Jul 9, 2015: Next title in my scavenging the unreviewed list turned out to be a gem for me. Hence the rating I’ve given it is most likely on the high side.
Now if you don’t like role playing games and on top of that dislike computer games, this is probably where you should stop reading. For you this story is a one star rating, or possibly two if you’re feeling generous.
There is a sub-genre in Light Novels / Manga / Anime where the main character gets caught in a game. Sword Art Online and Log Horizon have this setup straight. You log in to a virtual reality version of a World of Warcraft style MMORG and then you find out that you can’t log out.
End Online runs with the idea that you can enter and exit the game. With that idea follows a need to have a story outside of the game. So basically End Online has two stories running in tandem.
You have your failed in life big brother who has an accident and is sent to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. With a virtual reality device dropped in his lap instead of a proper prescription. This is also where the story outside of the game drops any vestige of realism. From here on it only acts as a bad excuse to have the character log in again without every reader asking why he doesn’t starve to death in real life.
And it doesn’t matter at all. Just skip ahead when the boring parts start, which means when the main character logs out.
End Online is all about the story inside the game. It comes with gaming rules, stats sheets, rarity classifications, NPC archetypes, boss-fight categories and lots and lots of levels. It is a story in a game, and without the game there could not be a story.
Party functionality, aggro generation, types of healing, bleeding, critical damage, component collection by using skills, component aggregation by using skills and skill generation and increase are all central to the story. As a reader you can trust that there is a numerical value associated with all knowledge and competence, because it’s literally displayed to you over and over again. And this is exactly how it should be.
You follow a character and his party as they level up by using skills and fighting monsters. A story doesn’t really have to be more advanced than that to keep the right type of reader spellbound, and I’m the right type of reader.
It helps that the author added semi-evil programmers, or possibly an alien AI, I’ve yet to understand that part. It doesn’t detract that an evil god decends on the main character and forces him to become a follower. There’s even an ongoing love triangle that is kind of cute to read.
End Online runs with multiple POVs in tandem. Multiple first person POVs. This is only mitigated by the main character having the majority of all POVs. But it still makes my eyes bleed.
And it does tense switching, sometimes mid-sentence. And there are a few language oddities sprinkled over the story, but not disturbingly so. And the story told when the MC is outside of the game is awful. Most soap operas care more for realism than this one.
End Online is in progress. There are twenty three pretty long chapters to be read with the last being published just days prior to this review.
Objectively I should give End Online three and a half stars, but I read it for the sheer pleasure of reading more, so I’ll add half a star. Four very subjective stars.
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