LitRPG Podcast 088
LitRPG Podcast 088
Dec. 29th, 2017
Hello everyone, welcome to episode 88 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 9 new LitRPG reviews for you.
A quick thank you to James Taveras who donated $10 via paypal to the podcast to help support us. Thank you James for helping to keep the podcast running.
New Releases and Reviews:
Know Thy Enemy (13:35)
POWERLESS: The Reborn Saga (27:53)
Avatar Online Launch (31:58)
Odyssey (The Stork Tower Book 2) (46:23)
(Play Music 2)
Jeffrey Falcon Logue, the author of the Slime Dungeon Chronicles, made his own book trailer for the 4th novel in the series. I think it’s neat, but the only thing that bothers me is that it was filmed in portrait mode and not landscape mode.
There’s also an new motion comic book trailer for the Fayroll series from the folks that translate and publish it in English, LitWorld. It honestly feels like a trailer for a fun new MMO and not a LitRPG series. But maybe that’s what they were going for.
(Not reviewing, just behind on the series)
New LitRPG Audiobooks
Our review of the ebook: http://www.geekbytespodcast.com/litrpg-database/2017/9/29/alpha-company-alpha-world-book-3
Our review of the ebook: http://www.geekbytespodcast.com/litrpg-database/2017/2/24/travail-online-soulkeeper-book-1
Dropping the Land 7 and Slime Dungeon Chronicles 4 from upcoming list because the authors missed the release dates they gave and don’t have a new one. I hope to read them soon though.
Press Start (Jan. 5th, 2018)
Sigil Online: Hellions (Jan. 7th, 2018)
Soul Reckoning: A LitRPG Adventure (Veilwalkers Book 2) (Jan. 8th, 2018)
A Trap for the Potentate (The Dark Herbalist Book #3) LitRPG series (Jan.17th, 2017)
The Reapers (The Neuro Book #3) LitRPG Series (Jan. 24th, 2018)
Clan Wars (Way of the Shaman book 7) (Feb. 2018)
Avatars Rising: SILOS I (March 12th, 2018)
Akillia's Reign (Puatera Online Book 4) (March 16th, 2018)
Onto New Releases and Reviews
(Play Music 3)
New Releases and Reviews
Warrior Academy: A Hiro's Journey - Episode 1 (Warrior Academy)
After the world is destroyed earth's last survivors start anew. Now in a world forever changed, a place where magic is real, and monsters have come to life. A place where magic and science blend with pop culture… Welcome to Warrior Academy.
Hiro begins his journey and starts his first year at WA. Join him for adventure, romance, and revenge.
If you like video games, music, anime, and just pop culture in general… you will love Warrior Academy. Its Harry Potter meets Naruto with a little Dragon Ball Z and Dungeons and Dragons thrown in for fun, oh and don’t forget a smattering of High School Musical…
This is the first episode in an as yet to be determined long series, at least 13 episodes, I’m debating on 26…
(P.S. There is an attached Youtube and/or Spotify playlist meant to be listened to with the episode. Think of it as a Soundtrack.)
My Opinion: 326 pages, $2.99, Not available on Kindle Unlimited
From the author of the hilarious Eryth Online series comes a more mature slice of high school life LitRPG. The author describes it as Its Harry Potter meets Naruto with a little Dragon Ball Z and Dungeons and Dragons thrown in for fun. As odd as it may seem, that’s pretty accurate.
The novel combines a magical ninja academy story with tournament style fighting and RPG descriptions of powers. It’s a fun read with lots of pop culture references.
The only downside for me was the lack of definite RPG progression for most of this first novel. There’s lots of setup in this first episode of the various powers, their descriptions, how the school works, who’s who. But very little power growth occurs. It’s still an action filled adventure but I’d hoped to see some skills and powers evolve or grow more.
Still, a good read that is a bit more mainstream than the author’s other series.
