Hunter of Tartarus: I Returned with a Bloody Steel Pipe (LitRPG)

I feel like it's important to preface this with the fact that this is a trope heavy story. It hits the vast majority of tropes you find in the rebirth/television/litRPG genre of stories. The females are super hot smokeshows described by their body and face. For all authors out there, you can actually have mundane females in your story who have other character traits other than big tits and a pretty face. The MC goes from normal person to being totally okay with being a killer in the span of 24 hrs. By chapter 2 you're getting a POV from a system overseer who can't help but comment on how super special the MC is despite not displaying anything that would warrant it. Some may like that, others like me will probably read it as pretty boring and derivative. 

I was also slightly biased because I saw this recommended on the rational subreddit and I don't think it fits at all. Some of the combat and actions by the MC really don't make sense if you really think about them despite being presented as high level tactical thinking.

I'll start with the negatives. So far the litRPG system does not matter 22 chapters in. The base vs earned stats is convuloted and a poorly thought out system. It creates 10x more confusion than entertainment. It would read much better if you just had a larger variety of base stats based on the person (I.e weightlifter starts with 15 strength vs the programing nerd who starts with 4). Levels don't seem to matter, there's no skills, and outside of an inventory and item descriptions there's really not "litrpg" stuff. An example of this would be the fight with the 3 men in chapter 22. Zach has triple their individual levels, a million past lives that have been shown to provide him at least a little big of extra ability/skill/gut insticnt, and is supposedly much more prepared because he knew this was going to happen. Yet he completely sturggles and ends up running away with 2 still alive. Levels are shown to not matter at all here.  If you're going to advertise as a litRPG the litRPG things need to matter, otherwise it reads like somebody trying to capitilize on the fact that you can smoosh litRPG on any old story and get a free ratings boost because standards are low in the genre.

The MC is supposed to be super special. The first person in the system on Earth. However it already looks like a largely inconsequential thing despite being beaten over the head with the idea that it's an amazing boon. The levels he's gained from an extra day have an extremely minor effect. He did not earn any special power/ability/etc. that really helps with the day to day. He's level 6ish going into the scenario with all the people which would be a level 1 scenario, yet he's not walking around wiping the floor with everyone. 

There's wayyyyy too many alternate POV's considering we're at chapter 21 as of this review. At least one every other chapter, many of which are lacking context and don't really provide anything for the story. At this point we don't even have enough time with the MC to really care about, and part of that reason is because we're getting yanked into all these random POV's from aliens/police officers/etc. that are doing a little bit of world building at the expense of a large amount of characterization of the MC which is a rough trade.

The last large negative detracting from the story is the out of dungeon time. So far it has really just slowed the story down. The entire arc with the hot yoga instructer really only served the point of showing us all the 10/10 women think the MC is hot and attractive. This chunk could definitely be cut and nothing would change with the story. The part with Hugo was better for sure.

One minor complaint is too much expoistion in the first few chapters. We are constantly told every chapter that the MC is poor. That the MC is stubborn. That the MC is surrounded by rich kids and feels out of place. Please show us these character traits. You also don't need to preface everything the MC does with some variation of "I'm poor so I do this". We know he's poor and the fact that he does certain things because he was poor is something we as readers are intelligent enough to grasp. You don't need to beat us over the head with personality traits assuming you're writing a good enough story that those traits are exemplified in his actions. 


Now for the positives that have stood out. The underground system is fairly novel and I was looking forward to seeing more of it. Having dedicated time when you can be in a dungeon and dedicated time outside of the dungeon dealing with the "initialization" issues sounds like it could create an interesting story/conflict. At this point the out of dungeon sections have been weak but if they're improved I think this could be a boon. 

I like Hugo. He honestly already seems to have more life in his character than the MC. It was fairly dissapointing to see him instantly get thrown away and seperated from the MC after the initialization. I can picture Hugo extremely well despite his limited word count because of the good job the author has done with him with limited time. We all know somebody like Hugo.

MC is still largely a blank canvas. We're told traits about him but they haven't really shown up in his actions so far in the story. I would say I'm pretty neutral on his characterization at this point.

Mechinically the story is written better than average for a RR story. Some grammar errors here and there but nothing bad enough to pull you out of the story. Feels like there's at least some minor editing for grammar before it's posted.

The largest positive I would like to point out is that the author seems keen on improving their craft and taking critique from the readers. This is something a lot of people struggle with and so far the author has been pretty active in regards to feedback. It also is one of the few things that can get me to read an average story because it provides hope the author (and the story with it) will improve with time. 

Overall, I don't know if I will continue to keep up with it and much just keep it on the follow list just in case. I think there's a good story somewhere here, but it's pretty rough around the edges. I think a reimagining of how the litRPG is used in the story and maybe throwing out some common tropes for a more unique story could go a long ways in making this a good RR story. 

