LitRPG Podcast 072
LitRPG Podcast 072
October 6th, 2017
Hello everyone, welcome to episode 72 of the LitRPG podcast.
I’m Ramon Mejia. I’m here to bring you the latest LitRPG news, reviews, and author interviews. This week I have 9 new LitRPG reviews for you.
New Releases and Reviews:
(Play Music 2)
The audiobook version of Dungeon Madness (The Divine Dungeon Book 2) is up for pre-order and scheduled to release Oct. 17th.
Blaise Corvin has announced that Adventure Capital (Delvers LLC book 3), has been sent of to the editor and should be up on Amazon about the 15th of October. Yaaay!!
Daniel Schinhofen, author of the Alpha World and Last Horizon series hit it out of the park with his latest novel Alpha Company. This past weekend when it debuted, it hit #45 on all paid Amazon books and #1 in several categories. I just want to congratulate him on his success with the novel.
The Black Dragon: A Fantasy LitRPG (Dragon Kings of the New World Book 2) *From Dante Doom, the author I talked about last week that may or may not be the fictional creation of the publisher Relay Publishing.*
http://amzn.to/2xQUdow *Ran out of time this week to review it.*
New LitRPG Audiobooks
A Game With No Rules (Perimeter Defense Book #4) LitRPG Series (Oct. 11, 2017)
Syndicate Slayer (Crystal Crusade Book 2) (Oct.12th, 2017)
Delvers LLC Book 3 (Oct. 15th, 2017)
Fantasy Online Polynya: A LitRPG Saga (Oct. 16th, 2017)
The Wizard (Dungeon Core Book 1) (Oct. 16th, 2017)
Nemesis: The Panguardia Online Saga Book 1 (Oct. 23rd, 2017)
The Pantheon Moves (Emerilia Book 10) (Oct. 24th, 2017)
Awaken Online: Retribution (Awaken Online- Side Story) (Oct. 31st, 2017)
Desert Born (Puatera Online Book 2) (Nov. 8th, 2017)
Shattered Lands 3 Demon Wars: A LitRPG Series (Nov. 16th, 2017)
Emerilia Book 11 (Nov. ??, 2017)
The Twilight Obelisk (Mirror World Book #4) (Dec. 4th, 2017)
Feralmancer: The Panguardia Online Saga Book 2 (Dec. 29th, 2017)
Onto New Releases and Reviews
(Play Music 3)
New Releases and Reviews
Travail Online: Transcend: LitRPG Series (Book 3)
Travail is collapsing. The terrain is crumbling, the economy is in tatters, and strange mobs are turning innocent people into mutated beasts. Coral wants to rally players and overthrow the CEO behind the game's decline, but there's a catch. He employs her parents. In an offshore facility. And he won't guarantee their safe return unless Coral plays nice. Has she picked a boss fight she just can't win?
Meanwhile, Daniel struggles with his mother's gambling addiction, Sybil fights to keep Farah safe from Jack, and Sal keeps eating things he probably shouldn't, all while preparing for their inevitable battle with the elf queen at the helm of the game's most torturous content.
My Opinion: 388 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Travail Online continues to decay because of the imbalance created by imprisoning the goddess of life. Problems are exacerbated by the developer shutting down servers and over populating the remaining ones. Coral, who’s been playing solo since the the end of the last book has to reconnect with her former team mates to save Travail Online from both the elven Queen and the greedy CEO.
Each novel in this series gets better. This one has the best story of the three and has a plot that makes total sense. The writing is really solid and all the quests connect together.
There are actual big stakes for the online world and for each character in real life. There’s also a great reminder that kids shouldn’t talk to strangers, even in game. Especially when they’re super creepy. The strangers not the kids.
Additionally there are good crafting scenes and advancement of everyone's skills. I thought the ether gear in particular was kind of cool.
One thing that this novel does that other LitRPG stories don’t is that it makes the game world imperfect and exploitable by the bad guy. In this case the story frames server lag and overloaded servers as a recognizable threat to the online world. It’s a much more relatable problem for gamers than a permadeath axe or hypnotic headsets.
My favorite in the series so far.
Score: 7 out of 10.
On the Lost Continent (AlterGame Book #2) LitRPG Series
Jack thought his greatest challenge would be reaching the shores of the lost continent, then the perks and loot would just roll in. It so happened that a hail of unexpected gifts from Fate rained down on him, like water from a leaky bucket. But Fate is a sneaky thing. Its gifts can just as easily pummel you to death. Now Jack is a fugitive, pariah, the living dead. And that's just in reality. In the game, the Gods themselves have turned against him.
