Review as of chapter 19:
The main character reads like a child playing a DnD campaign. That same lack of investment or care for the outcome of their action as well as doing random actions for poor or no reason. The one fight scene thus far also has similar problems, with actions conforming more towards a structured encounter rather than taking into account the actual physical limitations of the terrain and participants. I see this as a problem on all counts.
The big point that stands out is a lack of foreplanning.
The fact the MC can't speak the local language at all, only to almost immediately "perfect communication" touch telepathy (I paraphrase, but it is basically that) just a few chapters later, indicates a lack of forethought and an attempt to backpedal on a plot element that would obviously make for a very long term obstruction to plot and character development.
It's not horrible, bt it is mildly aggravating as the mc acts brain damaged with some of his poor decision making if we are to take into account the one making those decisions is present and experiencing the consequences. Hence, again, reading like a person playing DnD with their MC.
A of chapter 24: There is a lot of repeating and retreading the same thing agiain and again. The world-building is also inconsistent, treated as both a game world that was built and designed as a game (yet with only conscripted players, most of whom are supposed to die off in the second act of the tutorial) and as an armour for the world designed to soak monster invasion, with a conscripted army to do the fighting.
Throw logic, sense, and good story telling out the window. It's mindless, repetetive, and generic.
Mildly amusing, not actually funny (more annoying or aggravating in parts if I'm honest), a low form of entertainment for when you want something mindless. It's not terrible - definitely readable, but it isn't all that good. Thus far there are no narrative hooks to gain a readers interest, it just survives on gimmicks alone to drive it.
(the above part of teh review was rated 6/5 at time of following additions if that sort of thing is relevant to you)
Edit as of chapter 45: Still heavily relies on gimmicks, but the writing seems technically solid and is repeating itself less (or seems to be). Inconsistencies in the world building are still in play/unexplained. Story is getting slightly deeper with more world building taking place and seems to be gaining some direction beyond completely relying on gimmicks.
Upping score by 1 to reflect percieved increase in quality.
Starts in media res - which is fine. Except there is nothing to lend context to anything going on in the first few chapters. There is snow, and struggle to get through it, some fights, and a tumble down a mountain - but nont of it has meaning and I don't care about any of it or the MC because they are just things that happened with no context.
I could tell you I tripped today and fell in a pool of water and you wouldn't care. It's just a thing that happened.
But if I told you I tripped today and fell in a pool of water while running late on the way to an important meeting that could decide whether or not I lose my job and end up pennyless - suddenly we have a story on our hands.
Context matters. Particularly in gaining and maintaining interest. This lost mine practically instantly due to lack of context. Grammar needs work as well.
Grammar is bad - chapter 8 is especially bad.
Style fluctuates between light novel, tabletop adventuring, and overblown introspection. I personally find the overly emotional bits (or at least supposed to be such) fall flat and retread the same materail a lot. When I found myself skipping over large tracts of a chapter due to that I decided to put this one down (somewhere in chapter 10).
Characters are at the least not carboard caricatures, but do behave oddly and awkwardly in many places - mostly to facilitate the harem tag. It's honestly unecessary to the actual plot as seen so far and feels like a bunch of pointless tangents being spun off.
Story - there is one, of an episodic nature thus far but seemingly with some potential for an overarching structure.
Overall could be better/needs polish. Clean up the grammar, don't try to force elements into play (harem, emotional/introspective bits - some things just don't fit and should be re-worked or discarded), and tighten up the narrative a touch. Still readable.
It feels like everything is built around the MC being guided by his dick. Every second sentence makes a point of mentioning how attractive a female character is and how attracted the MC is to them, with a side of how they are reacting to each other. I know it's marked as harem but good god man, time and place. Show some restraint. It completely swallows the interactions snd reduces the overall level of quality, and - as the title of this review implies - makes me cringe.
If you dialled the horndog back a bit to normal human being levels of interaction, it actually has potential to be good. As is, I couldn't make it past chap 3.
The first move is "suddenly ambush," where teh main character gets hit out of left field eevery time they try to do anything at all, by a faction, force or opponent that did not have a presence in teh story prior to that point.
The second move is "stupid, shortsighted incompetence" which describes the main character.
The first story has just barely enough of an overrching narrative to keep you reading as a guilty pleasure - particularly if you are into wierd monster/bug fetish or like the post apocalypse kingdom builder version of "suddenly litrpg system"/"suddenly the world is magic" stories. With a side of "yay drugs" for flavour.
The second story tosses out all characters and restarts the MC at zero, but stupider and less competent, but more active. This happens at chapter 100.
