Nero Zero

by MDW

Original ONGOING Action Adventure Fantasy Romance Female Lead LitRPG Magic Male Lead Steampunk
Warning This fiction contains:
  • Gore

Monsters plagued the lands for too long. No matter if one had fangs, beak, teeth, skin, fur, or feather, or was tall, stout, or diminutive, the people suffered. Until the Gadgeteers came with a device that could allow people to fight back. Powered by one's own magical power, feeding off of monster Essence, the Arbitrium bracer turned the tables.

It also changed society. Strength of one's level cap was all that mattered. The strongest were Kings and Emperors. The weak or those too poor to afford the marvelous device, destitute. And so it has been for millennia.

All that mattered was one's level cap. High, low, a fate decided the moment the strange contraption came alive. Too high and you were a threat to those interested in keeping the status quo, a weed to be nipped before it could grow and take root. Too low and you were nobody, fated to be a bit more than a simple farmer.

What if someone, somewhere, came up with a zero for their level cap? Unable to use Essence, unable to level up. On all of recorded history, it never happened.

Until it did.

In a small village of fur-less and tail-less ape-beastkin, a boy found out he was uniquely handicapped.

Nero's level cap was Zero.

But he'd never let that stop him from reaching his goals.




All stories have already been told. We merely reuse elements from them. From Joseph Campbell's Monomith to Stephen King's advice, and that encyclopedia of tropes you've visited, fiction has been dissected and reassembled countless times. One will surely find elements inspired on other works here. Just like cooking from basic ingredients, the recipe and presentation is what really matter.

This is a fantasy adventure, of someone that goes from a zero to a slightly bigger zero. It will have romance but no harem. Cruelty but with hope dimly shining ahead. Lightweight where it can be, heavy where it must.

Thanks for reading.


Cover Credits (The cover is CC-BY-NC-SA):

Steampunk Spider Bracer, by Daniel Proulx. CC-BY-NC-SA

Picture Frame, @anaterate, Pixabay license.

Some odds and bits from here and there.