However, the Gods still don't know who they're messing with.
My Opinion: 287 pages, $5.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure: I was sent an advanced copy a day before release. I purchased the book when it came out.
There’s a nice recap at the beginning of the novel that reminds the reader what occurred in book 1. So, you don’t necessarily have to have read book 1 to read this one.
The review for this one is the same as the last. When I’m more intrigued by the real world events of the story than the game ones, that’s probably an issue.
I had to take a little time to consider why I liked the real world stuff more than the game story. I think it stems from the game feeling unrelatable. The setting of the game is high fantasy and things always seem to work out just right for the main character there. It feels like there are no real stakes in the game world but in the real post apocalyptic world a single tiny mistake can mean someone's death (it does, no spoilers though).
Overall, not a bad story. If you loved book 1, you’ll like this one. I just wasn’t one of those people. I really like the real world storyline (especially that kick ass ending). The game stuff just isn’t that interesting.
Score: 6 out of 10.
Crisis at Clearwater - A LitRPG Virtual Fantasy Adventure (Book 2 Unexplored Cycle)
Clint Sahorn assumed that his increasing proficiency at his job would allow him to get home at a decent hour and would relieve his already too-high stress level. However, his increased efficiency gave his bosses an excuse to add so much more to his workload that he fears for his sanity.
To keep from obsessing on his job when not there, Clint attempts to escape his reality in the VRMMO world of “Unexplored”. There, in the persona of the heroic and adventurous Elf, Cleave, he joins with a smart-mouthed kobold named Tarka, and a gentle half-giant, Krug – the best kind of friend an Elf could have, one that would gladly stomp into jelly anyone attempting to hurt his friends or the innocent – in a grand quest to find a powerful ring.
Clint hopes this light-hearted, swashbuckling adventure will allow him to relax. But, when they reach the halfling port city of Clearwater, the fun comes to an end. The citizens of Clearwater face a crisis that threatens to tear the city apart.
With the twin problems of his workload and the plight of the citizens of Clearwater weighing on him, Clint must muster all his strength and determination and hope that they – along with his friends – can stop the evil plaguing Clearwater.
Warning: This book contains erotic content. Reader discretion is advised.
My Opinion: 358 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
*Warning, this novel has graphic sex scenes*
A more streamlined version of book 1, Unexplored Into the Wildwood. The novel jumps right into the game and spends the majority of the time there. The story jumps out of the game sometimes but these portions mostly deal with the real life work problems of the main character (MC), Clint.
In game, the main character and his guildmates are given the quest to find the Ring of the Treesoul, a item special to the Ent and dryads. While fighting and following the clues for the quest the group also has lots of sex. That’s sort of how I break up the story. Game stuff that follows a quest chain and sex scenes.
There are multiple sex scenes that while a relatively minor percent of the story distract from the fantasy quest stuff for me. I understand that part of the story revolves around the freedom for the characters to explore their sexual desires but it’s not interesting to me.
The game mechanics of the story exist and the characters advance in power according to the game rules. However, the game mechanics are pretty standard and relatively light. Health as percentages, no damage numbers, there multiple instances of character sheets, and item descriptions. But that’s about it.
Overall, the action is nice but the graphic sex really distracts from the story. At least for me. I know some folks really love erotic fiction and for those that do, this will hit their buttons. I’m just not one them.
Score: 6 out of 10.
The Girl in the Street: Part I
You're incredible, Drake. So strong, so handsome, and so powerful. I want to obey your every wish...
My name's Richard Kraft. By day, I'm a programmer. By night, I'm a rogue named Drake in the VRMMO Darkmist, a cyberpunk-themed game that lets you be intimate with as many girls as you want.
In fact, you even get points for it.
When I meet a cute girl in game, I take her to the bar for some drinks and hit it off with her. Pretty soon we're heading back to my place for fun.
If only I could be in real life the same way as I am in game: confident, not a complete workaholic, and able to get any girl I wanted.
Like my hot boss, Ms. Jensen...
My Opinion: 20 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Based on price alone this story is so not worth it. 20 pages for $2.99?
