LitRPG Podcast 061
LitRPG Podcast 061
Hello everyone, welcome to episode 61 of the LitRPG podcast.
I’m Ramon Mejia. I’m here to bring you the latest LitRPG news, reviews, and author interviews. I have 5 new LitRPG reviews for you this week.
New Releases and Reviews:
(Play Music 2)
Aleron Kong has released some really cool looking bonus art that he had commissioned showing the first meeting of Richter and Sion. Additionally, the first chapter of his next book in the Chaos Seed series available on his Patreon page. It is available for everyone.
New LitRPG Audiobooks
Out Now, Will Review next week!
The First Planet: The Space Masters 1 (July 21st, 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)
Office Wars: Bathroom Politics (Aug. 1st, 2017)
Rapidplay: The Gamemaster's Gambit 1 (A litRPG series) (Aug. 1st, 2017)
Into the Black (A SciFi LitRPG Story): Book III: Alpha Centauri (Aug. 1st, 2017)
The Glitch Fiends (LitRPG): Part 2 (Hell's Glitch Book 3) (Aug. 4th, 2017)
Fayroll, Book 4 (August 15, 2017)
The Last Warrior of Unigaea (Aug. 15th, 2017)
Arcanorum: The Shadow Legacy 2 (A litRPG series) (Aug. 18th, 2017)
Shaman's Revenge (The Way of the Shaman Book 6) (Aug. 20th, 2017)
SHARDS OF REALITY: A LitRPG Adventure (Enter the Realm Book 1) (Aug. 22, 2017)
Super Massive Overload: The Space Masters 2 (litRPG) (Aug. 31st, 217)
On the Lost Continent (AlterGame Book #2) LitRPG Series (Sept. 28th, 2017)
Onto New Releases and Reviews
(Play Music 3)
New Releases and Reviews
Headshot: One in the Gut (Book 1 of a Zombie litRPG Trilogy)
Headshot has just gone live, and the whole world's playing the new Artificial Reality blockbuster. Unfortunately, unless you can buy your way onto the Survivor's side, you can only participate as a Zombie. Every week the Apocalypse starts over, and every week the forces gather once more to tear each other down to the bone.
Ryan's played the Beta for months, but now that his favorite game has launched, he finds it consuming his life, even as he struggles to decipher whether or not there's actually a way to succeed if you're not willing to Pay to Win.
But he’s got bigger problems to deal with. There’s something sinister going on beneath the surface of Headshot, and it looks like he’s wrapped up in it whether he likes it or not.
My Opinion: 356 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Headshot uses some undescribed advanced system that plays the game directly in your mind, using your memories to recreate the details of the game world. The game creates a simulated environment of the world and drops you into it either as a zombie (free to play) or as a human survivor (pay to play $20,000/year + in game store). Each session of the game lasts for 7 days ending Saturday at midnight. If you die in the game, you're kicked out for the rest of the week.
Ryan, not being rich, plays as a zombie with the goal of surviving till the end of the week, when the servers are reset and a new round in the game world begins.
Full disclosure: I received an advanced copy for review, I picked it up on Kindle Unlimited when it came out.
Good story, just skip to chapter 3 when you start reading. The first two chapters are the main character (MC), Ryan, building up just how much the game Headshot had taken over people’s lives even in Beta. There’s a bunch of tell and no show. In Chapter 3, the same thing is shown to the reader making the first two chapters unnecessary and honestly a little annoying as an oversell.
This is a zombie apocalypse game story told from the point of view of the zombies, not the survivors. It reminds me of playing Left For Dead if you could play the zombie side.
Each zombie starts out slow moving and with low hitpoints. Zombies get XP from killing survivors (hard at early levels) or from surviving the hunting parties of survivors. As a zombie levels it gets new abilities that make it a better killer and eventually options to upgrade into specialized types of zombie similar to the ones seen in games like Left for Dead. Zombies have a slight advantage in the dark of night since electricity in the cities is off but are vulnerable during the day. Survivors are a real threat since they can use real world money to pay for guns, armor, ammo, and even vehicles.