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Table of Contents
Chapter Name Release Date
Chapter I ago
Chapter II ago
Chapter III ago
Chapter IV ago
Chapter V ago
Chapter VI ago
Chapter VII ago
Chapter VIII ago
Chapter IX ago
Chapter X ago
Chapter XI ago
Chapter XII ago
Chapter XIII ago
Chapter XIV ago
Chapter XV ago
Chapter XVI ago
Chapter XVII ago
Chapter XVIII ago
Chapter XIX ago
Chapter XX ago
Chapter XXI ago
Chapter XXII ago
Chapter XXIII ago
Chapter XXIV - "The Darkest Night" ago
Chapter XXV ago
Chapter XXVI ago
Chapter XXVII ago
Chapter XXVIII ago
Chapter XXIX ago
Chapter XXX ago
Chapter XXXI ago
Chapter XXXII ago
Chapter XXXIII ago
Chapter XXXIV ago
Chapter XXXV ago
Chapter XXXVI ago
Chapter XXXVII ago
Chapter XXXVIII ago
Chapter XXXIX ago
Chapter XL ago
Chapter XLI ago
Intelude XLII ago
Chapter XLIII ago
Interlude XLIV ago
Chapter XLV ago
Chapter XLVI ago
Chapter XLVII ago
Chapter XLVIII ago
Chapter IL ago
Chapter L ago
Chapter LI ago
Chapter LII ago
Chapter LIII ago
Chapter LIV ago
Chapter LV ago
Chapter LVI ago
Chapter LVII ago
Chapter LVIII ago
Chapter LIX ago
Chapter LX ago
Chapter LXI ago
Chapter LXII ago
Chapter LXIII ago
Chapter LXIV ago
Chapter LXV ago
Chapter LXVI ago
Chapter LXVIII - Book III. "Hot Rescue" ago
Chapter LXIX ago
Chapter LXX - "Farmers" ago
Chapter LXXI ago
Chapter LXXII ago
Chapter LXXIII ago
Chapter LXXIV ago
Chapter LXXV ago
Chapter LXXVI ago
Chapter LXXVII ago
Chapter LXXVIII ago
Chapter LXXIX - "How does the Pixie Roll" ago
Chapter LXXX - "How does Nero roll" ago
Chapter LXXXI - "Gadgeteering 101" ago
Chapter LXXXII ago
Changelog April 22nd, 2020 ago
Chapter LXXXIII ago
Chapter LXXXIV ago
Chapter LXXXV ago
Chapter LXXXVI ago
Chapter LXXXVII - "Going Bananas" ago
Chapter LXXXVIII ago
Chapter LXXXIX - "The D-Day" ago
Chapter XC - "On level 0, level 450, and 40K" ago
Chaper XCI - "It's not a party without party crashers" ago
Chapter XCII ago
Chapter XCIII ago
Chapter XCIV - "Fairy Godmother" ago
Chapter XCV - "Stress Relief" ago
Chapter XCVI - "Square Mile" ago
Chapter XCVII - "Pulling Rank" ago
Chaper XCVIII ago
Chapter IC ago
Chapter C - "Old Friends" ago
Chapter CI - "Purple Power" ago
Chapter CII - "Finding Nero" ago
Chapter CIII - "Payback is a Beach" ago
Chapter CIV - "Allies of Occasion" ago
Chapter CV - "Just another day in parad... the Dungeon" ago
Chapter CVI ago
Chapter CVII ago
Chapter CVIII - "Escape plan". ago
Chapter CIX ago
Chapter CX - "Breakdown" ago
Chapter CXI ago
Chapter CXII ago
Chapter CXIII - "When it hits the fan" ago
Chapter CXIV - "Mindbending" ago
Chapter CXV - "Betrayal" ago
Chapter CXVI - "Always Read the Labels" ago
Chapter CXVII - "Surveyors" ago
Chapter CXVIII - "How to Manage your Dungeons" ago
Chapter CXIX - "No rest for the wicked... or the virtuous" ago
Chapter CXX - "Home, sweet goodbye" ago
Chapter CXXI - "Not-so-brief Debriefing" ago
Chapter CXXII - "Two Weeks in Haven" ago
Chapter CXXIII ago
Chapter CXXIV - "The Worst way to Quit your Job" ago
Interlude CXXV - "When it rains, it pours." ago
Appendix I - Card compendium ago
Appendix II - All Builds and Equipment ago
Chapter CXXVI - "That Refugee's Glamorous Life" ago
Chapter CXXVII - "The King and the Peasant" ago
Chapter CXXVIII ago
Chapter CXXIX - "How many scholars does it take to change an Essence lamp?" ago
Not a Chapter - Community Challenge: Lyceum Cultural Contest ago
Chapter CXXX - And that's withouth saving 80,000,000 Essence for retirement. ago
Chapter CXXXI - A knight's move away ago
Chapter CXXXII - Hold the Line! ago
Chapter CXXXIII - "Useless Drama" ago
Chapter CXXXIV - "It's a trap!" ago
Not a chapter: Cultural Contest Results ago
Chapter CXXXV - An Earful of Wheat ago
Chapter CXXXVI - Weird Dates in a Dungeon ago
Chapter CXXXVI - Hearth to heart. ago
Chapter CXXXVII - "Damn, dude!" ago
Chapter CXXXVIII - Reparations ago
Chapter CXXXIX ago
Chapter CXL - "Royal Audience" ago
Chapter CXLI - "Out of the frying pan..." ago
Chapter CXLII - "Mournful Dirge" ago
Chapter CXLIII - "Greed" ago
Chapter (XII) ^ II - A perfect (town) square ago
Chapter CXLV - Workforce ago
Chapter CXLVI - On Card Presses and Business ago
Chapter CXLVII - "Honor's Last Stand" ago
Chapter CXLVIII - Treacherous Night ago
CXLIX - Dungeon Robotics ago
Chapter CL ago
Chapter CLI - Revenge Match, part I ago
Chapter CLII - Revenge Match, part II ago

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Good premise but has problems

Reviewed at: Chapter LXXXIX - "The D-Day"

Style: I like the magic system and the use of stat screens. It could have been interesting to see how people manage with limited skills and essence. But thats about it. The stats themselves are meaningless. The numbers are meaningless. The chapters are padded with so much useless stats that basically say 'do X' and 'do X but better'. 

I also wished that the MC would be constrained with limitations and have imaginative combos.

Spoiler: Spoiler

Also Roman numerals makes your story unique but the awful kind of unique. Roman numerals greater than XX should just be avoided. 

