LitRPG Podcast 089
LitRPG Podcast 089
Jan. 5th, 2017
Hello everyone, welcome to episode 89 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.
A quick shoutout to a very generous donator to the podcast, Jeff Hollingsworth, he made a big old donation and I just want to thank him.
New Releases and Reviews:
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Travis Bagwell, author of Awaken Online, has announced something neat called Book Brawl:
Hey guys. So a few buddies and I have built this fancy new site for publishing serial stories (link below). We all started out publishing our stuff as web serials and were pretty unhappy with the other websites out there, so this is our attempt at a different (and hopefully better) version.
If you all want to post stuff on the site (serial or published) or give it a shoutout, we'd really appreciate it. We made it easy to designate whether a story is published already (in contrast to other sites which are primarily serial only). This also gives readers the ability to find your other work.
Travis Bagwell also announced that he’ll be publishing his latest novel, A War of One, and his Awaken Online short story, Apathy, on the site on a weekly basis.
Luke Chmilenko has also posted the first 6 chapters of Ascend Online: Legacy of the Fallen there too.
You wouldn’t know it from the description but this is a reincarnation LitRPG. At least it seems that way from my brief skim through the first 15%. It’s not on KU, so it’s going to be hard for people to take a chance on. I’d suggest downloading a sample.
New LitRPG Audiobooks
Our review of the ebook: http://www.geekbytespodcast.com/litrpg-database/2017/9/14/world-seed-endgame
Sigil Online: Hellions (Jan. 7th, 2018)
Soul Reckoning: A LitRPG Adventure (Veilwalkers Book 2) (Jan. 8th, 2018)
A Trap for the Potentate (The Dark Herbalist Book #3) LitRPG series (Jan.17th, 2017)
The District: A Futuristic Dungeon Core (The Laboratory Book 3) (Jan. 22nd, 2018)
The Reapers (The Neuro Book #3) LitRPG Series (Jan. 24th, 2018)
Kingdom Level Four: LitRPG (Feb. 28th, 2018)
Clan Wars (Way of the Shaman book 7) (Feb. 2018)
Avatars Rising: SILOS I (March 12th, 2018)
Akillia's Reign (Puatera Online Book 4) (March 16th, 2018)
Onto New Releases and Reviews
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New Releases and Reviews
Dodge Tank: A LitRPG Novel (Crystal Shards Online Book 1)
"There's only one rule...don't get hit."
Ryan's life sucks.
His brother is a jerk, his mom is sick, and his legs are next to useless thanks to a neurological disorder. Plus the world ended two centuries ago from nuclear war. Now, what's left of humanity live below ground, with the only escape from reality being the massive VR world of Crystal Shards Online.
But even ingame, Ryan's life sucks. Unable to play a combat class due to his condition, he works as a miner, earning barely enough to get by and not nearly enough to afford the operation that will save his mom's life.
When Ryan discovers an item that grants the ability to dodge any attack, however, he has the chance to become one of the game world's most elite and sought after players: a Dodge Tank.
But for someone who's never played a combat class, success isn't so easily had.
To save his mom, Ryan will have to overcome his disability and level his way to the top. But the real-world consequences are more far reaching than he ever could have imagined and the fate of not just his mother, but humanity itself, may be resting in his hands...
My Opinion: 339 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure: The author sent me a copy of the novel for review. I purchased it when it became available.
This is a good, fun, action intense story with a bit of romance.
It’s not without its small flaws though. The obstacle the main character (MC) has to overcome, his inability to play a combat class, doesn’t make sense. I mean, why would the game stop him from swinging a sword or casting a spell but have no problem with the MC swinging a pickaxe?
The middle of the story also has XP grinding that gets a bit tedious and there are some serious level skips. Sometimes as much as 10-15 levels a fight. But the real life story motivation is interesting and the romance helps break up the grind. Yet, even these small inconsistencies can be ignored in favor of the quick story pace and interesting story line.
The game world uses the Final Fantasy Tactics approach to multiclassing. Classes can be switched when out of combat. Advanced classes have prerequisites that need to be unlocked. These mechanics set the novel apart from other LitRPG stories that force characters to only chose a single class the entire story. The author also does a great job highlighting an unusual play style like the dodge tank.
Overall, this is a good LitRPG story that has a really interesting twist ending.
Score: 7 out of 10
Press Start: A litRPG Saga (SOL: Tutorial Book 1)
Unique spells. Strange companions. Unforgettable adventure.
After her brother's death, Terra was going through his things when she finds an old gaming gear. Logging into his account out of curiosity, she was tossed into the vast new world of SOL for the very first time.
Playing as her brother's male character was awkward, but SOL was the perfect way to add fun to her boring and routine life. She goes on exciting quests, defeats powerful monsters, and explores exhilarating new environments.
