LitRPG Podcast 158
LitRPG Podcast 158
Feb. 22nd, 2019
Hello everyone, welcome to episode 158 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 reviews just for you.
New Releases and Reviews:
The the story just makes ‘good’ for me, but just barely.
Score: 7.1 out of 10
A good addition to the VGO universe that is light on action and RPG but does good stuff with the world building and intrigue.
Score: 7.3 out of 10
A fairly standard fantasy RPG story that is set apart by its bawdy and irreverent humor.
Score: 7.4 out of 10
An entertaining sci-fi LitRPG that pulls from games like Mass Effect.
Score: 7.3 out of 10
Advances the storyline with lots of action and adventure.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
The novel setups an expectation it doesn’t fulfill, also not a fan of the harem aspect.
Score: 6 out of 10
The Dungeon Traveler (53:21)
A good dungeon core story.
Score: 7.6 out of 10
(Play Music 2)
According to Magic Dome books, the latest novel from Dan Sugralinov (Soo - gra - lee - nof), Class A Threat, will be available on a new Russian subscription service Litnet.com and will be published a chapter a day. So if you want to read it early, you can get it there.
By the middle of April the book is going to be removed from Litnet and uploaded to Amazon (it is now available for pre-order).
Dakota Krout and Mountaindale Press is talking to Andries Louws, about the release of Histaff with special guest Michael Chatfield!
Mountaindale Press interviewed their author Ryan DeBruyn about Equalize which was published last week.
Dakota Krout also talked to the three authors that are writing novels in the expanded universe of Viridian Gate Online, which is published by Shadow Alley Press: D.J. Bodden (Illusionist series), J.D. Astra (Firebrand series), N.H. Paxton (The Alchemic Weaponeer series).
(Feb. 21st, 2019)
Hunter’s Choice (Apex Chronicles - Book 2) (Feb. 22nd, 2019)
-A dungeon core story with light harem from Shadow Alley Press the folks that bring you VGO.
New LitRPG Audiobooks
Collide (EvoBorne - A LitRPG Saga Book 2) (Feb. 24th, 2019)
Cat's Quest Book 1 (Feb. 26th, 2019)
Awaken Online: Dominion (Feb. 28th, 2019)
The Black Turtle (The Artar Chronicles Book 2) (March 5th, 2019)
Dark Sun Survival (March 5th, 2019)
Vindication (The Alchemic Weaponeer - Book 1) (March 12th, 2019)
The Plague Barrens: A Fantasy LitRPG Gamelit Adventure (Enora Online Book 3) (March 15th, 2019)
Absolute Zero (Adam Online Book #1) LitRPG Series (March 18th, 2019)
Max Lagno is the co-author for Level Up: Knockout
The Final Trial (Level Up Book #3) LitRPG Series (March 25th, 2019)
Viridian Gate Online: Dead Man’s Tide: A litRPG Adventure (The Illusionist Book 2) (March 26th, 2019)
Dark World [Transformation. Book II] (March 27th, 2019)
Edge of the Abyss (Respawn Trials Book #1) LitRPG Series (April 10th, 2019)
Dukes and Ladders: A LitRPG/Gamelit Adventure (The Good Guys Book 5) (April 11th, 2019)
(April 16th, 2019)
(April 18th, 2019)
Class-A Threat (Disgardium Book #1) LitRPG Series (April 22nd, 2019)
(April 25th, 2019)
Onto New Releases and Reviews
(Play Music 3)
New Releases and Reviews
Histaff: A Sci-Fi LitRPG (Skeleton in Space Book 1) (Feb. 22nd, 2019)
Lots of broken bones, a dim-witted RPG system, and a dash of magic; Skeleton in Space.
Douglas is a simple summoned skeleton, formed from an old battlefield when some ancient fossil of a necromancer raised him for a nefarious purpose.
His memories are a bit foggy, but who cares about remembering when there is walking to be done! Or stabbing cows! Douglas loves life, the simple joy of doing repetitive tasks - like battering down a large tower door - is all that's needed to keep his clacking bones satisfied.
But just after he completed his most recent task, the wizard he was fighting took out a weird crystal… and now there are stars everywhere. Will the floating, freezing skeleton find out what happened? Or will that wrecked spaceship on a collision path be the last thing going through his empty skull?
Come join Douglas the magical skeleton as he tries to live a fulfilling life in a sci-fi universe!
My Opinion: 314 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure: I received an advanced copy for review but purchased a copy when it became available.
Honestly, I was a little torn about this one. It has a certain charm and sense of humor, but it’s not going to work for everyone.