This is just a sex story trying to use the LitRPG tag to trick people into reading it. With in the twenty pages there’s about 4 words that refer to a VR game but nothing remotely RPG or even game like. It’s just a long, poorly described sex scene.
Score: 2 out of 10
Starter Zone (The Revelation Chronicles Book 1)
When hydrologists inscribe the consciousness of a human mind onto a single drop of water, a Revelation sweeps the land. The wealthy race to upload their minds into self-contained virtual realities nicknamed Aquariums. In these containers people achieve every hope, dream, and desire. But governments wage war for control of the technology. Terrorist attacks cause massive destruction. The Aquariums fail. Inscribed human minds leech into the water cycle, wreaking havoc.
Street gangs rule the cities in the three years since the fall of civilization. Sixteen-year-old Cami and her younger sister Alby struggle to survive. Every drop of untreated water puts their lives in peril. Caught and imprisoned by soldiers who plan to sell them into slavery, Cami will do anything to escape and rescue her sister. Even if it means leaving the real word for a life in the realms, a new game-like reality created by the hydrologists for the chosen few.
But life in the realms isn’t as simple as it seems. Magic, combat, gear scores, quests, and dungeons are all puzzles to be solved as the sisters navigate their new surroundings. And they encounter more dangerous enemies than any they faced in the real world.
Time to play the game.
My Opinion: 219 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The first 1/3 of this story is great and very interesting. It’s a post- apocalypse survival story with a teen and her younger sister as the main characters. Water that possesses people is the killer instead of zombies or demons. Cool but no game stuff.
At 30% the novel shifts to the game element and it turns into this no risk fantasy MMO. The rest of the novel really reminds me of a game version of Narnia. Fun, fantasy, but with logic issues.
The game mechanics exists. There are item descriptions with numbers. Some ability descriptions. Even a formula for damage. However those numbers don’t really matter because in actual combat there are no damage numbers and health is given as a percentage. Not to say that this is a wrong way to describe combat but it does make all those weapon descriptions with their damage ranges meaningless. It’s a writing choice that says the author didn’t really want to deal with all those numbers. Also, towards the end of the story there some serious game logic issues.
One serious game logic issue that I bothered me happens at the end of the story. The level 3 main character gets level 60 ultra rare raid gear and can use it with no restrictions. The powers she gets and the boosts to her stats make her super over powered and it doesn’t make sense in terms of the game world why this happens. Then after she turns in a quest goes from level 3 to 20 instantly. I get why the author did this though. It’s because that's the minimal level needed to leave the starter area safely in book 2. Still, the events bother my gamer brain. I’m just annoyed by the inconsistency and the decision to sacrifice/break the rules of the world in favor of story progression.
This doesn't mean that the game stuff is bad. There are also plenty of gamer jokes and realistic gamer social attitudes.
However, there is a lack of logic continues with regards to the water based technology and some of the events in the story. There’s no attempt to explain the water based computing tech. How the tech is able to infiltrate the minds of humans to take possession also never explained. The application of this system is inconsistent in places. How the MC and her sister into the game seems like a serious stretch of logic and a complete break from the earlier part of the novel.
When the story gets to the game world, the main character and her sister meet a nice level 100 centaur guardian they make friends with. They go on a few simple quests then have to save their new friend when she’s poisoned by low level children players trying to cheat the game.
In this respect, the story reminds me of a game version of Narnia. No one questions why there’s a talking Lion walking around. It’s accepted as part of the fantasy world of an interesting kids story. If you can do that with this story and accept there’s no science behind the water mind upload tech or even consistency in upload rules, or application of some game logic, then you’ll like the story. I just couldn't and while it didn't ruin the story for me it did lower my enjoyment.
Score: 6 out of 10.
The Laboratory: A Futuristic Dungeon Core
Emma is an artificial intelligence with a love of science, insults, and devilish traps.
When her systems are booted up she finds herself in control of a long-abandoned facility in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The world is filled with dangerous threats granted great powers by the same cataclysm that befell the world. Emma must balance safety with the desire for test subjects as she brings herself back fully online and stakes out a place in this new world.
My Opinion: 226 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Dungeon story set in post apocalyptic wasteland where people have powers gained from cores. The dungeon can capture them and use her research facilities to get new abilities and points to upgrade her dungeon facility and minions.
Interesting upgrades and research rewards. The only drawbacks are the length of the novel and the cliffhanger ending.
Still a fun read that I got through in one sitting.
Score: 7 out of 10.
