Jayke Cipher was, to his limited knowledge, one of the last people alive.
The apocalypse was not one that came slowly. When it struck Earth, it came swiftly. The monstrosities that roamed the outside world became an unavoidable hobby of Jayke's. Working from within a heavily defended compound, surveillance cameras and a plethora of subject material only cultivated an interest in strange creatures.
Survival became lonely. Sanity was kept by indulging offhand desires, fulfilling flights of fancy when reasonable.
When the compound is breached and all other options exhausted his only option becomes the pod. A mysterious capsule intended for virtual reality. Its producer, in light of the apocalypse, had released early. Months back he had ignored the last news broadcast regarding the pod and its promises.
He knew it only as suicide. But better that than being eaten alive.
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This story is allright, it's quite flawed but it's ok. I think it would be easiest to sort this into pros and cons really.
- Decent grammar
- Decent characters (much better written than your avg rr story)
- Reasonably intriguing plot and backstory
- OK worldbuilding
- OK pacing
- Badly written and contradictory protagonist
- Too many fantasy races, with way too little of explanations for how they look like
- Too many original monsters with way too few explanations for how they look
- Author can't decide if the magic is supposed to by systemized & rational or unsystematic and mysterious/freeform. He also fails to have the protagonist actually explore magic, which is quite weird since he's supposed to be a freakin mage and his strongest weapon is magic; which he knows nothing about and puts minimal efforts into learning anything about. (Loops back to the first con really)
- Undefined power scaling (the power of the protagonist is whatever suits the author at the time)
- The apocalypse never got properly explained and the protagonist doesn't seem particularly invested in figuring it out even if it's kinda the most interesting plot point so far.
My biggest issue of course is the protagonist, I'm gonna list out some examples of how he's either contradictory or stupid (when he is written as if he's some sort of logically thinking intellectual...) since that will inevitably involve minor spoilers:
In the prologue, our protagonist is (as far as he knows) the last living human on earth after an apocalypse, hasn't seen another human in months and craves human contact. Fast forward to where he's been isekaid the fuck over he can't find any humans (just various other races), everytime he asks people say they've never seen or heard of humans before. Then at some point he comes across two elves, since elves and humans are always quite connected in fiction for better or worse, it makes you wonder; if anyone knew where he could find his fellow man, wouldn't it be these guys?
Well apparently that's not what he thinks, because he doesn't even so much as ask them (or anyone else for that matter really) it's like he's perfectly ok with being surrounded by furries and scalies and the (very rare) occasional demihuman, and is in no rush at all to reunite with humanity despite how much he supposedly feels out of place there.
This is just the point where it bothered me the most, of course there's a bunch more...
Another major problem I have with the protagonist is that for someone who just got dumped into a fantasy world, he sure is uninvested in figuring out how it ticks and how best to survive despite claiming otherwise.
For instance he discovers that the language known as 'common' is like a dialect of english. He never questions this fact at all, he just accepts it at face value and moves on, no digging into this mystery, not even recognizing it as mystery in fact.
He has two forms of magic, shield magic and coding magic. while he has been a good boy practicing his shield magic (although not nearly as much as he should) when it comes to coding magic, he barely even tries. I mean this thing is his most OP skill, a legendary skill, and he barely even tries to fucking use it! a magic where he could potentially do just about anything, and his experimentation with it ends at "Make sand go swooshy" the first time he tries to study it, and that's it, he doesn't keep going the next day or anything, no, back to running face first towards danger!
And there's that too, for a guy who really really wants to survive so badly that his greatest wish was for an absolute sanctuary, he sure is bent on getting himself killed, picking fights with monsters at ABSOLUTELY EVERY SINGLE opportunity with ABSOLUTELY NO PREPARATIONS whatsoever. You only need to read the last paragraph to see how serious his lack of preparations is, the guy has skills to be practiced and learn that could dramatically increase his chances of survival and even grant him with great power and add more meaning to his life, but it's like the guy abrely even cares.
I mean, he tries to join some mages guild on a whim to learn omre about magic, but all he really needs to do to learn it for now (since he's someone who knows next to nothing about it) is experiment with his own fucking hands. But it seems like he thinks joining some guild is going to make all his problems with not understanding his skills (one of which no native of this world has had access to since it's oldest recorded and probably even unrecorded history).
