LitRPG Podcast 056
LitRPG Podcast 056
June 23, 2017
Hello everyone, welcome to episode 56 of the LitRPG podcast.
I’m Ramon Mejia. I’m here to bring you the latest LitRPG news, reviews, and author interviews. I have 8 new LitRPG stories to review for you this week
New Releases and Reviews:
(Play Music 2)
Someone had asked on line recently when the latest Weirdest Noob book was coming out and it showed up on Amazon for pre-order this week.
A Slave in the Locked Lands (LitRPG The Weirdest Noob Book 2) (July 31st, 2017)
The english cover for G. Akella’s fifth book in the Realm of Arkon series has been released. The novel will be titled The Long Road to Karn and the novel should be up for pre-order by the end of the month.
Edward Castle announced this week that the 1st draft of Unbound Deathlord 2: Obliterarion is complete! So now all we have to do is wait for the editing process to be complete and we can all enjoy the novel.
J.B. Garner and J.A. Cipriano has released new cover art for their novel Ring of Promise. It looks very pretty.
Aleron Kong revealed the cover art for his upcoming book The Land: Predators, the 7th book in the Chaos Seed series. Apparently, the story is to die for.
New LitRPG Audiobooks
Out Now, Will Review next week!
http://amzn.to/2tTEGzz (Book 1 not LitRPG but I’ll give book 2 a shot)
Overpowered: A LitRPG Thriller (Kings and Conquests Book 1) (June 27th, 2017)
Forming the Company (Alpha World Book 2) (June 27th, 2017)
The Quest (Dark Paladin Book #2) LitRPG Series (June 29th, 2017)
SpeedRunner (Tower of Babel Book 1) (June 30th, 2017)
Hero of Naught (July 1st, 2017)
Winds of Fate (Fayroll - Book 3) (July 4th, 2017)
The Curse of Rion Castle (The Neuro Book #2) LitRPG Series (July 6th, 2017)
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)
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)
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
The Monster Spawn: A LitRPG Series (Adonis Rebirth #1)
Nathan Attis wakes up with no idea where he is, how he got there, or why his memories of the last few days are gone. He’s more than a little perturbed to discover that he is dead, but it’s not the end of the world.
Due to him being in the army, he gets a 2nd chance at existence in a fantasy VR game called Adonis Rebirth. There, Nathan will get to live another life, one filled with heroic quests and epic adventures. A land packed with legend and glory, where anyone can be a hero.
But there’s a problem with his transition into the game. His consciousness isn’t loaded into a player character, but instead is transplanted into a beast who lives in the bowels of a mountain. Even worse, he finds out he is the end monster in a new limited-edition quest, where the 1st to complete it wins a unique prize.
Soon, hero players are going to come and kill him. He needs to find a way to survive the hero onslaught, all the while trying to discover how to reverse what happened to him. He needs allies, but it’s hard to make them when you look like Nosferatu's ugly brother. Nathan will have to master his skills and learn how to play as the monster - his 2nd life depends on it.
My Opinion: 243 pages, $0.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Nathan is a soldier that dies and has his mind uploaded into Adonis Rebirth. When he gets to the game world he finds himself not at the starter town but in a cave with a goblin minion that obeys his every order. Not only does he finds he can't leave the mountain but that instead he’s not a normal player but a monster. Turns out the game company made him the boss for a rare quest and now he has players coming to try and kill him.
The premise, that a player is loaded not as a hero into a game but as the monster that everyone is trying to kill is neat. It sort of reminds me of the game Evolve with some dungeon creation aspects added in.
The first 40% of the story is just the main character (MC) slowly realizing that he’s a monster, not a player, and unlocking his monster powers and the aspects of dungeon building that he has access to. By middle of the story once the orbs are revealed you realize he’s a dungeon master and can create minions, upgrade them, set traps, and upgrade himself by mining for orbs.
I liked the game mechanic that forced the MC to choose carefully what he was going to do because if he did monstrous things, he raised his insanity meter putting him that much closer to losing his mind and becoming a true monster. I also like the dungeon master aspects of the story, they were simple but helped give some depth and options to the MC on how he’d deal with the players trying to kill him. He could use traps instead of killing them directly.
Unfortunately, the end was a bit disappointing. It took the game mechanics that made it unique and sort of threw them away and then it leaves the reader on a cliff hanger. Online reviews include complaints about issues with formatting, and wasted story potential. I agree with the parts on wasted potential.
