LitRPG Podcast 058
Hello everyone, welcome to episode 58 of the LitRPG podcast.
I’m Ramon Mejia. I’m here to bring you the latest LitRPG news, reviews, and author interviews. Remember to check out Episode 57 of the podcast, where I get to talk with Daniel Schinhofen, the author of the Last Horizon and Alpha World series.
This week I have 8 new reviews for you.
New Releases and Reviews:
Hatchling: (Wyvernette Book One) (21:07)
Gamer Guy: A LitRPG novel (32:07)
(Play Music 2)
Harmon Cooper, author of the SciFi and LitRPG series The Feedback Loop and Fantasy Online is going to release a new LitRPG series on Aug. 1st called The Last Warrior of Unigaea. (Unigaea = One Earth or Earth One??). No Pre-Order.
Aleron Kong, author of the Chaos Seeds series, is releasing the 1st chapters of the 7th book in his series on his Patreon. So, if you can’t wait till July for the full release, you can get your peek there if you're a subscriber to his patreon.
Travis Bagwell has put the first book in his series up for free on Amazon. Awaken Online: Catharsis is currently available for FREE from June 29 - July 3. Even if you’ve already read it, it’s free, so go download it or gift it to someone.
Adventures on Terra Book 2 update.
Read some reviews, note good rankings. Best so far was 121 on Amazon book, #2 in a couple categories, and as an author up to 25 on come specialized category but 35 on Science Fiction and Fantasy. Thank you everyone that’s been supportive of the the writing I do.
New LitRPG Audiobooks
Launch: Solaria Online, Book 1 . The novel got a score of 5 out of 10 from me. From the sample I listened to, the narrator adds a lot to the story. So, go listen to a sample and decide if you like it.
Out Now, Will Review next week!
SpeedRunner (Tower of Babel Book 1) (June 30th)
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)
DLC: A LitRPG Adventure (The Crucible Shard Book 6) (July 7th, 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 Last Warrior of Unigaea (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
Forming the Company (Alpha World Book 2)
How does Alburet feel about Stacia suddenly becoming his Succubus? How will her family react to her sudden change? While trying to handle this sudden transition, Mindblown is also going to take the server down for maintenance.
Alburet will have to deal with emotional turmoil, all while continuing to play the game he has been sentenced to play for life. What else is about to change in Alpha World?
Mindblown announces the ability to form guilds. Alburet sees an opportunity to form a guild himself and takes it.
This is a continuation of the Alpha World saga. It contains real life situations, including sensual scenes that don’t get fully graphic but might make you uncomfortable. It also contains hunting monsters and gaining levels, but not at a breakneck pace.
My Opinion: 406 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full Disclosure. I received an early copy for review. I purchased the novel once it became available.
Also, there is sex in this story. Less sex than in book 1 but there are sex and BDSM explanation. The sex descriptions vary from Fade to black sex to graphic details. In comparison to the rest of the story, sex doesn’t happen often, one sentence every 10% or so. I skip the graphic, sex parts but there is an open discussion of sexuality and sex jokes are a regular part of the story.
In book 1. The main character Seamus, a former prison guard convicted of murder, volunteered to Beta test full-time immersion in an MMORPG. Once there he chooses to be a summoner named Alburet. He maximizes one of the seemingly weakest classes in the game and thrives. Not only that but he makes new friends, both player, and NPC. He even starts a romance with an NPC named Stacia. By the end of book 1, (Spoilers) it’s revealed that not only is Stacia part succubus but that she’s bonded to Alburet as one of his summonable demon minions.
In book 2, Alburet has to deal with this revelation but also decide how he wants to spend his time in the game long term. Will he continue to be a solo player or will form a guild and be a leader in the game world?
This is an enjoyable story. It jumps right into the game world and doesn’t leave, except for a few flashbacks. This entry into the series does not have a huge earth shattering problem to solve. Instead, it’s about Seamus getting a new chance at life as Alburet, the demon summoner. He goes on adventures and he expands his relationships with the digital citizens of this world.
