LitRPG Podcast 143
LitRPG Podcast 143
Nov. 23rd, 2018
Hello everyone, welcome to episode 143 of the LitRPG podcast.
I’m Ramon Mejia. I’m here to bring you the latest LitRPG news, reviews, and author interviews. I have 7 new LitRPG reviews just for you.
New Releases and Reviews:
Radioactive Evolution (04:35)
Almost good for me but just misses.
Score: 6 out of 10
More good action and crafting.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
Who knew a plant based bard could be this badass
Score: 7.4 out of 10
Not much here. Slice of life adventure, trapped in game, then suddenly the end.
Score: 6 out of 10
Steel Soul: Hub World Book 1 (26:23)
Cyberthriller element doesn’t work for me
Score: 6 out of 10
Nice beginning, but lost me mid-story
Score: 5 out of 10
Bard to the Bone (39:59)
Good well balanced bard adventure.
Score: 7.4 out of 10
(Play Music 2)
(None - It’s Thanksgiving)
*Formatting issues that make the game stuff off and on super unreadable or look like they were highlighted. The author says he’ll get those fixed.*
New LitRPG Audiobooks
Limitless Lands Book 2: Conquest (A LitRPG Adventure) (Nov. 23rd, 2018)
Guild: A LitRPG Novella (Monsters, Maces and Magic Book 3) (Nov. 26th, 2018)
Civil War: A litRPG Adventure (The Rogue Dungeon Book 2) (Nov. 27th, 2018)
Eden's Gate: The Omen: A LitRPG Adventure (Nov. 30th, 2018)
Cultivating Chaos (VeilVerse: Cultivating Chaos Book 1) (Dec. 1st, 2018)
Hero (Level Up Book #2) LitRPG Series (Dec. 10th, 2018)
Redemption (The Rise Of Resurgence #3) (Dec. 15th, 2018)
Freehaven Online: Winter Dungeonland (Book 3) (Dec. 16th, 2108)
Dungeon Mauling - A LitRPG GameLit Novel (The Good Guys Book 3) (Dec. 19th, 2018)
Finding a Body (The Dark Herbalist Book #4) LitRPG series (Dec. 27th, 2018)
Level Up: The Knockout (Book #1) LitRPG Series (Jan. 9th, 2019)
*A side story set in the same Level Up universe, different MC*
Onto New Releases and Reviews
(Play Music 3)
New Releases and Reviews
How far would you go to change humanity's fate?
Jared Cartwright has spent the last two years delving into the twisted, scarred wastelands of an earth ravaged by nuclear war. The rich and powerful have taken to the oceans and skies on floating utopias, escaping destruction and leaving the rest of humanity to fend off the mutated creatures that roam the earth.
To face his new reality, Jared must become an apex predator if he hopes to survive. He must evolve beyond human limitations to confront those that left mankind to die.
Jared’s quest takes a new turn when he discovers dragons are real.
My Opinion: 390 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure: I received an advanced copy for review. I purchased a copy when it became available.
The story tries to be a lot of things: post apocalypse, fantasy dragon riding, and LitRPG. But expectations for each of those are different and the story doesn't fulfill any completely.
First, let me say that this is LitRPG. There's a progression system that appears regularly that uses nanites to upgrade the MC and his dragon. There are options to improve physical or psionic/mental attributes. Nanites are gained from killing mutated monsters and the main character (MC) can also absorb some monster powers. It's not a deep progression system and unfortunately has no hard numbers. Instead it uses percentages to apply nanites to traits but those percentages have no relatable connection. For example, early in the story the MC gets 90% nanites after killing a bunch of mutated rats, and then later gets 95% nanites from killing a giant worm the size of a freight train. I would have much rather have seen actual nanite numbers be gained depending on size and power of the monster defeated as well as a gradually increasing cost to the powers or upgrades. It would have made progression choices more meaningful and it really doesn't seem that hard to implement.
The story is set in a post apocalypse world with the rich and powerful living in floating cities. The MC is a survivor on the world below who has to constantly search for new nanite sources to keep the radiation from killing him. However the survivalist aspects that I expected to see in that setting never appear. There is some scavenging but little survivalist attitude or conflict from anyone that's living in the world. The MCs is determined to never hurt or kill innocents and let's people who try to murder him go multiple times.
