LitRPG Podcast 065
LitRPG Podcast 065
Hello everyone, welcome to episode 65 of the LitRPG podcast.
I’m Ramon Mejia. I’m here to bring you the latest LitRPG news, reviews, and author interviews. Something like 20 new LitRPG novels came out between last week and now and I’ve had a hard time keeping up. But I still have 9 reviews for you.
New Releases and Reviews:
The Last Warrior of Unigaea (14:21)
(Play Music 2)
Fayroll 4 was supposed to come out this week. Unfortunately, that’s not happening according to LitWorld, the publishers that are translating the text. On their site they state:
As many of you know there is a slight delay with Fayroll 4. But don’t worry we are working to get it out to you as fast as possible. In the meantime you can enjoy the free sample and knowledge that this is the best yet.
We also have other exciting news. More Than a Game will soon be available as an audiobook.
Out Now, Will Review next week!
New LitRPG Audiobooks
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)
Shattered Lands: A LitRPG Series (Aug. 24th, 2017)
Shattered Lands 2 The Fall Of Blackstone: A LitRPG Series (Aug. 24th, 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
Quick reviews on the series LitRPG stories, more detailed reviews on the new series.
Beyond All Expectations (Emerilia Book 8)
The Event of Myths and Legends has started! The first spawn points have started to open, issuing forth creatures and people that were banished from Emerilia long ago.
Dave and the Pandora’s Box group are advancing their plans and building projects as fast as possible. When an opportunity arises to take their projects to the next level they’re going to have to use all of their tricks and crafting abilities in order to seize it.
The Stone Raiders and the Terra Alliance that they have formed will undergo its first baptism, the time of peace has ended.
In this event they need to be the strongest to protect what they care for. Either they will die again and again losing levels and people of Emerilia, or they will be able to stand, their strength growing to new heights.
My Opinion: 374 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
I almost don’t need to review these novels anymore, they’re always entertaining. This one is no different.
New entertaining characters like Archmage Jekoni, a funny old gnome wizard spirit bound to a weapon of power. The big event of the release of formerly imprisoned monsters arrives. There’s development with the space faring humans and space stuff that I thought was really cool. Lots of crafting and action as the Stone Raiders guild and their allies come together to face the threats to Emerilia. Nice tease at the end for even more cool stuff.
Score: 7 out of 10.
Reincarnation:RPG Part Three: A Short Story
John died and was reincarnated into a world that resembles his favorite RPG. His in-game level carried over with him and he is overpowered in this run-down world. Keeping his stats secret he looks for a way home, but there are others, reincarnated with stats from their own games hunting for him and they have found him.
My Opinion: 50 pages, $0.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
A quick recap would have been nice.
Book 1, John was transported to a RPG game world and was supposed to be sacrificed. Instead, he killed the monster that summoned him and is now exploring the larger RPG world. In
Book 2, he realizes he has the abilities and stats from the last game he played. He picks up a couple of new friend, Saarka.
More action, fighting, and exploration of this RPG world. There’s also a new thread of the story that’s introduced where the MC fights other people summoned to this world with their own overpowered skills. Good stuff, even if the end emotional resolution feels a bit forced.
Score: 7 out of 10.
The Fuccubus (Caverns and Creatures)
It's the time-honored classic formula. Boy meets girl. Girl invites boy, and four other dudes, back to her place. Boy thinks it's weird, but agrees because girl is smokin' hot. Girl turns out to be a demon who wants to suck boys' souls out through their d**ks.
My Opinion: 40 pages, $0.99, Not Available on Kindle Unlimited
*If you couldn’t tell by the title, there’s some cursing and sex in this one.*
What happens when a female elf shows interest in Cooper, the offensive orc barbarian of the group? Of course it turns out to be a demonic woman only interested in devouring the groups souls. It's fun to see how the group gets out of this one making as many sex jokes as possible along the way.
Score: 7 out of 10.
Dinos. Violence. More use of the dreaded 'F' word than possibly necessary.
Here we go again...
This third issue in the Fragged series sees Zoey's Fighters land under the scrutiny of a law that many a gamer has found themselves stuck with, Murphy's Law that is.
Sure, they've seen their fair share of bad luck; getting trapped out after dark, attacked by an angry t-rex, etcetera, etcetera. However, those types of things pale in comparison to what lays in wait for them as things don't necessarily go FUBAR, but certainly become so Charlie Foxtroted that they'll be begging for things to go back to the nice and simple 'bad' classification.
