LitRPG Podcast 121
LitRPG Podcast 121
June 22nd, 2018
Hello everyone, welcome to episode 121 of the LitRPG podcast.
I’m Ramon Mejia. I’m here to bring you the latest LitRPG news, reviews, and author interviews. I have 5 new LitRPG reviews just for you. Oddly, this week was pretty light on new LitRPG ebook releases. There are actually more new LitRPG audiobooks.
New Releases and Reviews:
Not LitRPG as advertised. Score: 4 out of 10
Many story issues made it too frustrating a read. Score: 4 out of 10
Never connected with the characters. Score: 6 out of 10.
Poor distribution of dungeon building and dungeon diving made is just shy of good. Score: 6 out of 10.
An improvement on an already good book 1. Score: 7.6 out of 10.
(Play Music 2)
Simon Vale, from Magic Dome books was nice enough to post a translation he did for an answer from Michael Atamanov about whether there will be a 4th Dark Herbalist book.
“I’m starting to write this week as soon as I finish editing the third Reality Benders. I hope to finish it in October. For now I’m not sure if the fourth book is going to be the series final. But taking into account what I’ve already planned for it – probably not. Events in the book will mostly take place in reality, though there will be plenty of in-game stuff too. Perhaps, some of you have already guessed who’s been tombed in book 3 (it wasn’t Timothy)… Anyway, after that there will be a huge squabbling around the richest corporation of the planet.”
Vasily Mahanenko, author of the Way of the Shaman, Galacticon, and Dark Paladin series, recently posted about his some of his plans for the future.
Finish writing Galactogon book 2 by end of year.
Already finished 2nd Bard book (off to translators) and working on 3rd.
New Barliona series, called Invasion, set right after Way of Shaman book 7 but without Mahan as main character. The story will have a new main character that follows up with Mahan and Anastaria.
Planning huge compilation book for whole way of the shaman series and supplemental material: short stories, art, etc.
New LitRPG Audiobooks
Our review of the ebook: Score 7/10
Our review of the ebook: Score 7/10
Our review of the ebook: Score 7/10
The Final Quest: (Bloodfeast Book 3) (June 22nd, 2018)
End of an Era (Project Chrysalis Book 2) (June 26th, 2018)
Apocalypse Gates 2: Valley of Death (July 1st, 2018)
Restart (Level Up Book #1) LitRPG Series (July 10th, 2018)
External Threat (Reality Benders Book #2) LitRPG Series (July 23rd, 2018)
Death March (Euphoria Online - Book 1) (Aug. 7th, 2018)
(Aug. 30th, 2018)
Onto New Releases and Reviews
(Play Music 3)
New Releases and Reviews
Virtual Heaven: (A scifi, soft litrpg, in the vein of ready player one)
Originally published in Nov 2017, this novel was recently updated with the added title 'A scifi, soft litrpg, in the vein of ready player one'. It's neither LitRPG or particularly like Ready Player One. There is a VR system involved and some mind uploading but that's the extent of the connection to those things. No RPG game world, no RPG progression. The story may have other redeeming qualities but it sets up an expectation, intentionally or not, that it's not hitting for readers of either of those two things.
Score: 4 out of 10
The Slayer: A litRPG Saga (Aether Gate Online Book 1)
“Raise your blade. Take up the mantle of Slayer.”
Adam’s life was anything but easy. With people at both school and home eager to make his life a living hell, the only place that he felt like himself was in the virtual world. At least there he had some control.
When the newest VRMMORPG title gets announced, Adam and his best friend Max are more than ready to dive in. Launch day arrives quickly, and Adam is plunged into a world that’s more immersive than anything he’s experienced before. Although the game offers a bevy of character choices, Adam quickly chooses the title of Slayer, a class that specializes in taking down stronger, more difficult opponents. Adam begins his adventure, but its not long before he realizes that there’s much more at stake when taking a life in this new game. The pain is very real and death… is permanent.
Now, trapped in a virtual world, Adam must take the mantle of Zander Darkblade and brave the dangers of the Aether Gate. It is a world of mighty creatures and fallen gods. A world where powerful familiars bond with their masters, granting them extraordinary powers that they wield with uncanny force…. and as Adam and the others will soon discover, it is a world of secrets that have laid hidden for far too long...
Welcome to Aether Gate Online
My Opinion: 304 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Note: There is an early typo, that the author has submitted an update for, with the years in the story seeming to change from 2077 to 2099. 2099 should be 2077. So the novel doesn’t time jump 22 years, just one day.
Now, while in the correspondence the author sent me, he says the typo doesn’t change the story much, I disagree. A 22 year time jump completely changed the way I looked at the main character (MC), Adam. In my eyes, he went from flawed child with troubled home life (2077) to grown adult graduating college (2099) who’d been shaped by those problems into a man. I actually thought it was neat for the author to write that way. But it’s just a typo.
However, the miss of that typo also reflects the biggest issue I have with the story, it has a lot of mistakes and problems with the story. While there are a few technical writing issues, like the date thing, there are a lot more with the game mechanics, characters, and the story itself.