This is a slice of life story where the main character (MC) is an undead skeleton is summoned on a sword and sorcery RPG fantasy world and by some weird conflux of events (this part is a little confusing) ends up in this sci-fi universe. He becomes self aware and uses the RPG system to evolve into different skeleton forms, gain skills, a class, and magic. The story focuses mostly on the skeleton MC exploring, and training his magic. He explores a derelict ship, then a space station full of Dead Space inspired monsters. He eventually gets a companion but there's little communication between then and the story is only a little less lonely than when the MC was by himself. There's a little combat but it is not exciting. Either the MC blast away the monsters in an instant or the he gets smacked around, his skeleton body is crushed, and he spends the next few pages putting himself back together. This honestly happens way too much and is likely a running gag, but the reading the details of each reforming process gets a little repetitive.
The RPG game mechanics are pretty standard but are seen regularly. Character sheets, XP, levels, mana, stats, skills. The MC is a monster so he gets evolutions once he hits his current max level. It is unfortunately none of the evolutions the MC chooses are particularly striking or different and it's kind of a wasted mechanic. Also, the RPG stuff feels a bit unimportant through much of the story. It is consistently used, and is seen regularly but I got the feeling that if it was removed, the story wouldn't be that different. Sure, there would be a couple scenes that would have to be rewritten, but a majority the story focuses more on the rune magic system not RPG progression, which seems pretty wand wavy most of the time. With XP being given fairly randomly and used to force some evolution. The seemingly random way XP is given is eventually explained really late in the story but it feels arbitrary most of the story.
Overall, the the story just makes good for me, but just barely. I like the interesting mix of fantasy and sci-fi. I'm ok with the slice of life story where you just follow the MC around. But early in the story things are a bit tedious with the MC floating around in space for like 16% of the novel reading and reforming his skeletal body. The magical theorizing is good and I thought the magic system is neat. However, other readers may not enjoy the slower pacing and lack of good combat.
Score: 7.1 out of 10
Viridian Gate Online: Nomad Soul: A litRPG Adventure (The Illusionist Book 1)
If you had to choose between your life and your dreams, would you ever wake up?
Alan Campbell thought he’d gotten his dream job working on a revolutionary VRMMORPG with Osmark Technologies, until the project was canceled. He has one weekend to dive into an untested world full of intrigue, violence, and corruption to prove that Viridian Gate Online works, but the AIs running the game have their own plans for his soul.
Set a year before the events of “Viridian Gate Online: Cataclysm,” The Illusionist: Nomad Soul takes you back to when VGO was just a game, or so it seemed.
From James A. Hunter—author of Viridian Gate Online, Rogue Dungeon, and War God's Mantle—and D.J. Bodden, author of The Black Year Series, comes an epic new entry into the Expanded Universe of Viridian Gate Online that you won't want to put down!
My Opinion: 329 pages, $4.99, Available On Kindle Unlimited
This is an expanded universe series, set in the Viridian Gate Online universe. It is set one year before the 1st book in that main series. Initially, I was a little unsure how much it would feel like a VGO novel, and if it would be consistent with the established cannon and RPG game mechanics. Thankfully, after reading the story I’m glad to say this fits right in with all the other novels. I was honestly pretty impressed how much trust and leeway the publishers gave to the author. They let him use major series characters and not just for cameos, but serious cannon stuff.
The story, is set before the asteroid hits the earth and the Viridian Gate MMO world is still in the alpha stages, just starting it’s testing phase. The main character (MC) is trying to save the project and prove that the interface issues can be worked out by staying in game for over the weekend. In-game (IG), it’s a fairly slice of life story that focuses on world building, character development, and intrigue. The MC has to navigate a world the controlling AI gods have been influencing and building as the very first player/Traveler. You get lots of new information about the Imperial side: history, small personal stories, architectural details, and customs. Some readers have complained there’s too much of this. Also, there’s some IG intrigue between different imperial factions the MC has to deal with. The author really does a good job describing a faction/place that the VGO series has been sparse about. One aspect that is lacking in the game story is action. When there is an action scene, it is good, but there’s just not much of it in the story. The IRL story line is more about getting the game to work right and proving it can be popular.
On the game mechanics side, things are relatively light. There are only a few times the reader even sees a character sheet. There are semi-regular notifications for quests, skills, and items. But the story does not focus on the RPG progression. It's more of an incidental effect of the adventuring the MC does with quest playing a hand in guiding that adventure. Instead the story focuses on world building, character development, and story intrigue. This is completely in line with the story setup, as this takes place a year before the 1st VGO book in an alpha phase of the game world. However, readers that love all the crunchiness of the main VGO series may be a little disappointed with the lack of it here.
Overall, it is a good story that is light on action and RPG but does good stuff with the world building and intrigue.
