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Soft but fun, unique Lit-RPG

By linkret, member

Jun 11, 2018: So, this won’t be a long review, since I’m lazy. I found the title while randomly looking for interesting stuff to read. It’s a different take on the VR gaming Lit-RPG idea that’s gotten so cliche. The English is good, and I haven’t found a single spelling mistake so far. The story updates on a weekly basis, at 1.5k words on average. I’m writing this after I’ve read the first 21 chapters, and concluded that the story deserved a review. Light spoilers ahead:

There’s little combat, and little emphasis on it: more is on survival, and figuring out what the heck is going on. The main character tries to convince others to work together, they start their own town, mostly they just talk, etc. Surprisingly, the story isn’t at all boring. Even without much combat, there’s enough conflict to keep things interesting, and we’re constantly met with new players and characters. The background system, e.g. the mechanics are carefully and thoughtfully designed, and it’s fun how the players try to figure them out, or break them completely, in order to use them to their advantage. The "gamers" themselves are portrayed realistically, and the characters generally feel like people, not cardboard with dialogue. Maybe the protagonist is a bit boring, for now, but the fiction is really only beginning.

Also, be warned that it’s really soft and PG-13. Like, cursing-is-censored soft, "because of morals". And the writer is extremely considerate, some of which might be seeping into the protagonist, or other characters. But it gives it an interesting twist, and has its good sides, along the bad. Furthermore, the setting is in the future, around 30 years from now, so it might be possible that people are all-around more thoughtful and "sensitive". Or it’s just some of the characters. Even if you hate that beta stuff, and the traces of political correctness, you’ll find that the story has plenty to offer. I recommend it, and think it has great potential!

4 of 4 members found this review helpful.
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It’s like watching a painting dry

By Kraken Attacken, member

May 10, 2018: When I first took a look at this story and realised it was heavily influenced by TTRPGs like Dungeons and Dragons, I was quite eager to dive in and start reading. As I paged through the story, however, I found that I was having a hard time resonating with the words I read. I could identify any number of issues the story had, but none of them seemed to explain the dissonance I felt.

At length, after giving it some careful thought, I finally came to realise what is wrong with this story, or more precisely, what it lacks; personality.

I’ll get into the specifics of what I mean, but first, as with all of my reviews, I’ll paint a picture of my thoughts with a bit of metaphor, but if you have no interest in that, then you can skip over the next section.

You watch bleary eyed as the scenery rushes by outside the window of the tour bus. Everyone else in the bus had been just as animated as you had been a while ago when the tour began. You know very well that the lush environments, historical landmarks, and resplendent architectures should be drawing much more excitement from you and your fellow tourists, but this is not the case.

You groan loudly as you glance at the tour guide, knowing this dreariness won’t end until he stops talking. His voice, his intonations, everything about the way he is speaking makes the sensational become dull, and what should be fascinating ends up feeling empty. You are pretty sure that reading from a phone book would be more exciting than listening to his dull keening.

He drones on from interesting historical factoids to the cultures and peoples of the locales the tour bus is visiting, but it all sounds like a man reading definitions from a text book to you.

The story starts off with a stilted and flat description of the main characters being engrossed in a table top rpg session in progress, and you might think it might just be a slow start, but you’d be wrong.

From the descriptions of the characters lives and desires, to the tedious and droning descriptions of events leading to the present, everything is presented in a rote way. I could buy the explanations behind the science of what the main character is doing in the very early chapters, if it wasn’t for the fact that said explanations feel either rather quotidian in nature, or conjecture is used without a solid foundation being given.

Beyond all of this, the plot itself is less than satisfying, since it takes several chapters to actually get to the subject of the story. In the mean time, there is a painstaking level of very flat exposition of a stilted narrative.

The flow of the writing is so banal and without flavour that the author might as well be transcribing text from a dictionary or a user manual, which might literally happen from time to time; there are a few instances in the story of an entire sentence being the literal equivalent of a dictionary or encyclopedia entry, explaining something from the previous sentence.

But like I said, all of these are just symptoms of a larger problem. The author of this story doesn’t seem able to write any flair or allure into the story. Even when the plot ACTUALLY begins to plunge into the fantasy theme, it can still feel mostly like a chore to read. (the only reason why the definitions and flat descriptions of things in an RPG are fun to read is because you actually get to use them, while such things in writing should be more intuitive, less rote)

All in all, if the author were to readjust this story to give it more life and appeal than an animated corpse, then perhaps it would be worth further reading. As it is now . . . I feel exhausted by the time I reach the end of a page.

5 of 5 members found this review helpful.
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My…this was quite charming

By Fiona Gregory, editor

Mar 22, 2017: I’m not a particular fan of RPG when I took a look at this one, I admit it was to see just how bad it was. I expected immature writing and cliches galore . . . what I found was an amusing and charming story that sucked me in and kept me coming back for more.

The fun part for me is the two main characters; the sensitive, thoughtful Erika with her polite "My..I see" phrases contrasted with the cheerfully vulgar and impulsive Mina whose view of life is simple – a constant indulgence in virtual knock-em-down fights. I also enjoyed the writing style, which I would describe as droll. There were some typos, but the words seemed well chosen. The girls’ (mainly Erika’s) adventures in the VR world were done well; you didn’t forget it was a game, because all the accoutrements and atmosphere of a game are present, but it felt like things were "really" happening as well.

I’m a little disappointed not to find out more about some of the mysteries of both the real and virtual worlds depicted in this story, as the author decided to cut it short and end the serial early. Unless he decides to continue later, what we have feels like the first arc completed – which does kind of work plot-wise as a significant challenge has been overcome and we can imagine how the rest will turn out. I’d still like to read it, though.

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