- Traumatising content
In the deepest reaches of the Bone Pits, a canine seemingly like any other woke up in the ruined remains of a wooden box.
With knowledge it shouldn't have, fleeting memories it couldn't reach, and the icy grasp of death crawling up its spine with every labored breath, it simply wished to live another day.
Yet, in the bowels of a city built on metal corpses, nothing was ever simple.
Gangs, religious groups, loose collectives, Dungeon Barons, highborn and cultists alike all battle for supremacy in the industrial underbelly of Carmera, blind to what prowls below.
For in the writhing clouds of smog none peer into, in the murky, frothing depths of the sumps that none approach, in the deepest reaches of the Dungeon that none but the mentally deranged dare challenge, the last wolf rakes its claws through steel and howls to a distant sky.
Are you tired of fun monster evolution stories where the monster becomes increasingly less monstrous, and eventually they're just a more spicy version of a human and it stops being a monster evolution story?
Well, i am.
So- insert thanos meme where he says "fine, i'll do it myself"
PS: Pacing is slow, and speed-reading will just confuse you.
(The art in the book cover was made by an extremely talented artist named Chloe Bt, and she allowed me permission to use one of her renders as the main ingredient to my book cover, because she's fucking awesome.)
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Its an odd thing to say about a LitRPG, that it feels real, but this one manages it. It does so by making the monster, A sick dog, feel real because it thinks and behaves like a smart dog rather than a human in a dog shape. Also by rooting the progression in a creature slowly progressing from absolute zero, the story feels impactful. The monster is becoming formidable, but not OP, it learns from experience and while it does seem to pick up how to use its system rather quickly, it evolves in a logical way with clear constraints. Overall you never feel like the system is simply showering the MC with gifts, but rather that the MC is making the best of a few lucky breaks, and learning via trail and error. The struggle feels real as does the world the MC inhabits.
As a warning, this story is very gory, though the nonchalant attitude of MC toward blood and gore does reduce the impact somewhat. Not for the faint of heart.
This seems realistic! It seems like a life, not a story. Thats a good thing! Just a wolf living his life. I like this story. I love the evolution aspect, how it ties with your other story (I think) the fact you don't hold back on the gore. Lol, I'm imagining the wolf eventually picking up a shotgun and just blasting someone:) I wonder what his magic will be like?
I have to say, what drew me in was the promise of a monster evolution story that wasn't just a reincarnated human regaining their humanity with extra beast powers. And it delivers. The monster doesn't begin with a human mind, but an animal one, and it claws its way out of a grim, infested pit that horrifies the people living there but feels normal to the protagonist. Its 'cheat' is well chosen in that it has a great deal of utility and growth, but is incremental in its application. I imagine it will some day be overpowered, but I look forward to seeing it slog its way through horrors to get there.
Style: Clean sentences with easy pacing. There are bursts of action, but so far the pace has been steady and contemplative as the protagonist feels out the world around them.
Grammar: Mostly very good, but with a handful of errors that slipped through.
Story: Grim and dirty. The story is set in what seems to be one of the many dungeons of the world. Regarded as one of the worst, it's an almost apocalyptic wasteland with a factory theme. Below, rivers of toxic sludge flow, massive rodents swarm, and humans only travel with the aid of full body protective gear. It's a setting that feels like it should be in a polluted future dystopia, but blends into the fantasy aesthetic surprisingly well. The plot itself follows an initially pitiful creature, that gains its system on the very brink of death. From there, its no power fantasy, but a scrape for survival that slowly progresses as the MC secures itself and begins to look beyond merely getting enough food to avoid starvation. In some respects it reminds of Blighted: A Plague Rat's Tale, but with a clean slate instead of a reincarnated sociopath, and a perhaps less fundamentally grim world. All in all, it's a great, filthy world, and I want to see more of it.
Characters: Surprisingly solid. Admittedly there haven't been many, but the MC is well portrayed as a new sapience risen from animal experience. Its understanding of world steadily grows, piecing together aspects of the world from what it can see from its perspective. The author also makes sure that it has more depth than just "eat the weak things, flee the strong things" which provides a better experience for the (presumably) human audience. They also don't suddenly leap from chasing rats to erudite scholar, so there's a smooth progression as it learns about the world. Humanoid characters are fleshed out solidly in the time that we've seen of them, instead of just using throwaway caricatures. Despite the focus of the story being monster evolution, the humanoid elements serve as a support rather than a backdrop.
