Life is rough. Jobs are non-existent. And far too many people live in poverty in the real world and can only find work online in VR worlds. And it's getting worse. The old internet is unusable and hacked to pieces. The new system needs AI to run things, but most of them are destroyed. Now everyone is scrambling to get into the GENESIS ENGINE, as it becomes the new global market place
Everyone wants a piece of the new game. The guilds are competing to be the first to find the dungeons and kill the biggest monster. The corporations are claiming land and putting in their online market places. Ozzy and his friends just want a paycheck.
Four friends find they are locked into five year contracts as virtual serfs in a small village, and can't go adventuring at all to gain money and buy their way to freedom. They don't have many choices. They can work as a blacksmith, barmaid and shepherd for all those years....or they can cheat and find ways they can take advantage of the system.
When they give you a mop and not a sword, you have to find the loopholes and change the rules.
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Where to start? Let's start with the good.
The idea takes well-trodden ground (vrmmo litrpg) and adds its own unique spin, with an anti-capitalist 'workers rise up' approach to its protagonists. Corporations are evil and keep their workers penned in with heinous contracts. Enter a VRMMO administrated by a benevolent AI, and... Well, I won't spoil it. It's good enough to keep you interested and there is mercifully little 'out of game' content, which is the bane of many of these stories.
The characters have interesting abilities and paths, their classes are not the usual dross in vrmmo litrpgs (no fire mages or spellswords, yet), and the playfulness is appropriate, with a nice lack of snark, or at least an appropriate amount relative to other stories.
Outside of the game mechanics, the characters are relatively distinct, with a clearly original past as 'npcs' and laborers in vr dramas and other games, giving them a unique sort of world-weary vrmmo employee vibe that is new to me. They enter this world, immediately discover some unique and interesting things that nobody else in the game world has (not a shock, but the type of thing that makes these stories so juicy). They settle into the village their contracted to work in, and then all sorts of whacky shenanigans ensue.
Which leads me to my first gripe
Right about the time when the war breaks out the story goes from a well contained semi-slice of life story about this village and the contract worker inhabitants into a voluminous multicharacter smorgasbord of conflicting viewpoints and omniscient character hoppings that quickly leaves behind the compelling and somewhat charming pov's of our four protagonists in favor of trying to cram every possible strand of narrative into the same storyline. I skipped around a bit, and to my surprise (and disappointment) I was able to pick up a chapter or half a chapter later with basically no interruption in the story. A lot of the viewpoints aren't necessarily superflous, but they feel sort of like stat padding.
Maybe this could have been alleviated by addressing my next gripe: the grammar and overall writing style. There are a lot of viewpoints, and it's never quite clear whose head we're currently inhabiting, or worse, whose thoughts we're currently reading. Sometimes the internal viewpoint switches so fast you attribute a paragraph to one character, only to realize belatedly that we've switched into someone elses brain. This is disorienting, and when the scope abruptly expands into a much larger cast of characters in the war, it becomes unpleasant to follow.
I like the main cast of four, so why are we spending so much time away from them? Chapter after chapter we get hints of interesting progression for our protagonists, only to follow some errant strand that needs to be resolved elsewhere that could have been summarized in a sentence or two. Maybe if the payoff were greater for these excursions? Alas, some of the bad guys are so convoluted that my reward is in skipping their sections entirely.
Even the four main viewpoints get lost in the competition for screen time - occasionally you will realize that we haven't seen one of the main four in a while, and the absence is jarring because you wonder what it is about these secondary and tertiary viewpoints that couldn't be discovered through the lens of one of the main characters. Maybe if we were limited to strictly four points of view the expansive turn the story has taken would feel less chaotic and unmanageable.
There is something good here, in the bones of the story. Unfortunately, much of the time (a lot more as the story goes on) the bones are hidden away under a layer of misdirection, tertiary viewpoints and general distance that I'm more and more unwilling to dig through for the gems.
In many ways, this is the most frustrating kind of story to find, one I want to binge the whole night instead of going to bed. And yet. With each passing chapter I ask myself - is this worth another hour awake? With a little conciseness and editing, it will be.
When you read this review keep in mind that I normally really dislike VRMMO stories for several reasons (which are not important), tend to dislike more than two POV and am not that great with reading in-between the lines.
So why did I pic this story up? Easy answer it was a recommendation in the Delve discord and it sounded interesting.
Negatives (the good stuff comes further down):
And, especially initially I had barely any issues besides some minor style or punctuation issues (which don't influence this rating as this is a hobbyist site).