CHRONICLES of a PC Gamer Stuck Inside an RPG: Book One: Duelist
A HARDCORE, SLICE-OF-LIFE LITRPG!
Meet Lawrence Eugene Mulligan. By day, he is a fantasy writer in his mid-30s with a questionable work ethic. By night, he is a hardcore PC gamer who enjoys power leveling his way through one fantasy RPG after another. After one such typical day and night, Lawrence wakes up to find himself in a new world, a fantasy gaming world.
Told mainly from Lawrence's perspective, CHRONICLES follows the adventures of a seriously flawed main character as he seeks to achieve the game's objective: to become king. Or else, he will spend the rest of his life trapped inside this gaming world. Along the way, Lawrence will meet NPCs who will either help him or hinder him in his quest. He must carefully choose which persons, factions, and gods to align with. His well-traveled journey will take him from a frontier town on the Western end of the continent of Britannia to other parts of the Kingdom of Merlin, as well as to other elemental planes.
CHRONICLES is an unusual story which heavily emphasizes the slice-of-life element, and the book spends an average of 15 chapters to cover each day of Lawrence's life in this new world. Book One follows the protagonist as he learns the way of the sword and becomes a duelist by happenstance rather than by choice. The first book covers only his first week inside the gaming world
My Opinion: 727 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
A slice of life LitRPG story that covers the main character (MC), Larry’s, 1st week in a RPG game world. That’s right, that’s 100 pages per day of the story.
The first 1% is my favorite part of the story. It has a middle aged LitRPG author trying to meet a publisher’s deadline while trying to resist the temptation of playing his latest video game Merlin: Mage Supreme. The scene is funny, full of self-deprecating humor and as writer I can tell you that the struggle to resist playing video games when you should be writing is real.
However, the novel basically goes downhill from there as the MC falls asleep and wakes up to find himself transported into the RPG game world where he assumes he must become ruler to get transported home.
From there it’s a slice of life story as the MC makes plans to rule the kingdom and level up. He meets several people, woman mostly, that will help him on his way. However, there are other forces that are interested in who becomes king including another player from his world.
The story itself is not bad. It’s just ok. There are just way too many unexplained plot twist.
My biggest issue with the novel are: 1) This thing is way too long. 2) There’s a consistent issue with tenses that’s distracting.
The length of the novel is explained as a consequence of the story being written on the Royal Road as a serial story over the course of a year. When reading it as a whole though you can tell there’s a lot of stuff in the story that isn’t needed. I don’t mean character development stuff but literally stuff that has no bearing on the story. For example, it takes the author 7 paragraphs to describe the MC getting up from his seat at an inn, walking up a set of stairs, and opening the door to his room. This kind of stuff happens a lot in the novel. The Mc goes off on some thought tangent (like 5 paragraphs about the waitress possibly getting him committed and taking his money) or a scene is overly described.
The other big issue for me is the regular shifts in tense in the story. The novel switches between 3rd person past tense and omniscient 1st person from MC, sometimes mid sentence. Sometimes it’s jarring and will make the story hard to read for some folks.
Ie: “If papa knew that she had followed the stupid human home, then Kalistro would be aware of how she had purposely driven me into physical exhaustion.” The last ‘me’ refers to the MC, who isn't even in this scene. Happens fairly regularly.
There are other small game mechanic issues or small inconsistencies but these are the big issues with the story.
Overall, the promising start to the story just sort of disappears. It’s not a bad story but these issues just kept me from enjoying the story as much as I wanted to.
Score: 6 out of 10
Pangea Online Book One: Death and Axes: A LitRPG Novel
Everything has a price. Pangea Online is no different.
Esil has spent the past year toiling in the mines of Pangea while the more wealthy traverse its myriad of gameworlds. His luck changes forever when he stumbles upon a legendary Developer's Chest, containing an invaluable Worldpass, which grants him unlimited travel to all gameworlds.
Now, Esil isn’t just stuck watching as others explore Pangea. He can finally level up.
But his in-game actions have real world consequences and failure online threatens everything he holds dear.
My Opinion: 255 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The main character breaks free from his daily grind at the mine after he unearths a rare developer’s chest that gives him an item that lets him travel through the multiverse of Pangea Online. He visits fantasy worlds, steampunk worlds, paranormal world and more. I When his friends mom gets sick he decides to try and win the big contest that will give him just enough money to pay for her medical treatment. The story contest that has a definite Ready Player One vibe, minus the 80s nostalgia.