Despite this review probably sounding more negative than it really is, I do think a decent chunk of readers on RR will like this story. I will be the first to admit I have some higher standards than maybe the average here. I would tentatively recommend the story at it's current point.

It's very much a new writer "RR" story at this point. I do think if the story wants to stand out it needs to find some unique strength, whether it's the system/characters/etc. otherwise it will fall in with the other 1000 generic similar stories on RR.

Elf Empire [An Isekai kingdom building story]

I was pulled in on the idea of kingdom building but by chapter 7 there was no way I was going to make it far enough to even reach kingdom building.

I'll star twith the few positives I noticed. Author is very mechanically sound. Did not see a lot of errors and the author is on top of fixing ones pointed out. In a similar vein, the author is active in the comments and seems committed to improving the story. The magic/litRPG aspect seems fairly in depth based on the limited view I got and the author seems to have planned a decent amount of it out for the future. This is always nice to see and having some type of planned outline can be so rare on this site or in this genre. The last thing that stood out to me was the MC being a fairly believable character. Fairly human reaction and not some 1 in a million god type character who magically gets good at everything. 

Now to the things that really drag the story down. First off, I don't know who the group of authors or beta readers the author uses but based on the comments and what they liked I'm guessing it's a group of 14 year olds boys. The dragon he meets in the forest talking like an 11 year old child in anime while using Earth slang was honestly some of the worst dialogue I've read on this site, and based on the authors comments this was something that was really liked by the beta readers. It was not remotely humorous and was completely immersion breaking. One of the worst examples I've seen. The first chapter is still largely a mess. Based on the comments it had already been revised multiple times by the time I found this story but it still insanely hard to follow and make sense of. I guarantee a large group of people are dropping it right after chapter 1. I did not get a chance to read the full story on the wolf but it's strongly hinted in the comments from the author it's literally a meme that was somehow so funny/popular to the beta readers that it became a huge part of the story. I think that sentence right there will give people a good sense of the type of story they're getting into, clearly it was not for me in the slightest. The last negative somewhat relates to one of the positives. The author is very honest in the comments about quite a few oversights and things they just didn't think about, which is great. They seem very humble and eager to improve as a writer, but acknowledging these things don't stop them from being rough to read. 

Overall I can't recommend the novel however I think there's probably a group of readers out there who will like the super memey, almost marvel cringey, level dialogue/jokes/etc. I'll never be able to get it but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that I think the story will fit someones palette out there.

I'd also strongly recommend the author gets a few more people in his beta reader and writer pool that are different types of people. Maybe someone whose older, less terminally online, or even just more "traditional" type of person. I think it would help balance out some of the larger problems I noticed reading.

Edit: Just noticed this is the same author that wrote city of masks which honestly makes a lot of sense. I can definitely see now that I know. If you liked the former I bet you would like this as well.

Minute Mage: A Time-Traveling LitRPG

Cool power. Story requires turning off brain.

I'll preface this by saying I wanted to like this story. I've been fiending for a good time travel story but this wasn't it. I'm actually fairly baffled by the other reviews. Time travel is obviously not unique at this point in the genre, but small time regression to the tune of minutes is fairly unique and opens up some really interesting things and progressions.

I'll start with the positive. Mechanically the writing is solid. A handful of errors here and there but the author is on top of fixing them when it's pointed out. The author has clearly plotted out how leveling works which is nice and there's mathematical consistency to it. Not a huge plus for me but I know many in this genre will love the detail. Lastly, the power is interesting and it only being for minutes helps stop it from having the same tropes that all the other regression stories have where they go back years or decades. The skills and evolutions could be interesting in the future but as of the chapter I decided to drop on it's not very explored. One thing I really liked was the MC actually came up with some decent ways to abuse his minute respawn power which was nice to see. Many authors would have the MC largely not think on it until there back was against the wall in some fight or another.

I should also mention that the author does seem to be pumping out a ton of chapters. I know many will love that. 

Sadly now I must do the negatives. The first and foremost is that the background behavior of the MC just makes no sense and is full of logical inconsistencies. We have a 20 year old growing up in a walled in a frontier "simple village" who has never left the walls? Has literally zero bushcraft skills? The village is described as simple so it can't be super big. What has the MC been doing for 20 years where he's literally never left the walls of this tiny village? Where he's never gained any useful outdoor skills despite living in a place where everyone would have some, down to the 5 year old kids running around. Another perfect example is when he's wondering around the woods, very rarely getting into fights, but then for some reason he decides to pop his "safety ult" and hide until it recharges in the domain of the 2nd most powerful monster he had encountered in the forest. There's the rationale that it would scare away the other monsters, but at this point he at least had a couple of levels and skills. He was doing fairly okay in the rest of the woods and he wans't running in to monsters left and right by any means. Yet he decides to go into the most dangerous things domain with no second life for terrible reasons. And it's very clearly not written to show he's dumb, it's written like it was a smart play.