My Opinion: 54 pages, $0.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
After Paul steals and kills another player’s livestock, the player comes looking for revenge. Turns out the player is much higher level and even has a stegosaurus for a mount. Not only is that resolved but there’s a bit of pet taming in the story and some of the stuff they’ve done in previous episodes comes around to haunt them. Short and fun, though the end of the story sort of just trails off.
Score: 7 out of 10.
The Last Warrior of Unigaea
A Player Killer with nothing left to lose, Oric Rune wants nothing more than to avenge the villagers of Ducat, who were butchered before his very eyes by the Drachma Killers. But with the people of the Rune Lands encroaching on the southern cities of Unigaea, and something brewing in the sky that could prove fatal to the entire online world, Oric must make the choice between personal vengeance and becoming the hero he is destined to be.
Joining him on his epic journey are a giant Tagvornin wolf, a mute Solar Mage, and a cunning illusionist named Sam Raid.
My Opinion: 264 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure, I got an advanced copy for review.
The beginning of the novel introduces us to Oric Rune
Class: Level 8 Player Killer
Subclass: Level 3 Herbalist
INFAMY: 38 Players killed
Fights group of orcs for chance to kill the players in the group. Because of his chosen class, every time the MC kills 5 players he receives a free stat point. Unfortunately for his opponents, when they die they lose their character and have to start all over from scratch.
It’s revealed fairly early in the story that the MC chose the class Player Killer to get powerful enough to get revenge against a guild of player killers that destroyed the village he helped create. The class is detested by everyone, players and NPCs but the MC feels it’s a worthwhile trade off to get strong enough to destroy the Drachma Killers.
The main character goes on a bunch of adventures where he meets various interesting and seemingly broken people. He then learns about a huge threat to the game world he’s chosen to live in and goes to deal with that.
The game mechanics in the story are solid and I appreciate the novelty of creating a permadeath world and incorporating a class like Player Killer. There’s a bit of crafting and lots of action. Banter between characters is fairly funny.
However, the thing that stops the story from getting a better score is that I never really empathize with the main character. I don’t understand his motivations and even though he’s portrayed as a ‘man who has nothing to lose’ he also wants people to like him, despite his chosen class. He’s not a reluctant hero. He’s definitely not a villain or an anti-hero. I’m not sure what he is besides a decent person, which makes his choice of becoming the thing that destroyed his last life a little out of character.
Overall, better than an ok read. Plenty of action and humor. The use of Player Killer as a character class was neat. Unfortunately, I just never connected with the main character. I listened to part of the audiobook version and sort of like that better than the written version.
Score: 6 out of 10
Edwin Morris has been playing Sakarn Online almost his whole life, in fact, most people have. While he considers himself a skilled player, he never could really find the time to take his game to the next level and pay the bills. After he is finally pushed over the edge with his job at Burger Planet, Edwin stumbles upon a man representing a game company called Stratus Labs.
Edwin is offered a lucrative position within the company to test and beat Stratus Online, an incredible, fully-immersive MMO designed to dethrone Sakarn Online. Edwin will have to unite with his friends and compete against other teams, but not everything is as it seems within Stratus Labs and the stakes are much higher than he could have ever imagined.
With the clock ticking, will Edwin have what it takes to complete the seemingly insurmountable task of beating Stratus Online before it's too late?
My Opinion: 420 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure, I got an advanced copy for review.
The first 40% of the story is good. I liked the backstory for Edwin, the main character (MC), as a twenty something that has a crap job but gets the chance of a lifetime to beta test a full immersion game. His friends never get a full backstory but the banter between them is still enjoyable.
The competition aspect of the beta test was a great way to make the story a bit different. Different teams of highly skilled testers are competing to finish the game first and get well paying positions at the company. A nice way to raise the stakes.
The Stratus Online game itself is not as well fleshed out as I would have like to see. I feel like the game mechanics of Sakarn Online, the game the main characters leave, was more detailed. Each player/group is supposed to get a unique experience created by the Storyweaver A.I., which sort of conflicts with the contest to finish the game’s content. How will they be able to play through content if new content created constantly?
There are some in-game quests that the characters go on but they don’t really matter in the end so there’s not much point in writing about them.
At the 40% mark, Jason is introduced as the villain. Who is very predictable.
From there the in game quests become predictable too. The team is saved repeatedly by the NPC Clarence and the inevitable showdown between the MC and Jason comes down to the MC using the armor He’d been told would kill him, but doesn’t.
