Some disclaimers: The author contacted me for a review swap. We got into a bit of a verbal tiff. I’m not a Wuxia/Cultivation fan.
With that in mind, the fact that I am recommending this story should tell you that it’s very good.
Without going into spoilers, Grisla is a highly relatable and sympathetic character. He shoulders heavy weights and starts as the opposite of the man he is to become. The other characters in the story so far all have depth and complexities and do not suffer from two-dimensionality, which has been my main problem with the Wuxia/Xianxia stories I’ve read.
It is very apparent that the author has put a lot of work into his prose. Descriptions and turns of phrases are all uniquely illustrative. It can get a little dense at times, utilizing a wider vocabulary than what is typically found on this site. But more often than not, the prose is beautiful, not in a flowery way, but in a way that is fitting for this type of story.
Because my experience with Wuxia/Xianxia web novels is limited, I don’t really have much to compare this story to. However, I will say that the story immediately reminded me (both the narrative and the language) of Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa, which is one of the great literary treasures of Japan. Now let’s be realistic and say that this is an unedited story on Royal Road, but the fact that this story even made me think of that masterpiece speaks volumes about the writer’s skill and potential.
If I have one note for the author, it would be to spread the exposition out a bit more through actions, dialogue, and scenes. If we could learn about the world and backstory naturally without paragraph explanations, then this story would be near perfect.
Don’t go reading this if you’re looking for a light casual read. But if you are a fan of the genre and want something to really sink your teeth into and be swept away by a fully developed world with living, breathing characters, then you should definitely give this story a try. Five stars.
There are only seven chapters of this story out, and so this review is based on that, but so far it's been an intriguing read.
The story has an interesting premise. Each person is born with a superpower (flair) but the main character doesn't have one (yet). Eugene has a snarky, funny voice which makes up for his other lacking character traits, and I assume we'll get deeper into the characters as the story progresses. The other characters seem to do a good job of keeping him in check.
I enjoyed the present tense of the writing, although there were some grammar issues. The biggest thing I found confusing was that the author makes references to our world, which makes me wonder where the story is set, but perhaps that will be explained in greater detail in future chapters.
This appears to be the author's first attempt at LitRPG, and it's definitely a unique take on the genre. What he's set up so far shows a lot of potential of where the story could go. (I'm also surprised that no one has formatted character changes the way he does in web novels.) I'm looking forward to more releases and seeing where the story goes.
The biggest draw of this story is that it does a wonderfully unique take on the LitRPG genre by utilizing retro gaming tropes. It’s a pretty fantastic concept. It’s basically the opposite of Sword Art Online or any other story that are based on hyper real game worlds. The great benefit of this is that if you've played any of the games that the story references, you'll get that nostalgic vibe as you read. It's like, what would it be like if you entered into one of those worlds of the games that you played as a kid?
The writing is style strightfoward and to the point. I’m a personal fan of short sentences and it appears this writer is too. This makes the writing read quickly, giving it a punchy feel, even if it does feel a little choppy at times.
Also extra points for making me laugh out loud with some of the descriptions and reactions of the pixelated characters. The humor in this story is definitely on point, and I say this as someone who is prideful of my own humor writing.
I'm looking forward to seeing where the story goes and how the concept will be expanded upon :)