LitRPG Podcast 064
LitRPG Podcast 064
August 11, 2017
Hello everyone, welcome to episode 64 of the LitRPG podcast.
I’m Ramon Mejia. I’m here to bring you the latest LitRPG news, reviews, and author interviews. I have 7 new LitRPG reviews for you this week.
New Releases and Reviews:
Side Quest (39:17)
(Play Music 2)
Magic Dome books announced this week that the final book in the Perimeter Defense series is up for pre-order and will be available for download Oct. 11th. http://amzn.to/2vSM4An
William D. Arand (Happy Birthday by the way), author of the Otherlife Trilogy and Super Sales on Super Heroes, has started a Patreon. He’s offering some neat rewards for supporters. Including: Early drafts of novels, special Artwork, Beta Reader spots, see entire book outlines before they’re written, and more.
Aleron Kong, Chaos Seed series author, has posted a few funny videos promoting the upcoming LitRPG Gala in Atlanta, GA. It’s really just him goofing around doing character work but they're quite funny. He only posted on on YouTube so that’s the one you’re seeing on the video version but there’s another on his Facebook page. The LitRPG Gala is Sept. 2nd, at the Sidebar in Atlanta from 2-5pm.
Harmon Cooper is publishing the first novel in a new series next week, The Last Warrior of Unigaea (Aug. 15th, 2017), he’s also planning to release the audiobook version at the same time. To celebrate this, he and the narrator Jeff Hays, have put together a trailer with some interesting background music. (Play Trailer- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wo_IWG6WAwY&feature=em-upload_owner )
Note, the music is just for the trailer since audible doesn’t allow background music throughout an audiobook.
Out Now, Will Review next week!
Stratus Online: Awakening (Stratus Online: a LitRPG series Book 1) (Aug. 11th, 2017)
Rules-Free VRMMO Life: Volume V - Power Base *Not Reviewing*
New LitRPG Audiobooks
This is a collection of the fourth six short stories in the Caverns and Creatures series
Reincarnation:RPG Part Three: A Short Story (Aug. 12, 2017)
Fayroll, Book 4 (August 15, 2017)
The Last Warrior of Unigaea (Aug. 15th, 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)
On the Lost Continent (AlterGame Book #2) LitRPG Series (Sept. 28th, 2017)
Infinite Reality: Daggerland Online Novel 1 A LitRPG Adventure (Sept. 30th, 2017)
A Game With No Rules (Perimeter Defense Book #4) LitRPG Series (Oct. 11, 2017)
Onto New Releases and Reviews
(Play Music 3)
New Releases and Reviews
A Slave in the Locked Lands (LitRPG The Weirdest Noob Book 2)
The history of our world tends to move along a shallow spiral—when completing a turn, you end up mighty close to where you started. The history of Second World, in contrast, seems to have simplified its path to a ring from which there is no apparent way out. An unforeseen invasion lays waste to whole provinces, prompting the game’s most powerful clans to ally with the emperor’s guard to stop the monstrous hordes in their tracks. A war erupts that nobody saw coming, shattering the tedium of peaceful life. All the while the world’s most elusive character—once a lowly miner, now a powerful mage—finds himself in an impossible situation, and sorely in need of allies of his own as he searches for a way out.
My Opinion: 405 pages, $5.92, Not Available on Kindle Unlimited
This novel is just fun. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. A fun grinding adventure with lots of conversations about leveling theory and expressed game mechanics. There’s crafting galore. There’s also alot of technical game talk in the story. Not just detailed skill, level, spell, or item descriptions but full on conversations about leveling theory and video game development concepts. That might be a turnoff for some people but I liked it.
The novel starts you right out in the action with Ros, the main character (MC) killing mobs in a dungeon with his newly acquired centipede pet. Helping Digits try to level up. Run down of the MCs magic, skills, and unique OP chaos abilities.
3-10% Game company searches for Ros, but he’s elusive in the extreme. Ros has achieved several worldwide achievements. MC has unique skills that lets him edit the information other see on him. Also, a recap of previous book 1 story and how what the MC is doing is so notable and how it may affect the larger MMO world.