It's like he's treating life as a video game, he can't sit still, and there are of course the gamey elements of it too, I mean the way common just happens to be the same as english and the way the world is basically devoid of humans makes me think that this whole world is just a game design where players were supposed to make up the entire human population; but then the world ended and none of the players ever made it onto the server, the only reason this is not plausible is because there's no way there'd be a functional server on earth after mankind got wiped out... I just can't really tell where the author is planning on going with this, I mean there's an item drop system for monsters for fucks sake, it doesn't get more gamey than that... And the protagonist never questions ANY of this.
For a smart guy he sure is dumb, for a guy who likes learning things he sure hates studying.
And that's all I really have to say about it. I mean I'm sorta interested in seeing where this story goes, but the protagonist is kinda annoying, and the author doesn't seem very clear on which direction he's taking the story in at all (to the point where I wonder if he has a main plot planned out at all; I doubt he does).
I was planning on making a larger review but I pretty much agree 100% with the review by Cestarian.
He gets these amazing abilities and doesn't do much with them, incredibly frustrating to read for me anyway.
I hope I am the only one because I really do like the premis and I hope others will enjoy it, but its not for me.
Good luck Staffmage, your story is definitely liked by many so you are doing something right. Good luck on your journey of improvement!
Im not one for a long winded breakdown so ill just vent on my single greatest gripe with the story so far; and that is the actions and thoughts of the irrational rational portag.
The amount of frustration i felt when reading about a protagonist that just refused to truly explore his magical abilities was honestly infuriating.
I had so many ideas through the course of the story about how he could use his coding magic to devestating effect but the best ideas he has is just to make meanial mental programs and giving simple instructions to inanimate objects. I at first thought that the coding magic would be extremely over powered but be limited by his mana well, which would have been reasonable.
To then find out that the mc really needs to code in an increase to his cognitive abilities because what hes done so far with it is honestly pathetic and an insult to anyone with any true coding expertise. The amount of variables you can mess around with in code even in his early stages should give any godly being some pause but at best hes made himself an amature puppetmaster with a barebones hud.
Im not even going to speak on his lack of drive to explore his abilities beyond the simplest concepts as that has already been elaborated on in other reviews.
First off, let me reiterate that this stories greatest strength is its world. It is filled with interesting landscapes, a lot of different magic abilities as well as unique creatues.
The prologue tells the events ultimately leading to the MC being transported to another world. It does a great job at introducing the main character as well as establishing potential story developments.
Sadly, as of Chapter 26, it seems that the prologue has almost no impact on the main story. While the main character was initially described as rather careful and logical, he runs headfirst into danger as soon as he gets the opportunity after his transportation.
In an area where no one is said to return alive, he bests the local predators in a fight only a few chapters in.
That the MC has not died yet is a testament to the strength of his plot armor. I feel that the power level of the MC is highly dependent on what the situation requires.
On his first day in the dungeon, he has trouble against one of its weaker denizens. During the fight, another creature appears, conveniently one-shots the MCs former adversary, but is unable to injure him in any meaningful capacity.
To sum it up, I believe this story has what it takes for a good story. However, it seems that everything seems to fall into place just right for the MC to take advantage of despite his extremely impulsive and foolish decisions.
Prime example of a character is only as smart as the author. While experienced authors can mask their own shortcomings by planning less experienced authors get hung up on moving the plot forward, getting to the next exciting, in their mind, story elements.
That is the main problem with our poor protagonist in this webnovel. Poor planning and a lack of showing the intellectual aspects the author tells us the protagonist has. He's intelligent and rational supposedly, but we never see this. He, as far as what we actually see, seems impulsive, rash, and short sighted. An example of an MC that is calculating and intelligent though far from a genius would be Rain from Delve. He doesn't rush into situations and actually seems to want to keep his life, unlike our MC here who rushes headfirst into danger without even understanding or trying to understand the extent of his powers. Our MC has basically godlike power to craft magic, but doesn't seem to care to spend a few months figuring it out through trial and error or a carefully crafted testing regiment.
I don't mind headstrong MCs, but if that's the type you're gonna write at least go all in on it and don't go half in. It just leaves the character looking lackluster and honestly stupid. This story has potential but just doesn't do anything better than other bottom tier middling fics on here.