Sadly this got worse as the story went on. There are probably 5 or more extra quotation marks in every chapter which sometimes makes reading a bit confusing, but honestly, this is only a minor gripe in my book. There might be a word missing once in a while but that happens.
However, that isn't a big deal for me and most people would probably be barely bothered by this since the story is engaging.
The real issue I have is twofold. Time, or order of chapters is not necessarily how stuff happens in the story. What I mean by that is that we go from getting chapter x at time y to chapter x+1 at time y-10 days. I personally don't like that. I like to get information when it happens and this is something other readers should be aware of when reading.
Now, this is not really a deal breaker for most people, me neither, but it was annoying.
The next and worst part about this story is the scope (DressedUpToParty mentioned this as well). Character PoV shifts and the cast size is awful and why I cannot give this story a better rating even though I enjoyed a lot of it. There are PoV shifts within paragraphs, between paragraphs and almost all of the time it is not indicated. Whether this is a narrative tool the author consciously uses or something they do by accident, it requires addressing.
The cast size is honestly quite formidable, which is something I tend to not like, but don't mind as much here. What I do not like however is nicknames and such. I already struggle with a cast of 15 or so people, if all of them suddenly have like 3 names each, that becomes even more difficult. I do see why this is the case, to indicate familiarity and such but for me it took away from the reading enjoyability.
Another minor gripe I have is that skill names and system stuff is kind of ignored by the characters (this is probably not entirely correct) and inconsistent
The good parts:
The cast is quite likable and competent, i like the setting and the world. The system seems fun too and I like a good struggle of proletariat vs bourgeoisie/evil corpse where hopefully the proletariat comes out on top. The worldbuilding for the most part seems pretty cool and suffers a lot less from the usual consequences of a VRMMO setting.
Warning: This review has some minor, general spoilers. Nothing specific and nothing you don’t find out in a few chapters anyway, but please don’t read if you hate all spoilers.
In a corporate dystopia future, menial workers are just assets to be used up and tossed aside. Even more so if the menial workers are hired to work in a virtual reality RPG as basic labor. Unfortunately for the corporations’ way of thinking, Ozzy and his friends are far more competent than expected and have at least one powerful hidden ally. Plus, the corporation they now work for has outsmarted itself – the game the workers are placed in is balanced so when the corporation tried to make brainwashed grunts with no offensive skills, the workers received some well-hidden advantages included in the package. PCs and NPCs alike start learning some things the hard way: don’t insult the barmaid, shepherd powers are OP, the courier has friends in unexpected places, and don’t ever, ever mess with the butcher.
Blurb aside, this story has a lot of good points: easily readable general grammar and sentence and paragraph structure; a mix of short-term and longer-term plots; a good blend of drama and humor (no real romance so far though); smooth pacing; significant plot interactions; etc. The one thing that really makes the story is the characterization. I usually don’t like multiple point-of-view stories, but this one pulls it off very well. Every main character is given enough time and attention onscreen to feel like a real, unique person – there are no two-dimensional characters except for a few that are clearly comic relief. Even the villains have their own motivations and characterization.
My one minor gripe is that the framing story, which is set in the base reality of the world, seems to be overly complex and dramatic. If this irritates you as it does me, just ignore it for the short amount of time it takes to get to the in-game portion of the story. The author claims there is a reason for the framing story, but only hints have shown up in the in-game story so far. In any case, that’s one minor gripe compared to a lot of positives, so the story is well worth the read.
This story isn't a fast burn to power but more of a slowly smoked BBQ.
It's interesting how the main character/s use loopholes and oversights in what should be a crippled class to gain advantages. I found how the characters tweak their jobs skills for combat and using them in unconventional ways interesting.
Over all it is well written, and there is just enough slice of life so the characters don't run around putting out fire after fire with no break in between. The relationship between the main character and his deuteranonists is natural. The side chapters don't get in the way much and sometime resolve question I had. I think the main character could be a little more aggressive with the brutal side of his occupation but that's just my taste.
Any mistakes were either taken care of before I got to them or were small enough that I didn't notice. Another pro, which doesn't have to do with the story, is there is enough of a chapter bank that you can binge it for a few days without hitting the last chapter right as you were getting into it.
I'm currently binging this story, and having a lot of fun with it. The protagonists have a lot of flavor, the comedy is solid, and it's still going strong 150 chapters in. If you are looking for a comedy VRMMO, I'd say this is one of the best on the site.