Story: There are some pacing issues. 80 chaps in and we are still in rank I dungeons. But our chracacters are already as strong as rank VI(or more - dont really know, the stats are all over the place). This goes back to how I say the numbers and stats are meaningless. The good magic system is made useless by the story. 

This results in awful power scaling. Level requirement don't exist when they need to for the story and results in overpowered builds. Groups of strong characters can enter dungeons in mass(but somehow they never thought to conquer dungeons with armies this way).  

The story between the Main Pair is kinda iffy. It was like reading a fanfiction romance about characters I don't know. When we do get interactions they were already lovers. Even until chapter 80+ I am still unsure about the characters' age because they act like children then like teens then like adults then children again.

There are other story problems like adding really odd conversations. There was a comment in some chapters about how Altia is a shitty character and in later chapters we get a guild head offering love advices to her unprompted. It's jarring. 

Characters: Some characters are good, some bad. Serena is the one character I started to like. She has goals, dreams and disappointments. Her actions and the results of it felt logical, she suffered for some of it and she benefited for some. Her characterization feels like she can be an MC in her story. 

The other characters feel like convenient plot devices in comparison because they will act jarringly if the plot demands it. Some characters say something then the opposite happens in the story. Like Altia saying power is everything then later we see even knights have to follow rules and Nero getting harmed by villagers even though his parents are the sole protectors of the village.

The MC, Nero, is kinda generic. He is never morally wrong. He is never lawfully wrong. If he does something stupid, its fine because the story will contort itself so it becomes right and good. All his rash decisions so far are rewarded. One time, the enemy brought their priceless, useless to said enemy, unique card to confront him(when they could have just hide until their goal was done) so that MC can loot it after they die. 

Altia is an awful foil for the MC. Her aspirations is to be a support behind him. But I don't know how that would have panned out if MC's original dream actually happened, got 200+ level cap and got drafted as a kinght. Dual leads only work if both leads are comparable. Her goals are fully reliant on MC. Her life fully tied to MC. The story killing off her mother and alienating her father only makes her less stable without the MC. And early on so much time was spent to show us how much MC and his family loves Altia when at that point, readers don't even care about her yet. Right now she can't exist without MC, solely created to be the uneeded support and comic relief. Though It might have worked if MC didn't get the 'I can be the best at everything' card and wasn't always so 'correct'.


Grammar: Is great for something not professionally edited. No complaints. Just typos. Can still improve with professional edit so not max yet. 

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This is written in complete, grammatically correct sentences. Past that, pretty much everything fails for the same reason: the author critically failing to understand what he just wrote, in one way or another.

In roughly ascending order:

1. The central premise is that the setting's society is arranged on the assumption that a bigger level is better than a lower one, when in fact the opposite is true in terms of raw power, as the protagonist discovers by accident. Ergo, the whole 'hook' is that the specifics of the system don't actually matter, and that's the thematic and narrative punchline here.

The author then gives us a bunch of empty chapters consisting of nothing but wank about the specifics of the fiddly details of his poorly conceived rpg system, proving that he doesn't realize that the system being poorly conceived was kind of the point in universe.

2. The character has a steady girlfriend from day one, and lives in a society where marrying young via arranged marriage is the norm and such marriages are also business partnerships. Neat! An actual intentional values dissonance in his fantasy culture, and a subversion of the usual lobe triangle crap in these stories, right?

... character then proceeds to completely ignore his wife's role as a partner completely and engage in thinly veiled love triangle/harem crap only made more cringey by the characters repeatedly turning toward the cameras to congratulate themselves on how it totally isn't harem crap.

3. The characters are just... amazingly despicable, hateful, reprehensible, violent, morally abhorrent people even by the standards of their own world. The main character's catch-phrase is to gleefully remind himself that no one can stop him from murdering anyone he wants in the dungeons. He's greedy, venal, incredibly petty, and favors weapons and techniques that mutilate over those that kill cleanly. He starts torturing animals and enslaves several that he refuses to even name, and as of my giving up on the story he's escalated both mutilation and slavery to human victims. He betrayed his village and nation so casually that loyalty wasn't even brought up as a possibility, has engaged in half a dozen criminal conspiracies, and his current goal is to defraud and assassinate a sitting public official who has gone out of his way to settle any issue and whose sole interest is the protection of the protagonist's village and family. He's currently quasi-allied with the heiress of an enemy nation currently slaughtering his countrymen, whose defining family magic is mind rape and whose race are the sirens-- as in, literally the mythological creatures that mass-murder sailors purely for fun, not even a toned down version.