Score: 7.3 out of 10
Beta Life: Digital Sorcery Book 1 (A LitRPG Series)
Old and about to die, Christopher Ryland is digitized in the new beta program offered by the Everlast Corporation. The beta promises eternal life in a video game, but as Ryland is soon to discover, he should’ve read the instruction manual first.
The corporation failed to mention that it populated his new world with slavers, sadists, supremacists, and one very trollish elf. All right, that last one isn’t really their fault. Sure, he might live forever but with a serious lack of RPG knowledge this isn’t going to be the fun and relaxing retirement he imagined.
He might not be the world’s greatest gamer, but he won’t let anything keep him down-not even fish herpes.
My Opinion: 282 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The beginning is a little bit of an unneeded info dump, but once the MC is in the game world the story is good. The RPG stuff is well described, detailed, and has an impact on the story. It’s a bit slice of life but that’s good with me.
The thing that sets this story apart is going to be the humor. There’s a good gamer vibe and the character Eldertits is definetly the main source of the jokes. There’s actually a pretty funny side to the story that I wasn’t expecting. It’s a specific kind of irreverent, bawdy, adult humor that might not work for everyone.
Score: 7.4 out of 10
Star Exile: Singularity (a Scifi LitRPG Adventure)
The isolated Eternity System is alone, overpopulated, starved of resources, and dying…
A 500-year-old peace treaty between the Dalthaxian Alliance and Salgon Empire is expiring and the war to end all wars looms.
The Eternity System will not survive another war.
A GRIM STRUGGLE FOR SURVIVAL
When the Eternity Treaty expires, an uninhabited and coveted no-man’s-land with enough resources to sustain one faction indefinitely is up for grabs—the Eternity Planet. It is the key to survival.
DIGITAL WAR IGNITES
The next generation of warfare ignites—a digital, bloodless war set in the new game universe of Eternity Online: the brainchild of the combined AI neural nets and technological prowess of both Dalthaxia and Salgon. Everything is changing. The war in this game universe will decide which faction will take the Eternity Planet and which will have to forge a grim exodus through the unknown to find a new home.
ON THE FRINGES OF GALACTIC CIVILIZATION AND ON THE RUN
Kyle Gennan, a drone operator working for a mining company on the wild fringes of civilization, finds himself on the run from the ghosts of his past and the two most powerful governments in the Eternity System. He will have to carve his own path through the stars to forge his new life if he wants any chance of experiencing Eternity.
IMMERSIVE SCI-FI LITRPG/GAMELIT
Delve into a gritty, immersive Scifi Gamelit/LitRPG adventure from Amazon Bestselling Author Drew Cordell featuring alien magic, engaging characters, massive starship battles, and a dangerous treasure hunt.
My Opinion: 533 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure: I received an advanced copy for review. I purchased a copy when it became available.
From the author of Stratus Online, comes a new sci-fi LitRPG. The game world reminds me a bit of Mass Effect, combining sci-fi space storytelling and setting with RPG action-adventure. There are aliens, techno-magic, laser guns, and spaceship battles. The author doesn't bother with character creation, instead he drops you into the action. From there the main character (MC) goes on adventures and gets drawn deeper into questline that may determine who wins the proxy war between galactic powers.
IRL, it's futuristic space mining with a side of gaming for extra money. The MC and his friend play the game hoping to earn enough transferable wealth to change vocations from space miners. With a background of waring human factions vying for dominance through the game, a proxy of their real war for the sparse resources of the galaxy.
On the RPG side, things are a little lighter than I’d like. More of the story is spent world building and much of the early half of the story feels more directly sci-fi. Still, there are character sheets, stats, item descriptions, quest notification, XP, and levels. After the 60% mark, there is even some class progression and crafting.
Overall, this is an entertaining sci-fi LitRPG story that definitely leans more towards sci-fi. The fights in general are good, though the spaceship battles didn’t do it for me. Character development was also nicely done with some neat flashbacks.
Score: 7.3 out of 10
Scourge of Souls - The Realms Book Four: (An Epic LitRPG Gamelit Adventure )
Gryph would give his life for his sister but saving her could cost him his soul.
Gryph entered the Realms with one mission, to save his sister Brynn. He didn’t want friends. He didn’t want responsibilities. He didn’t want to care. But even the best-laid plans go awry, and after escaping a sentient dungeon and defeating a would-be world conqueror, Gryph is no closer to finding Brynn.
Then, while mourning the tragic death of a friend and grappling with the burdens of leadership, an ally, thought long dead, returns offering the slimmest of hopes.
This hope takes Gryph and his friends on a journey through strange lands where they must outwit a mystical crime syndicate, evade an infallible bounty hunter and face-off against Brynn herself, now a goddess with no memory of her true self.