20% Ros, disguised as a woman, is kidnapped by the J_P Guild. A.I. initiates a new global event to give MC chance to escape. MC can’t kill himself, use magic or his abilities. Released from the cage by mobs that freed him and attacked the guild. He watches the fight and gets some soul crystals but eventually uses the character editor to change his appearance again.
At 30% is where the Slave in the Lost Land quest starts. The setup for the quest is similar to the Way of the Shaman book 1. The MC and other players captured by Orc invaders as slaves. Set to mining. All items, gear, and weapons were taken until cleared scenario. He can’t kill the mobs in the mine alone so he can’t mine what he needs to get food. The MC uses all types of crafting to buff himself and group up enough to handle the more difficult mobs and eventually to try to complete the scenario that’s trapped them.
Overall, this is a fun novel that pokes fun at established LitRPG stories. It’s really game detailed and while that may be a turnoff for some people, I enjoy it. I always enjoy a novel that makes crafting useful. If you like book 1, you’ll enjoy book 2.
Score: 7 out of 10.
Fjorgyn: The Deep Below (Fjorgyn Book 2)
Fjorgyn = Fee-your-gin. (heavy g, not gin like the liquor).
Castiglione = Casto-line.
After a hair-raising flight from Elatha, Michael and his allies find themselves holed up in a remote region in Fjorgyn, surrounded by potential enemies. They must rid themselves of the threat of an unfriendly horde of goblins while they discover the reasons behind a dire threat in the forested realm around them. They must do all this while feeling alone and abandoned in this harsh world.
Although he wants nothing more to do with going underground and always fighting for his life, the threat of a pursuing Elathian army headed by the cruel king, Ankou Levent, requires Michael jump into action to protect his allies, his friends, and Clifford, the man he loves.
It isn't long until they hear rumors of a demonic beast plaguing the countryside, corrupting harmless creatures and bending them to its will. Michael leaps into action to protect his allies and to discover the sinister secret behind this beast's sudden arrival.
So pick it up and read an untraditional LitRPG novel that combines the best of the author's favorite genres: Plenty of adventure, some romance, a dash of eroticism, and a whole lot of fantasy RPG gaming.
My Opinion: 306 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The beginning of the novel starts out with a quick reminder to the reader that the main character is gay and has a lover, Clifford, in the story. Nice! Feel like it’s almost done as a big warning sign since some of the negative reviews about book 1 were just about people being surprised the main character turned out to be gay.
Just to be clear, there is no sex in the story. The most graphic it gets is something like ‘for hours we explored each other as two people in love do.’
Book 2 in the Fjorgyn series is good. It’s even better than the first book which I thought was quite nice. The author took all things I liked about book 1 and improved them and also adjusted the few things I didn’t like. There’s action, adventure, crafting, town building, and more to enjoy about the story.
I enjoyed book 1 and gave it a good review. However, there were a few small things about book 1 that I didn’t like: sudden plot shift, lack of action, extensive character sheets at the end of each chapter. All that has been improved in book 2. There are tons of action scenes. Full character sheets appear much less often, instead, there are more individual references and descriptions of things like items, spells, and people. There are lots of these kinds of game mechanic descriptions.
Something that I was really glad to see fleshed out in book 2 is the community and town building. The escaped slaves have settled at an abandoned keep outside their enemies lands. The story is super detailed about what things would need to be done to found a village in a medieval society. The MC, being given ownership of the keep, has the options to invest settlement points to fulfill these needs like: build walls, create new buildings, specialty shops, farmlands, create wells in the keep, give bonuses to certain activities, and much more. All in a RTS style game manner. I liked it.
The novel has the absolute best descriptions of herbalism and potion making that I think I’ve ever read. They made me want to go make a potion or sign up for potion making classes with Prof. Michael. However, that is the extent of the crafting in the story.
There’s a lot more combat in the story. There are three big long fights scenes and a few more minor ones. The combat descriptions in the story are very strategic based and less graphically descriptive. There’s more text about characters fulfilling game roles, like healer, dps, tank and them using specific abilities in specific strategies.