Score: 7 out of 10
Know Thy Enemy
Trapped in a broken body, Pierce earns the right to enter the hottest new game. Following his warrior instincts, he’s determined to annihilate the enemy, whoever it may be.
With the hopes of winning the ultimate prize, respect of his peers, and protection for his brother, Drayk joins the Guild in the fight of his life, not realizing what’s truly at stake.
To save New Ararat, they must commit to their quests. Yet, the planet’s residents aren’t all they seem, and enemies must become friends and fight together.
My Opinion: 333 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
This is a multi-narrative story told mostly through the eyes of two characters. Drayk is a lizardman alien who hopes to join a good guild and play the game to earn enough to support his twin brother and prevent him from getting drafted. Pierce is a human from earth. He was a professional gamer and was training to become a soldier. Now he’s humanity's last hope to win the right to colonize an alien world before earth dies. Each narrative is independent and the story switches between the two every 2-3% of the novel. The two stories cross about the 66% mark but even after that the chapters continue to switch between the characters.
Things I like:
The novel has a strong start. There’s good character development, the character’s backstories are interesting, and the stories emphasize how important the game is for each character.
The early game parts of the Drayk storyline are interesting. It’s in his storyline that we first get a glimpse into the game and the story teases some neat sci-fi sub plots. Unfortunately after this brief peek it takes entirely too long to Drayk back into the game (36% mark). Pierce doesn’t have any game time until the 24% mark of the story.However once the characters get to the game, they’re there the rest of the story.
The action is well written and the last 20% of the novel is a huge series of battles.
Things I think could be improved:
I’d describe this story as SciFi LitRPG, heavy emphasis on SciFi. Yes, the story is absolutely LitRPG. The majority of the story is set in a obviously stated game world with RPG mechanics and the characters progress according to those RPG mechanics. Once the characters eventually get to the game, there are regular game notifications, level ups, and XP gives from completed quests.
Yet, the story surrounding those things often ignores them or gives a two word recognition, ‘he read’. In other LitRPG, characters interact with the game system, study it to figure out a way to progress, or make skill/ability/magic choices. That doesn't exist here. The RPG progression is automatic leveling and honestly the increased levels don't seem to affect the story. There’s a sci-fi twist near the end of the story that explains why this is the case but it doesn’t take away from the lack of interaction before that.
Additionally, there are inconsistencies in the game mechanics. Early on in the Pierce storyline, he notes that he can either pay for new skills with money or just practice endlessly to get them. Yet, in the Drayk story, the character is given a card that gives him a new skill and later he gets a skill through touch by another character. There are also issues with the respawn system. One, it’s not even mentioned until the characters are deep into the game story and then later it suddenly becomes die in the game die in real life.
The Drayk storyline, in the game, is pretty boring from the 30% until about the 66% mark. It feels like filler with only one notable story revelation.
As the story progresses past the 75% mark the SciFi twists makes the game stuff feel irrelevant. While these revelations explain why the game stuff never got particularly in depth, it also shifts the story almost entirely into the Sci-fi and away from the LitRPG.
Also, note that there’s a seriously dangly cliffhanger to this story.
Overall, a good sci-fi read with weak RPG game mechanics. If you’re looking for a LitRPG story that makes you feel like you’re in a great Sci-Fi game, this isn’t it. It just doesn’t do that. But it is a fairly interesting Sci-Fi novel that uses a RPG VR game to tell a story.
Score: 6 out of 10.
VERITAS Online: Godmode: OFF (LITRPG SCI-FI Book 1)
In this intense, heart-pounding LITRPG SCI-FI SERIES, you meet a young man named Russett who works for a company called Ver2Real, which is in the is responsible for creating and maintaining different virtual reality systems. Their newest VR system is called Virtual Environment, Remote—Induction and Training System; also known as VERITAS. Russett is the civilian contractor in charge of their biggest project yet, which is with the United States Department of Defense.