The MC uses his experience in the Beta version of the game and his intelligence to think of new ways to survive as a zombie. As he levels he gets more powerful and a bigger threat to the rich survivors.
There’s also a minor theme of gamer addiction described in the story whenever the MC returned to real life. Either from others in the world doing things like calling in sick to play the game or from the MC spending forgetting to eat and sleep just to play the game more. People even going so far as to screw up real world relationships just to get a leg up in game. Additionally, there’s the theme of the rich having all the advantages in life and seeing the rest of us as tools and fodder for their amusement and advancement.
While there is action, especially in the last quarter of the novel. Most of the novel is taken up by the MCs introspective monologuing. This is sort of justified by the nature of the zombie characters that can’t speak or communicate with each other. Nor can the zombies understand what the human survivors are saying or things like writing. So, the main character constantly talks to himself, wondering what he should do, rage complaining alot about how the rich survivors have an unfair advantage, wondering what the survivors are doing, etc. If you’ve ever seen the movie Warm Bodies, a movie told from the perspective of the zombie, you’ll know what I mean.
The really like the first half of the story. In game, it focuses on the MC figuring out new ways to survive in game as a zombie, leveling, and using new abilities. It’s broken up by the MC having to log out for things like work, food, sleep and descriptions of the world at large becoming addicted to this game. I really enjoyed learning about all new abilities that were unlocked as the MC leveled and the intelligent ways he used them.
Then at about the halfway mark, after the main character finally chooses an upgrade path, and after a too long server shutdown. The story shifts to the main character not only having the goal to survive but to return some unique item he picked up to a human survivor in Silicon Valley. Why he suddenly trusts this woman is never explained, nor what purpose the item has. It just justifies the MC figuring out how to gather a zombie army and the larger scale battles that occur as he makes his way to Silicon Valley.
Overall, a good story and a wonderful example of the variety of story types able to be told in the LitRPG genre.
Score: 7 out of 10.
The Luckless: A MMORPG and LitRPG Online Adventure (Second Age of Retha Book 1)
Welcome to Retha, the full submersion video game where you can be the hero of your own adventure. Unfortunately for Kit, it only takes one moment to turn the game into a nightmare.
When Chronicles of Retha experiences a software malfunction, Kit—a disenchanted veteran player—is stuck in the game without a way to log off. Even worse, she’s trapped playing as the most defective character possible, an elf dancer that was meant to be a prank.
Thankfully, she receives word that there is a way out. But the only escape route is to defeat the game’s ultimate villain. Kit, in her joke character, must fight her way through some of the worst Retha has to offer. Her only help is a party of low-leveled players just as powerless as she is, and the occasional act of mercy from one of the best players in the game, the taciturn (and aloof) Solus Miles.
Can Kit and her new friends finish the quest, or will Retha be their end?
My Opinion: 258 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure, I received an early review copy. I purchased the novel when it came out.
Things I liked:
The characters were relatable. Kit is put into a bad situation and even though some of her actions seem inconsistent with a veteran player, she’s interesting. She has room to grow into becoming a leader. The rest of her newb team provide opportunities for game stuff to be explained and banter for the reader's enjoyment.
Some of the unique classes in the game: Saboteur - able to set traps, Echo - Hardcore spellcaster,
Combat is overall decent and there are some good fight scenes. The inventive way the characters resolve some situations.
Things I didn’t Like: (Mostly Game World related)
The premise is kind of unbelievable. There are so many things that have to go wrong for it to work it stretches the reader’s willingness to go along with it. Honestly, I was annoyed by the 10% mark.
Kit wants to play a Space VR game, but a prank from her cousin Brice instead forces her to play a fantasy VRMMO with a unplayable character, an elf with the class of dancer with a negative reputation with everyone.
Her developer cousin is not only a jerk but willing to risk his job over a prank. He has to hack her game account to set this up.
Instead of just logging out immediately once she discovers the prank, the author gives the MC a sleeping pill that forces her to stay in game.