Where the novel shines is in the emotional and social character development of the main character and the relationships between him and the other characters. Those scenes have weight and impact.
Overall, this is a really good novel and it was fun reading it, especially those potion making scenes.
Score: 7 out of 10.
Fjorgyn: The Deep Below (Fjorgyn Book 2)
The Vale of Three Wolves: A LitRPG Adventure (Elements of Wrath Online Book 2)
When Max and Kayla embark on an epic questline few have ever completed, they'll find themselves trapped face to face with the primordial forces of darkness.
Now, to return back to the larger game world, they must complete the trials and vanquish the darkness from this pristine holy land before all is lost.
There’s just one catch, if they don't complete it within the time limit, they'll not only lose their chance at finishing it, but they may lose their characters as well.
My Opinion: 386 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
This story went by quickly, which is always a good sign. This is not a complicated story, rather it’s delightfully straightforward. The in-game storyline is about two people on a quest to unlock the power of the rings of promise they got in game. The real life story develops great background for the main character and creates empathy for him. The combat’s well written with good MMO tactics. There are detailed game mechanics and descriptions throughout the story. A bit of romance too. This novel is so streamlined and easy to follow you don’t even have to have read book 1 to enjoy it.
A genuinely nice treat.
Score: 7 out of 10.
Endgame: A LitRPG Adventure (The Crucible Shard Book 7)
The epic conclusion to the Crucible Shard
The war for control of the multiverse is finally coming to a head. What started for Liam as a game has become for King Liam something far more personal, a fight for the home he has made for himself and those he cares for. This conclusion to the saga brings more of what has defined the Crucible Shard series, hard decisions and complex choices as the lines between hero, anti-hero, and villain blur even more.
My Opinion: 198 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
This is the end folks. The last novel in the Crucible Shard series. It’s been a long, sometimes very weird journey but this novel nicely wraps things up. All the threads are brought together and you finally gets to see Elora’s master plan. All the character’s from the other novels come back and you see what happens to each and how they play into the finale. It’s not a perfect ending. Heck it’s a bit messy in places.
Quote from one of the characters at the end summarizes the last book in this series well. “I know it’s not the best ending. I tried, I really tried, but most alternatives were so much worse.”
As a fiction story, it’s good. It’s messy, weird, and while not perfect is a satisfying end to the series. As a sci-fi story it would get a 7 out of 10.
However, there’s are no game mechanics in the story. Instead, the story pops around a vast multiverse of fantasy and sci fi worlds.The closest it comes to game mechanics are the Game Vision glasses the MC uses to see people’s names and get small descriptions.
As LitRPG it gets a Score: 4 out of 10
The Glitch Fiends (LitRPG): Part 2 (Hell's Glitch Book 3)
Never fight alone again.
Sam continues his frightening descent into Fulton Milner's horrifying virtual reality role playing game. Now Sam must deal with powerful new enemies inside the dark castle of the fallen kingdom of Misseiji, a kingdom once known for magick but now known as a cursed deathtrap. Sam must improve his skills in order to traverse this deadly new area and combat its savage secret bosses. Not only that, but there's still the possibility of a Glitch Fiend attack at any moment. Sam must use all the resources at his disposal including Servant Contracts, weapon augmentations, stat upgrades, enhanced pyromancies, secret techniques, and NPC allies.
On the outside, game developer Alex looks for an opportunity to save everyone from Fulton Milner's mad experiment. Both Sam and Alex work desperately to survive with neither having the time to wonder just how they'll overcome such dangerous odds.
The Glitch Fiends is the followup to the sleeper LitRPG hit, Hell's Glitch. It stars Sam Nagai, a hapless gamer and artist who's just looking to make a buck. That's until he's sucked into Fulton Milner's vicious dark fantasy game. Now Sam will do anything to survive including evoking the darker side of his persona.
My Opinion: 303 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The novel starts off just where part 1 ended. There’s plenty of detailed character sheets, item descriptions, power upgrades. The main character does some training with Jin to learn new abilities. Good fight scenes. If you liked books 1 and 2, it’s more of the same and you’ll likely like this one too.