Gryph must triumph over them all. If he fails, both he and his sister will not only lose their lives, they will lose their souls.
My Opinion: 576 pages, $5.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Gryph is now the ruler and not only must he secure his throne against deadly forces but a god intent on destroying him. The story also brings the Dead Must Die side story into the narrative with a group dungeon dive. It was also good to see some progression with the soul magic. It was nice to see an expansion of the Lore skill and the perk market were pretty cool.
Overall, a entertaining story for fans of the series. A bit less epic scale than the last book but but more RPG progression and still entertaining.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
Gemini's Crossing: A Fantasy LitRPG Gamelit Adventure (Enora Online Book 1)
After learning he has just months to live, Gemini Fowler is granted one shot to cheat death when a billionaire game-developer offers to transfer his consciousness into a virtual realm.
The only current VR with the capability to receive him is the unreleased video game, Enora Online, and Gemini must survive until level ten or be completely wiped from the servers… and existence.
Welcome to Enora Online, where virtual is reality.
My Opinion: 504 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
This story is definitely better than the cover makes it seem. The most unique aspect of the game mechanics is definitely the ability to switch between classes by switching weapons. The other RPG mechanics are pretty standard but seen throughout the story pretty consistently. There is pretty good action and a nice dungeon dive mid story.
However, I have to be honest that the first 25% of the story is almost entirely setup and gave me an impression that the rest of the novel was going to be...more...than it ended up being. I mean, it is heavily beaten into the reader repeatedly that the RPG game world is created by this amazing superior and advanced AI that is not only sentient but has created an entire world so realistic that the programmers who looked at it practically resigned realizing their jobs were redundant. This game world was supposed to be full of dynamic quests, rich culture, and independent AI creatures with thousands of years of history to inform who they were as people. Yet, once there, the opposite feels true. The world feels culturally empty. Part of this is undoubtedly due to the lack of big cities or societies in book 1 but even the few people the MC talks to feel flat. There are also many places where the story feels more game like than I thought it would be based on early descriptions. I don't mean game mechanics but rather how the story feels on rails sort of, with quests leading the MC down particular paths and him getting obviously unearned gear, skills, and magic. Just some forced situations that feel like they should have played out differently if the game mechanics where strictly followed. Like facing native level 9 NPC hunters that don't see him hiding with his non-existent or level 1 hide skill. In addition to that, the last 25% is mostly harem (no explicit sex) with some quest clean up and a hook for book 2. But that aspect was also a turn off for me.
Overall, I enjoyed the setup of the story. Even if much of it doesn’t matter once the MC is uploaded to the game. However, it setup an expectation that wasn’t fulfilled. That plus the harem stuff that just wasn’t interesting for me, (I mean it felt like every woman that the MC saved just fell in love with him even though they only knew him for minutes or hours). This first book was just shy of good for me.
Score: 6 out of 10
The Dungeon Traveler
I spent most of my life trying to get by with whatever happiness I could, that included alcohol, food, and porn.
My death was unpleasant and humiliating. However, death is something we all need to go through. A bit like a proctology exam; necessary but never anything one wants to go through while it's happening.
However, death was supposed to be the end of it. Either way, the pain, suffering, and failures were supposed to be over. I was supposed to wink out, or perhaps take a trip to a lovely afterlife!
No, I ended up as a small stone, strapped to a table, while a pimple-faced teenager rubbed my facets and told me how 'lovely' I was. Last time I checked, birth wasn't supposed to be as embarrassing as death!
Life as a dungeon core isn't all bad. I like watching lizard love triangles and snooping on militaristic dwarves; though there is that issue where I'm trying to free myself from the entanglements of the Gods....ok, yeah that last one is a bit of a problem.
My Opinion: 282 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
This is a dungeon core story where the dungeon travels around instead of staying in one location. This solves a story bottleneck that a lot of dungeon core stories hit, that they’re stuck in one location with a finite number of locals to interact with. It does create other potential storytelling problems, like having readers invest in characters that may not be seen again or not spending enough time with a group to flesh them out. Still, I think the author does a good job.
There's also sub plots about gods and goddesses and their domains of worship, also stuff with a human kingdom. But beyond that, it is still a dungeon core story where a sentient core creates a dungeon with traps and challenges. Then rewards adventurers that pass levels or kills those that don’t. All while trying to maintain a balance between drawing in adventurers but not killing so many that people seek to destroy the dungeon.
Overall, good stuff. The game mechanics are seen throughout the story with lots of notifications. I like that space manipulation is the dungeon’s special ability. Even though the groups of adventurers that come to the dungeon rotate as it travels, there’s still time put into fleshing out each race/group so that they feel distinct and interesting.
Score: 7.6 out of 10
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