However, what’s worse is that this big conflict and its resolution are completely overshadowed by the late revelation that the testers are all actually trapped in the game by the evil game company and have to beat the game within a year to get out (80%). Oh, if they refuse to play they’ll be sent to a version of Dallas hell.
The in-game fight ends and that game storyline is resolved after that in a big fight that should have been really exciting but it was just overshadowed by that revelation.
I can’t help but feel like the whole story was a setup for this cyber punk twist that didn't really make sense. Almost felt like I’d wasted my time caring about the game stuff. Not a good feeling. It left me feeling like all the game stuff was pointless.
Score: 6 out of 10.
---End with three LitRPG stories that try to be different--
Life Reset: A LitRPG Novel (New Era Online Book 1)
After being betrayed and cursed by an extremely rare spell, Oren, a powerful and influential player, finds himself as a 1st level Goblin!
Without even a fraction of his previous power, he vows to pull through and have revenge on those who betrayed him.
His thorough knowledge of the game's world and his unique ability to immerse himself entirely are his only advantages.
But first, he must figure out how to survive long enough playing what is basically a low-level fodder monster!
My Opinion: 862 pages, $3.99, Not Available on Kindle Unlimited
First written and published on the royal road over several years.
The novel already has over 100 reviews most of which are 5 star.
New Era Online, NEO, is a full immersion virtual reality game. Oren Berman, an intelligent player got lucky early on in the game's release and discovered a new discipline, Mana Manipulation. Because of the way the game is setup, he has exclusive rights to it unless he chooses to teach it to others. Teaches others for real money. Makes $10K/month income. Quits normal job.
He even forms a guild based on this school of magic. He’s betrayed by student with scroll that kills the MC character and resets him as a level 1 monster in a far away place in the game.
Oren wakes up as goblin. Uses his understanding of mana manipulation to get access to magic and explores caverns only to discover them already occupied by a goblin tribe.
Now he has to not only convince this tribe to accept him as one of their own but formulate some plan to get his revenge on the people that betrayed him.
This is a great story. You’ll love it if you like community building or town building stories.
The first 27% of the story is about Oren, the main character (MC), getting trapped as a goblin. Him figuring out that the goblins he’s been killing his entire gaming career, actually have culture and a tribal society that he can use to grow in power and get his revenge on those that wronged him. He does a bunch of quests that reveal how being an monster is different than being a player and there’s a storyline about how the game company can’t just save him.
From about the 27-82% mark of the story, it’s really all about community and town building. The MC founds his own goblin village and there’s a bunch of new game mechanics that revolve around spawning new goblins, building structures, and balancing village resources to accomplish goals. It’s all very interesting if you like games like Civilization, Warcraft, Starcraft, or Total War.
There still personal power development for the main character and some combat scenes and an external threat from some hobgoblin tribes but for the most part in this section it’s about town building stuff.
At about the 82% mark, the story shifts away from town building and there’s a more standard narrative as the MC tries to save someone he’s come to care about and has to face off against the big bad villain.
I had a great time reading this story but I’m also a big fan of those resource management civilization games. If those kinds of games don’t appeal to you, you’ll find the entire middle section of this story boring. There are tons of details about development trees and pages and pages of descriptions of building functions, specializations for goblins, class development, resource requirements, and more.
Score: 8 out of 10.
Dead Mech Walking: a mech LitRPG novel (Armored Souls Book 1)
100 tons of walking steel. One human heart.
Sgt. Reggie King wakes up from a battlefield injury to find himself physically intact. But the hospital staff insist he’s not fit to return to duty. As part of his psychological recovery, they introduce him to a game.
Armored Souls is a tank game on steroids. Giant, walking mechs called juggernauts engage in interplanetary wars as noble houses and mercenary factions wage endless battles for supremacy. For the pilots of these juggernauts, the rewards are glory, cash, and XP.
As a tanker in real life, Reggie has a leg up on tactics and leadership, but he’s got a lot to learn in the game world. Saddled with trigger-happy commanding officers, slacker teammates, and bafflingly incompetent NPC underlings, Reggie will have to struggle to make headway.
Meanwhile, a sinister player decides to make Reggie’s life hell after their two factions clash. Reggie is forced to find a solution to his griefer problems while battling the real life demons that chased him into the game in the first place.
…and they won’t let him quit.
