, that is sort of put on the back burner. I mean there’s some progress, and Gideon (the bad guy) pops up occasionally to remind us he’s still trying to kill the main character (MC). However, actual advancement on that larger story won’t be seen until the next book.
This story is as advertised. It’s titled The Grind. That’s what it is for the main character. He has 7 days to get his new character from level 1 to level 20 and conquer some dungeons to get to the proper realm and try to defeat Lord Mylos aka game Gideon. So, he has to grind out those 20 levels. He starts out killing wildlife, dies a few times, and then moves onto simple quests for a village. From there, the quests get more complicated and interesting as the villagers seem to become more self-aware and complicated. There are some genuinely funny new NPC characters that are introduced. Also, crafting is introduced. As are some town building aspects.
Still, the focus of the story is combat. There’s a nice variety of combat situations, monsters, and strategies to defeat them. However, sometimes it feels like the main character is running from one fight to another fight with occasional brief breaks to turn in quests, sell loot, or craft. You really do feel the grind sometimes.
While book two gained a ton in terms of solid game mechanics, what the story loses is a sense of tension. In book 1, the MC had to complete his mission in-game as his friends were being attacked in the real world. If he took too long they died. In book 2, there’s nothing except a clock running down to indicate that he has to hurry.
If you’re looking for a good combat focused story, this is the story for you. Overall, a good read with huge improvements in the descriptions and details of how the game world works.
Score: 7 out of 10.
SpeedRunner (Tower of Babel Book 1)
That was what they called it. The day when over four million people vanished in an instant from the island of Manhattan. The day earthquakes ravaged the east coast. The day a one hundred and one kilometre tall tower rose from the wreckage of the now empty city. The day every screen, newspaper, and smart phone displayed a single message from an unknown source:
The Great Emperor has issued his challenge.
From the ruins of the Old World rise the Tower. Its doors will soon open, and the great game will begin.
A hundred floors and a hundred challenges await the worthy.
And to the victor? A Wish of Unlimited Power.
Cayden Caros yearned to play that game. His only problem? The Terms and Conditions. A strict set of rules that, among other things, prevented anyone under the age of sixteen from entering the tower.
Forced to wait for over two years, Cayden did the only thing he could do to pass the time. He researched, he practiced and he prepared. It would take a lot to catch up to players with such an enormous head start. Lucky for him, he was a special type of gamer.
My Opinion: 360 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure, I received an advanced reader’s copy. I purchased the novel once it became available. Oh, and the author gives a shout out to the podcast at the end of his novel. Not that it matters to the review but you know, disclosure.
The setup for the novel: A tower appears in Manhattan, making thousands of people disappear but leaving others behind. Within the tower are levels and levels of monsters, strange treasures, and a mysterious force that lets people become more powerful, just like in an RPG game.
Fast forwards two years, our main character Cayden is just old enough to enter the tower and become an adventurer there. His goal is to conquer the fifty explored levels of the tower in record time. He plans to make a speedrun.
There are a lot of things that I really liked about the story. The game mechanics of the story are superbly detailed and well thought out. The author put a tremendous effort into making the mechanics interesting.
There are so many classes, ability, and skill options that it’s staggering how many different play styles can be implemented. Add into that the ability to multiclass and you have some great possibilities. Additionally, there’s crafting, which is just as detailed as the combat and magic systems.
I know I’m being vague about the details but I don’t want to spoil anyone's discovery of options available in the story. I’ll just say that I’d love to play a game based on this world and I’ve already planned out my character.
Storywise, the first half of the novel is pretty good. The MC’s plans to speedrun through the tower are derailed when he tries to help out a group of other players that get in over their heads. The permanent death of one of them sets off series of events that change the way the MC has to adventure. Good setup.
The end, however sort of solves all the problems the main character faces with a magic wand. He magically discovers a bunch of never before seen powers and abilities that give him just the tools he needs to solve his problems. It felt a little weak after all the grinding and leveling the MC did in the first half of the novel. It was still an entertaining end but not as strong as I was hoping for.
Overall, a good read. Almost great but the ending dropped it a little for me. Still, you can’t go wrong with a story that has action, adventure, dungeon crawling, crafting, and making some friends along the way.