The fantasy dragon stuff is the oddest part. Apparently in alternative earth world dragons existed since before the dinosaurs, though there no evidence in history. But they went into hibernation/hiding rather than fight with the humans that had started to hunt them down. Now though the MC accidentally binds with a new dragon and can upgrade himself to superhuman levels by absorbing nanites from defeated monsters. Now his dragon companion’s goal is to prepare a place for all the dragons to come back. The banter and character development between the MC and his dragon is well done and the most charming part of the story.
Though the novel starts out with clear and defined plot arcs, it surprisingly becomes a slice life story that wanders around a lot and kind of focuses on fights with monsters that lead to those upgrades. There are multiple storylines that appear, and while mostly entertaining, they often just get abandoned. I’m sure the author has plans for all the loose story threads, but most of them are left dangling in the first book. The best story telling takes place at about the 45% when the MC finds a journal detailing how a citizen of a now empty town was creepily turned because of this insidious influence from a local monster. It's not a big section but it's a complete little story with a definite conclusion. Which is more than happens with most of the storylines. In a number of ways the novel feels like a series of short stories connected by killing monsters.
Overall, though the author asked me repeatedly not to give his story a bad review score because his story wasn't LitRP, it is. The progression mechanics hit the minimum requirements for me. They could have been better RPG mechanics and I'd consider them pretty light, but it's still LitRPG. However, the story, while well written, just lacked focus and just tried to be too many kinds of stories all at once. It just hits shy of good for me.
Score: 6 out of 10
The Third Realm (Ten Realms Book 3)
With the third realm new challenges arise.
Erik searches for Old Hei while Rugrat deals with his broken mana system. For both, their path takes them towards the alchemist association's trial.
They didn't mean to get into trouble, they swear, but in the ten realms trouble is not far behind the duo. They'll have to fight across the third realm to complete the alchemist association's trial.
All isn't peaceful in the first realm as Alva and Vermire will face one of their greatest challenges yet.
Chaos or creation, there's no knowing what might happen in the ten realms.
My Opinion: 666 pages, $5.99, Not Available on Kindle Unlimited
By the third book in the series, you’re either on board by now or not. So, the review is much simpler. This is a good addition to the series. Compared to book 2, there more good action in the front half of the story. There are still plenty of jerks trying to take advantage or bully our heroes and they get their comeuppance. The novel doesn’t forget the crafting either. There are good sections dedicated to Erik's Alchemy progression, Rugrat's smithing, the dungeon group development, and other crafting. The only part that take a bit of a backseat this time is the cultivation. It’s all part of the story, but our MCs have hit a snag there that’s part of the plot. Overall, good stuff and a good value for the page count.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
A Song of Shadow (The Bard from Barliona Book #2) LitRPG series
Every player in Barliona has heard of the Gray Lands—the land of the dead. Few have managed to travel there and speak with the heroes and villains of old. And of this miniscule number, only one bard has managed to bring the souls of the dead back to the world of the living: The Bard of Shadow. Now it is up to her to determine the future of her race. Shall the Biota race become full-fledged members of Barliona or will they oppose all that lives?
My Opinion: 555 pages, $5.99, Not available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure: I received an advanced copy for review. I purchased it when it became available.
A good sequel. I was genuinely surprised by some of the places the storyline went but it was a pleasant surprise. The action and slice life adventure keep me entertained the entire read, especially some of the larger battles. Many of the musical references were lost on me but if you’re into music more than me, you might like them. Overall, quite the good read.
Score: 7.4 out of 10
Arcane Hazards: A LitRPG Adventure (Demonic Summoner Serial Book 1)
The most anticipated game of the century. A Dive VRMMORPG more ambitious than any previous attempt. Millions log in on launch day, ecstatic and marveling at the vast new world of ArcaneHazards. But there's something the players miss until they started coming back from the tutorial...
“Where's the logout button? It was there before, right?”
Confusion turns to panic, and days later it breaks into full-blown chaos. Violence ensues, unchecked and unstopped by absent game masters. At their wits end, a few try the only way out left to them. New player Felix is going to need every ounce of luck, wit and strength to survive. Will he find a way to get home? Will he discover whatever caused all this and put a stop to it? Or will he give in... and spend the rest of his days inside a video game?