However, for me, the novels never really resonated. It might be that the novels are inspired by the Dark Souls games and that’s not a franchise that captured my heart. It could be that I never connected to the main character. For whatever reason, the novels just never did it for me.
Score: 6 out of 10.
Extinction: Phase 01: A LitRPG Military Horror
Isak Kasper has done it all: wingsuit base jumping, crocodile bungee, volcano surfing… The famous daredevil who’s known throughout the Internet world for his insane stunts keeps on pushing the boundaries of what is humanly possible. Yet, for some time now, he’s found himself going through the motions. He’s lost the sparkle, and nothing seems to satisfy him anymore—no matter how crazy or dangerous the feat.
So, when the leader in gaming technology contacts him to test their new apocalyptic VRMMORPG that promises to shake even the most daring hotheads, Isak jumps on the occasion to revive his drive. And so, together with a team of military trained personnel, he steps foot in a world filled with menace and monstrosities. Right off the bat, he recovers his sensations and finds that the thrills this game provides him with far exceed his wildest expectations. Could this be the adventure he had so desperately been searching for?
As he progresses through the tutorial of Extinction, however, something happens and he has to be pulled out urgently. Soon, he will discover that this game is not everything it’s been advertised to be and that those lab rats in a white coat are not as innocent and well-meaning as they seem.
Isak will need all the self-control he’s acquired through those years to get out of this ultimate challenge in one piece. But will he lose his nerve and panic when it’s the fate of other human beings that rests between his hands?
My opinion: 300 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
This is a seriously fractured story with a great beginning but turns into something that feels like it was edited to all heck or mashed up with other stories written by other authors.
The first 10% reminds me alot of the setup of Lion’s Quest. Bored athlete recruited by VR game company to test their amazing new game. Except group testing. This section is really well written and has a great scene in a dinner that makes me empathize with the main character. Nicely done.
From 11-24% there’s some good VR RPG stuff. There’s an excellent detailed description of a cool game system. Lots of info on classes. It’s a military oriented with cool abilities and specializations. Great early exploration of game mechanics. Truly enjoyable.
Unfortunately none of that information matters. Besides using a falcon at some point, no one uses their powers and there are just too many people to keep track of and care about. Even the very specifically described powers given to the MC are never ever used, even though they’d be super useful many times.
From 25-42% the game takes this weird twist. It almost feels like it’s from a different novel. It tries to be a horror novel about an alien that came to earth and turns everyone into a skin balls and uses their muscle fibers to make his spaceship. However it just falls flat in the attempt. All attempts at RPG mechanics are abandoned except this choose your own adventure aspect where the testing team are given choices like: ‘Go to the beach or go Inland?’ ‘Stay inside or leave building.’ or given instructions that feel like they’re inserted just to say ‘look a game thing’. Then the MC has some episode where he has a seizure and is pulled out of the game.
The story shifts again, to an attempt by some rich family to develop and spread mind control code through this VR game. Instead they’re accidentally killing testers. There’s also some internal conspiracy where one company owner knows what’s happening and the other doesn’t.
From 50-71%, there’s some more potentially good game stuff when the group actually gets to test the game Extinction. A post apocalyptic game where aliens have conquered and enslaved humanity but a small group of rebels are fighting back. It has a Fallout vibe, where there’s a series of quests that take you where you need to go but it’s also an open world. The classes from the last test carry over and matter just as little. There a ton of backstory about the invasion and aliens.
Again, none of which matter. Literally. It feels like the game stuff is getting good again and then everyone is pulled out of the game because someone else had a seizure when they were killed in game.
The rest of the novel is this weird story about wounds in game showing up in real life killing the testers but the wounds aren’t really real but holographic wounds. Then the evil lady who has inserted the brainwashing code tries to cover her tracks by killing all the testers in game and the MC has to save them, in game. Meanwhile evil lady gets some weird coded ghost powers to stop the good owner from stopping her.