But as Terra discovers the secrets her brother was hiding, she must deal with the problems he caused, and survive the countless players that want her dead, because there are consequences to being known as a legendary player killer…
My Opinion: 141 pages, $0.99 till 1/13, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure: The author sent me an advanced copy for review, I purchased the book as soon as it was released.
This is a was a super frustrating read. Mostly because the game mechanics in the story just don’t make sense or weren’t explained enough to make sense. There were so many times that I would read something in the story and think “This doesn’t make sense.” After I finished my notes on the story I went back and counted how many times I wrote that down, 27 times. I wrote that about the story 27 times all the way through the entire story. There were several times I wanted to stop reading the novel, I felt so frustrated.
The first 2% of the story is a great. It has an efficient setup that establishes empathy with the main character (MC) Terra. She uses her brothers VR immersion game rig to log into his account and access his character, a dude. The jokes in the story start from the very beginning. Load time and patch time jokes, then jokes about the MC suddenly having a penis because she’s using her brother’s male game character. Then finding her doppleganger since her brother made a AI companion modeled after her. Funny stuff that I liked.
Unfortunately, once the MC steps out of her brother’s home in game, things get super confusing. It’s a mixture of the MC exploring this new immersive world with superman like strength and the awkwardness of a newly born giraffe. So many things just happening and never getting explained.
-For example, in the starting city, the MC gets a charm spell laid on her that forces her to adore a player vendor. The MC calls the vendor a cheater, saying it’s a cheat to use spells like that on players. Except, the MC has literally never played this game before and it’s explicitly stated that she doesn’t even like these kinds of games. So, how can she make this kinds of judgment? She’s given knowledge she shouldn’t have.
-At another point, the MC runs forward but goes so fast that she crashes into a tree crushing her character’s nuts and causing herself 500 damage. I get that it’s a joke but self inflicted damage doesn't make sense in game terms.
-A little later the MC accidently snaps a level 0 rabbit’s neck for 5,547 points while petting it. Again, no context and it doesn’t make sense. Especially, when you compare it to later in the story when some high level characters are attacking level 15 hogs for 99,999 damage, the max possible. Again, something the MC shouldn’t know.
-Later the MC is attacked by a player and almost killed in real life because he ‘disabled the safety protocols and she’ll die for real if she doesn’t answer him.’ Again, this event almost kills her but nothing like it is seen in the story again and it’s never explained how it was possible in the first place.
It’s not until the 30% mark that you get any kind of explanation for any game mechanic in the story. Yet, even after that, there were lots of places where the story just didn’t make game logic and it lessens what would have been a really enjoyable story.
-Reset to level 1, the MC kills a group of level 10 monsters without taking damage and evades every attack because she has a level 1 enchanter’s haste spell. She’s able to kill the monsters because she knocks off their mushrooms, each doing a static 10% damage to the monster.
-One, this is not an MMO or RPG mechanic. It’s something you’d see in a Mario or Zelda game. Two, there’s no way two level 1 characters with starter gear should be able to kill a group of level 10 and 15 monsters.
-There’s a lot more things that don’t make sense game mechanic wise but it all sort of amounts to the same frustration that stems from a game world that never got the setup it deserved.
Now, some positives to the story. The author has a sense of humor and there are jokes galore in the story. Some funny, others odd, but there are lots of jokes.
I really liked the real world described in the novel. The MC lives in the future on another world under a dome that turns the sun blue. Resources are scarce and she lives in the Junkyard which was only intended for the other domes trash. But the plucky people that live there now used that trash to make buildings, build teleporters, and sustain life for the poor people that live there. It’s honestly better described and makes more sense than the game world of SOL that the MC plays.
I mean, even this part has its flaws though. The biggest being that after describing how poor the dome is and how crowded everyone gets trying to get to work, the MC doesn’t go to some job doing menial work like I expected. Instead, she goes to a gym where she works out, chats with some cyborg friends, practices boxing, and then goes home. She gets free food, has a free home, free power to play her game and use a holographic entertainment center, and doesn’t seem to work. Yet, she complains about how bad she has it.
My frustration with the novel likely stems from the opinion that the story could have gotten a 8 out of 10 had it been developed more. There are some really cool themes in the story. The most unique, is that the MC, a girl, plays the game as a guy. The opportunity to explore gender relations, stereotypes, and social dynamics is only touched upon and mostly just as a joke. The opportunity for the MC to live in her deceased brothers shoes by playing a game he loved. Exploring the future domed world and how it connects to the game or players ability to generate real world money. Even the game play had potential but it could have been a great adventure with cool fight scenes.