Join Felix as he ventures across monster-ridden plains, scorching deserts, lush living forests, through the unforgiving world of ArcaneHazards. To survive, Felix will need to defeat monsters, contend with rival players, acquire allies, and uncover the mysteries behind this deadly game.
My Opinion: ???150 pg, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
There currently isn’t a page count for the story, but it’s a short story. I’d estimate it at somewhere about 150 pages. According to the back material, this is the first entry in a LitRPG serial. It jumps right into the game world with little time spent on character creation. Instead, game mechanics are explained as the main character (MC) adventures. There is enough information for the reader to understand the game mechanics but there are no damage notifications or mana costs that the author had to keep track of.
The story is ok. It ends up being almost entirely slice of life. The MC logs in, joins a group, does some quests, kills some monsters and then when he gets back to town learns that he’s trapped in the game, the end. There honestly isn’t much to grab hold of you as as reader. There’s no tension in the story till the very very end. The MC in his group never really struggles and there is almost no character development. Part of that is just due to the fact that this is a short story and maybe that’s something that is planned for later entries in the series. However, this first novel is very much the tutorial section and many gamers skip that.
Overall, while this didn’t end up being particularly good, it’s also not bad and I think there might be potential in the serial story. I plan to at least try out the next entry when it comes out.
Score: 6 out of 10
Steel Soul: Hub World Book 1
Can a disease infect a virtual world?
Jupiter finally got his hands on the newest immersive virtual reality system, and he’s logging into Yevelia along with his best friend, Cas. Yevelia has everything he wanted; magic, monsters, and a chance to level up. Everything he doesn’t have offline.
But there’s something odd about the first quest, and the NPC’s. And why did the developers include a plague that is slowly spreading across the game?
Something’s wrong with Yevelia, and the AI seems determined to use Jupiter to right the wrong.
A fast paced litRPG set in The Hub World.
My Opinion: 81 pages, $0.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full Disclosure: I received an advanced copy for review. I purchased a copy when it became available.
This is a short story in a planned serial and overall it is just shy of good for me.
The introduction to the main characters (MC) is well done and the banter between the protagonists is nice and snarky. The game world is described well enough that you can tell that the author is a gamer. There’s a decent amount of RPG details. The reader is shown character sheets, stats, HP, Mana, there is ability and skill advancement as the characters level. World game mechanics also felt pretty solid.
Combat, is a good bit of the questing in the story but is only ok. It felt a little lackluster.
The thing that lost me were the cyber thriller elements introduced in the end of the story. They made the game mechanics feel unimportant and honestly unapplied. It’s one of those things where I suspect, had damage numbers or mana or stamina costs been shown the story would have fallen apart a bit. This is mostly because the big villian just doesn’t follow the rules of the game so overcoming that requires a certain level of ignoring or conveniently not showing info.
Otherwise, a decent story. Interesting characters, good banter between them, decent combat descriptions, ok game mechanic descriptions. Do plan to read the 2nd story in the series when it comes out. If you like cyberthriller elements more than I do, you’ll probably like the story more.
Score: 6 out of 10
Tournament Lord (Champions of MythRune Book 1)
Zane may be a loser, but he’s no nerd.
Zane Cunningham was a high school football star until an injury derailed his hopes to go pro. Now he wanders through his life with no goals and even fewer prospects,. Until, that is, the day his ex-best friend Danny offers him an opportunity that could turn Zane’s life around. All he has to do is play Danny’s smash hit MMORPG, Mythrune.
How hard can that be?
But there’s more going on in Mythrune than Zane could have anticipated, and he soon finds himself trapped inside the game. Some guys could take that in stride, but Zane has never been a gamer, and is completely out of his element.
Now, if he wants to get back to the real world, Zane will not only have to learn to play the game ... he’ll have to win it.
My Opinion: 285 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The early parts of the story are actually pretty good. The main character (MC) is in game by the 5% mark and stays there the rest of the story. It starts off with the MC, a guy who is hard to like because he’s rude selfish, and seems to dislike gamers and often comments about them wasting their time playing games, being trapped in the game with the unique power to not ever die. The downside for him is that he feels every single injury as if it were real. His goal, win a tournament and be rewarded with a special wish, his of course is to either log out or talk to his friend the CEO of the game he’s in to get him out. He picks up a partner, a level 10 rogue and together they adventure, quest, and fight monsters. There’s genuinely good mean-friend banter between the two and it’s their relationship is the best part of the story. The early part of the novel is a noobs tale, where the MC has to figure out or is told how the game works and his goal is revealed. He and his companion go on some pretty quirky quests and kind of just have interesting adventures.
