Reality is a prison. Zero Space is the only way out.
The Haven - a fortified skyscraper. It's humanity's last stand, and it won't be standing much longer.
Jay might not live to see the end of the world. Not in his condition. He’d rather spend his remaining time playing a VR game called Zero Space. At least there, he can be a gun-toting bad-ass named Shae.
But when Jay finds a forbidden new power, it reveals a secret side of Zero Space, filled with sentient AI, scheming monsters, and murderous players. Zero Space may be more than just a game. It could be the key to saving the world. Or ending it.
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I've never been a fan of LitRPGs, but I've become a big fan of this story.
The use of a video game world in addition to the real (yet still fantastical) one creates so many interesting situations for the characters that would seem out of place in a typical fantasy setting. The characters' distinct personalities break the mould of their RPG role and make the story that much more engaging. Anyone familiar with classic video game tropes (especially in multiplayer games) will appreciate this world and how it plays with a reader's expectations - I'm nine chapters in and there's already been a couple twists that I definitely did not see coming.
The pace of the story strikes a good balance between witty exposition and intense action scenes. It feels like the author is having fun writing the story and wants the reader to feel it too - there's a few good puns and wordplays for those reading every detail.
I look forward to how the story will continue to develop - there's a number of setups that I need to see paid off.
Updated my review.
I first found this story when the author was posting thier cover art in the Art forum. I'll be honest, the cover art drew me in. But I am definitely enjoying the story thus far. There is a rather diverse cast of characters and believably conflicting motivations in play throughout everything I have read so far.
The whole VR experience is used in a very interesting way with how it distorts players minds regarding injury. Makes for some truly shocking moments you otherwise wouldn't be able to have. It has also added a great deal of mystery to certain elements of the plot, and I am looking forward to finding out more.
Only very minor spelling/punctuation mistakes that I have seen, easily fixable. Most mistakes and errors have reduced as the story has progressed and will likely continue to do so as the author works on their story.
The characters thus far are interesting and well written as well. Some rather interesting choices have been made, but for the most part they have paid off or have been revealed as relfecting a characters true motivations rather than just their assumed ones.
The overall style for the story telling is a bit wierd and jarring at times, but it fits the story. Anyone who has read the story would probably agree. All it really needs is a bit of polish here and there to smooth out some minor problems.
I generally despise and avoid the VRMMO stories: losers and chumps playing pointless video games, wasting their time avoiding real life and its important challenges. If not for the positive reviews, I would have avoided this too and really missed out on this gem.
One great thing in the premise is that we discover over time that the VRMMO world has a huge impact on the real world. The real-life outside the VRMMO is a dystopian, near-apocalyptic reality (a la Judge Dredd + external creepy threat), and at the very least, success in the VRMMO is one way to live outside of the hell that are the lower floors in the complex.
A fascinating mystery gets revealed over time, as the importance and impact of the VRMMO on the real world never stops growing. Furthermore, the challenges are so steep that the tension and stakes quickly become very gripping.
A perfect balance is kept between these steep challenges and the wit, tools and opportunities of the protagonist. There is no feeling of plot armor.
The protagonist himself is someone to truly root for and care about. He is reminiscent of a modern late teenager with mercury and other heavy metal toxicity: silly, self-destructive and socially awkward, yet still striving 100% to reach the absurd ideals that interest his semi-autistic mind. The first few chapters can be a bit frustrating, due to how self-destructive he is, but this is a story of growth and it is wonderful to see him change, improve and finally start to truly shine once he makes a few needed adjustments.
The rest of the cast is brilliant as well. The friendships and family relationships are beautiful (even strained as they had been by his self-destructive impulses), and the antagonists are great too.
The VRMMO world, with its infinite lives, is the perfect place in which to antagonize his opponents in style and for lulz. The dystopian / near-apocalyptic real world, with its huge stakes and huge dangers, adds believable antagonists that carry very real threat.
This is the most heart-warming, charming and brilliant story I have read on RR. It has been a balm for my soul.