Score: 6 out of 10
Ripcord Online: (LitRPG Series Book 1)
After a week with the implant, Ripcord Online had translated all of my memories, hopes, and dreams — all of me — into binary code. I was ready for the uplink. There was just one thing I had to do first.
I had to die.
Ripcord was a revolutionary new product that launched people into a virtual reality world just moments before death, sparing them their painful end-of-life memories and allowing them to live in a video game utopia for all time.
At least, that’s how it was advertised. No one ever came back to say whether Ripcord lived up to its promise. It was a one-way ticket for those lucky enough to get in.
Well, maybe “lucky” isn’t the right word for it.
My wife had been in Ripcord for two years. I was finally ready to go find her. When I got there though, it was nothing like I had expected and she was nowhere to be found.
Oh, and did I mention something is killing everyone off? “Griefing” players that are already grieving.
If I ever wanted to see my wife again, I’d have to get a lot stronger, learn how to level up in this strange new world, and hope she found a way to survive this long…
My Opinion: 262 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure, I received a copy from the author for review but purchased it once it was released.
In this story, people have a techno afterlife feature that downloads their mind into an MMORPG game when they die. Cale’s wife died two years ago and he was never able to get over the loss. So, he commits suicide and follows her into the game she was uploaded into. Now he’ll cross the game world and face any enemy to find his wife again.
There are alot of things in the story that stretch the bounds of believability. It reads like a novelized version of What Dreams May Come, that Robin Williams movie where he traveled through heaven and hell to find his wife after she dies.
While the story is supposed to be set in an MMORPG, it feels more like a traditional fantasy world with some RPG mechanics. Most of the RPG stuff is limited to Cale and his progression of power. The rest of the world feels like fantasy realm under siege by a new malevolent force. It just really doesn’t make sense that any MMO controlled by a game company would ever let the things that happen in the game occur, much less intentionally program their possibility. Things like: drug addiction, the option for one player to corrupt and use the rest as puppets, permadeath, player slavery, or child murder. If these were features of a game people voluntarily signed up for that would be one thing but the story presents all this as a huge surprise to every player in the realm. Something they discover once they’re dead and there.
The main character, Cale, chooses the path of green magic (plant magic) during character creation. To most people, it seems like the weakest of class choices because of non-existent combat options associated with growing plants. However, as he progresses in his levels he learns to maximize the abilities and skills his class gives him and becomes a power to be reckoned with. Honestly, my favorite part of the story was seeing the intelligent ways that Cale used his plant powers and the new skills and abilities that were unlocked as he leveled.
Combat in the story is mediocre. Even though there are fights sprinkled through the story, none of them were particularly memorable or thrilling.
A big part of the story revolves around an addictive drug called Lite that is in the game. When chewed it makes players relive their happiest memories. It’s an interesting drug, and I see why a drug dealer would want to enslave a plant mage like Cole to grow more of it. The situation of him being held captive does force the main character to think of ways to use his powers in combat, so it has a place in the story. However, it’s another example of how I have to suspend my sense of disbelief a little too much to accept that any developer would put such a drug in an MMO and it just feels like an odd thing to have in the story.
Most of the story is devoted to Cole’s search for his wife, traveling around the game world, helping people he meets along the way, and constantly fleeing The Scourge. A player that’s somehow warped the desperation others feel into a way to enslave them to him. The Scourge travels through the world like a force of nature, either killing players or adding them to his mob. It’s never really explained in game terms how any player can do this and is another example of why I feel this world feels more like a fantasy world than an MMO world.
The end of the story is fairly predictable but still cute. It also leaves the opportunity for more storytelling. Though it’s satisfying enough that you won’t pine away for a sequel if it never comes.
Overall, it’s just an ok story. The best part was seeing how the main character would use his plant powers and the upgrades he got. However, most of the story feels like a fantasy novel take on What Dreams May Come and then it was gamified sometime later. For me, it wasn’t satisfying.
Score: 5 out 10.
Raiding Jotunheim: A LitRPG Saga (Valhalla Online Book 2)
'Raiding Jotunheim' continues the exciting LitRPG adventure by USA Today bestselling author Kevin McLaughlin. When technology blurs the line between fantasy and reality, what will we become?
Samantha didn't ask to have her mind uploaded to the virtual afterlife of Valhalla Online. Someone did this to her. She’s determined to find out who.
