LitRPG Podcast 087
LitRPG Podcast 087
Dec. 22nd, 2017
Hello everyone, welcome to episode 87 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 8 new LitRPG reviews for you.
A quick shout out to a couple folks for supporting the podcast on Patreon. Emma Moore with a $10/month pledge, and Kyle J. Smith at $20/month. Thank you both for your amazing support.
New Releases and Reviews:
One Life (Dec. 22nd, 2017) (16:44)
Bitter: Book One (49:42)
(Play Music 2)
Vasily Mahanenko, author of the Way of the Shaman series, released the cover art for the last novel in the series, Clan Wars. It is supposed to be released Feb. 2018, and he hopes everyone enjoys all the surprises he has in store for them. He also shared a link to the first 2 chapters in English for the novel. We’ll have that link in the shownotes.
New LitRPG Audiobooks
Camelot Defiant: An Arthurian LitRPG (Camelot LitRPG Book 4) (Dec. 26th, 2017)
The Dungeon’s Burden (Slime Dungeon Chronicles Book Book 4) (Dec. ??, 2017)
The Land: Predators (Chaos Seeds: Book 7) (Dec. ??, 2017)
Press Start (Jan. 5th, 2018)
Sigil Online: Hellions (Jan. 7th, 2018)
A Trap for the Potentate (The Dark Herbalist Book #3) LitRPG series (Jan.17th, 2017)
The Reapers (The Neuro Book #3) LitRPG Series (Jan. 24th, 2018)
Akillia's Reign (Puatera Online Book 4) (March 16th, 2018)
Onto New Releases and Reviews
(Play Music 3)
New Releases and Reviews
Fragged 6 (Fragged (A LitRPG Short Story Series))
The Metois are closing in, Zoey's clan is growing, and it looks like the Fighters' luck is about to change.
Following the events of Issue Five which saw Zoey and her clan deciding it was time to take the fight to the Metois, the budding group is starting to have internal trust issues, not that that matters to Zoey, who's recently decided that life just isn't that bad, but at the same time is struggling to stay out of her head.
In this, the sixth issue of Fragged, Zoey and her friends start to push back against the seemingly unstoppable Metois while at the same time narrowly avoiding encounters with massive dinosaurs and struggling to keep each other alive.
My Opinion: 49 pages, $0.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
While the current title of Fragged 6 has the title "A LitRPG Short Story", it is not LitRPG. There are really only 2 sentences that having anything to do with any kind of progression. One has to do with crafting. The other is a single skill progression. Everything else is action and snark.
The series on the whole has recently dropped all the town building and rpg mechanics the last few episodes and I feel like the author just wants to write a video game story and not LitRPG. Which is fine, but it’s just not interesting to me.
Score: 4 out of 10
Crystalfire Keep: A LITRPG Saga (Elements of Wrath Online Book 3)
With the opening of Crystalfire Keep, Max, Kayla, and the rest of the crew find themselves in a race against time to gather a force strong enough to beat the timed raid dungeon in time to secure the big cash prize.
With rival guilds causing trouble within the game and a dangerous wager in the real world looming, what begins as a difficult trial turns into a near-impossible mission with consequences far out reaching a simple contest.
The futures of not only Max and Kayla, but that of their friends, family, and possibly the whole game are at stake. Worse, their only hope to save the day may just lie with the mysterious return of a lost legend.
My Opinion: 544 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The satisfying conclusion to this story arc. The third book in the Elements of Wrath series is essentially an underdog tale. A group of misfits that don’t play the game like everyone else, get their chance at the big prize if they can get the fastest time beating the new raid content. They’re going up against better funded and larger guilds. For the main character and some of his group, there are also dire real world consequences if his group loses.
**Quick Reminder: the randomly bolded words aren't just random insertions. They’re the game filtering curse words and personal info. I totally forgot and thought that I got a bad copy of the book. Lol.**
Overall, a good ending to this story arc. There’s the same MMO action, customization through gems, and romance that readers have come to enjoy. The added consequences IRL raised the stakes of the contest quite nicely. Everything is completely resolved by the end of the novel. That includes the game and real life stuff. Nice.
Score: 7 out of 10
The Red Plague (The Last Warrior of Unigaea Book 3)
The third and final installment in the Last Warrior of Unigaea Trilogy!
Following his massive personal loss in the second book, Oric Rune reaches the city of Tael to join Lothar and Sam Raid.
Battered and bruised, but not yet ready to give up on his quest to save Unigaea, Oric and company set off for Tagvornin to address the Red Plague. With a newfound mission, and time running out as the Red Plague continues to spread, the moment for Oric to make his mark on Unigaea is now. But will he be able to? And is it even possible?
Tight, brutal, and incredibly intense, the final installment in the Last Warrior Trilogy has all the electrifying gamer action, tongue-in-cheek humor, emotion, and plot twists that have made this an Amazon best-selling series.