From the 30% mark, the main character (MC) gets a series of riddles he must solve to find the worlds and beat the quests to win the contest. Thankfully he has friends and allies to help him along the way.
The game mechanics in the story are solid. When the characters gain a level they can assign one stat point. Characters can purchase abilities, weapon proficiencies, and spellbooks to learn magic. Additionally, equipment from different worlds give special abilities. However, besides descriptive effects combat is free of numbers and health is given as a percentage.
Overall, the story is fun and the relationships that develop because of the contest and game are interesting. The story does have a heavy Ready Player One vibe in regards to the contest but that’s not necessarily bad, it just spoils the contest end if you’ve read that story.
Score: 7 out of 10
Forest (Gaia's Rebirth Book 1)
When Nika’s new husband supported her decision to be in the initial beta test of Gaia’s Rebirth, she had thought he was being supportive.
She was wrong.
Now trapped in the game with the two contest-winning beta testers (one that happened to cheat his way in), Nika realizes that there is far more at stake than making her way through a simple beta test. If she doesn’t get out of the game soon, her whole life’s work will have been for nothing. And that isn’t how she wants to honor her father’s memory.
But her troubles are only just beginning.
The people back in the real world have a vested interest in keeping her within Gaia’s Rebirth, and they are changing the game to make that happen. That includes closing off her communications with the company and sending massively over-powered monsters to destroy her party in an endless loop of rebooted frustration.
The only way out is through…
Luckily, there are a few things the traitors don’t know. Like the fact that a clever little hacker/thief has managed to place herself within the game.
And she just might save them all.
Forest is Book One of the Gaia’s Rebirth Series. It is a full-length LitRPG novel.
My Opinion: 211 pages, $0.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Set in the far flung future of 2070.
Set in 2070. Nika and her deceased father create Gaia's Rebirth, the most advanced full immersion game ever. Now it’s time for the beta test. When the scheduled game guide can’t make it, Nika herself volunteers to help the two lucky beta testers chosen to try and beat Gai’s Rebirth. Only once they log in, nothing goes quite like she expects and everyone trapped in the game due. Together with Ash, a hardcore gamer, and Dean, the newb, the three have to find someway escape the game or Nika risks losing her company.
The story has a few interesting points that differentiate it from other LitRPG. First , the trapped in the game scenario is initiated because of corporate espionage. It’s a neat reason to justify keeping the game company's CEO in the game.
Another thing that makes this story different are the strong female leads. The ladies in this story rock! The women aren’t just portrayed as men with boobs. There are subtle social experiences that each woman has or is treated to that realistically portray how women are treated differently than men. Expectations to be pretty no matter how successful you are, or guys automatically trying to assume the lead even when there’s a more knowledgeable and qualified woman standing right next to them.
Not only is the portrayal of the woman in the story realistic, they’re also the hero's here. There are a couple of guys in the story but they never take the role of savior of the damsels in distress.
One review on Amazon points out that the men in the story are portrayed are “all shallow and often repugnant..” and that they had “the impression that the author had just been dumped and wrote this book to express her negative feelings toward men.”
I respectfully disagree. No, the men don’t get a ton of backstory but they aren’t the heroes in the story so they shouldn’t. One of the bad guys is totally repugnant but he’s the bad guy. He’s supposed to be. The female villains are portrayed the same. One of the guys in the group is kind of wimpy at the beginning but he’s also newb game player that lied to get there and he gets a lot less wimpy after he dies once and realizes it’s the worst that will happen.
The game mechanics in the story are decent. When characters level they get new class abilities and increases in health, mana, and damage. Nothing particularly special here but the quests and the tactics used to complete them all feels based on actual gaming experiences.
The story overall is pretty straightforward the first 8% is setup and you’re in the game by the 9% mark. Then rest of the story has the characters trying to find a way out of the game after they figure out the game has been changed to keep them all there. New characters come in throughout the story and keep things fresh and there are some good revelations that some people will see coming. There’s a lot of action since gaining XP comes from fighting mobs or completing quests. I also like that not all the quests were solved with violence but the characters used some good problem solving skills to complete them.
One of the things some people won’t like is that the novel sort of ends on a cliff hanger. There’s no sudden drop off but more of a … kind of ending.
Overall, an enjoyable story.
Score: 7 out of 10
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