Alpha World by Daniel Schinhofen is a litRPG novel about a former prison guard turned prisoner who agrees to test a long-term virtual reality system for his sentence. He begins playing the new VRMMORPG, Alpha World.
Honestly, this book was a bit disappointing. The character interactions were entertaining and fun, the MC’s class was interesting, and I did appreciate that there was a variety to the types of people (mostly NPCs) we encountered. I have two major gripes though; one, grinding is probably the most boring aspect of any RPG, and the majority of this book was grinding. In fact, I would say the middle third of this book could be cut with nothing would be lost but a few fun character interactions and a somewhat interesting boss fight. That’s being a bit too harsh though.
The second gripe is that he was rewarded very early on for exploring, and yet does absolutely no more of it for the rest of the book. That may not seem like a big deal, but one of the main tenants to game design is teaching your players how to play your game. The protagonist does it in how he fights his enemies, why did he ignore the more tangible rewards he was given from exploration to grind?
A smaller complaint but one still important, I lost meaning for the values of the stats maybe about halfway to three quarters in, which is pretty early for a series. I also feel writing is a bit lackluster, not very much description. In contrast, the grammar is certainly good.
I was told there was sexual content in this book, and while there are some sexual jokes and a few sexually charged scenes, honestly, I was expecting (and hoping) for a bit more. I did enjoy what I got.
Despite my many complaints, I do think this is a decent opening book, if a bit bland.
The characters are fun and definitely enjoy each other’s company. 6/10
P.S. I have in fact read book 2 now, and it is /much/ better. More interesting things happen, there is a bit more description, overall superior.
Ebook – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gamer-Life-Alpha-Worl…/…/B06XC6YJSH
The Reborn Omnibus 1-5 by D. W. Jackson is an odd duckling. Even as I write this review I am not entirely sure the best way to go about it. First off, it is an omnibus of 5 short novellas as opposed to a book. I thought about reviewing each individually but figured that there wouldn’t be much of a point in going with the omnibus then.
Ok, so about the series. It is stylized as a Japanese isekai web novel; with a dense protagonist, slaves that fall in love with MC, and a womanizing combat instructor. Before I go any further, I will say I enjoyed this story, it was fun. Not much depth, but it was simple and enjoyable. MC somehow dies and then gets transported to another world with a stat system. When choosing a race, he picks random and ends up with a cheat ability.
Unfortunately, I have a laundry list of complaints to mention about it as well. First and foremost, book one is simply godawful. There were misplaced words all over the place (i.e. ‘week’ instead of ‘weak’), capitalization issues, and punctuation problems. Thankfully those were reduced significantly as I moved onto book 2 and above, though they still remained throughout. A bit strange to see a writer improve while reading a novel. The language is somewhat simplistic, which does match up with the web novel format, but one thing that really bothered me is the author’s constant overuse of the word ‘said’ for dialogue. There are so many more interesting ways of saying things, like ‘shouted’ or ‘spat’, just to name two.
There is also a moment in book two where I had to stop reading for a short while because of a thought that the MC had. Now picture for a second that the MC had just spent the last 100 or so pages dense-protagonisting his way out of learning any information that wasn’t immediately useful to him, then all of a sudden he says something to the effect of “knowledge is the key to surviving in this world.” I couldn’t handle it.
As far as story is concerned, almost all of it centers around one city with a labyrinth in it and only occasionally deviates from there. Little to no world building, even when the main character reads a history and/or geography book. The main problem though is the consistent lack of goals. Occasionally a short-term goal is given to him and he complies with it, but no long-term goals are ever discussed, and I don’t think he even considers why he needs/wants to kill things.
I found the stat system fairly unimpressive. The classes are barely gone over, the abilities are all over the place and I’m not sure I understand how the stats relate to damage and other functions. Another problem is the ability bloat, the MC picks up many abilities way too quickly, then just kind of sits on most of them without using them. I noticed that for one in particular that it had a level during one stat page but didn’t for another. Not sure which was the error.