Seamus / Alburet continues to adventure with a group of friends, gain levels, power up his minions, and deal with the emotional consequences of falling in love with an NPC. The fights are well thought out, though they still lack visceral descriptors. Alburet’s team fights some very interesting battles with some cool monsters.
There are a few sections that helped add to the main character’s backstory. I especially liked the few moments where the MC has dreams about what exactly happened that sent him over the edge and turned him from Prison Guard to Prisoner. There are even hints that the MC may not be remembering what really happened or he’s missed something important.
The relationships that the MC has with the A.I. NPCs in the game world expand and he starts to think of himself not as a visitor in some game but as a resident in a new world. Bob and Tiny, MC’s other minions, are still very fun characters.
There are some hints in the story about things that may happen in book 3, including guild on guild fights, PVP, and expanded story with the Dark Lord. However, there is little advancement of those plot lines in this story. So, don’t expect it here.
Overall, good story.
Score: 7 out of 10.
Eyrth Online: Episode 4 - A New Smoke: TMOLW: The Memoirs of Lawrence Wrath
Eyrth Online is the adventures of Lawrence Wrath. Just your everyday average stoner, who gets to play the most amazing virtual reality massively multiplayer role playing game (VRMMORPG) of all time;
If you enjoy stoner comedies and escapism then this book is for you. I have created a Spotify playlist that I was listening to when I wrote these novellas. Each song is the title of the chapter and is the musical theme for that chapter.
My Opinion: 140 pages, $1, Available on Kindle Unlimited
There are huge disclaimers all over this novel that it has marijuana use. So if that’s not something you can ignore this isn’t the story for you.
I like to think of this series as a kind of Cheech and Chong’s LitRPG Adventure. It’s just a fun, stoner story, set in an MMO with leveling. Don’t expect more than that. Oh, the music playlist for each episode is pretty good too. The series has exposed me to plenty of good songs I’ve never heard of but then again I’m musically challenged. My favorite one this episode is Biz Markie - Just A Friend.
Storywise, we finally get more details on how the main character (MC), Lawrence’s, uncle was murdered. Of course it had something to do with a woman. The story is told in the MC’s mindspace in a type of Quantum Leap flashback where the MC inhabits the body of Katya and sees the story unfold from her perspective.
Then back in the game by the 18% mark. The MC gets a bit of training in his new wind magic and decides to climbs the cliffs of insanity. There’s this whole Princess Bride scene where he finally meets another player, Andy (a lady), who had a Princess Bride special edition of the game. So, now the two go on some adventures together and flirt. Lots of flirting. Then more players are met, who have special editions too, and they all go on more themed adventures that I won’t spoil.
A fun read.
Score: 7 out of 10
Episodes 1-4 http://amzn.to/2tqrcOP
The Quest (Dark Paladin Book #2) LitRPG Series
Surviving in a tough situation is not always the best option; sometimes dying is much better than staying alive. The Academy showed Paladin Yaropolk what makes the world go round: pragmatism and personal gain. Restart was set in motion, but it only makes players more frantic. Now everyone plays only for himself. Yaropolk faces the same dilemma: be like all of them, or keep his humanity and be known as an odd duck. Because there is only one rule in this world: kill or be killed…
My Opinion: 328 pages, $5.99, Not Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure, I received an early copy for review. I purchased the novel once it became available.
In book 1, Sergey was soldier that died killing a mysterious figure flinging magic around a battlefield. When he woke up again, he found reality was not as he knew it. It turns out our entire universe is just one big game and now Sergey was a player in that game. Under the new name Paladin Yaropolk, he attended and finished an academy meant to teach new players the rules and features of the game. Unfortunately, Paladin Yaropolk also stumbled onto a potentially universe altering secret, how to restart the game.
Now in book 2, Yaropolk is in the real game stuck on earth and he has to deal with the realities of a universe where everyone is looking to level up at any cost. He has headhunters, mages, and other enemies trying to get him. Thankfully, he’s safe in Sanctuary, the stronghold of the Paladins. Or is he? It seems an innocent looking quest could sweep him up into even more intrigue and universe changing danger.