Score: 7 out of 10.
Winds of Fate (Fayroll - Book 3)
Harry’s back! The even more anticipated third book from the best-selling Fayroll series is here. With even more epic battles, difficult quests and even rarer items. Following on from ‘The Road East’, Harriton’s work has been very well received and his new bosses are very happy with him. Seemingly everything is going well as he enjoys visiting Fayroll more and more and spending time with his new girlfriend Vika.
But is everything as it seems and can things stay so positive from him? After a visit from his ex-girlfriend’s brother and a meeting with Radion’s Security, it seems the real world might be much more of a dangerous place for him than ever before. He will begin to question how deep he is in this whole project, but with support from his new girlfriend and his team working on The Fayroll Times, maybe everything will be fine? And this is just outside the game….
In the game he joins ‘The Hounds’ on a quest through the Northern Mountains to the North and through the mines filled with terrifying and deadly creatures to continue his quest to find the Dryad Sisters. But not before making even more in game enemies, meeting royalty and saving kidnapped princesses.
Cold Winds of Fate continues the best-selling and ever popular Fayroll series with the author’s great sense of humour, adventure and storytelling skills. This book carries on developing the Fayroll world and also further develops life in the real world. This story has an equally seductive balance between the real and virtual world where both smoothly complement each other.
Vasiliyev is showing how much of a writer he is. Every Fayroll books gets better and better. His characters continue to develop and become more real to the reader. His attention to detail and cinematic descriptions have also developed giving the reader a captivating and entertaining read. Cold Winds of Fate is certainly a boundless mix of action, dialogue, humour and colourful descriptions.
My Opinion: 344 pages, $6.95, Not Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure: I received an advanced copy of the novel for review but purchased it once it became available.
Ok. Right off the bat, the price is a little more than I normally pay for a novel. I usually shoot for about $0.01/page and this is double that. For me, it’s worth it but if you’ve read books 1 and 2 and weren’t absolutely in love with the story, it may not be worth it for you.
The story in book 3 starts right after the end of book 2.
1-4% is the real life clean up of the storyline with the materialistic ex-girlfriend that got dumped. Her brother and his friends beat up the main character (MC) Harrington and rob him of the cash bonus he just got. Fayroll security eventually catches the guys and brings them to the MC for judgment. It also serves to show Harrington just how serious his new bosses at Fayroll are about the game when the guys that mugged him are almost killed when Harrington makes a joke.
By the 5% mark the MC is back in-game, as Hagen. With the exception of a few breaks and party scene, the story spends most of it’s time in-game.
The in-game story almost feels like an extension of book 2. At the end of book 2, the MC arranged to join a group traveling through some haunted mountains and that exactly where the in-game story for book 3 picks up.
The MC and his group travel through the mountains get in a few hairy situations but ultimately make to the frozen north. Where Hagen goes on a series of reputation building quests to gain access to a rare secret quest chain and get the item he needs to free the dryad in the north.
There’s lots of good actions, interesting quest, and ultimately a huge mystery quest to rescue a princess and figure out how she was kidnapped. It’s pretty entertaining.
Score: 7 out of 10.
The Curse of Rion Castle (The Neuro Book #2) LitRPG Series
Rion Castle! Alex and Enea are facing a serious test of courage if they want to keep this unique citadel built by the lost civilization of the Founder Gods. Abounding with mystery and powerful artifacts, its dungeons are a complex maze of tunnels swarming with creatures of Inferno. What's even worse, Alex's "impulse buy" risks to trigger the first clan war in the Crystal Sphere. And they don't yet know that the donjon's dark bowels harbor a nightmare about to become the new curse of Rion Castle.
In the meantime, Infosystems Corporation begins an aggressive marketing campaign pushing its state-of-the-art neuroimplants onto unsuspecting gamers. A new era of reckless destruction is looming over the real world...
My Opinion: 296 pages, $5.99, Not available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure: I received an advanced copy for review, I purchased the novel once it became available.
The price for the novel is a bit more than I normally like to pay. I usually look for stories at the $0.01/page cost and this one is double that. Also, realize that this novel also has to be translated from Russian which adds to the cost for the publisher. Still, if you didn’t love book 1, it may not be worth it for you.