Tl;dr: Though fun, with some formatting issues, ability bloat, a bland protagonist, and punctuation and capitalization issues, there are better options available for the Japanese web novel style story. I cannot recommend this one. Try Growth Cheat or Shield Bro. 4/10
The Ritualist by Dakota Krout
Narrated by Vikas Adam
(Just buy the ebook)
I have a real love/hate relationship with this book. On one hand, really enjoy Dakota Krout’s work. On the other, this book is totally boring. At least that is what I thought until I accidentally left it playing last night and woke up an hour later into it than I usually stop listening.
After back tracking, I found a lot of what the real problem was. Initially, I had blamed it on the prologue and first couple of chapters. Mr. Krout appears to use the old “ex marine as the MC” quick cash grab kind of story. However, after some research I find out, he was actually in the army. He is a vet, ok! Well now, I feel like a smacked ass indeed.
I continue to listen to the book with as much of a non-biased view as I can manage as this creeping thought worms its way into my head: “this book is boring”. That’s when I realize the mixing for Vikas is terrible, honestly. I use a 600 watt stereo system to do my audiobook reviews with, that is less than 5 feet away from me. I could barely hear a large portion of the book as there are screen prompts Vikas decided to read as Hans from the Divine Dungeon series. This voice is usually immediately followed by some inane shouting that scares the living daylights out of me. Terrible mixing all around for the audio.
It’s a shame really, as the book opens up into this funny and action-packed world taking a completely separate but just as detailed view of the gaming universe. Since our main character is a human and uses actual stats, they come into effect as much as any regular game. Even slowing him from encumbrance due to not enough strength or stamina. If you can get over the terrible mixing job, then try the audiobook.
Me, personally, I’m going to buy the ebook instead and skip the middleman. Don’t try to catch lightning in a bottle twice. Vikas worked for Divine Dungeon, should have gotten a new voice.
Have a great day!
Slime Dungeon by Jeffery Falcon Logue
Narrated by Ryan Turner
The Slime Dungeon is a tale about a Dungeon Core named “Doc” and his Dungeon Pixie, whose name escapes me while I am writing the review. That is the majority of this book, I am afraid. I appreciate the attempt into the sub-genre this author decided to bring to the table, however it feels really rough. I would have taken this idea back to the drawing board once or twice and nailed out a lot of the dents and dings the plot holes created in this story.
It is definitely a more satirical and comedic form of the litrpg genre, having been around for a while and not having gotten to it yet tells you something. If you are really interested in some more dungeon-world building and really love Slime as a game mob. This is the book for you.
I had a hard time getting into the characters and the story, as the dialogue and relationship seems a little…forced? Non-organic perhaps. I found myself quickly wandering off mentally and getting bored easily. The series may improve with the next books, I, unfortunately, will not be there for them.
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Link – https://www.amazon.com/Slime-Dungeon-Chronicle…/…/B074CJQLPR
Travail Online: Soulkeeper by Brian Simons
Narrated by Andrea Parsneau
As far as LITRPG goes, I would put this book somewhere in the beginning, near the tutorial as it were. I wanted to review this book to give the subject in question a shot. Badass seamstress? Alright, I’m in. Comes out a lot like it sounds, I’m afraid.
I am one who is very fond of the workings for Andrea Parsneau, and I love her voice acting in what she does. But I just could not get into the book. I listened to it several times and always zone out at the same part and miss everything else for the most part.
There are some sections at the beginning that are funny, you can see there is a sense of humour. Overall though, it is a book about a seamstress who kills monsters and makes armour. Honestly, I would be bored if it was anyone killing things and making armour.
Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely some highlights in the actual story; the world-building has some very delicate and nice touches to it. Imagination is not really the problem, except maybe its abundance. The series may even out down the road, but I will leave that to another brave soul, as this one has defeated me.
It could just be me as Amazon is full of 3-4 star reviews that all love the book; however, all are new to LITRPG from the looks of it. However, like I said. Apparently, this is not my brand of soft drink.
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Have a great day!
Link – https://www.amazon.com/Travail-Online-Soulkeep…/…/B06VY2Z2N7