But her quest has stirred enemies. They’re coming after her with new weapons - hacked items capable of deleting anyone struck by them. One scratch, and she'll be gone forever. There's no coming back.
Stalked by an assassin who can kill her for good, Sam pushes on, struggling to smash her way through yet another Realm. She needs to beat all of them to learn the truth, and her foes stop at nothing to make sure she never survives that long.
But Sam will not let fear deter her. Some things are worse than dying, and immortality in a cage is one of them.
My Opinion: 221 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Set a few weeks after the end of book one. Samantha has finally earned enough points to move onto the next realm in the game. Unfortunately, someone doesn’t want her to progress any further in her quest to talk to the outside world and figure out how she ended up in this virtual afterlife. Someone has hired a black-clad assassin to permanently delete her from the game's servers.
Now she not only has to be concerned with learning the new rules and gameplay of Jotunheim but this assassin too.
Remember that Samantha’s big goal is to talk to the outside world and figure out how she got uploaded into this game. She has to travel through the eight realms that make up this closed MMO. Each realm has its own rules and gameplay mode. The second realm that Samantha travels to, Jotunheim, is a PVE game environment that doesn’t allow players to harm each other. It focuses on large raids against a variety of giants. Player run guilds compete for prestige as they raid these instanced dungeons.
This book follows the same basic formula that book 1 did. The main character lands in a new realm not understanding how things work and everything around her is vastly more powerful than she is. Everything is explained to her and she’s led around by the nose by other characters learning until about halfway into the story. Then she goes solo, gains confidence, a bunch of levels, gameplay skill, and power. Then she leads her side to victory against the jerks, even after a predictable betrayal.
What makes this story different from book 1, are the game mechanics of this realm. In the first realm, it was all about castle capturing and PVP. In this second realm, it’s the opposite. It’s about doing well within the groups you form and working well together to conquer challenging instanced dungeons. These dungeons also make combat different than it was in book 1. Large scale castle sieges are different from small group dungeon runs. Each raid has its own unique monsters, traps, layouts, and bosses. So there’s a larger variety of combat situations that can be described.
My favorite part of the story was the solo adventure of the main character. Seeing her learn new gameplay skills and then developing new strategies to beat higher level monsters solo. The simple story of her leveling, applying skills, getting new spells, and wailing on some monsters for XP is satisfying.
This assassin thing isn't really important in this story. Once she leaves the first realm and goes into Jotunheim she can’t be harmed by other players. So, it’s just a sword of Damocles that hangs over her head the entire story and something she worries about. Also, I don’t think you’ll be surprised who the masked assassin turns out to be.
Overall, a good read. The combat is well described, and the monsters fought are varied. The guild on guild competition felt a bit forced but I get that there had to be some motivation for the MC to grow in power rapidly. The assassin thing just seems a bit silly and doesn’t really make sense but maybe it’ll become more important in the next book. Still, an enjoyable read.
Score: 7 out of 10
NEMESIS ONLINE (GOD GAME ROYALE SERIES): (Game World, Sci-Fi, Dystopian, Fantasy, Online, LitRPG)
In my world you are born with skills and abilities; special powers that allow you to do extraordinary things. You inherit them from your parents, you can gain them though training, and you can occasionally just sort of unlock them while doing what ever you do.
I was born with two special skills; Shell Rebirth and Inherit Skill.
The latter skill was different than what we were given at birth from our parents. It allowed me a rare chance to gain the skills and abilities of my opponent. It had a simple premise, but it rarely activated making it nearly worthless.
For most of my life I had thought that the former skill was even more worthless than the latter-- pure trash. I had started off with two skills but none of them activated not once for the first twelve years of my life. It wasn't until the first time I died-- which is a hilarious story that I'll tell you later-- that I realized I had two amazing skills.
The former skill Shell Rebirth granted me an insanely overpowered ability-- the ability to never die-- to rebuild myself in the safety of a cocoon made of scabs --it's gross--after a fatal strike. These two skills worked in tandum. While Inherit Skill rarely allowed me to steal skills from my opponent, if my opponent managed to kill me and Shell Rebirth kicked in-- Inherit Skill would activate-- and grant me the newly acquired skills in my next life.
Because of this, I've found myself in a weird predictament. Whenever I come across skills and abilities that I want all I simply have to do is die by the person who has them.