I would have given a 0.5 star. This story is that bad! But no author deserves that. Specially one who wrote an original novel; no matter how crap.
The MC supposedly was the only survivor of apocalypse. So he should particularly want to survive, no? Apparently the author doesn't think so.
MC is attacked by a lion. He survives. Fine.
But then that lion is being hunted by wild dogs so the MC stops retreating and goes to watch it. Why? Because he just had to. Author's words. Not mine.
Then when the dogs hunts the lion, the MC kills all the dogs for the lion. Why? I don't know. Even the author dosn't know.
The MC is poisoned. And the random berries he had picked up earlier were actually ultra miraculous! Heavenly! Legendary! Stupidly powerful! Mega Lucky! Anti-poison berries! Hurray!! Who would have seen this coming? Certainly not me. -_-
Then the MC saves the poisoned lion, the very same one that wanted to kill the MC, with life saving berries. Why? becuase they both are dying. Lol.
Then when a settlement is attacked, instead of retreating into the magic that will definetely save him, he goes on to fight this super dangerous monster that had knife for a body. This monster is so powerful that all the gaurds can do nothing.
But worry not, MC is here. And he is Level 2!!! 1 more level than level 1! By the power of Level 2 the MC will defeat 2 settlement destroying monsters! Not one but 2! By the power of 2!!! He is very powerful!!
I just can't with this novel. I do not understand why is this number 2 on trending? Are the people so bored due to quarentine?
Style: There's nothing particularly special about the author's writing style. Overall the flow is decent, but there are often abrupt conclusions to ideas, often due to grammar issues. Periods inside of dialogue, run-on sentences, and unrelated clauses linked by commas tend make it somewhat difficult to maintain immersion. I do appreciate the effort that is putting into showing instead of telling, but sometimes it's still insufficient. I still struggle to picture some of the races depicted.
Grammar: Overall pretty average. Every chapter has at several glaring flaws in vocab use and/or grammar. Heck, even the synopsis has a pretty bad vocab mix-up: "Its producer, in lieu of the apocalypse, had released early". I'm sorry. The producer replaced the apocalypse by releasing a product early? Typical errors include improper punctuation for dialogue, ending sentences with prepositions, incorrect word usage, run-on sentences, single ideas split into multiple clauses improperly, and so much more.
Story: The initial premise is virtually identical to Goes Unpunished by Aj Golde. Lone survivor in a post-apocalyptic setting, forced to go into a game to avoid death, reincarnated in a new world, etc. The concept of Code Magic seems interesting but hideously OP, so god only knows what will happen with that. There’s the obligatory insight-esque skill, the usual thirst for knowledge, and the generically super-rare, high-tier skills.
Character: It's fairly clear that the author didn't really flesh out the MC before writing. It's not a terrible thing but be aware that there is some lack of consistency as the author decides what traits the character will have. In the prologue the MC is mentioned as not particularly religious, and that he rarely ever refers to the monsters as demons, but then never refers to them as anything else. He swears by using Christ's name in later chapters as well. Traits are also added over time, such as the obligatory zest for life and the "habits" of speaking out loud or humming while alone.
Overall: The story is fine. The worldbuilding and system are well-thought out while the grammar and writing style are somewhat weak. The character isn’t particularly interesting, and kind of feels like a self-indulgent placeholder for the reader. I certainly will continue this story if only because I have little better to do during this quarantine.
Frankly, nothing that has happened in the story so far has surprised me, which isn't inherently a bad thing; part of the reason for this is that everything in the world seems to abide by the natural law of common sense, and leaves little room in the plot for gimmicks that'll only be relevant for a few chapters.
The setting was crafted thoughtfully, but I don't think that's apparent just because any of the geographical landmarks or flora or fauna are singularly interesting. What separates this particular fantasy world from others is that all of its most prominent, attention-grabbing features are drawn out and described in satisfyingly complete detail, while those bits that are more technical or difficult to explain are gently obscured beyond their initial description. Essentially, it's unique because it doesn't feel like someone's trying to illustrate Skyrim for you using their extremely limited vocabulary in a foreign language. Now that's epic.