Overall, I can’t say I had a good time with the story. Even if it’s for the sake of parody and joking around, much of the story doesn’t make game sense. There’s no foundation setup for the game world that makes sense so even through there’s plenty of humor and parody in the story it’s frustrating to read about because my gamer brain keeps yelling ‘that doesn’t make sense’ as I read. Also, if the 7% of the story that describes the real world is more interesting, detailed, and makes more sense than the other 93% RPG world your story uses, there’s a problem. At least for me.
Score: 5 out of 10
Camelot Defiant: An Arthurian LitRPG (Camelot LitRPG Book 4)
A Dangerous Quest For A Chivalrous Knight.
Sir Gorrow, a Knight of King Arthur’s Round Table, steals mysterious crystals from the enemy, but he still doesn’t know what they’re for. The only thing he does know is the massive effort the enemy puts into mining them.
Meanwhile, the enemy have burned Camelot and driven King Arthur south, leaving Gorrow lurking behind the walls of his dungeon, planning his fightback.
And then Gorrow suddenly realizes that these strange crystals might actually give King Arthur a chance at victory. Maybe their only chance now the enemy armies are swarming everywhere across the land and threatening to conquer the whole island.
But to make this chance at victory a reality, Gorrow and his friends (fire-mage, an alchemist and a saint) must embark on a quest and journey through a hundred miles of enemy territory to reach the holy island of Lindisfarne.
And even if they get there, there’s going to be an even bigger problem to solve.
My Opinion: 260 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The fourth book in the Camelot LitRPG series, this one combines aspects from books 1 and 2. You get the dungeon creation stuff from book 2 and the action adventure from book 1. You also get some nice large scale combat later in the novel as Sir Gorrow and his friends race to be the first to find the ingredients for the fabled Vorpal blades. Whatever army gets it first will have the edge they need to conquer the game..or.. Britannia..or whatever.
If you enjoyed the other books in the series you’ll likely enjoy this one too. I did.
Score: 7 out of 10
Accidental Mage: Book Three in the LitRPG Accidental Traveler Adventure
Dragged Back To The Game, It's Personal This Time
Hal Dix returns home from Fantasma to find his greatest nightmare has come true. A personal tragedy drags him back into the game world of Fantasma one last time.
Seeking help from his comrades in Fantasma, Hal must master the art of magic, gaining abilities and training under four different and cantankerous archmages to complete his quest. Does Hal have the discipline to stick with the training and reach the end of his chosen path before it's too late?
Return to the game with the third action-packed book of the Accidental Traveler LitRPG fantasy trilogy. Journey along with Hal and his friends in the world of Fantasma, as he becomes the Accidental Mage and fulfills his role as the hero of prophecy.
My Opinion: 354 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
If you’ve read the other novels in this series you sort of know how the formula goes. Hal is forced to go back to Fantasma, all the great powers he got in the last book are reset as he picks up another class, he goes to train his new class and has some adventures along the way, he faces off against the big bad guy and by the end all is right once again in the universe.
The third book in the series does not stray from that formula. But just because the big plot points are fairly predictable, doesn’t mean that the journey is not worth taking. The novel is a good conclusion to this trilogy. There’s all the predictable stuff and forced plot points that the other books have but this time there’s also magic. Yes, Hal learns magic finally. Honestly the journey really reminded me of Avatar the Last Airbender. Hal has to master the five magical elements and most of the story revolves around him finding masters of each element to teach him. Yeah, I knew what was going to happen mostly but it was still an entertaining ride.
The end is satisfying and all the big plot threads were tied up. There’s still room for a return to the series if the author wants it but this is also a good place to end it too. I had an overall good time reading the story.
Score: 7 out of 10.
Change (The Stork Tower Book 3)
Atherleah grew up in the gang-controlled suburbs of Brisbane at the end of the twenty-first century. From the age of six, she decided that she wanted more, and with the help of her local gang-leader, Leah learned the skills to escape a life of mediocrity. On her sixteenth birthday, she was inadvertently implanted with a Neural Enhancement Chip instead of the free Government provided basic level chip. This mistake removed the limits placed on the AI that was uploaded, broke some of the Government controls and began making changes to Leah's body. Leah’s life rapidly becomes a battle, both in the virtual-multiverse and in real life.
My Opinion: 387 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Another good addition of this slice of life multiverse LitRPG. All the stuff I liked from book 2 is here. And a few of the pet peeves are gone. There are still dungeon dives, but they’re much smaller, independant, and spaced out by lots of other story.
Much of the story is a cycle between the real world, the fantasy game world, the sci fi space game world, and the main character’s (MC) private VR home. The story cycles through quests, training, and real life problems. There are smaller sub plots about AI becoming self aware and the possible ramifications of that for the world, a new fantasy game world expansion, and romance for the MC. However, most of the story just sticks to that cycle.