This glaring inconsisteny really exemplifies the problems with the story. There's just way too many instances where there's just no logical consistency. We can hand waive away some of those complaints by saying the MC is in shock and not thinking straight. Actually we can't because he largely doesn't react to his 2 adventurer guides being killed and stranding him in a forest where he, somehow, has literally no usefull skills. In fact, the stream of concious narration we get from the MC's viewpoint is almost flippant. I.e. "oh I'm lost in the forest, but whatever I'll just go find some water or shelter". This is a 20 year old with no actual adventuring experience with a new class and 2 skills/spells that seems to largely unaffected by his new change in circumstance. There's a little fear thrown in but it doesn't line up with expectations at all based on the background given. 

The second huge problem is that the MC is certified idiot. In contention for one of the dumbest ones I've seen on this site. He gets into the forest with an automatic life saving skill that can be triggered once a day. He's a noob, he has basically no levels and no experience whatsoever fighting monsters. So what does he do? He uses his life saving skill early in the day to refight a monster for more XP! There's a few other examples of absolutely mind numbingly dumb decisions in the forest but I'll refrain from mentioning them all for the sake of spoilers. Another great example is him getting to civilization and deciding instantly to just start casting his offensive magic around non stop inside the town with no targets to level it.


At the end of the day if you can completely turn off your brain I think you can enjoy this story, but it requires too much for me to handle. Maybe it gets better farther in the story but I just couldn't read past this point. It felt like I was watching the world's dumbest man wander around the woods being saved by pure plot armor. Not satisfying in the slightest.

Wait - You Guys Have [Systems]?!

So I'll start with the positives. Mechanically it's well written and the author is on top of correcting mistakes in the comments. The MC's power has finally been just remotely touched in in chapter 25 and it could create an interesting dynamic, emphasis on could. Sadly that's really the only positives for the story. The perk system honestly was the most interesting aspect of the story for me, so of course the MC doesn't have them and it's probably never going to be fully realized. I enjoy the idea of adding negative perks to get more points for positive ones. It creates an opportunity for some really creative builds. I guess having the other earthlings seem like normal people is a plus as well.

A much larger list of negatives. There is basically no characterization of the MC. I disagree with others pretty strongly on that point, I think he's basically the least developed out of everyone introduced. Just a blank slate at this point. The world building largely makes no sense. It's obviously hinted at that there are more nefarious reasons or that not all meets the eye, but the hinting of something in the future doesn't make the correct material not crap to read. The behavior makes literally no sense and based on the authors comments after chapters I'm very skeptical it's going to come together in any form of logicl way. I feel pretty confident there world building / set up will fall apart with even an ounce of thinking (as of chapter 25 it doesn't make any sense). The magic system could be interesting but it's largely not explored, and with an MC that can't use it it probably never will be to a satisfying level. The natives are all terrible people although the author is likely setting up the guide for some sort of redemption/positive combeback, but it's not going to be believable without change to the first 25 chapters that we are at right. For example, the isekai'd people are clearly being set up to be "nukes" for the country with their rapid leveling ability, yet they treat them like complete and utter shit from the second the arrive? It makes literally no sense. It's like trying to verbally bully the kid holding a gun. There's still no plot or goal outside of just survive at this point. The story has been treading water in the tutorial area for awhile now. 

Overall, I would not recommend at this point in time. I feel like the story is alread setting up for a whole boatload of logical holes and inconsistencies, which is a tough sell when the MC is probably the least interesting character introduced so far. I think there could be a decent RR story here, but I'm not convinced we'll ever see it.


Monster Farmer

Mechanically it's very well written. The "twist" could be interesing but it's not super explored yet. Sadly that's about it for strong positives at this point.

The MC basically has no characterization. Just a complete blank canvas. The pacing is all over the place. The set up doesn't completely make sense. World builidng is largely non existent. Somehow there's basically no exploration of the magic he gets and is using. The MC basicallly just dropped everything and restarted without any lingering doubts or thoughts of his past life. It's like it never existed.  

Lastly, you can't go MIA from posting this early. At the time of this review it's been 17 days since the last post on a story that is supposed to update 3 times a week and is not even 20 entries deep. If you want a following on RR you can't be doing that this early in a story. It kills all engagement. 

If the author is committed to the story it feels like one that will pump like 50 entries, realize it's bad, and hopefully go back for a rewrite and create a good RR tier story. Best case scenario.

Wanted to like it more than I have.