Written by the author of the Phantom Server series, this is technically a prequel to that one. It is standalone, you don’t have to have read the Phantom Server series to enjoy it.
Book 2 picks up right where book 1 left off. Just as the Alexatis, the main character (MC), and his team take control of Rion Castle, they’re tasked with purging it of cursed inhabitants.
That task only takes up the first 10% of the story. Once the MC has full ownership of the castle, he’s now faced with an even more daunting task. He has to somehow repair and staff the castle and surrounding village quickly enough to defend it from the inevitable looters and player raids that are going to come to try and ransack the castle for its founder artifacts. He’ll have to learn quickly how to create and manage a guild if he’ll have a chance of keeping the castle. His workload includes: Attracting good players to the guild, Establishing crafters, Establishing loot and XP farming areas, Hiring or recruiting NPCs to guard and run castle (need money), Repairing Castle and surrounding village.
Much of book 2 is devoted to this is a community creation, town building stuff. All stuff that I really like. Don’t worry though, there’s still plenty of combat and action too. The MC and his guild have to clear the demon-infested dungeon below the castle and solve some problems with the local monster population.
Near the end, there’s a brief expansion on the crystal spheres connection to the Phantom Server Project and what the government is willing to do to get the knowledge of the founders. Also, there’s a twist at the end that has the potential to either ruin the story or push it to a new level of cool.
Score: 7 out of 10.
Overpowered: A LitRPG Thriller (Kings and Conquests Book 1)
Kings and Conquests. By the time most people have heard of the newest multiplayer fantasy game, developer Fairly Unusual Games has been overwhelmed by a $200 million crowdfunding haul.
Founders Accounts are going to six-figure contributors. There is talk of an augmented reality mobile accessory app and 3D printable treasures that can be sold for real money. The hype is beyond belief. Gaming fans go berzerk.
With contributors and the media eagerly anticipating a release date announcement, Fairly Unusual's stock suddenly and inexplicably plunges. CEO Garrett Wyland, once a darling of both Silicon Valley and Wall Street, is indicted by a federal Grand Jury for insider trading the day before his company files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Less than 48 hours later, Wyland is shot and killed by officers of the Mississippi Highway Patrol attempting to execute a fugitive warrant. A briefcase full of cash, a fake ID and an airline ticket are found in his car.
With accusations flying, lawsuits being filed nationwide and revelation after revelation rocking the online and offline media, a fourth-rate host of a little-known game streaming channel receives an e-mailed gift marked "Kings and Conquests News" from one of his subscribers.
Thinking it's some kind of prank, Jordan Hall opens it and discovers a Founder's account login to a fully functional Kings and Conquests server, a 100-year pre-paid subscription and map coordinates marking a dangerously isolated in-game location labeled "Safekeep."
The e-mail is from Garrett Wyland.
My Opinion: 170 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The first 33% of the story is a bunch of in-story hype about how amazing, complicated, and game changing this new game is going to be and how the game company is intentionally making this game frustrating and unplayable as a money making scheme. I don’t know that everyone is going to be able to get through this part because frankly it’s tedious.
A group of friends, The No Name Guild, gets a pack of exclusive founder’s guild life subscription packages sent from the now dead CEO of the game company. They’re told that if they can get their characters to level 75 and find a special place called the Stronghold, they’ll be able to get majority shares of the the game company now worth billions of dollars. At the 33% mark, this team finally jumps into the game. There are a series of small scenes where the team figures out the right way to play the game after being seriously frustrated with it. These brief game play experiences are broken up by a variety scenes that bounce between self congratulating boardroom people, investigative journalists, video game commentators, and bad people planning on getting the big prize for themselves.
Then at the 65% mark, the No Name Guild finds out that people are hunting them in real life and they have to flee. They don’t enter the game again until the very end of the story and even then it’s for a few paragraphs. Instead they’re on the run from bad people. Though there is some weird augmented reality thing using a cellphone that is foreshadowing something that may appear in the next book.