My Opinion: 28 pages, $2.99, Not Available on Kindle Unlimited
The author Kyle Fox has dropped several short stories on Amazon recently and they’re all very over priced. This one is references there’s a game the people in this world play and that people have ranks but there’s no actual game play in this short story. Most of the story focuses is on high school drama, teenage flirting, and a tiny bit of world building.
Honestly the cost per page is just so high it takes away from the mediocrity of the story. Still, story wise, it’s meh. I just have a problem paying $0.10 per page when look for $0.01 per page normally.
Score: 3 out of 10
Fragged (Fragged (A LitRPG Short Story Series) Book 1)
A LitRPG short story with crafting, nudity, gratuitous violence, dinosaurs, and profanity. What more could you want?
Zoey has just been screwed over by someone in her clan, a screwing over that resulted with her getting hit with a permadeath and having to restart from scratch in the dystopian game world of Thren, a land of dinosaurs, rabid humans, and more than a few other deadly threats.
After what happened, Zoey doesn't know if she can trust anyone in the game again, let alone any of her clan members, and makes the decision that she's going to go it alone for the foreseeable future
My Opinion: 59 pages, $0.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Short story, the first 5% is some rant but besides that, it’s an interesting story. The main character (MC) seems rather angry but the game mechanics of this MMO are interesting. It’s a sandbox action survival MMO where there aren’t levels but skills that have to be practiced to increase them. It reminds me of a cross between Day Z and Conan Exiles.
It starts out with the MC pissed off about having been killed, forcing her to start a whole new character since permadeath is a part of the game. She punches a tree for some wood, breaks a rock and makes her first weapon a stone axe. From there she builds a community by kidnapping some natives and force feeding them and making them a type of slave obedient to her will. There’s competition with other players for crates of loot and resources. There’s dinosaurs fighting, lots of cursing, smart ass notifications, accidental pregnancy, and just as some old friends arrive the story ends.
It’s a fun little read that the author describes as an experimental serial. The author says he’s not sure exactly where the story is going. Well, I’m coming along for the ride, so I hope it continues to be a fun trip.
Score: 7 out of 10
Restoration: The Rise of Resurgence: Book II
Resurgence. Hands down the best Virtual Reality Massive-Multi Online Role Playing Game. Ever. There is no comparison between Resurgence and any other game, or AltCon and any other parent company, as any of the thousands of beta testers will attest -- at great length and detail. Any beta tester but Alex, anyway.
Alex knows that Resurgence is more than just a game, that others have likely died so that Resurgence could be released to the public. The truth weighs heavily upon him, though the mystery of AltCon's true endgame is the real cause of his frustrations.
While Alex secretly works to discover the reality behind Resurgence -- and AltCon's true intentions -- he is not alone. With the tight-knit squad of players he has come to think of as friends, Alex must overcome the array of challenges in the game in order to discover the truth.
Even though Alex must work in secret, he is not as alone in his quest as he believes. Substantial forces outside of the game are stacking up to confront AltCon in their own way, all trying to answer the same question: can AltCon be stopped?
My Opinion: 484 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
In the 1st book, we’re introduced to team of beta players testing the greatest VRMMO ever developed, Resurgence. Our hero, Alex, is recruited by the an A.I. entity in the game to search for code that may harm the players. He’s given a boost some of his stats, specifically ‘chance’ and some slightly overpowered gear to help him accomplish his goals. Additionally, he’s given access to some unique thief abilities that let him harness the powers of the shadows. Alex teams up with a quirky group of other players (Dan, Wayne, and Jason) and together they go off on some amazing adventures.
In the real world, the game company AltCon, is under secret investigation by the government over their tech’s ability to possibly mind control the players in Resurgence.
In book 2, things are still progressing along the same lines. Alex, still can’t tell his group about his interest in finding this dangerous code. AltCon is refining its ability to influence the players. The government is ramping up its investigation and have even planted a few agents in the game. Will, Alex discover the secrets AltCon is hiding?
Short answer, no. But that’s ok. The author took the parts I liked the most about book 1, the adventuring with friends part and greatly expanded on it. Which I thoroughly enjoyed.
While the recap at the beginning of the story is a little hard to get into, the story gets into the game world fairy quickly this time and stays there 90% of the time. The only times it comes back to the real world is when it’s building up the government investigation part, revealing the AltCon conspiracy, or in one instance when the players from Alex’s group hangout in real life.
That scene by the way is one of my favorite parts of the story. It includes a scene where James is recounting how his partner Jason (member of main group) showed him how illogical it was to get jealous over Jason spending hours gaming by making him think about the solo activities he loves to do, like reading. It’s one of the best explanations of the dynamic that exists between gamers and non-gamer partners.