The military basically has us building virtual environments for their soldiers to train in. The company’s technology is cutting edge. We can put any healthy adult in one of the immersion pods and send them into these digital worlds that, to them, are indistinguishable from reality. The edge that VERITAS has over the other VR systems is that it actually hooks into the user’s brain and puts them into a kind of RPG system. Their attributes are measured by the system and hundreds of variables are fed into the simulation. While the users feel like they’re engaged in real-time combat, the results are all simulated too, just like in RPG games.
UNFORTUNATELY - VERITAS doesn't have sufficient power to handle real-time combat in such VRMMORPG, which leads to a whole slew of problems that Russett must fix!
My Opinion: 44 pages, $0.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
A super short story at 44 pages. Even at .99, expensive for the page count. But also on KU. The beginning seems to be a big push to collect email addresses for a mailing list. Not my favorite move.
The story itself takes a good long while to get to anything resembling LitRPG. There’s lots of talk early in the short story about RPG mechanics existing in the game but you don’t actually see any until the 65% mark. However, once they show up, it does become an entertaining read with the characters training, improving stats, and leveling. Everything before that is a sometimes implausible justification to get everyone trapped in the game and setup the stakes for the story.
Two small things that bothered me. 1) The early parts of the story have combat logs that don’t mean anything because the reader isn’t given context for what the numbers mean yet. It’s annoying. 2) The automatic time compression feature just doesn’t make sense. Unless the computer is using the player’s brains to run the game, why would it matter if more or less people are playing? Why would that affect how long the players feel like they’re in the game?
Overall, a good read once the RPG mechanics showed up. The cliffhanger ending is going to bother some people but I didn’t mind. The story has decent action scenes and it could use more world and character development. But I still plan to pick up the next episode in the series. It’s a nice start that I hope develops into something really good.
Score: 7 out of 10
POWERLESS: The Reborn Saga
What happens when we die? The answer to this question becomes personal for a teenage boy who named himself, "Schmendrick," when he is reborn in a world called the Sanctum. As a Reborn, he is thrust into an unforgiving society splintered between the Gifted, those blessed with Aether-fueled Powers, and the Powerless, who are treated as outcasts and forced to live in the dangerous Recovered Land.
When Schmendrick discovers a hidden secret in Rezdi City and the system seeks his capture and extermination, the teenager is forced to leave Rezdi City and makes his way to the wasteland known as The Shar. There, he makes another discovery which will change his life as a Reborn forever.
During his sleep, Smendrick is plagued by dreams and memories of his past life. Who was he before he died and was reborn? How will these revelations affect his new life as a Reborn?
My Opinion: 177 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The beginning of the story drops the main character (MC), Schmendrick, and a group of others into a RPG world as reborn where they’re supposed to serve the game system. The next 33% of the novel is a tedious of forced Noob schooling where the newly Reborn learn how to access the game stuff and train in basic combat. Yes the MC gets XP and levels but he has no agency and makes virtually no decisions. Instead, everything is dictated by the instructors.
That’s pretty much how the rest of the story ends up too. To put it plainly, it’s boring. It feels like the MC is being led by the nose through the entire story and doesn’t make a single decision. Not only that but the character himself lacks depth and emotional range.
The occasional combat scene is decent but it doesn’t make up for the rest of the story. Even though the MC goes on a variety of quests, gains specialized skills, and abilities, what he never seems to gain is any character development that makes me care about him or the ability to make a decision. Instead, he goes along with anything anyone tells him to do and is apathetic about it.
Score: 5 out of 10
Avatar Online Launch
Forced to work together while trapped in a game, alliances are forged and love is born from the ashes of old resentments. Redemption is possible for one, but another is doomed to follow a dark path.
This is a novella of almost 22,000 words and is Book One of the Avatar Online Series.
My Opinion: 69 pages, $0.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The first LitRPG short story written by W.D. Nix, is a mixed bag. On the game mechanics side, it’s pretty light. The story is set in the beta version of an MMORPG and a character levels once. Additionally, there a look at the skills one character has. It also, quest notifications. But that’s it.