My Opinion: 243 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Don’t worry. This is not actually where the story ends. Instead this is the end of this story arc involving Unigaea. If you’re a fan of the series you’ll enjoy the story.
There’s a bit of a magic wand waving and with the first 20% of the novel. The sacrifice Wolf made at the end of book 2 is completely erased, which is annoying to me since something of consequence happened to character I liked.
On the bright side, the story has the same good action and humor. It also introduces the reader to the larger Proxima Multiverse, including spaceships and ways to travel to other game worlds.
A good ending to the trilogy.
Score: 7 out of 10
Teenage Kings: A Western LitRPG Novella
Being a successful independent rapper isn't what Dick Dashing thought it would be. The pressure to deliver fresh material combined with unexpected personality changes are making him question his choices and doubt his future in the industry.
When something related to Dick's forgotten hometown is mentioned in an unexpected way, it sets off a journey that will make him question his own reality.
My Opinion: 79 pages, $0.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Note: the author mentions the story will be more expensive after the 25th.
Not LitRPG. A few game mechanics about 67% in, but even then it’s a minor point of the story. No RPG mechanics at all.
Score: 4 out of 10
One Life is a Massively Multiplayer Online game where players can escape the reality of the classist wasteland that is the real world, and enter a realm filled with fantasy and adventure. However, when a terrorist organisation called the Shadow Prophets realise that they can manipulate the game to help fund their own dark ventures, they try to take control.
Now, a special quest has been activated and Lucas finds himself thrust into situations that are way over his head, both in the real and digital worlds. Strap in for a race against time as Lucas and his party must uncover the secrets of One Life before the game falls entirely into the wrong hands.
My Opinion: 187 pages, $3.80, Not Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure: The author sent me an advanced copy of the novel for review
The first 15% of the novel is a muddled mix of world building, explanation of what the game One Life is, and a bit of backstory of the main character (MC), Lucas.
The world has become an unemployable mess. Thankfully, One Life has taken over and given people the opportunity to turn there in game money into real world money. Most people are still only able to earn enough to not die of starvation.
The game is initially described as a permadeath fantasy survival game with zombies. Most people stay in the starter newb zone that’s only PVE. The MC makes his living selling starter gear and also being a game guide.
The MC ends up following another player that insulted him and intends to PK her once outside town. Only he inadvertently becomes involved in this big quest to save the game from an evil group of bad guys.
The story on its own is only ok. It suffers from an over influence of Ready Player One. The MC and his group follow a series to clues to find and protect the one object that will give control of the game. They’re opposed by a shadowy organization with seemingly limitless resources that sends identical agents to capture or kill them in the game and out. There are also pop culture references galore from the 80s and 90s.
Only most of the setup for the MC to enter this quest doesn’t make sense. He sneaks off after a high level player and seeing her fighting a high level monster, makes one non-damaging attack, yet is rewarded with half the XP for the fight and gets the magic quest everyone is looking for.
The pop culture references in the story also don’t make sense contextually. In Ready Player One, there’s a shared fascination with 80’s culture because the guy who made the game grew up in that time and all the clues were based on 80’s culture and trivia. So people that wanted to win immersed themselves in the culture. In this story, that premise doesn’t exists. Instead the reader is expected to accept that a bunch of 20 year olds in the far future make 80s and 90s pop culture/tech references like: DOS chat programs, dial up modems, and various movie references.
Now, this next part is just a pet peeve. The author references a bunch of pop culture topics. However, he often gets the details wrong. For instance, Doctor Who is referenced when one of the characters, for no explained reason, flips a coin that turns into her spaceship which looks like the TARDIS. Only the author misspells Doctor Who as Dr Who and the TARDIS as Tardis. They may seem like small details but they reflect a lack of appreciation for those fandoms.
Also, another small pet peeve. The big threat to the game and real world, is that if the bad guys get this magic item, they’ll get all the players User data including their IP addresses which would let them find anyone in real life. Except, in reality, someones IP address is not the same as their physical address. There are a variety of VPN programs and other ways to spoof or show any IP address. Additionally, having this info is supposed to somehow let the bad guys drain User’s in game accounts and control the game. This is tantamount to saying that if someone finds your home address they will magically have access to your bank account and suddenly control the city you live in. It just doesn’t make sense.
Oh, sorry. One more pet peeve. The main character plays this game, in the far flung future, with a mouse and keyboard while looking at a computer monitor. That’s right, not VR. Not console. But normal a normal PC. This sort of dates the author’s experience with gaming and limits the believability of it being in the future. Plus, a late story threat of not being able to log out of the game is severely lessoned when the MC can just step away from the computer.