Overall, this makes for a great, if gory, entry into the monster evolution sphere. The power progression is slow and steady, the monster has just the right amount of complexity, and the world is fascinating. If you don't mind a bit (a lot) of blood and guts, then I strongly recommend checking this out and seeing if it appeals to you.
This author actually fact checks his fight scenes to get the anatomy right for the gory details! Reminds me a bit of Watership Down even though I don't remember finishing that story. The descriptions of the setting are also excellent. The industrial backgroud have a Little Nightmare and Inside vibe.
This story started really well, at a fast pace and focusing on the POV of the beast. However, things got derailed when he encountered a human. At that point we started getting a lot of changing points of view, and despite the expanding world lore, the plot ground to a halt.
Chapter after chapter is the same two characters stuck in the same place with little to no progression. Updates slowed down dramatically, and the excitement I had to read the next chapter pretty much evaporated. The last two chapters I read I couldn't do more than skim, because they were yet more of the same.
The story has somehow become a bottle episode without needing to limit cast/location based on a limited budget.
Anyone familiar with Royalroad is aware of how many broken, shallow and half-assed LitRPGs lands here on a daily basis, mostly ending up as cringe-inducing power fantasies, quickly abandoned after just a few dozen chapters.
This fiction is not one of those.
The first thing that will suprise you is the suprisingly high level of writing, sentences flowing easily and without problem. There is of course a few hiccups, mainly strange descriptions of surroundings that make my imagination fold in half while trying to understand what exactly am I supposed to imagine, but aside of that, the technical side of the story is up there with the best on RR.
This story is a Monster MC story, a classic. Except this one is already one of the best I've ever seen, easily outclassing 95% of every other monster MC stories. The biggest fear in every such fiction is if the MC will remain a monster, and if yes, then if they will become a human (or other species) lapdop. Fortunately, so far everything points towards it not being the case in this story, which makes me extremely optimistic towards the future.
As for characterization, the MC is much more than just a murderhobo, and the characterization goes much deeper than you would expect from a story of this kind.
The effort the author puts into writing the story is downright startling, considering I was sure he was a medical student or at least someone familiar with medicine/biology, while it turned out he didn't know practically anything about biology and was researching it as he was writing. It might sound like a flaw, but it's actually a very useful skill to be able to write something without making it look wrong (although I admit I'm not familiar with biology myself, so maybe someone who is might have spotted errors that eluded me).
Honestly, I am a bit shocked how good this fiction is, I saw it recommended somewhere and decided to read it after another story turned out to be a dissapointment, and I couldn't have made a better decision.
Really fun story so far, the entire world feels very soulsborne-esque in the best way possible. Most of my complaints so far revolve around the stereotypical issues that characters with the abilities the main character has, when it comes to power growth and magical "systems" granting power for no apparent reason. I also didn't really like an encounter at the very beginning of the story that results in the main character getting special good boi powers, because it just felt a little too coincidental and really dropped too much lore right at the beginning of the story. Scenes like that work in stories like FMA because when we first encounter them, they raise more questions than they answer.
But like, he's a dog, so maybe thats fine.
After that one encounter everything else has been great, I love the slow pace of a lot of the chapters, because it really gives the story room to breathe and grow naturally. I'd like to see the main character get hit with situations that aren't so easily resolved in the future, and it would be good to see them not just coming out on top every time. Variety is the spice of life and all that.
As a fan of fantasy and science fiction, there are common themes that I like. Anything that has wolves in it, I like and will give it a shot.
The main character in this story is a wolf, with some interesting twists. It's a solitary creature, not part of a pack. Not a strong, dominant predator, but an opportunistic scavenger. Not living in the great outdoors, but in a vast subterranean area beneath a post-apocalyptic city.
Such a great setting for a lot more unusual things to occur. Not gonna lie; some parts of the story, I had a hard time following, probably because I was speed reading, but I am able to follow the overall arc of the story. I honestly have no idea where the author will go next, but I am sure that it won't be in a typical troupe direction.