The story is technically LitRPG by the definition I use. But it's a fractured story. It are hints that there were much larger game sections that were super LitRPG with game abilities that were used and XP that means something. However, that's not what ended up in the final draft. I feel like this LitRPG story got sent to editing and was meshed with a horror short story and tech conspiracy thing. It had a good beginning which made the rest that much more disappointing. I had to force myself to finish this and it just kept getting worse the more I read.
Score: 3 out of 10.
A washed up gamer, his missing team, four strange VR worlds, & one last chance. Welcome to Side Quest.
Falling from grace leaves a mark, even in virtual reality. No one knows that better than Mitch Mantock, an ex-gaming phenom now scraping by in the back alleys of Skirmish, the most popular virtual reality game in 2055. When his mentor reveals that Mitch's old team--a ragtag band of gamers with more baggage than bullets--has vanished, Mitch knows he's their only chance to get home alive. Now, all he has to do is track down his old teammates in a series of unknown virtual worlds, defeat an undefeatable artificial intelligence program, and find his way back in one piece. No big deal.
SIDE QUEST is an exciting sci-fi adventure that brings you along for the ride as our hero fights, sneaks, and bargains his way back home through a collection of VR game worlds--blasting digital zombie cowboys with one hand while trying to keep his old team together with the other ... no matter what it takes.
My Opinion: 342 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure: The author sent me an early copy for review. I purchased it up when it became available.
The idea of the story is neat. A retired VR FPS player has to save his old team by traveling through a multiverse of game worlds. Unfortunately, the execution didn’t work out. At least not as a LitRPG story.
The entire beginning of the story (1-12%) asks the reader to accept a lot before they even get to a game world. It asks the reader to accept that a single VR game could be popular enough to played daily by 78% of the world’s population for the last 15 years. So popular in fact, that it’s an entire industry and millions of people depend on it for their income as players. The story also asks readers to accept that best player (super rich by the way) just quit the profession one day, just shy of reaching a worldwide goal because his team lost the big championship to a supposed glitch. There’s a ton of over hype about the VR FPS game and the e-sports industry that reads like a sports movie where the world famous retired player is asked to come back one last time to help his team who’s in trouble. The final bit you must accept, is that in this world, where is just a helmet and body suit in a VR pod, none of the lost team can be found by the game makers. They can’t be saved simply by unplugging the servers. Nor can they be saved by taking off the team’s members VR helmets because no one knows where they are in the real world. They have to be saved by giving the team members special in-game items that the main character must hand them directly.
I get that the author is trying to establish the multi world vibe of the Oasis from Ready Player One. But he’s doing it without any of the setup of that story. Just the statement that the game is popular and that there’s an A.I. from that game company that created a bunch of other worlds that the main character (MC) has to go through to save his old team. Even though that sounds cool, the execution is bland, for me, because there’s no detail to any of the game mechanics of any of the worlds. Even though they’re presented as game worlds, they all feel like fantasy or sci fi simulations (Except the Minecraft clone) because none of the game mechanics are explained or shown to the reader.
No RPG mechanics. I wish there were. There are a total of 5 game worlds that the main character Mitch goes through to save his lost team members. None of them has RPG mechanics that are explicitly shown. Skirmish, the main game world that is completely and repeatedly over hyped as the world's most popular VR FPS game through the first 12% of the novel. It’s an FPS game that supposed to have skills, levels, and stats but none of that is shown. World 1- Undead Steampunk Cowboy world, World 2 - Minecraft ripoff where they have to puzzle solve, World 3- Futuristic world where the team pilots mechs and fights robots, World 4 - Sand world with Sand Sharks. While there’s plenty of action, funny dialogue, and sometimes predictable plot developments, there are no RPG mechanics. You know the part that makes it LitRPG.
Overall, this is not a bad story. There’s loads of potential in the premise. The setup in the beginning was really hard to accept as having a logical basis and ultimately the time spent hyping up that section doesn’t matter to the story much. It was frustrating to read about these game worlds and see that with a little more detail and revelation about the game mechanics of the worlds they could have made a great LitRPG novel.
As a VR or story, it would get a 6 out of 10. However, it’s not LitRPG like it’s been advertised in several LitRPG facebook groups to be so it gets a score: 4 out of 10.
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