Finally, the game mechanics in the story disappear mostly after the 20% mark. There are still references to high level opponents but the main character never again gains a level, at least not a number, for the rest of the story. Instead, the story turns into a sci-fi VR adventure. It’s this lack of consistent RPG mechanics that is the most disappointing. It really felt like the author had good intentions but after the 20% mark just stopped caring about that part of the story or didn’t feel like keeping track of things like levels.
While these things lessened my enjoyment of the story there are good things about it too. The action is decent. There are a big variety of settings that the characters go through. There’s a legitimate attempt to pull in ideas from a variety of games including stealth, survival, RPG, and action. Even if they don’t work because a severe lack of detail, it’s a good attempt. Also, a few of the characters are interesting and I really did like the attempt to explain the dangers of a society dependent on a game for economic growth.
Overall, the story just wasn’t particularly enjoyable for me. It wasn’t terrible either but I kept comparing it to Ready Player One and found this novel lacking. While there were some good things about it, they were overshadowed by the many things that bothered me.
Score: 5 out of 10
One Life (Dec. 22nd, 2017)
Dark Infinity Online: Hunter's Bounty: A LitRPG Scifi Adventure (DIO Book 1)
Warley’s days as a bounty hunter are numbered. Ever since the government put those darn police robots on the streets, criminality has seen a huge drop and he’s now struggling to even find a shoplifter to apprehend.
With rent to pay, no money in the bank and a serious drinking problem to fund, the situation is getting desperate for him. But where is a man of his particular skills supposed to turn to? Chasing criminals is all he knows; it’s all he’s ever done.
That’s when Warley will learn about Dark Infinity Online, a game where criminality still runs rampant and money, real money can be made for those with enough guts to join in.
With nothing to lose, Warley will spend his last credits buying the game. But in a world without laws and rules, the line blurs between good and evil, and there’s no more telling which side is which.
Torn between two rival factions fighting for control over the server, will Warley make the right choice?
My Opinion: 244 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
This is a story set in the far flung future where robots have take over many jobs and cities have become multileveled behemoths.
The author does a good job of describing this world and giving a nice description of the space faring civilization of the VR game the main character (MC), Warley/Exxu, plays.
The SciFi elements of the story are definitely it’s strong suit. Where it lacks is in the game mechanics and a logical storyline that connects the game and real world.
The first 8% of this novel is good. The author describes a real world that is bursting with SciFi character. The MC has flaws galore to work on and empathy for his situation is quickly established. Once in the game world (4%) there’s a good, if dated, attempt to describe the newb experience at playing an MMO. The issues with learning a control scheme, how to control the game camera, what to do in the world, and how not to die so much.
However, after the 12% mark, when the MC gains his first level and it doesn’t seem to mean anything, the game stuff switches to something that more and more feels like normal SciFi. As the story continues, the charm of playing the game disappears as the in game story is described the same as the real life one.
This is technically a LitRPG novel. Throughout the story the main character (MC), Warley/Exxu, completes missions for experience which gain him levels. However, none of the experience is ever shown and the levels don’t seem to mean anything. The story almost doesn’t care about the RPG side of the game world. More text is spent in the novel describing to the main character how to pilot a special spaceship he gets than giving details about the game mechanics of the VRMMO world.
The way the MC interacts with the game world is also rather unusual and often contradictory. The game world is described as a ‘Space survival VRMMO’. Yet, if the game world is in virtual reality, why is it then that the MC plays it while staring at a normal computer screen and using a mouse and keyboard? It’s emphasised throughout the beginning part of the story that the MC is using a keyboard and mouse. Even going so far as to describe WASD movement controls. Yet, the contradictory experience occurs when the MC starts to feel and emote unrealistically. He gets scared, even terrified on several occasions from intimidating spaceships that pass him by. The MC has to learn how to pilot each ship he uses, each button, toggle and switch. The text describes him as grasping, and flipping these controls with his hands. Which would make sense if he were in a VR pod or something but he’s using normal mouse and keyboard.
“His heart thumped in his chest. His palms grew sweaty. And his hands pushed forward on the wheel, hard. ...his eyes remained fixed on threat giant ship, almost like a monster from the dreams of a child...his mind frozen in its flight of terror. This is what it felt like to be prey. He had never felt small and powerless before.” -(34% mark of story)
This is a very emotive scene. However, it has a lot less impact because in the back of my mind I know the MC is just staring at a computer screen and not really feeling those emotions as their described.
It may just be me, but I’m guessing that the author wrote this story as straight SciFi, but then adapted it as LitRPG. It sort of shows when the MC is described as being cold in his spaceship, despite the fact that he’s playing the game in front of a monitor and not in VR.
That this may be an adapted story isn’t bad. But it does also explain why there’s more emphasis on all the SciFi space stuff and not on the game parts. They were likely added in later.