The beginning of this story is a little hard to get through. It’s mostly explanations about the location Paladin Yaropolk finds himself in after his adventures in the academy, Sanctuary. He levels up a bit in a dungeon, learns some of the rules about his class and occupation (Explorer and Judge).
Where the novel spends most of its time is on a innocent looking quest to figure out who stole some old ladies pendant. This search turns into this big mystery adventure for Yaropolk that has a genuinely surprising twist ending.
One of the few things I didn’t like about the story was the level progression that takes the main character from level 11 to level 73 in a little over a week. The early parts where the main character is in a dungeon is fine, it feels like the main character is earning his levels. However, later in the story the levels feel like they’re just being handed out to him.
Additionally, the game mechanic that puts a target on a player, or even a quest to kill them, if they have too much money (Granis) seemed a little odd to me. It sort of makes sense as a player vs player mechanic but seems easily solved by just spending the money, putting it in a bank, or converting it into gold, which is not penalized by the game.
Besides those small things, the rest of the novel was rather enjoyable and I was pleasantly surprised to find it turned into a kind of LitRPG mystery story.
Score: 7 out of 10.
Hatchling: (Wyvernette Book One)
As a Non-Psionic Contributor (NPC), Margot Hyland is fated to die on a weekly basis to greenskin raids on her hometown. Her life revolves around shoemaking, dying, respawning, and more shoemaking.
When Margot discovers a secret hidden in her family's basement, she realizes she has a chance to break that cycle. Now, with newfound abilities she'll have to learn to control, Margot must brave a harrowing journey ahead of her to defeat the Stronghold targeting her town.
My Opinion: 285 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
This is a coming of age hero story that suffers from a lack of logic at a fundamental level. The world that the main character (MC), Margot, lives in is either supposed to be a fantasy world ruled by RPG mechanics or an artificial game of some kind. It’s never really clarified and that creates confusion.
If it’s an independent fantasy world ruled by game rules then why do all the character, both NPC and RPC, use a bunch of terms they shouldn’t know. For example, the MC is the reproductive result of an NPC (Non-Psionic Contributor) and RPC (Regular Psionic Contributor) having sex and she’s called a ‘glitch’. But how would these characters know the term if this is a independent fantasy world that doesn’t have technology? Or how do two NPCs know about zombies and necromancers if they’ve never left their hometown and die on a daily basis to fulfill some quest chain? Yet, at the same time, these same NPcs don’t know what the monsters that live in the forest just outside of town are called?
If it is a game, like some VRMMO or something, then why doesn’t anyone seem to know it? All the characters, NPC and RPC, act like they’ve lived their whole lives in this game. They follow social customs, avoid taboos, and go to church for some reason.
This fundamental logic flaw in the world takes away from what might otherwise be a good story. Each time a character used some phrase or bit of knowledge they shouldn’t have access to, it took away from the immersion of the story.
There are plenty of other issues with the logic of the story, like how the MC just happens to be saved by a wyvern the first night it’s revealed her real mother is an RPC. Then, she just happens to be given a wyvern of her own, which happens to activate her game powers. Or why do the Grimbauer’s, NPCs, who are accused of working with hackers (another out of place term) die a final death after being executed when it was established NPCs respawn as long as they have enough favor (reputation points).
The beginning part of the story of a young woman trying to figure out who she is and buck a system that uses NPCs as virtual serfs is a great idea and has lots of potential. It’s just not setup logically and that takes away from the rest of the story.
The parts I liked best were the times the MC was killing monsters in the forest with her sister. It was nice to see the family dynamic of sisters working together or fighting with each other, while still trying to fulfill a dream of saving the town.
However, even this nugget of goodness goes away when the MC leaves her hometown and her sister. She even abandons the attempt to conquer the stronghold that spawns the monsters that kill everyone regularly. Instead, the rest of the novel is spent with wandering around the larger world, getting tricked, killing a few creatures, and meeting a few folks but otherwise not doing anything really important or purposeful.