Game mechanics. The majority of the problems that drove me a bit crazy had to do with the math and the game mechanics in the story. Initially when the game mechanics were revealed, not bad. On the MC character sheet, you see Health, Energy, normal stats, skills, and abilities. All normal good stuff. Except the entire energy mechanic, the pool that fuels special abilities, disappeared from the story. Not only does no ability get an energy cost or cooldown, thus making it spammable and overpowered, but the pool itself actually disappears from future character sheets. It’s likely that the author decided to drop the game mechanic from the story but forgot to delete the words from the text. Additionally, the numbers given on character sheets are inconsistent or just wrong. It’s established that each level gained gives a character 2 stat points to distribute. So at level 7, the MC should have added 14 stat points to his character sheet. But when we see the character sheet at level 7, the MC has 21 stat points distributed. Some of these can be explained away by a few item bonuses but the other extra ones are never accounted for. Also here, the MC just gets powers that are never described to us, they just show up on the character sheet without any explanation, ever.
Many of the other game mechanics in the story also feel made up on the spot and don’t balance with other mechanics or are even consistent. For example, in one scene the MC and a group are sneaking around and one of the group members suggest they just knock out a guard and wear his uniform. The MC tells him that’s not allowed in the game engine unless they have a disguise skill. How the MC knows this is never explained, but then the group continues to sneak and hide past guards. Something none of them have either class abilities or skills for. Other game mechanics, like the familiar system, just seems made up as the story goes on. It becomes a big part of the story but it also feels like there aren’t rules for it and thus a bit wand wavy.
Combat, is just a mess. On the action side, it’s fine. Fights are decently described. But on the logic side, they’re a mess. Because of the permadeath in the game, the reader knows instantly that no one important is ever going to die and its proven out in just about every fight. The MC and his group fight groups of monsters double and sometimes triple their levels and yet they magically win every time. It’s especially frustrating when the damage numbers and descriptions show that character should have died. An early example of this is when the MC and his two group members face off against an opponent who’s level 10. The MC is level 3, the other members are level 2 and 1. The damage descriptions show that even a casual blow from this enemy knocks off half of the MCs health. Yet, level 1 guy not only tackles the level 10 to the ground but takes repeated blows from him to his head, yet never dies or even seems injured. These magical victories happen throughout the story and make combat seem unrealistic and not grounded in the game mechanics.
Storywise, the premise is a direct pull from Sword Art Online. Day 1 log in, everyone is trapped in the game and die in the game, die in real life. However, unlike that story, there is no clearly defined way to leave the game, thus no motivation for any players to go forth and quest or risk their lives fighting monsters. After that, it’s basic slice of life. Follow the MC as he travels to a city to kill a bad guy and collects other players, levels, and gets never before mentioned game powers.
Other big problems in the story include:
-Inconsistent motivations and reactions from characters. At the beginning of the story, everyone is crying about the realistic pain in the game and fear of permadeath. Yet, everyone continues to fight and risk their lives without ever even acknowledging any reasons why they do it or that they ever even feel pain again. Characters are brave one scene and complete cowards the next. Even the bad guys motivations are conflicting, he wants to save everyone from losing people like he did, but he traps them in a game where they die permanently?
-The MC in the story, again and again, knows things he shouldn’t. This is a game on day 1 of its launch. The MC has never played it before, at least we’re not told he has. Yet he knows what actions players can/can’t do without a particular skill, he regularly describes/names other player’s powers he’s never seen, and knows lore/history about the world that he’s never shown learning.
-The main character, Adam, doesn’t seem to have any flaws that make him relatable or make me root for him. He beats all the bad guys, never loses, and personality wise, he’s a bit bland. His familiar Razyr had ten times the personality.
Overall, I could not like this story. Even without all the problems listed, the story would only be ok. With all the problems, it was very frustrating to read. There are some interesting characters and story moments but they’re overshadowed, at least for me, by the problems and errors the story has.
Score: 4 out of 10.
Killstreak Book One: Respawn: An Epic Fantasy LitRPG
Lord Kadorax Darkarrow was born on Earth, but in Agglor, he’s the highest-level assassin anyone can find. The leader of the famed Blackened Blades, he’s made a name for himself, built a kingdom of sorts, and only had to respawn once along the way.
Then a rogue band of jackals sends him all the way back to a dreary tavern in a tiny village to start over at level one.
Hellbent on revenge, Kadorax sets out on a path littered with bodies—level up, find the jackals, slay their god!
My Opinion: 282 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
This is a decent enough action story, but there’s not much else to it. The RPG game mechanics exists and while there’s some originality with the specific stats and class the main character Kadorax chooses, it’s not as interesting as I’d hope it would be. It really amounts to the MC fighting, doing some slice of life adventuring, and picking new powers (that are kind of boring) as he levels.
What made the story hard for me to invest in is that I had a hard time connecting to any of the characters. Take the MC for example. We’re introduced to him when he’s already powerful and even though he starts over at level 1, he’s still existed in the game world for decades. However, we only get small amounts of background info and history on him as the story goes on but not enough for me to really care about him.