Most of the time in the novel is spent with the main group going on various adventure in the game, gaining XP, levels, and cool gear. There is also a pretty decent amount of time spent with Alex, the main character, and his training as a thief. The banter between group members is still very funny and enjoyable and I had a nice time just hanging out with these guys again.
However, I do have to point out that if you’re the type of reader that is expecting advancement in the big plot about AltCon’s mind control stuff or the government investigation, you’re going to be disappointed. There’s a little advancement in that area, but the story is mostly about Alex and his friends going on adventures and grinding out some levels and skills.
Score: 7 out of 10
Effilia: The Soul of Arogha (A LitRPG Adventure)
Live for the game, or die in it…
Effilia is the game the world has been waiting for. The game people said would change the way they lived. The game they thought they knew everything about…
Jackson Mahg has been tasked with entering the Virtual Reality World and playing what he thought would be like every other simple MMORPG. Get in. Do the Quest. Get out. Defeating Arogha and saving the Empress seemed easy enough, but he wasn’t prepared for just how different this game was going to be.
With its futuristic technology and advanced A.I system, Effilia was always set to be mind blowing, but will completing the task really be enough to leave? What happens when immersive reality takes control and everything you thought you knew about the real world slowly fades away?
With a group of unlikely heroes by his side, he’s about to find out.
How far would you go to test a game?
My Opinion: 194 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
This is an odd mix of portal fiction and IRL sob story. It is not LitRPG though.
I’d break this story into two parts. When the main character (MC) is in the game and when he’s in the real world.
When the MC is in the real world, it’s just a sob story. His girlfriend and him are not getting along. She doesn’t understand his dedication to game development, she thinks he’s spending too much time at work and not enough on her. Blah, blah, blah. They break up, it’s supposed to be sad. This real life stuff actually disappears entirely by the 50% mark in the story when the MC gets trapped in the ‘game’ and never returns to the real world again.
The other part of the story have Jackson supposedly in a VR game beta testing. Only the game never feels like a game. Instead it feels like portal fiction. The extent of the game mechanics is a brief character creation scene where classes and races are described, and a paragraph about combat being about timing your swing until the green exclamation mark above a monsters head turns yellow. Yet, even that combat game mechanic disappears entirely from the rest of the story. There are occasional mentions of levels and experience but nothing ever comes of it. There are no quest dialogue boxes, no XP given for defeating monsters or quests, the MC never levels up once despite his insistence that it’s important. Heck, the word ‘level’ only appears 6 times in the entire novel and only once in terms of a game mechanic. No character sheet, no item descriptions, nothing.
While, some of the backstory of his companions is interesting, the main character mostly wanders around and events happen to him. The story itself is bland and there are no good combat scenes. Most of the combat in the story is described as, ‘I defeated the wolf’. There story is basically a rip off the tricked hero theme. A hero with ‘insert special quality’ is transported to a new world and tricked into unleashing an old evil that threatens not only this world but his old one. Now he must collect companions and allies to help him defeat it.
Unfortunately, there’s not even a good ending to redeem the story. It ends in an unsatisfying cliffhanger where nothing is resolved. Not only is this not LitRPG, it’s not even interesting.
Score: 3 out of 10
A Healer's Gift: Adventures of Brad: Book 1 (Adventures on Brad)
Daniel was Gifted by the gods at birth, able to heal with a touch even the most grievous wounds. Born in a mining camp, he's unable to still his restless heart and journey's to a nearby Dungeon town to take his first steps as an Adventurer. Follow his journey in a world filled with monsters, dungeons and a leveling system. A traditional fantasy story with LitRPG elements.
My Opinion: 142 pages, $3.99, Not available on Kindle Unlimited
A bit pricey for the page count but a entertaining read that you can pick up and put down without feeling lost in the story or feeling any urgency to continue the story.
There’s no evil plot to destroy the world, or sentient A.I. trying to kill humanity. This is a good simple story, set on a fantasy world ruled by RPG mechanics. Daniel has a unique healing ability that wants to become an adventurer and goes dungeon diving. The dives into the dungeon are interspersed with dates, time healing in the clinic, and glimpses into the social structures of the world. The main character makes friends, gets a dungeon diving partner, and gains some levels killing monsters. Quiet enjoyable.
Score: 7 out of 10.
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