My Opinion: 417 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Reggie is seriously injured after a battle. Because of the trauma he’s faced in combat his psychologist wants him to play Mech based VR combat game, Armored Souls. In this full immersion game, player pilot giant mechs and go on missions for XP and credits.
The team Reggie finds there reminds him of piloting and commanding his tank squad. Which forces him to deal with the demons of his past or possibly never get released from the hospital.
I was genuinely surprised by this novel. I went in expecting something sci-fi but the author did a really good job incorporating the mechanics of a mech game.
Game mechanics: mission objectives, XP and money for completing missions. Money as reward that can be used to purchase upgrades and new mechs.
Good sci fi mech combat. Action scenes remind me of Mechwarrior or Haken. Each mech type has their own strengths and weaknesses. Scouts are fast but light on weapons. Juggernauts can take a shot and give them back but don’t expect them to win any races. Damage is shown by a change in colors of the parts of the mech going from green to red, then that part being destroyed.
The majority of the story is on military action. The main character (MC) and a group of normal players team up and go on mission after mission to get XP and credits. There’s lots of mission types that keep things from getting stale.
Outside of combat, the team goofs around but their relationships rarely go beyond surface level camaraderie. But that’s ok since you get enough depth with the MC to empathize with him.
Between the game breaks when the MC is back in the hospital and the introspection that he eventually does, the reader comes to understand that he’s dealing with trauma. Not just his physical injuries but the mental trauma of losing friends and soldiers under his command. Reggie dealing with this trauma is the subplot of the story and add a little flavor to an action filled novel.
Overall, I had a good time reading the story. I was pleasantly surprised how much the novel felt like a good mech game. Also, I was glad to see more than just *pew pew* *boom* action.
Score: 7 out of 10
Ghosts of Cortanis (Cortanis Trilogy Book 1)
SOMETHING HAS MANIFESTED
Tides of Cortanis is the most successful online game of all time, with fifteen million players sharing a vast, fantastic science fiction realm. Naomi René hides from her depression and loneliness by playing in Cortanis as her character Vanda, fighting space battles and going on adventures with a close-knit group of online friends. She is stunned to learn that her best friend, Peter, has died while playing.
But when Peter mysteriously appears in the virtual game world, not even the game developers can explain where he came from or what he is. Naomi must go deep into the game’s darkest corners to find out what happened to Peter. What she finds forces her to confront her own demons... demons of her past she can’t hide from anymore. Not if she is to escape Peter’s fate.
My Opinion: 383 pages, $0.99 right now, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Originally published in Nov. 2015, the author of the novel sent the podcast facebook page a message asking for a review. It’s the first in a trilogy.
At first I was suspicious that this was another attempt at rebranding a VR story as LitRPG, but I was thankfully wrong. While I would have personally have loved to have read about more details about the game mechanics of the world, there’s enough there to be LitRPG.
The game world is first presented as a space mission fighter game and there are details about how the A.I. creates custom challenges for the players, the variety of missions available, establishing player worlds, PVP, upgrading ships, etc. It’s only after the 30% mark, when the MC goes on a single player mission to find locate the ghost of a deceased friend and takes her personal A.I., that you see more of the advancement of individual power characteristics. Then you get more of a sci-fi mmo feel.
There’s never a ton of damage notifications or detailed descriptions on powers, abilities, or weapons. It was likely written more as a cyberpunk novel that is also set in a game world. Remember it was published before LitRPG became super popular and it was ok to write about a ton of detailed game stuff. You can sort of tell that since the author added a glossary of terms at the end of the story with definitions for things like PVP, crafting, and FPS.
What I really enjoyed about the story is the speculative sci-fi elements early on in the novel and the adult themes, (1-4%). The details about a A.I. system that has the potential to not only read and understand human emotions and reactions but then create content based on that feedback is interesting. It’s initially described as a system that can be used for therapeutic purposes or to help humanity better understand itself.
This system bleeds into the game part of the story as the A.I. system that runs the game and creates custom content for players based on understanding what challenges them and what frustrates them.
The story then gets into the sci-fi thriller cyberpunk realm, when the MC’s in-game friend dies but his digital ghost is still hanging around. There are questions about whether the game is manipulating the MC or if she’s having a psychotic break or if something even more sinister is going on. Still, with the help of a game administrator she goes on a quest chain to find the ghost character and discover what’s happening (30% mark).
Overall, I had a good time reading this story. It deals not only with speculative technology, but also themes of suicide, death, depression, and the road to dealing with all that. The story made me think and that’s always good to me.
Score: 7 out of 10.
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