Score: 5 out of 10
Avarice: A LitRPG Virtual Fantasy Adventure
What would you do if you could leap into your deepest fantasies?
The possibilities of what you could do, limitless?
To quit your dull repetitive nine-to-five in exchange for a world filled with danger, adventure and sex?
Look no further than Avarice: a virtual fantasy of debauchery and insanity.
Avarice: Fight monsters and people, kill creatively, get loot, level up, drink, and engage in mind-blowing sex.
A young man spends six years of his life savings in order to gain Avarice, the forbidden virtual–reality immersion software banned in multiple countries.
Between the gun-toting elves, the crafty goblins, sexy partners hungry for cramming, ramming, loading, thrusting; the numerous gangs and the sheer unlimited potential for violence, sex, alcohol and drugs, Avarice is every bit a fantasy world as it is a lawless, mad man’s paradise.
Yield to temptations in Avarice!
Throbbing action with lots of soaking ecstasy pouring from taut titillating holes!
Relentless, merciless and without a shred of protection!
Warning for raunchy, explicit sexual content and violence as this content is only for the mature and very naughty. Not for the faint of heart.
My Opinion: 153 pages, $3.99, Not available on Kindle Unlimited
This is a short story that’s over priced for the page count. It contains graphic sex scenes but isn’t a romance novel or sex story. It is LitRPG. It’s just set in a game world where players can do anything they want: drugs, sex, prostitution, mass murder, whatever. There is a progression of power for the main character, even if he does jump from levels 1 to 17 rather quickly. The combat scenes aren’t bad and the game mechanics described have some potential if this ends up being a serial story. The game world is set in modern setting. So, you get to see elves wielding revolvers and goblins using compound bows in a high rise city.
However, that potential is not really realized in this novel. A significant portion of the story, 40%, is just about the main character having sex or fulfilling some fantasy. Even if it makes sense in the context of the game world, it’s a lot of time that could have been spent world building, going on quests, or gaining levels.
One of the cooler and annoying ideas the novel has is when the main character uses a skill book, he’s transported into a mini game. In this case it’s a sensual dating simulation, but I can see some cool uses for this idea. However, in this case, the concept is used to justify a long sex scene the eats up the last 25% of the novel. Worst of all, no actual skill is gained at the end.
Score: 6 out of 10
Gamer Guy: A LitRPG novel
Alturan considers himself a solo player, both in-game and out. So how is it happening that he is forming all these connections with others? Is the game world changing him in the real world too. He is challenged to take on a greater role, become more than he is. Is his life in VR getting less virtual. He doesn't like the entanglements and obligations, but there are rewards!
My Opinion: 354 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Harry is a ranger looking to get his first wolf companion, he meets a cute druid.
Story drops you into the VRMMO game world with the main character and it just follows him as he does his thing. There aren’t a lot of explanations about certain abilities or skills but you can sort of figure them out contextually.
So far really it’s just following him around as he hunts, trades, talks to NPCs, interacts with other players, tells stories about his past adventures, or gives opinions about MMOs. It’s enjoyable as long as you’re not expecting anything else other something that reads like a journal of gamer guy or a collection of serialized stories.
Score: 6 out of 10
Wolves of the Lost City: A litRPG Novel (Adventure Online Book 2)
Indiana Jones meets Ready Player One
Nazi Death Commandos and many treacherous miles of remote jungle stand between Vince, now a captain in the British Army, and his goal, a stack of documents vital to the security of a 1940s Europe on the brink of world war.
At least that's who he is in the game. Vince used to be a down and out millennial with an Advanced degree in Archaeology and an endless parade of dead end jobs. That was before his adventures on Wolf Mountain, where he faced down gun toting bootleggers and giant scorpions before marrying a girl who was raised by wolves.
All in a day's work for a VR beta-tester, which would be a dream job if it wasn't for the PTSD, the headaches, and the persistent visions of former games that are ruining his life. When a rival game design firm promises Vince medical assistance and a bigger paycheck to test their game, he leaps at the chance to solve the puzzle his life has become and find the girl he swore to protect.