Then on top of the server she’s on goes down, but instead of being able to log out, she’s trapped in some backup system.
Her cousin Brice is only able to get her one message, that the devs can’t shut down the corrupted backup server or risk player brain damage, so she has to beat the final boss of the game.
Why can’t employee cousin send more messages to other players or guild leaders?
A simpler solution? Sit and wait till the people that made the game fix things. Go kill some mobs if you're bored. Or, level up till your max level and then you and the other max level players can easily beat this boss.
The author tries to use SAO premise without keeping the thing that forces players to do anything. SAO, mad game designer made only way to beat the game was with player activity, put a kill switch in everyone’s helmets. Nothing like that exists in this story, so there's little to no real motivation for anyone to do anything.
Levels don't seem to matter except as reflections in relative strength between the MCs team and the monsters. Ie: story skips MC from level 5 to 11. Then from 11 to 20s.
The whole bit with the maxed out negative reputation with everyone gets old fast. Fundamentally, why would being a dancer make all the elves hate you enough to kill you on sight?
Some of the game mechanics seem created just to hinder/help the main character. No thought of balance for realism.
The main character has access to her 5-year-old apartment with a bunch of high level gear and unbound mounts.
Reputation system - Elves hate MC because of a chosen class.
Non-Changeable crafting skills - used to say, ‘aren’t you luckless’
Don’t get numbers or fine details about combat, character stats, spells, etc. So, the advancements in power for the characters feel less impactful. Feels very ‘oh, by the way Kit is now level 20, fyi’
Some of the decisions made by the main character don’t resonate as true for someone that’s supposed to have been a high level player and part of the highest rated guild who’s super choosie about their members.
Doesn’t know that mages and dancers don’t wear metal armor, so chooses to be an armorsmith as one of two non changeable crafting skills.
MC doesn’t know anything about their quest or how they might beat it, even though all the other veteran players seemed to have tried it before.
The game system chooses your class abilities for you based on your play style, your current stats, and your gear.
WTF? Why would it be cool that the game chooses that for a player? It’s taking away the ability to choose from players. Seems like justification to not having to detail a bunch of abilities and skills for the story characters to chose.
The end problem is solved by a power the main character just remembers (that reader had never read about) and by the intervention of a high level character they just met and seems to have been inserted into the story for this one purpose.
Overall, not a horrible story. There are just a bunch of things related to the game world that stop it from being good to me.
Score: 6 out of 10.
Nagant Wars: The Pawn's Sacrifice: A LitRPG Novel
Dale Brown accepts an in-game quest with real world ramifications.
Rhith Corp's Virtual Reality MMO, Nagant Wars, has the potential to alter life outside the game.
He must decide how far to allow his mind o tretch.
Do reality and fantasy have fewer blurred lines than Dale imagined?
Along with his platoon of friends and potential enemies, Dale must fight in both of his worlds.
The real question is...can he outsmart his enemy?
My Opinion: 383 pages, $$2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The first few pages of the novel set the tone for the philosophical speculation in the story. Then by the 2% mark, you're in the Nagant Wars game world.
The story is combat heavy, especially towards the beginning. The game mechanics consists of enemy descriptions, levels, perks, quests. However, combat doesn’t have damage numbers but teamwork is well thought out and balanced (ie: tanks, dps, healers, etc.) .
There’s plenty of banter and ribbing between the platoon members and each has a unique personality. I personally liked all the humorous conversations, the nods to pop culture, movies and other LitRPG works.
However, the place the author shines is in the speculative exploration of what a system like the Nagant Wars would mean for humanity. In book 1, that was explored in how realistic the NPCs were and how real combat was for the players. So much so that many left the game with PTSD.
In book 2, that great speculative exploration compares the viability of this system in resolving disputes in a digital domain, which is what the Nagant Wars is meant to do. Additionally, it explores what a sentient A.I. would do to become free of its digital confines and if it’s moral for it to do so considering it does not have the same biologically based imperatives that we do. No pain, no pleasure, no hunger, or need to procreate. Would the A.I. make a better ruler of mankind? Unfortunately, you don’t get to this part until about the 40% mark of the novel.