The System Envoy: A SciFi 4X LitRPG Series

So I'll be quick. The world is pretty standard but interesting enough. At this point the world building is kind of explained but still pretty jumbled. A competent MC who was selected for a super secret role, although so far nothing has really been shown as to why he was selected out of all the possible humans. Heavy on the military stuff, which will be a huge plus to some. The military humor falls pretty flat as someone with no background in it. 

The strong positives would be grammar and that the author clearly is more experienced than most in this genre. The action seems well thought out. Characters are very simple at this point but not annoyingly so. It's nice to see an old MC who somewhat acts their age (although he does do the classic moron thing in this genre where tells a bunch of complete strangers his secret that could be world altering). There is also a small tinge of mystery throughout which is a nice addition. The biggest positive would be that it's fairly logical outside of the aforementioned slip. You can tell the author sat down and really thought about how this introduciton would play out and change the world.

There some middling things as well. The MC has the classic AI trope, some will like but others won't. The AI seems to be just as useful as the story needs at any given moment.

There are some pretty heavy downsides at this point though as well. This is the lowest bar possible to qualify as litRPG. There are levels and skills but you could remove them and nothing would change from the story at this point. There's no interesting evolutions, changes, or even just noticable difference between individuals with different levels and different skill levels. So far it adds nothing to the story. I know MC's in this genre tends to be a blank slate so readers can self identify as them, but there could definitely do with some better characterization for him. The last negative would be I'm not seeing a "wow" factor at this point. It's largely solid throughout but there's also nothing super amazing about that would make me drop what I'm doing to read the newest chapter. 

Overall, I think military/science fictions fans will like it the most. If you're big on the RPG side of litRPG you're going to have some frusterations with how useless the RPG mechanics are in the scheme of the story. I honestly don't see what is added by the author making this litRPG. It's just useless word count at this point. 

Ends of Magic: Antimage LitRPG

The biggest problem is the disconnect with the MC. He doesn't come across as an analytical scientist and he defintely doesn't come across as a rage filled berskerer running through walls and people whenever he gets angry. 

I strongly agree with the other review that stated it reads like the author wanted to write an anti-magic rage beserker and then randomly shoehorned in some other MC idea they had. The largely mild mannered scientist (who doesn't really act like a scientist) is in extreme discordance with the anger he's "demonstrating". It reads as so contrived and eye rolly whenever he "gets mad".

I'd still reccomend everyone give it a shot though

A Summoner Awakens [A Card-Based GameLit Progression Fantasy]

This is a great RR story. Mechanically well written, the author clearly has an outline/plan already for the story, and the magic/world is interesting.

The only strong con would have to be the MC. It reads how an imagine a 13 year would imagine an upstanding gentleman. It also puts you into a situation where you have to be able to suspend your disbelief because nobody really acts/questions why the MC magically becomes a super arrogant/posh kid out of nowhere. It hurts the internal consistency. I understand the author is trying to create a unique character but the "posh" attitude/manners need to be turned down to like 50% at most. It's a real drag on the story. The side characters are cliche as hell.

The characters are a huge negative to the story. 

Read the story. After an editing pass and MC personality touch up I think it will be a solid book (even without the super inflated litRPG/progression fantasy ratings). I also hope we quickly move on from the hyper competent gary stu that fills 99% of going back in time stories. 

Integrated Universe - A LitRPG Adventure

Nothing overwhelmingly bad, but not a lot of strengths either. Fairly standard system and set up with an MC that already lacks any agency/motivations. Hard to find anything that stands out when compared to 100 other similar stories on RR. 

Author needs to add something unique/interesting to get a reader to want to read this story.

The Twelfth Cataclysm: A LitRPG Adventure

I think the best way to describe the story would be that it's one I read when I'm not reading anything else. It's just okay in most aspects. The humour is very hit and miss, the action is run of the mill, the litrpg aspects are extremely basic/mundane, a "snarky" system, and the characters aren't interesting. There's nothing here that really makes anyone want to read this story over the other 1000 similar stories on RR. I want to like it, but there's just nothing that makes it stand out.

Maybe I'll keep following it, maybe I won't. To be honest, I've been teetering at the edge of dropping it for about 10ish chapters here.

Update: The great twist on chapter 28 still isn't that interesting. Concept could be, but execution wise it's not and doesn't fix all the other generic bits of the story. Maybe if you really like the humor (what in poseidon's squiggly beard) I'd recommend stick with it, but even the humor is very....juvenile to be honest. It's somcething I may have enjoyed middle school but not as an adult. 

It definitely gets on my nerves how so many RR readers and litRPG readers in general have no standards and give everyone 5 stars. It just encourages authors to not improve because the readers would give a turd on the road a 5 star if it had stats to go with it. It leads useless reviews and why you basiclaly have subtract a star from every rating you see in this genre to actually get the real rating. Hopefully someday we'll reach a more normal and less pulp genre of quality.