The game mechanics are a mixed bag. Early in the story, there’s a good effort to describe how leveling works. Gain a level, choose to increase either HP, MP, or SP and get 2 ability points to spend on skills, abilities, or traits. There is mention that stats exists and are seen by the MC but it’s not something that is ever shown to the reader even though the other parts of the character sheet are. While damage is shown in the beginning of the story, it conveniently disappears as the story goes on never to be tracked again. You can kind of tell the author make choices about what would be a hassle to track in the story or what game mechanics might interrupt where the story went. The mechanics that are shown are fairly consistent, at least until the end of the story when the MC somehow obliterates opponents twice his level and you can tell the game mechanics are ignored to further the story in a certain direction.
Unfortunately, as the story goes on things get a bit repetitive and the lack of tension or risk really starts to show. The MC is immortal and uses that to win against every obstacle, or is just power leveled by his companion through most situations. Some of the quests mid-story are entertaining, but they don’t feel like they’re important and sometimes feel like filler. Even worse, the big resolutions to the story at the end are not accomplished by the MC but by sudden intervention by third party influences or magical items that have no foundation in the game stuff. Making all the preceding story seem a bit pointless.
Overall, though the beginning is entertaining it really lost me in the middle and I was just frustrated with that ending. I don’t actively dislike the story but after the halfway mark, it was not entertaining for me.
Score: 5 out of 10
Bard to the Bone
What would you do if you were trapped in a game as a bard?
Would you take on a demon-worshiping cult? Would you charm beautiful women? Team up with said women to storm a castle and overthrow a tyrant?
Hell yes, you would.
James didn't expect a quick foray into an MMO game to last this long. He's fantasized about being a rock star but has never held a tune. Now he's stuck as a bard. Forever.
Lesser mortals would despair, but there's only one option: Becoming the most kickass bard ever.
Armed with just his wits and a lute, James must survive in a game world where everything wants to kill him. Teaming up with a pair of gorgeous, lethal women is first on the list. Next is conquering the world.
My Opinion: 304 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The novel starts right off in the game world and stays there the whole story. The main character (MC), trying to distract himself from his personal problems logs into a highly anticipated VR game with his friends (who you never see again). He chooses the bard class, almost on a whim, but makes the most of his squishy character when he finds out he’s trapped in the game.
I think one of the early parts of the story that solidifies the game mechanics, is exactly how different the MC has to play because of his class. The author hits all the right notes about how challenging the class can be early on, with only one song, few spells, and fewer hit points. The MC has to approach his adventures differently than a fighter class and play more intelligently. The other game mechanics are fairly standard: stats, HP, MP, character sheets, item and monster descriptions. Progression happens when the MC levels and is given stat points to spend and is able to choose new songs and eventually spells. Additionally, that there are actually damage notifications helps solidify how non-combat oriented the MC is compared to the warriors in the story.
The story itself is fairly slice of life with the MC and his lady companions adventuring until about the halfway point when a little cyber thriller element is introduced. It’s more of a series story thread, but it serves as a turning point in the story where the MC gets more serious about facing his challenges and the antagonist in the story using his unique skill set as a bard.
One of the few places that the story fails for me is in describing music. I may have been ruined by other Bard LitRPG stories, but this one doesn’t quite capture that love of music. The MC plays pop songs that he remembers but never had IRL music skills or seemed to love music that much. He just plays them cause they’re moment appropriate. Nothing that ruins the story in anyway, just a small thing that I’d expected to come across better.
Overall, this is a good story. There is good action, some unique and sometimes funny quests, nice character development with between the MC and his romantic interests. There is one sex scene at the 82% mark. It’s not graphic and is only really a paragraph long, and is really skippable. Before that there is plenty of flirting between the MC and the romantic interests, and even some passionate kissing, but no sex, much to the frustration of the MC.
Score: 7.4 out of 10
That’s it everyone!
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