Vince must rise to the challenge, and once again make his way from plot cache to plot cache looking for clues and ammo, now in a race against time to secure the documents and save the girl one step ahead of the Nazis.
My Opinion: 362 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The main character Vince, is still having visions and phase shifts to wolf mountain even though he’s not hooked up to a VR system. He decides to game test for a rival company who’s using the world mountain game world to test a new VR interface system.
The game world is the same as first book but 20 years advanced in the year 1942. The location for the adventure is set in a different part of the world, somewhere near India, and Vince is playing the role of a British Officer. Game goal, recover special box with stolen documents important to the British Empire. He’ll be opposed by Nazis, and temperamental natives.
While Vince expects to be challenged as a tester, what he doesn’t expect is to see the characters from the first test pop up in this one.
I reviewed Book 1 in the series and gave it a poor score for not LitRPG like it was advertised. I figured I’d give book 2 a shot. Turns out it has the same problems as book 1. It still feels like time travel or choose your own adventure story.
Because this novel is set up around the around the same system as the first one, it’s really hampered in the type of game mechanics it uses. The extent of of the game mechanics is a logbook that the main character can use to see the level of his opponents or get information about an environment he’s in. Even the mentioned levels in the game don’t mean anything. A word search for ‘level’ in the novel shows it’s used 22 times, but only 4 times in reference to a characters level or a game mechanic. I’m not saying that it’s necessary to have ‘levels’ in a LitRPG story but that’s the game mechanic the author decided to use to describe the character progression. Only the main character doesn’t progress in power by that game mechanic at all. The limits of the game mechanics in the story is the information given by the main character’s logbook, there’s nothing else.
The author goes out of his way to regularly remind the reader that this is supposed to be a VR game by having the main character say something about VR on a regular basis. However, if you took out those reminders, this would just be an adventure story set in 1942.
Overall, the story is not bad. It’s well written. The setting is more interesting than it was in book 1. It actually has an Indiana Jones vibe and you can’t go wrong when the villains are Nazis. The world is well researched and fleshed out. However, it reads like a time travel novel, not like a LitRPG story where the game mechanics are obviously stated and the main character grows more powerful according to those game mechanics in a obviously stated way. If you liked book 1, you will like book 2. However, it didn’t scratch that LitRPG itch for me.
As a time travel story or an adventure story, 6 out of 10.
As LitRPG it gets a Score: 4 out of 10
Unwritten Rules: A LitRPG Novel (Genesis Online Book 1)
Kevin was a young man enjoying his college life when a car jumped the curb and crippled his body. Unable to support himself and dependent on others to meet his needs, Kevin was slipping into depression when his best friend convinced him to play a new game called Genesis Online. The concept was simple: a revolutionary artificial intelligence controlled the game world and adapted it to the actions of the players. Even the developers didn't know what course the game could take as it evolved.
Lured into the game by the prospect of earning real money, Kevin soon runs afoul of a man determined to control as much of Genesis as possible. He recruits other disenfranchised players to his side in his quest to find a way to prosper in the game. Can they stop the man who calls himself the king of Genesis from taking over everything?
My Opinion: 256 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
This is a delightful story. The author does a good job of making you empathise with the main character, Kevin, very quickly and get the reader into the game by the 4% mark of the novel.
I really liked the game mechanics in the story. While the four basic classes are the standards: Warrior, Rogue, Wizard, and Cleric. However, leveling up depends entirely on raising the skills you have and learn. Learning new skills and performing specific actions unlocks new classes. The amount of skills you're able to learn is limitless and changing classes has no penalty. Additionally, a feature I really thought was neat, was that you can learn skills from the people that you’re grouped with. Meaning that a rogue can pick up an ice spell from their wizard friend. So there are tons of playing options available. There’s also a good bit of crafting in the story, which I enjoyed.
The storyline of a power hungry antagonist griefing other players isn’t bad. However, it gets a bit predictable at times, especially towards the end of the story. Still, the original game mechanics and the way that the main character combines them with crafting to overcome obstacles and enemies more than makes up for any of that.
Overall, a good story.
Score: 7 out of 10
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