So... cool, right? We're reading a story about someone who's morally about twenty miles south of fricking Sauron, and he's already geared himself up to set a city on fire. That's different and interesting.

But... nope! Unambiguously framed as being in the right, to the point of other characters staring into the camera to dryly congratulate him on how morally righteous he is in a creepy mary sue targeted monotone. Woo.

Conclusion: bad writing made significantly worse by the occasional interesting idea included by accident, as if to highlight how bad the writing is.

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So, I was greatly enjoying this story at first. I mean, come on, who doesn't like the classic story of the zero turning into a hero? and the author totally had that! Like, while he does most certainly have to work harder for every point he has, he could theoretically have much higher potential than everyone else past a certain point, since he's not really limited in the dungeons he can go to and can gain stats from them either way.

Then the Joker card happened. My initial reaction was "cool! Now he can have a class!" which was great and all, until I realized a minute later that wait, he can have a class, despite the whole premise being that he cannot, in fact, have a class.

The story was kinda fine after that, we got some cutesy interaction and the like, though there were issues there, but no story is perfect and nitpicking isn't the goal here. I enjoyed that part.

When Crystal showed up, I was like "holy shit she's like a really good character" but she kept on getting drowned out by Nero's flanderized dumb edgy teenager commentary. Whatever, though, I can understand it. Still young, though by that point most people would have grown out of it. I can roll with it.

Then Breakdown happened and I lost my will to continue with the story.

Like, one second, he's finally having a good character moment where he looks at these enemies of his and wonders to himself if they could be allies, and I was like "holy shit character growth finally" and then, because they LACK INFORMATION THAT THEY COULD NOT POSSIBLY KNOW, they answer "wrong" despite, to their knowledge, their answer being the only possible one.

And, of course, after that wonderful character growth moment he had, what does Nero do? HE F*CKING GOES WUXIA MC ALL OVER THEM AND KILLS ONE BEFORE SCREECHING ANGRILY AT A FOREST FOR A WHILE. LIKE WHAT. THE. HELL!

I was finally seeing promise in the story with the whole prince thing, and Nero learning that he's not an all-powerful god or whatever, him finally getting a little humble (or at least patient, whatever) and I was like "aha! A moral dilemma! This is the perfect time to show his character growth!" And he was doing so so well until he brutally murdered someone in front of their friend

Interesting premise, eh execution, characters are bland and fairly inconsistent, and when the author had a chance to actually have the MC experience some growth he instead goes "I am the darkness in the night, I am the shadow that watches" or whatever and has his MC turn into a braindead wuxia character. Disappointed by this greatly, I wish the author luck in improving the story, though.

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So much potential, so less utilized.

Reviewed at: Chapter XXXI

The book starts good, with new and interesting plot, which is very hard to find. The writing style is good too. 

Though, there is fair amount of criticism to be had.

1. After the initial few chapters, the authors spends 3-4 chapters or innane things that are completely useless and the story could have done without.

2. Forced relationship. And I do not mean arranged marriage. The MC is forced to acknowledge his 'love' for his neighbour while said neighbor hides. Mind you, this is in the initial chapters and till this point MC himself does not know if he loves her. But because he is pressured, he loves the girl now. Oh well.

3. After a few DAYS of dating, the MC's parents start calling the girl, fiance, daughter-in-law, buying her expensive gifts, future wife of my son and so on. After few DAYS! Practically forcing that thought into the girl's mind bcz of how impressionable she is.

4. MC is weak as feather, which is good! ANd it is very difficult for MC to increase his power when compared to others. Which is also good! Because that allows him to be intresting! To work hard! To care for and fight for each and every little power up. But what does our MC do? He wants to save the girl and buy her things at his own expense because she is important to him. Face palm. He even contemplated gifting something that his parents bought him, after spending all their lafe savings to empower their son. Yet he wanted to gift it to this girl that he had been dating for a few days. DAYS! A girl that can power up easily, while he can't!