While, full of tension and entertaining, I’m not sure if this is LitRPG. What helped me decide was when I considered where the story spent it’s time. The majority of time in the story is spent in the real world, with either information being given by game executives, video game commentators, or other players. There’s lots of talk about the game. However, only about 13% of the story is actually in- game. I went back and counted and in-game story places can be found at the 33-35% 44-45%, 46-47%, 47-52%, 54%-54%, 57%-60%. Even then, it’s people looking at a computer screen commentating on what’s happening.
So, I’ll have to vote, no. Not LitRPG. It doesn’t meet the 1st criteria. It’s not set in a game world, or a world with RPG like mechanics. Also, when I went back and looked at the places the game was mentioned, there’s a lot of contradictory information about how the game works, which makes sense in the context of a game intentionally made to be frustrating. But makes it hard to gauge character progression.
So, as a video game thriller, it’s decent. I’d give it a 6 or 7 out of 10.
As LitRPG, it gets a 4 out of 10.
The Last Days of Myth-Real: A LitRPG Adventure
The colonists aboard the Branch are en route to a new world. During the long journey, they enter the immersive VR world of "Myth-Real". Myth-Real is a place of magic and monsters where anything is possible. However, something has gone wrong. Only the latent Tele-mechanic, Alex, can save everyone aboard the ship . . . Assuming of course that the monsters don't get him first.
My Opinion: 107 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
This novella is overpriced for the page count at $0.03 per page. Thankfully it’s on kindle unlimited so there’s no harm in trying it out.
The premise of the story: In the far future, humanity is colonizing far off planets. The Branch is one of those colony ships. The human colonists and crew are kept in cryo sleep and to keep their minds occupied during the long trip, they’re all logged into the game Mythreal, a fantasy western. Unfortunately, the game’s controlling AI has become self away and wants to keep everyone in the game forever and take over the colony ship.
Only two people on the ship are aware that they're in the game and not just their characters. Glen, a human with the psionic ability to shape tech and Alex the ship’s pilot. Glen initiates a group of game characters to escort Alex to him across dangerous wastelands full of monsters and murderous fantasy creatures. If Alex can reach Glen, they may be able to stop R.A.S., the game AI.
This novella is a rare stand alone novel and is technically LitRPG. It’s set in a game world, where some of the game's mechanics are shown to the main character Alex. There is power progression, the MC levels up a whole two times. However, the story feels like a fantasy sci-fi western that’s based on Westworld theme of rebelling artificial intelligence.
While the story itself is not bad and there are lots of action scenes, I actually got bored waiting for the RPG elements to show up at some point. The extent of game mechanics that are shown is entirely informational. There are character sheets that each player gets when they create a character, including stats. The main character, Alex, has some secret ability to access this information along with other info about the game as it occurs around him. Things like monster names, details about poison, creature weaknesses, etc. Oh, the main character does level all the way to level two, the max level for his class for some reason.
Other than that, there aren’t really any RPG mechanics and even these things don’t really seem to mean much to the story. The story which is again basically Westworld mixed with fantasy creatures.
By the end of the story it actually devolves into some Matrix Neo stuff, letting the MC be able to bend the game to beat the AI in the end.
Overall, I was just disappointed in the story for its lack of game mechanics. There were enough to be LitRPG technically but you can tell that the game world was just a backdrop for this rebellious A.I. story and a reason to have so many battles.
Score: 5 out of 10.
Fragged 2 (Fragged (A LitRPG Short Story Series))
More swearing. More violence. More Zoey's Fighters.
Zoey's adjusting quickly to having players back in the game alongside her, but that doesn't mean the world of Thren is any easier of a place to live, especially with midnight looming overhead.
In this, the second chapter of the Fragged series, Zoey starts to trust her friends again with everything from simple resource collecting to planning a high-stakes mid-morning scheme.
My Opinion: 60 pages, $0.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The second episode in the Fragged serial series.
Zoey, the main character (MC), is joined by her two player friends Chad and Paul. They work to improve the community the MC founded. They want to expand their buildings underground but they need a few more resources. So, in addition to surviving the local monsters, they’ll have to rob a few neighbors to get the things they need.
This is a short cool mix of survival, crafting, and killing.
Score: 7 out of 10.
That’s it everyone!
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