However, the author freely admits that the story focuses on the relationships between the characters. I’d agree. The dynamics between characters is the focus of the story. Redemption for a brother, a fall from grace for another, long standing emotional issues for one of the women in the story and her best friend that is fiercely loyal. Good ideas.
There are some places I think could focus more on RPG mechanics, and action instead of character development but that’s a personal preference. I would have loved to have seen a character creation section where the options for what’s possible where shown. I would have also liked a little more consistency about the game stuff. In one scene in particular a ranger character suddenly has the spells of a mage. This might be a setup for something in a later book but in this one it doesn’t make sense because it hasn’t been established that cross class skills like that are possible. Instead, it’s justified with ‘the game must have read my mind that I play mages sometimes.’
Also, there are just too many scenes where the character, Logan, apologizes for who he was instead of showing who he is now.
Overall, not a bad story but it just falls short for me of good. If you just have to have tons of stats in your LitRPG, this is not the story for you. The author says he plans to develop the game mechanics in the story more in future stories and I hope that’s the case.
Score: 6 out of 10
Threadbare Volume 1: Stuff and Nonsense
Meet Threadbare. He is twelve inches tall, full of fluff, and really, really bad at being a hero.
Magically animated and discarded by his maker as a failed experiment, he is saved by a little girl. But she's got problems of her own, and he might not be able to help her.
Fortunately for the little golem, he's quick to find allies, learn skills, gain levels, and survive horrible predicaments. Which is good, because his creator has a whole lot of enemies...
My Opinion: 261 pages, $4.99, Not available on Kindle Unlimited
This story is rather good. It’s like Paddington Bear or the Velveteen Rabbit got a character sheet and leveled up from their adventures. It’s a quite a cute story.
Threadbare, the golem teddy bear, has to survive his creators experiments, the rough attention of a child, and the destructive vengeance of the household cat. Each challenge he overcomes builds Threadbare’s stats, levels and skills. Soon he becomes more than just a clumsy golem.
Eventually Threadbare even accompanies his human on her adventures as the larger RPG world opens up to her. There’s plenty of action and adventure in the story as well as great RPG game mechanics and rather decent world building.
The only thing that I’d say needs work is the transition between characters. One moment you're reading about Threadbare’s actions, the next sentence your reading about an enemy's thoughts, or the cats, and there’s no transition statement.
Also note the last 6% of the novel are character sheets and a glossary of abilities and skills.
Score: 7 out of 10
Galactic Fist of Legend: Volume 3
The legendary fisting journeys of Scott and his team continue in this next exciting installment of Galactic Fist of Legend. During their first team building mission Scott's grab bag group of modern pop-culture icons stumbles across a dire situation involving a familiar tunic-clad hero. Can Scott lead his team to pull off the most dangerous mission he's ever faced, or will they fail and doom entire worlds to ruin? Stay tuned and find out!
Warning: This story depicts graphic violence, gore, occasional gratuitous nudity, the power of friendship, and strangely adult interactions with sentient plants. You're welcome.
My Opinion: 302 pages, $3.99, Not Available on Kindle Unlimited
A good third book in the Galactic Fist of Legend series. The story returns to the zombie apocalypse world of the first book and finishes off the storyline with that world.
There’s all the action, adventure, humor, and sexual innuendo you’ve come to expect from the series. In addition there are finally some answers about the larger reasons for the whole interdimensional mission thing and you get to meets some of the entities behind the scenes.
The parody is top notch and I certainly appreciated the Dragon Ball Z references. I also have to admit that I think ‘Friendly drunk zombie’ is a great subspecies for the undead.
Score: 7 out of 10
Depths of Camlan: A LitRPG Adventure (Camlan Realm Book 2)
Asher is back in Camlan Realm, this time at the special request of Toterra Online’s developers. He and a party of five other players must go deep into the game to recover what is causing all the errors and glitches before time runs out.