5. Then there is typical 13 year old love drama. I mean. Face palm. The situation with the girl's father could have handled much better. But that is palatable.

6. What I absolutely can not digest is this seemingly dumbing down of MC for no reason at all. I mean he is already dumb but he became even dumber. MC works out a method to increase his power but he ignores it. Then he comes across an enemy that he has no hope of defeating. MC can be conidered barely level 43 with absolutely NO SKILLS. While his enemy is at least Level 80 with 4 to 6 skills. 

MC even agrees that he should wait to power up before tackling this enemy. And in the very next paragraph, he challenges the enemy. I mean... I could only bang my head on a wall. 

And then, as if this was not enough, MC wins the fight while he is half hallucinating. And idid I mention that MC was dead tired while he won this fight? He hadn't slept for the past few days. Just cherry on the top, really. 

7. Now comes my true major peave with this story. Yes, beyond the 100 page essay I wrote above. Till now, the one thing intresting about the story was that the MC was weak. His power up menthod was extreamely difficult and he had to work hard for every bit of power. 

But now, it all has been set aside. The MC that earlier couldn't get a class, can not get all the freaking classes that exist in the world. 

Not only that, because MC 'figured out' how the 'difficult method' worked, so he can farm that method too. Because it is very easy now. 

So the only good this about this story, no longer exists. 

Despite all this, this has the potential to be a great story! Incredible even. But the author seemed to be in a rush to finish Book 1 and that has caused this mess. 

This book needs proof reading, and then it will be pure gold, till then it is pure mess.

I could not continue to Book 2. I tried and I failed.


  • Overall Score

Only time I've kept reading a story this poorly written

Reviewed at: Chapter LIII

Edit: Just to be clear, I also stopped reading after making this review, so it's not interesting enough to warrant indefinite reading without improvement.

Usually when I find a story like this, I immediately give up, I'm not one to muddle through if the writing is noticeably bad. The characters (and culture) are all pretty standard wuxia tropes, the dialogue isn't great, there's a ton of weird exposition, oddly forced plot developments, and the worst offender is the grammar. The grammar is real real bad, words out of order, misspelled, or just plain wrong. I just noticed it says I read up to "CHPATER LIII", which isn't a great sign. If you've read some poorly translated Chinese novels, you know what to expect, except it doesn't have that annoying constantly repeating paragraphs thing (to it's credit).

Super negative review aside, my main point is that I've kept reading. I'm chalking it up to the novelty of the system, and how that weaves throughout the world being built. Using trading cards and Yu-Gi-Oh arm things to handle all the RPG elements (skills, classes, creating items, enchanting items) just really tickles my fancy for some reason.

I'm not sure if the author is a native English speaker, a lot of the intentions are in the right place but the words don't support the vision. Usually I'd nitpick with the best of them but mistakes are overwhelmingly common. If the mistakes could get wrestled down to even "whelmingly" frequent, this could be a very good story. Kind of bums me out to be honest.

I gotta say, as all the reviews should insist:


Edit- More random complaints I'll keep adding as I think of them:

Spoiler: Spoiler


  • Overall Score
  • Style Score
  • Story Score
  • Grammar Score
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 The story has an interesting take on a somewhat unoriginal premise; how is a level zero going to survive/thrive in a world dominated by those with higher levels. The magic system is an relatively thought out and original magic system compared to many LitRPG's on this site which is a huge positive. However it is let down by frequent poor grammer or spelling mistakes which can completely ruin the flow of a sentence. In the first proper paragraph on the whole story for example there is a mispelling of the word race to "rase". Sentences and dialogue often feels incredibly stilted, and the whole work is in serious need of a rewrite in my opinion.

However I think it is interesting enough to capture peoples attention once you look past the flaws and I hope that as the author becomes a more experienced writer these things will improve.

Good luck to the author.


  • Overall Score

Author failed Willpower check.

Reviewed at: Chpater LIII

The book started with a fairly good premise, but then the author succumbed into "cursed with awesome" trope. The presumed flaw that the MC needs all his grit and ingenuity to overcome is turned into a cheat so outrageously OP, he need to keep it hidden or else he is hunter down.

The system is fine, if a bit obtuse, the adventuring part was so-so to begin with and then was massively diluted with sugar-sweet romantic storyline.