Jayke, despite having lived in total isolation for a year under constant siege from alien hellspawn, has managed to maintain a relatively clearheaded, rational state of mind. Unfortunately for him, the experience hasn't shaped his character in any apparent manner, and he remains a blandly nice, nondescript human male. Same as most isekai protagonists. There's nothing wrong with being supremely average in all the ways that don't matter and competent in all the ways that do... Except that those types of characters get labeled a "mary sue," and people sometimes get pissed enough to drop stories because of it.I
If you ask me, it's not really an issue that he remains well-adjusted, since you'd expect someone who lived through what he lived through to possess a somewhat abnormal degree of emotional resilience. If I had a nitpick, it'd be that Jayke only seems to express his trauma in stereotypically visible ways, like when he wakes up screaming from a nightmare. We're also told that it was painful for him to recount his past experiences to Ercur.
The problem that arises with this sort of "I'll spell it out for the readers so they don't ask why Jayke doesn't outwardly display any hint of suffering" portrayal is that it appears hollow; sure, it's painful to the character, but the whole thing seems rather pointless (narratively) if there isn't any real consequence associated with it. It carries neither emotional significance for the reader nor causal significance for the plot.
I'm also very interested in why Jayke ran about and did what he did at the beginning of the story. Up until now, I'd chalked most of those risky actions up to the need for him to vent his frustrations and sort of get back at the monsters who ruined his planet. Other reviewers seem to have different opinions, and while I do feel they could perhaps give authors a little more benefit of the doubt, it'd be nice to know for sure. Perhaps at some point someone will ask Jayke about his experiences in the Uncharted, and Jayke will explain himself properly.
The author's notes in Chapter 25 include a comment that boils down to something like "You guys don't actually know anything about Jayke, so please curb your outrage at his 'unrealistic behavior.'" I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, that's true, since the only thing we saw him do in the Prologue was watch the security cameras for a while before he hopped into a VR seppuku machine to commit sudoku. On the other hand, if Jayke's true colors were something that was intended to be drip-fed to us (the readers) at a leisurely pace throughout the story, why'd you go and vaguely expose some of it in the prologue before it became relevant? Did you want people to start crafting their self-assured, ironclad headcanons before all the details were available?
What I usually like to see in characters who have experienced some significant past event that had a part in shaping their personality is the little details. Verbal or physical tics, or odd preferences. Things you might notice because they're strange, but wouldn't think too much about unless you knew that person intimately. Maybe this person's hand tends to hover at the side of their belt when they're nervous, even though there isn't a sword hung there, and you've never seen them using one. Maybe that person often gets worked up over something specific yet inconsequential. Maybe they act a certain way towards certain people for no discernable reason.
I think it's best if these little things are mentioned often enough that the reader doesn't forget about them, while not so often that they become tiresome. When that difficult balance is struck, then it becomes immediately obvious when it is disrupted, and readers can tell that a character is either mending or exacerbating their mental scars through the variable frequency (or complete absence) of such behaviors. It's stuff like this that really hits me with the realization that the author spared no effort in order to get into their characters' heads.
I'm satisfied with the grammar. Issues like misusing a comma where there ought to be a semicolon, not using a comma where there should be one, or mistakenly using the past tense of a verb where a preposition belongs are scattered throughout but mostly unobtrusive. They shouldn't greatly affect anyone's reading experience.
My only other complaint is that the updates don't come often enough. Thanks for the chapters!
Finally starts experimenting with magic more ~chap 25.
Minor annoyances (mc immediately getting valuable berries(seriously, hope this gets explained) minor hype narrator, little effect of a relative decade of isolation, understandable early lack of experimentation with abilities, typical general plot)
Middling mc characterization
Good major characters (Oz), and descriptions of ability experimentation
Great world-building (love the dungeon)
I've read all of it (up to ch. 25) in one sitting and I am really enjoying this story. I encourage the writer to continue doing what he's doing because it's great. I think this story (with a bit of polishing) could be self-published on amazon and do quite well. The character are good, the world building is great and more than anything really inventive and amazing. Love that the MC is not super over powered from the beginning even though his powers have got great potential in the long run. Continue doing what you're doing, and remember it's always good to take criticism but it's also important to disregard haters, I see so many budding authors with potential on here that get demoralised by haters, there's always some of them but it's better to focus on the positives and constructive criticism to improve what you're doing. Keep at it! And if you publish I'll be buying.