There are a few review complaints about the MC becoming overpowered. She has lots of money, rare items, pets, and skills. Even in real life she’s gaining enhancements to her strength and perception. Also while talking to the MIT professors, the MC suddenly seems to be a genius. That’s all true, but the story was always setup for the MC to be overpowered. It’s going to get worse in future novels.
Overall, a good read. I’d hoped for more resolution of some of the storylines and not just new ones being added, but it seems like the author is planning a rather long series.
Score: 7 out of 10
Jatla is not a Sh*thole: A Fantasy Online Novella
A goblin. His proof of manhood. The bad hombre who wants it.
What starts as an innocent game of three cards with an ink shadow quickly escalates into Hiccup (the goblin, not the bodily function) stupidly betting his proof of manhood.
To save himself from possible castration, Hiccup has less than twenty-four hours to put on a parade, arrange a sensual massage, get a table at a Michelin star restaurant, and book a night at the most expensive hotel in Jatla, all with the hopes of appeasing the ink shadow (yes, the one whom he bet his penis to), and proving to the shadow that Jatla, the infamous goblin city, is not a sh*thole.
Of course, everyone knows Jatla is a sh*thole, including Hiccup, which only makes his task that much harder.
You didn't ask for it, but here it is. A goblin tale of deception filled with action, orcs, magic, ogres, a weretiger in a leather jacket, toilet humor, and utter fickery set in the Fantasy Online universe.
My Opinion: 97 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The story is as funny as it promises to be, especially if you’re already a fan of Hiccup from the Fantasy Online series. However, it’s not $2.99 entertaining. That’s the price of a full novel not something less than 100 pages. I’d say to pick this up only if you have KU or if you a super huge Hiccup fan.
Score: 7 out of 10
**The next three short stories are in the same series and I’ll review them together for the podcast but they’ll get individual written reviews.*
Warrior Level 1 Silica Junction Quests: a LitRPG short story (Opal Chronicles)
Even the greatest warrior started at Level 1 with a wooden sword.
Meet Whalen, newly spawned in the town of Silica Junction. Armed with a wooden sword and shield, he stumbles into his first quest and gets more than he bargained for. Solo, with no healing and no ranged support, how does a warrior survive delving deeper into a dungeon than any first-level probably ought to?
The tank's way.
My Opinion: 27 pages, $0.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
A quick jaunt of a tale of a warrior created in an RPG world who goes on a simple quest to get some ore so the blacksmith can make him a new sword. It’s simple and has a funny twist ending. I enjoyed it.
Score: 7 out of 10
Mage Level 1 Silica Junction Quests: a LitRPG short story (Opal Chronicles Book 2)
Knowledge is power, and Miralyn is confused.
Silica Junction native Miralyn discovers that she has mystic powers. But everyone is acting so strangely all of a sudden. Piecing together clues from her friends, neighbors, and a new mentor, Miralyn sets out to puzzle through not only the limits of her abilities but what's going on in the world. Ominous tidings foretell a dark future for the Opal Kingdom, and there's no one better to alter that fate than an experienced Mage.
Time to become one.
My Opinion: 37 pages (feels like a lot more), $0.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Book 2 feels like it was written by someone other than the author of books 1 and 3. It features a main character that seems to be an awakened NPC, which is different than the characters created and self aware in books 1 and 3. Additionally, the notifications in book 2 are different as are the number of repetitive and rote dialogue.
I’m usually a big fan of mages but this one was boring and the spells did so little damage it was laughable. Most of the story feels either tedious because of the repetitive NPC dialogue or just plain boring. The other two stories seemed to go by in a flash, this one felt like it was 100 pages.
Score: 5 out of 10
Rogue Level 1 Silica Junction Quests: a LitRPG short story (Opal Chronicles Book 3)
A rogue doesn't follow society's rules. Why should she obey the game's?
Rhynda spawned in an alley, her natural environment. But rather than accept a whispered invitation to join the local thieves' guild, she sets out to carve her own path to riches. Lying, cheating, and backstabbing, Rhynda refuses to play any way but her own. See what awaits a character who doesn't accept the limitations of the narrative.
My Opinion: 20 pages, $0.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Another good short story that feels like it was written by the author of book 1. Good descriptions of the town, fun jaunty attitude towards the game. The main character is also aware than they were created and doesn’t have to go through a slog of game mechanic explanations.
This time the MC is a thief and she bucks the trend of traditional game play and and not only finds some fun exploits in the game but finds unique and deadly ways to level. My favorite of the three currently out.
Score: 7 out of 10
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Thanks for hanging out with me today. Until we can hangout again, remember to go read some LitRPG!
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