One of the few things I think could have been improved in the novel is the combat from 10% to 40%. While the stuff with Amy the assassin turns out to be important, the combat the main platoon goes through in this section feels unimportant. It’s not badly written or anything, it just feels like the author felt like he had to put it into the story to satisfy critics or some metric.
Overall, I had a good time reading the story. There’s action, adventure, romance, betrayal, and a touch of sci fi speculation. It felt much cleaner and focused than book 1. I truly enjoyed the portions of the story that made me stop and think for second about the themes in the story.
Score: 7 out of 10.
Blade Judgement: Ever-Jail: Episode 1
The world of Voslorth is full of adventure should you seek it,
Love should you want it, and death for those who are foolish…
Bound by a death sentence in a virtual world with rigid moral laws, Jack is determined to find a way out of his prison, even with the impossible mission ahead of him.
With an oath to a stranger he saved, Jack’s quest has found him both a place in this world and a target on his back.
My Opinion: 36 pages, $0.99, Not available on Kindle Unlimited
A short story with intentionally minimal game references. Jack is to 365 days in a virtual prison, called Voslorth, for not being productive enough at work. If he can’t earn a huge sum of money in game before that time is up, he’ll be executed.
Once he logs into Voslorth, he get his equipment, learns the ropes of his class and kills some bad guys.
This is such a short story that I can’t talk much about the plot without spoiling things. However, I can say I didn’t like the first 30% of the story but it got better and won me over by the end.
I really didn’t like the odd future world that incarcerates the MC for not being productive at work and orders him to pay alot of money in game of be executed (25-32%). But I suppose I’m not supposed to like that kind of future. The author is likely setting that world up as a big villain in future stories.
The world of Voslorth is an intentionally minimalist game world - No status windows, stats, character sheets. No numbers. The few game mechanics in the story (Inventory system 8-9%, loot from kills, grouping mechanics 23-24%, and Stealth mechanics 66%) are described by the characters conversationally. While I understand that it’s an authors choice to decide how game like he wants his world to be, the story sometimes feels more like a fantasy world with an occasional game references sometimes.
Overall, I enjoyed reading this short story. The story is entertaining and won me over after the 30% mark. The combat and stealth mechanics in the story reminded me of the Thief games or Assasin’s Creed. Sure, I would have loved to have gotten more details about the game mechanics of the world but I respect the author’s choice to emphasis the role playing over the game part of RPG.
Score: 7 out of 10.
Vengeance Over Vanaheim: A LitRPG Saga (Valhalla Online Book 3)
Samantha has faced incredible odds in the past, and climbed past the first two Realms of Valhalla Online in her quest to reach the final Realm - where she can learn the truth about how she came to be in Valhalla in the first place.
But now she is alone. Cut off from all support, Sam must struggle to win through this strange new world on her own. With the black archer still on her tail, Sam has to move quickly to win through Vanaheim before he can find a way to put an arrow into her and finish her quest for good. Because his arrows do not merely kill. They obliterate all traces of the code for any being they strike, wiping them from Valhalla forever.
But Samantha has a plan. If it works, she'll flush the archer out and finish him off, then win through the Realm and on to the next.
If she fails, she'll cease to exist.
With everything on the line, Sam must find a way to take her Vengeance Over Vanaheim!
My Opinion: 187 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The shortests of any of the novels in the series so far, it’s also one of the most straight forward. Sam, the main character (MC), is all alone in Vanaheim. Not only must she figure out the game in this realm but also a way to thwart Thorsten the assassin that has a powerful cheat weapon that can permanently delete Sam. Vengeance Over Vanaheim is a combination of dragon racing, jousting, and vengeance.
The race stuff is genuinely interesting, some of the early story is kind of sad, there’s some cool A.I. stuff in this one and you finally learn why the MC got trapped in this game.
Overall, a fun read. Besides, I always love when an author admits that he watched a ton of How to Tame Your Dragon while writing this story.
Score: 7 out of 10
That’s it everyone!
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