If you like the stories on RR because they are different from what you find in the book store, you may enjoy this tale.
P.S. I don't care about grammar, typos, etc. because my brain is always on auto correct.
P.S.S. This is not 200 words? Ima pull a butthead. Words words words words words
Monster works...are a hard balancing act between empathy and alienation, but the author pulls it off very well. Warning on being biologically technical and unflinching in its depictions...it is a nice twist but not for everyone.
The new human perspectives that come in and out are most interesting and introduces the potential for monstrosity in the other direction as well
Well. It has been quite some time since I have read something like this. And with glee in my fingers I am happy to type that this is the sort of story that originally brought me to Royalroad.
First of all, what the auther has written in the description is very much true. The whole over humanisation is truly irritating as it ruins most stories.
authors get overattached to characters be they beloved or not and always seem to want to explore humanity, but in a weird "what if" scenario after promising a monster evolution story as was advertised.
This story, keeps it promise/premise and adds things others don't.
Style: First of all for all the POV change haters: Pov changes exist. WAIT! Just one sec. There are two POVs atm and both are important.
First we have the Doggo ofc.
And then it's newly found and to it seemingly valuable protégée. A young female elf who almost got killed in an accident regarding the doggo. The view of the elf indeed feels welcome as her constant near death state brings a delicate balance into the story others simply lack.
Where was I? The style, yes. All in all there are letters. Great if you know how to read.
No, but really. The descriptions depicted through these letters are wonderfully explicit, both in being explicit as well as showing explicit, in this iteration gory, contents.
The story is not for someone who doesn't like blood, innards and so on. Lotsa peeps nowadays shy away from that and I don't really get it.
You want glorious combat? Yes. But why do people advocate a style of writing that incentivises despawning corpses like games from the two thousands?
Don't get me wrong.
I would much rather prefer corpses irl glitching into the ground and then stretching into infinity as our very real physics break and the tissue tears at lightspeed. But think of the collateral damage that would cause.
This story handles its blood casually, as much as doggo on the streets would.
You get the perspective that is advertised.
All in all the style is how it is supposed to be:
Suspenseful enough to keep me coming back and so very much natural that immersion can happen. This is not the irredeamable dribble a lot of the stories nowadays portray.
This genuinly feels fresh and simply good in its honesty.
Story: Well there isn not a lot to talk about without spoiling the whole thing, so ima keep my mouth shut. All I can do responsibly is telling you that the tags the story has are truthful. It's cohesive, it makes sense, it is suspenseful, it is what you wanted if you liked the description.
Grammar: As a fellow Insomniac and my truthfully awful attempts at writing, I know just how many mistakes can worm themselves into a text, even on today's autocorrecting hardware, be they mobile or on a keyboard.
A few people hve mentioned grammatical errors and well; I've just started the story yesterday. A few times it is mentioned that there were mistakes. Now there aren't.
Ergo: If you are like me and check RR sporadically because of any reason, you might not find anymistakes at all. Not that I could if I were early because of said lack of sleep.
But it seems that there are some, which means to some it is a problem... 4.5 seems adequate. Just to give a nod to those peeps.
Characters: Yes. I don't want to say more besides saying that the one character that could be relatable isn't, purely because of the fact that I tend not to experience near death situations quite that often. But said character from the spoiler tag up there still acts realistically I would guess.
Regarding the doggo. Well. 5/5 simply because it feels like actually following an animal.
Yes. You heard me right. Even though
the doggo is way more intelligent than a human, which is in canon,
It feels 100% real. @ me. I dare you.
This is not an animal that becomes increasingly human as the author forgets the premise that let people flock to the story in the first place.
This is an animal described by a probably human author that feels like an animal. And as described it is supposed to stay that way, even if it becomes more intelligent.
AND YES. The only trait that differentiates us from them, is intelligence. And experience with that intelligence.
Which in this case, needs to be the factor that holds the story together. Which it does.
It's inexperience with humanity and intelligence as a whole, mixed with its animalistic nature in tandem with litRPG elements is why you scrolled down here, is it not?
Then start reading already. Don't bother with the mad ramblings of a madman (Like and subscribe) and START READING ALREADY (hit the bell Icon in the bottom left)!
JUST JUMP INTO IT ALREADY!