My Opinion: 245 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The premise of the story is that after the contest of book 1, the same beta players are hired to help isolate a rogue AI and some corrupt code in the VR game. They have 18 hours to find and defeat this corrupt code while it has barricaded itself inside of a dungeon.
Not only does the premise of the story not make sense but it’s a bit of a disappointed to be honest. There’s a tease of rogue AI subplot but that’s not fleshed out at all. Instead this is a straight dungeon dive with some whiney team dynamic issues that get worked out in the story. That’s it. The dungeon itself gets a bit repetitive because it’s a straight slog through. No breaks. No periods where the group goes back to town to do other quests, train, or anything else.
As a dungeon dive story it’s not bad on its own, but the novel sort of promises more and it doesn't deliver.
Score: 6 out of 10
Odyssey (The Stork Tower Book 2)
Atherleah Carroll grew up in a negative-tax family in the gang-controlled suburbs of Brisbane at the end of the twenty-first century. From the age of six, she decided that she wanted more and with the help of her local gang-leader, she learned the skills to escape the relentless pressure to accept a life of mediocrity. On her sixteenth birthday, she was inadvertently implanted with a Neural Enhancement Chip instead of the free Government provided basic level personal AI. This mistake not only removed the limits placed on the AI but also broke some of the Government instigated control parameters. Leah’s life rapidly becomes a battle, both in the virtual-multiverse and in real life.
On the advice of the local ‘boss’, Leah began playing the virtual fantasy game Dunyanin to earn the money she needed to live at the local POD facility and help with her education. With the help of her rapidly evolving AI, she has not only thwarted attempts by the government to limit her opportunities but evaded kidnapping by virtual slavers. Co-opted by several Virtual Security AI Leah has helped shut down a virtual sweat-shop which used mind-controlled players to farm for resources. The family, which runs the virtual crime syndicate, has cornered Leah in the depths of a virtual-mine and sent twenty player-mercenaries to capture her. Fleeing through a hidden doorway into a mirror mine operated by goblins Leah hopes to escape her pursuers.
My Opinion: 391 pages, $3.99, Not Available on Kindle Unlimited
I’m reviewing this one a bit late. I totally missed its release. But I’m glad someone reminded me of it. It’s one of my favorite reads this week.
I reviewed book 1 in the series and gave it a 6 out of 10 as a review score. The novel setup some great sci-fi stuff with AI, implants, advanced VR learning, and game to real world money stuff. I thought the novel had real potential but just didn’t realize it in book 1.
I’m happy to say that book 2 realizes that potential and more. There are multiple story threads in the novel that weave together a narrative that makes the game and real life stuff flow well.
The early part of the novel focuses on the main character (MC), Leah, getting access to a rare dungeon series quest in the fantasy VR game. She pulls in the friends she made in book 1 and they do that for the first 40% of the novel. It’s honestly not particularly exciting but that section provides a vast amount of wealth for the MC and sets up some great stuff later in the novel. Later there are more interesting game storylines that involve lost elven kingdoms, goblins, and more cool cultural stuff that expands on the world building of the fantasy game. Also, there’s the introduction of a sci-fi space game that has its own stories.
However, the really interesting parts of the novel are the events that take place outside of the game stuff. The MC made some seriously powerful enemies and now they’re trying to ruin her life by trying to stop her access to the VR pods, her education, and they’re are even threats to her life. How the MC deals with these threats is the really interesting part of the story to me.
Be aware that the MC is becoming overpowered in this story and that there are a few places game logic is overridden in favor of story advancement. Also, the end just kind of ends. It feels more like a ‘to be continued’ leading directly to book 3. These things might bother some people.
Overall, this is a good book and you honestly don’t need to read book 1 to understand to get into the story here. I look forward to reading book 3 soon.
Score: 7 out of 10
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