The world building is the most interesting part, but unfortunately is poorly utilised and the characters are shortsighted and self-sabotaging, never gaining any meaningful traction or solving any single narrative relevant problem.
It's basically on the verge of being incoherent over the first few chapters. Lacks structure, and fails to establish a context and framing for what is happening over the first few chapters. I sped through to about chapter 5 and got the feeling that I was reading a story written by or for a very young child - it holds some similarity in style to a child's picture book.
Honestly, dropped after chapter 1 but read through the extra chapters to get some more information for review.
Two characters in an isolated location. One character only exists in the mind of the other (effectively). World building is all done through infodump, character building is done by anecdotal recollections and both seem irrelevant because the characters aren't interacting with other characters or moving through the wider world, they are operating inside a box and only interacting with themselves. As of chapter 35 the isolation seemingly continues (it should be noted that I started skipping and skimming over parts simply to check how the story would develop after chapter 12 as I noticed certain trends. I saw little to contradict anything in this review other than mention of a single antagonist character)
On the rpg elements - I feel it's poorly constructed, high tech plus magic solution that is overexplained to its detriment, leaving holes in the mechanics and making it feel slapdash.
Motivationally the MC seems to solely be a vessel to progress within the system of the rpg elements with no other goal, with a side of base building.
To potential readers:
During the first few chapters there are some things that might turn some people off that concern fourth wall narrative breaking and one instance of what appears to be an in-line author aside directly addressed to the reader. There are also some other things that might seem questionable to an experienced reader and set off some red flags simply from matters of prior experience. I know they did for me.
Ignore those things. They are not negative indicators of the quality of writing or the style of the piece and don't happen agiain. They are just the author getting their legs under them and hitting stride. A necessary part of transitionaing from certain tired cliches and a couple minor missteps into something original and enjoyable.
This is a very self aware take on a xianxia style isekai story that uses a protagonist who is aware of the tropes and whose awareness of the genre allows for some interesting sidesteps and curveballs that keep the story fresh. This is an interpretation of the xianxia style that has so far managed to both maintain originality and character depth while actively avoiding falling into all of the worst pitfalls prevailent to the genre. The ongoing anti-harem sentiment and group centric rather than individual focus is a real breath of fresh air.
(For one thing the MC isn't an unrepentant psychopath committing slaughter left and right. Always a plus.)
It's worth a read if you like xianxia/cultivation stories - it is even more worthwhile to read if you don't.
To the author - Nice work. Good grammar, the humour isn't innappropriate to the medium even if it does lean a bit on certain anime/manga cliches in places it doesn't go so far that it becomes frustrating to read.
Most importantly each character has a well defined and unique voice within the work and avoid the two-dimensionalism and by rote paper cutout tropic formula behaviour, waving cheerfully while passing chances at such behaviour by - keep it up, it's what makes the story truly worth reading.
Looking forward to more.
Style - It is a narrated game rather than a story that uses game mechanics as part of the narrative. If you ever played an old rpg walking around talking to people with stock dialogue and quests - it's like that till nearly half way. Not natural and lacks organic flow. The author has a tendancy to start sentences with "I." Try making an effort to drop this habit and move to external focus. Instead of "I woke up and rolled oout of bed I..." try "Waking from slumber and rolling out of bed I..." Move the focus external to the character. Instead of "I saw x" just go with "x thing happened." The less you relate external things to the mc ie "I saw x happen" or "I did x" vs "x happened" or "Doing x" the better. As first person we already know everything is through the mc's perspective but using "I" all the time limits the language you can use descriptively. Action scenes come off as very dry with little or no emotional investment or reaction by the character.
Grammar - spelling mistakes and perspective errors are present in early chapters. Needs work. Also there is a distinct lack of contractions which comes off as awkward and mechanical or overly formal rather than organic.
Character - Where things really fall down, particularly in dialogue. Characters come off as stiff and stilted, lacking individual personality and overarching motivations and agendas for almost all of the story - particularly the mc. They aren't real characters so much as generic cutout placeholders there to perform a function mechanically. This seems to generally improve as chapters progress with characters having more life. Dialogue still needs improvement. The mc has had no exploration of their motivations. All characters lack emotional investiture in anything at all which is the largest issue overall.
Story - There isn't one until around chapter 22 when external elements get introduced. Very slow starter. There is knowledge bleed between characters occasionally. The pacing and framing is somewhat awkward and artificial rather than growing organically from character motivations.
Stopped reading chapter 28. I simply am not invested in the story or characters at this point.