The story tries to build around the beginning action scene but meanders a bit and instead becomes slice of life. There’s an attempt to build tension but it’s difficult because there are no consequences for anyone's actions, good or bad. Not really anyways. To either the earth born players or the natives, the worst that can happen is that they’re killed and respawn in some randomly chosen location back at level one. They retain all the memories of their existence in the game world, their appearance doesn’t even change, and with minimal effort can even re-establish all their old connections if they want. Any bad deeds you did (murder, theft, etc.) seems to be forgiven and character stat consequences are gone after respawn. It made me feel like nothing really mattered in the story.
Overall, while nothing in the writing was bad, I just didn’t connect with the characters and the RPG world just wasn’t interesting enough on it’s own to engage me.
Score: 6 out of 10.
Loki's Daughter The Opal Dungeon: A LitRPG Novel (Tales of the Opal Dungeon Book 1)
Alex Washington will be tried and tested as never before as she suffers under the cruel torture of the gods in order to earn a chance to escape and outlive the eradication of humanity. Her one chance comes at the hands of Loki who offers her a devil's bargain if there ever was one. Become a dungeon and grow strong enough to help him escape his unending torment imposed by the gods of Asgard, and in return, she will live and have a chance to get payback on those who have wiped out humanity.
This book contains dungeon core/ dungeon building fantasy themes, gamelit/litrpg mechanics, magic, gods, werewolves, giants, fairies, vampires, heartache, and betrayal.
My Opinion: 311 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
*There are noticeable and fairly regular technical writing errors. Small things like missing punctuation marks, mixed tenses, mispelled or incorrect words. It doesn’t bother me but I know that bothers some people.*
The novel can be divided into two parts with the split occuring at about the 50% mark.
The first part of the story does a great job establishing empathy for the main character (MC), establishing backstory, her motivation, and explaining the rules of the game world that she’s sent as a dungeon core. The first half of the story also establishes the RPG rules, explains magic, summons and evolves monsters, and creates the levels of the dungeon. Unfortunately, that’s just about all that happens. There’s a tiny bit of action and the author also brings in a couple side character, but it’s mostly setting up the dungeon. Which if I’m honest goes on too long without any action or dungeon delving scenes to break up the exposition.
The second half of the story is where all the action is. A group of adventurers goes through all the levels that were made, fights the monsters, and basically does the dungeon dive. There are decent fights, traps, and puzzles. I especially like the last level of the dungeon and liked the theme there.
The game mechanics in the story are decent. The dungeon levels as it learns to take in more mana, makes more monsters, kills the wildlife or adventurers, and creates more levels. The dungeon can create and evolve monsters, items, and it’s own magic. However, the way those evolutions occur sometimes doesn’t feel logical. Some monsters jump from regular animals to humanoid creatures with magical abilities in a single evolution, while others take three or four evolutions. The game mechanics aren’t amazing, but there’s nothing bad about them either.
Overall, this is just shy of good for me. I really liked the first 3% of the story and thought it did a great job of making me care about the MC. Unfortunately, the rest of the first half of the story just had too much dungeon creation without anyone anyone dungeon diving to test things. So it got a bit boring after a hundred pages of just that. The last half had all the action, but by the time I got there I was already losing interest and the story had to work hard to recapture my attention. I would have enjoyed the story a bit more if there had just been a better distribution of dungeon creation and dungeon diving scenes.
Score: 6 out of 10
Fortress of Shadows: A LitRPG and GameLit Adventure (Stonehaven League Book 2)
A giant telepathic parrot with a rather foul mouth, a horde of smelly goblins, and a tyrannical demon priestess…
Welcome to Devon Walker’s “new normal.”
During her first weeks in the deeply immersive VR game, Relic Online, she’s hacked out a home from a choking jungle, gathered a tribe of loyal followers, and earned a wisp stalker who insists she’s some kind of champion.
But Relic Online isn’t some wussy kids’ game, and there will be no easy-street cruising for Devon. Like a monk racking up combo points, the system opens a fresh offensive by crippling her most powerful ability. Following through, it strangles the village food supply, sends demons bursting through rifts in the earth, and delivers a final, devastating throat punch by exploiting Devon’s worst fear.
The players have discovered Devon’s home. Now everything changes.
My Opinion: 294 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
A good follow up to book 1. I actually liked this one more. It felt more focused. From the very first pages I was aware of where the story was going and while the destination was known the trip there was still entertaining and had some nice surprises. The story advances well with both the in-game and the real life storyline. I was pleasantly surprised to see some of the things setup in book 1 regarding other players finally paid off with some good emotional resolutions.
Game mechanic wise, there’s good advancement of the main characters abilities and levels and some interesting new classes described with other players entering the story. There’s more village development and the addition of logical food management issues was a nice touch. Also, death is more frequent for the main character and is used as a learning experience. It’s a mechanic improvement over book 1 and it helped me feel that the MC won’t always win. The only thing I’d gripe about is the wand waviness of a few new players powers that just happen to also be the key to solving a couple problems in the story.
Overall, a good story that improves on the first in many ways.
Score: 7.6 out of 10
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