Dropped this novel when it was revealed that his efforts helped him teach his wife to also use the cheat of holding leveling - which was total bs contradicting earlier established universe rules, btw.

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Levels give points that increase stats, but are largely pointless.

Reviewed at: Chapter VIII

Zero may as well mean infinity in this interpretation of things.

Characters seem to gain a random stat every level, the protagonist doesn't have levels and instead somehow gains stats at random. Levels don't do anything, it's all about the stats, so level zero may as well be infinity.

Sorry, not sorry, but that's both cool and infuriating. Cool because it mean we've got a soon to be OP character and a good stomping is always fun, but infuriating because the synopsus is written in such a way as to lead the reader to thinking that there will be a struggle of some kind before reaching greatness. Instead we have what we got, a magical imediate deep friendship with some random person, a protagonist who essentially doesn't have a level cap, and a story that really doesn't do a good job of introducing it's character, describing the world, or follow any disernable plot. The quality of writing leave much to be desired, although he grammar and spelling at pretty much fine. 

While there are a lot of issues the story might be enjoyable if the author started from the begining and structured their story properly. If you're going to have an OP protagonist, then work from the begining with that in mind. If your protagonist is supposedly some unlucky guy who everyone thinks is going to fail, then your story has to work up from that point; you have to structure your story around the idea of reaching that point and the uncertainty of ever reaching that point. It isn't just about having a problem one chapter and then solving it or making that problem irrelevent in the next chapter, you need to build an entire character arc around solving this problem, if not multiple arcs. If the author just waves their hand and suddenly it's not an issue anymore, then that ruins the mood of the story and rips the reader out of their immersion.

If you're going to have a friendship be integral to the story then you need to develop it. Regardless of it's starting point you need to convey that these characters are friends. Whether their friendship is just staying out or they've been friends for year, you need to convey that to the reader. Friends can form in a moment and can last a lifetime if we're lucky, but in a story you need to really work on that friendship between characters if you want it to seem genuine. Most stories can get away with have waving a friendship into existance, but you need to give context. As far as I can tell, and I admit I skim read, there was the protagonist and then there was suddenly another character and then they were suddenly friends. No explanation, no talk, just friends and then they're suddenly teammates. I probably missed a bunch, I feel like I missed a character arc or two, but that's how it came across in my read.

Admitedly I get it, wirting is hard, writing around a plot with a clearly defined destination and goal is harder, conveying emotion to the reader is even harder, developing your character is even harder than that, forming bonds between your characters is excuciatingly hard as well. Glossing over a few of those whenever they aren't directly relevant to the story or plot is fine, glossing over all of them in favor of do-nothing dialog is not.

I gave up writing for a few years, because even if I loved it I was struggling to adapt my writing style in a way so that I could get better than I was. I'd been writing whatever came to mind, letting the story go wherever I mind decided to take it, riding the wave of inspiration by the seat of my pants and burning myself on the flames of creation. That was fun, and it was what I loved most about writing, but it wasn't good writing. And I wanted to write better, so I tried, and I failed, and then I gave up. Eventually I came back and realized that I actually liked doing things properly the first time, which was why I'd been so frustrated before.

Basically, doing things well is hard, but so much more rewarding once you figure out how. You can do it, you just have to try and push through the frustraiton. It gets easier the more you do.

  • Overall Score

Great potential, turn out your typical bad novel;

Reviewed at: Chapter LXXXVIII

As I said, the first chapters had great potential in world building and the relation between society and the dungeon.

We have an MC who's level cap is 0 in a world where lever and power mean everything. You would think we will follow the story of a little hero who's doing his best to have a good life with sheer will and intelligence. Try again, mate. The MC is as dumb as a fucking brick and he is actually OP as fuck. 

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Good start then just dumb a plot armor

Reviewed at: Chapter CIV - "Allies of Occasion"

It started promising and then it became a weird typical plot armor story with a dumb teenager getting the start of a harem and doing dumb actions and decisions that will be absolutely impossible. 



Example: he is level zero and can not have classes, skills, etc etc. He got an ultrarare super dupper 1 of a kind class. If the kingdom will know or someone will know he will get fucked. What does he do? Show it in public everywhere. 



Grammarly is good and there is nothing wrong with the writing skills. The plot is just bad but the other things are ok.