Distopian reality which has resulted in most people working and basically living online. A mash up of Dakota Krout Ritualisr series meets Drew Hayes NPC series. Story mostly follows the day adventures of a skilled group of gamers who have signed up as contact workers to work for a corporation online. The corporation makes an attempt to nerf the contract workers so they are unable to adventure effectively to buyout there contacts early. The AI running everything has left loopholes that can be used so the contract workers are able to play the game. Overall a very fun read.
Overall, this is a creative, well-designed VRMMO lit-rpg with a well-thought-out setting, and characters that provide nice contrast to each other, and create a sort-of rag-tag take on a traditional adventuring party. The attention to detail is apparent, and the author goes out of their way to bring the reader along for the ride as the characters discover more and more of the game world. I've been reading stories here for 6 years, and made an account to write this review. This story is great and the author should feel proud of their hard work.
Style: The detailed game system, well-thought-out world, with realistic characters that make logical decisions. Smooth perspective shifts between chapters.
Grammar: The grammar is essentially perfect, with small editing errors that occasional slip through. Perhaps 1-2 small errors at most every few chapters.
Story score: Creative take on corporatized VRMMO with extreme system personalization to each character and with essentially infinite freedom for creative expression for the player. Even the mobs have goals and lives, and each NPC recieves system rewards!
Character score: The characters are great, with distinctive personalities. The rag-tag creation of a humorous adventuring party is great.
Give this story a read, it will not disappoint!
Reviewed at chapter 44.
So on the surface this looks like a standard VR-game experience as seen before on RR. However a lot of small things come together to make this story more enjoyable and suffer less of the complaints I have with most other VR stories.
[World building] Excellent.
First the big surprise: the VR-game imagined by the author in this story is actually something that you can imagine to be fun, even if the main characters are essentially paid support / crafter classes who only get to play when they sneak off. The AI NPC's and bad-guys are all intelligent, have personality and goals of their own which really helps to make the world feel real and alive.
[Characters] Multiple main characters working together. They are all likeable, and distinct enough to remember them. This makes this an easy to read story without any jarring POV shifts that less proficient authors might introduce.
It also uses a nice blend of not over the top slapstick, humour and camaraderie to give a nice casual atmosphere for our main characters to enjoy, while poking fun at the cut-throat hard-core raid guild / paid to win crowd as side characters.
[Style and grammar] Very easy to read, simple straightforward language. Reads as native English, and very little grammar errors.
Recommended even for those like me who are typically hesitant to try VR-stories.
I have seen a lot of stories with the game lit rpg system and world but this one stands out quite a bit with its detailed system and characters, problems that many lit rpgs face and makes me lose interest. The world building is really well done and it's easy to imagine the world and the characters.
From what I've read all the characters feels realistic and has some essence to them and are introduced properly.
Grammar- I haven't spotted much grammar mistakes but the length of the paras used could definitely be shortened as reading long paras can be exhausting.
Overall I feel like this is a well written book with amazing world building and life like characters. I feel like there is a lot of ways this book could branch out and this is definitely a story you check especially if you're a fan of lit rpgs.....
This is a really interesting take on the VRMMO genre that has a unique focus on corporatization. The background and world building are especially interesting and well implemented.
The style is probably the strongest element early on. The first few chapters have wonderful framing devices in both the character dialogue introducing the plot and excerpts from in-world documents that introduce the history. Once the story progresses to inside the game, the style becomes a little shakier, but totally servicable. The key problem being a tendancy to head-hop a little, especially when characters with distinctive voices enter the scene (Billy). Similar to this, perspectives shift without proper signposting and could benefit from paragraph breaks to signal different locations or viewpoints. Apart from this, the story is delivered in a tone that works great with the narrative but also has some levity to it.
The grammar is almost totally without issue. the only problems were slight mistakes in dialogue punctuation - but who even cares about that?
The story has an interesting set up in the corporatized VRMMO. The main actions of the story seem to be fairly standard for the genre, with a focus on characters levelling up and uncovering secrets in the game system. The structure of the corporate controlled village is very interesting though and gives the story and great structure.
The characters are currently serviceable but without exceptionally distinct voices. Billy, the manager of the village, has the most distinct character and makes his scenes much more engaging. I would like to see a bit more of a distinct voice and character from the main cast. But at the same time, they are totally servicable.
Overall, a pretty cool story with a really engageing setup and places to go.