Apr 28, 2017: Disclaimer: It must be revealed that the author of this story wrote a post for my fiction during the April Fool’s Day Swap 2017. The work Unice5656 produced was amazing. I shall endeavor to keep my bias in check and maintain objectivity during this review.
Introductions: We all know that MMO’s secretly—or not so secretly—control the world at this time. Most everyone has either played one, tried one out, or knows someone who is hopelessly addicted to one. Think of a future where these kinds of games are the norm, only instead of a nice rig in a secluded room, you’ve got a full virtual reality rig that you can plug yourself into at any time. Instead of lag, twitchy fingers, and complaints on forums about limited game-play . . . You are now a part of the game, fully. You live through your character. You grow as they level up in the game. Your stats soar with every hour of your life you sink into this alternate and augmented reality. Welcome to the world of VRMMOs. Welcome to the world of LitRPGs.
Summations: A young woman by the name of Arwyn manages to get her hands on a copy of a game she’s been waiting forever to get. The fabled game of Fantasia. A game world of high fantasy and excitement. Where adventures abound. A world filled with Humans, Clerics, Wizards, and numerous types of Elves. It even has Avariel! Seriously, if you didn’t know who I am you might not realize how much of a Forgotten Realms uber-geek I am, but seriously . . . Frickin’ AVARIEL!
. . . Anyway, back on track. The first few chapters of the game get you started on what it’s like for Arwyn to plug into the game and prepare her augmented self in the game. You get to see first-hand her choices and then later how well they affect her in game. You grow attached to her, her other players, the NPCs in the game, and the fantasy world that is explored around them. You also get to see what life is like for Arwyn outside of the game during her normal life. Quite a lot to take in, but very well done from the LitRPG side of things.
Content: The writing style takes its time but gives you a lot once you become invested in the characters and the story. The writing itself is sparse and to the point. The author doesn’t languish over tremendous exposition and doesn’t assault you with in-game lingo very much. You’re shot into the game and into the life of Arwyn as if you were strapped to her back.
The world-building is subtle and draws heavily from high fantasy. It bends and draws upon tropes from adventure gaming like Dungeons & Dragons, while still making the setting its own beast entirely. The world is given to you in chunks as you continue through the story. You never get overwhelmed, and sometimes it feels like you get a helping hand going through everything both with the character of Arwyn and with the game system as your guide.
The characters are where the story of Fantasia really shines. Each character in this story is entirely unique. The central character is a realistic and believable person. The author has even mentioned a few times that she bases the main protagonist on herself, drawing from her own reactions to bridge the gap between humanity and the game. Every character has their own quirks, their own way of talking and their own unique motivations. Dashes of humor and pop culture references abound. If you are a geek in any way, you’ll be tickled and find something to enjoy with each chapter.
The grammar and writing of Fantasia is immaculate. The author takes a tremendous amount of effort to make sure every bit of the story flows properly and that there aren’t any errors present. Some of the sentences can be very spartan and direct. Not a lot of space is spent on extraneous prose. The story and the characters are the focus of this tale.
The game system is unique, well-thought-out, and coherent with the story being told. You find yourself keeping track of the game system details as you go along with this story. Drama can be built up by power usage, item selection, or any number of things. Suspension of disbelief can be maintained as you continue through the story, not jarring you out of your fiction. You soon find yourself as eager as the characters to get new power-ups, upgrades, or attain the next trinket of power.
Fantasia has quite a strong, supportive, and cult following on the Royal Road Legends website. The author has done very well at writing to her audience. Her update output is amazing. Her communication with readers and fans is wonderful. There is a lot of promise and a lot of reward in this story. Just like the community that springs up around Arwyn in the game, the author has created such with her readers in reality.
This is one of the first LitRPGs and VRMMO fictions I’ve tried. I come from a deep love of traditional speculative fiction and have found most LitRPGs to be an acquired taste. I can tell that Fantasia is one of the good ones. One of the best. With over 54 chapters released thus far, there is plenty to sink yourself into. This story feels like a labor of love from the author and that gives it a very special place. I can’t wait to get caught up and read the new releases as they come out. 4.75 stars out of 5.
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