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Best of a bunch

By Stable, author of The Archive Of Unusual Events

Jul 14, 2016: This is the first RPG-fic I’ve actually read all the way through. I’ve noticed a lot of them recently, and it seems to be a fashion in internet fiction at the moment, much like superhero-fics were after Worm became popular. (I’m not sure RPG-fic is the right term, but stories that take a MMORPG game-like or actual game environment as the setting.)

This one is based in the close future, where aliens have visited Earth and enforce the Game – a virtual version of reality where conflict can safely take place without damaging the real world. Progress within the Game determines political power outside in reality, and Earth has a few years to catch up or it will be subjugated – at best.

The writing is OK, a little too conversational for my tastes, but better than most of this genre. The main problems with this type of story are also present: – apart from the main character few of the other characters seem real, like he’s the only player in a world of NPCs, although this improves a little as the story progresses; – power creep is strong; – most character advancement is by gaining new skills from the game or training montages.

On the other hand, the MC does have to work at some things to improve and does also actually seem to be developing as a person as the story progresses, he’s slightly held in check by other overpowered characters (at least for now) and there is a reasonable plot in the background involving treachery, double-crossing and not knowing who the good guys are, if there are any. Unfortunately he’s still a Chosen One with Powerful Mentors, each of whom have Bizarre Personalities. I’d like to see the character pick a side and discover it’s the wrong one, not get bailed out for once and have to deal with the consequences of his actions himself, but we’ll see.

I started reading this one because it hit 2nd on the topwebfiction list. If you’re into this kind of story give it a shot, you’ll love it, I think it’s the best one there is. If you hate overdone tropes . . . well this probably isn’t for you.

(As a note separate to the review, anyone who does love stories based on RPGs should go and read Tad William’s Otherland books. The first was written in 1996, but to my knowledge no game-based story has even come close.)

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