Additionally, story wise there is just an oddity that just didn’t make sense. The stories tension in the real world relies on the fact that players can cash out game credits for real world money. That’s cool, that’s done now. But the oddity occurs when people get arrested IRL for doing bad things in-game, like stealing, just because the credits could be turned into real money. That leap of logic just never made sense and the rest of the story that is built on that didn’t either.
Overall, as a SciFi story this would be a decent read. Yeah, there are some pretty big plot holes but the action and intrigue sort of makes up for it. But as LitRPG, I just didn’t get any depth in the game stuff. Which is disappointing, but not unexpected if the novel is a adapted SciFi story as I suspect.
There are better SciFi LitRPG stories: The Gam3, World Seed, Futuristic Dungeon Core, Continue Online, Phantom Server, Office Wars and more
Score: 5 out of 10
World of Karik: (The First Player) LitRPG series
Welcome to the new world. People around were killed, but you and group of strangers could get to this dangerous place by the will of mysterious creatures.
Imagine a community of liars and scoundrels who were able to survive by killing their friends and fellows.
These people surround you; everyone is lying, trying to get an advantage. Everyone has a secret.
The World of Karik is similar to the game. You can get levels, increase your stats, and even rise from the dead in case of failure. However, if you do make a mistake, if you do believe the wrong person, you will die forever.
Everyone knows where is the way out of this world; it seems that you can return home, but not a single person did ever come back. Do you want to be the first? Then you have to decide, who is standing next to you? The friend or the foe? The creature of the abyss or an innocent victim?
The translation has been faithfully made by a non-profit agency "Cowabunga."
My Opinion: 681 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
**Warning: There are some serious issues with the translation of the work into english. If the following sentences hurt your brain, don’t read this novel.
"It's great," Olga said, as I thought, a little disappointed. "I think we have come." The path led us to a clearing, surrounded by a rock on one side. On the left, there was a small brook; on the right, a forest. "We came," Andrei announced. **
First I want to say at $2.99, this is a great price for the amount of content and it’s on KU.
The novel is best described as a Apocalypse Survival Slice of Life LitRPG. So, similar stories would be The Arcane Survivalist, Life in the North, Gamer of the Dead, or Survival World.
People are being taken from earth by powerful beings and dropped onto another planet. This planet works with RPG game rules. Each person is given one skill or ability to help them survive and tobestone that they resurrect at if they die. If the tombstone is broken, they die permanently.
The main character (MC) convinces the god of chaos to give him mastery of magic and thus he has an OP ability among all the other players on this world. While there’s a way to exit the world, it’s so difficult no one has yet succeeded.
The story is basically a slice of life power up story. There’s no huge plot. It’s more about the MC learning about the rules of the world, leveling up, some betrayals that force him to power up more, and then repeating all that. There’s enough variety of monsters to fight, plot twist betrayals, and way to power up that the story is interesting even with it being over 600 pages long.
The biggest drawbacks to the story are the translation issues and the sheer length of the story makes some parts feel like filler. Those two things don’t ruin the story for me but they will for other people.
Score: 6 out of 10
Bitter: Book One
VRMMORPG has arrived, along with: bugs, exploits, OP classes, over the top nerfs, p2w, ridiculous RNG, lockboxes, raging players, broken mechanics, limited bag space, tedious crafting... and then there are the goblins and ogres.
Bitter is the story of a girl who finds her life isn't what she wanted. So she gets another one.
My Opinion: 296 pages, $3.99, Not Available on Kindle Unlimited
From the author of the How To Avoid Death On A Daily Basis series, which is a nice portal fiction series. This is a published version of the online serial of the same name. Book 1 has the first 100 chapters, book 2 continues the story.
First off. This is totally LitRPG. Plenty of RPG progression, though the game system isn’t anything amazing. Also, in my opinion way too much time is spent in the real world but the main character (MC), Britta is a high school kid so it makes sense that she can’t play 24/7.
Ok. This is a slice of life story with a teen girl who is a huge complainer. She gets access to her dad’s new VR game rig. She’s not supposed to use it but she’s a sneaky kid. She only intends to take a little trip in the game world to see what’s so cool about it but through a series of poor character creation choices finds herself with a very unique character. One that has to find new and interesting ways to fight and interact with the NPCs.
Most of the game story is about the MC exploring the starting parts of this VR fantasy game, learning about the game mechanics, and early quests. What’s interesting about the story is how this teen manages to get around the game’s standard events and bend the AI rules for some interesting effects.
The real life storyline is pretty boring and is mostly the MC complaining about her life, her parents, school, and other students.
Overall, a good story. Though it takes some time to get past the whiney complaints of the MC, about 20%. Once she’s in the game world it’s interesting. I had a fun time reading it but I also like slice of life stories. Be aware that the end of book 1 is just a pause in the story. But book 2 is also out now.
Score: 7 out of 10
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