Tag Archives: litRPG

Monster Paradise (Web Novel)

Title: Monster Paradise

Author: Nuclear Warhead Cooked in Wine

Chapters: 989 (Ongoing)

Location: https://www.wuxiaworld.co/Monster-Paradise/

Lin Huang mysteriously one day was given a goldfinger and sent to another world. His abilities allow him to capture monsters into cards. Posing as a monster tamer, he aims to become the strongest.

This has a somewhat rough story, but I quickly got into it and enjoyed it quite a bit. I like the combination of card game mechanics, monster capture/raising, and the gradual power increases of a cultivation novel.

The monsters Lin Huang captures grow and develop as he does. Initially they’re all pretty blank-slate, but as they grow more powerful and intelligent, they start exhibiting more distinct personalities. Some of these lead to a lot of humor, such as one of the sword-fighting monsters developing an obsession with vegetables (and getting very possessive of his snacks).

The worldbuilding varies. The beginning is extremely confusing, and I’m still unclear what a goldfinger is referring to (it seems to be some kind of known card type in a game, but the oblique reference just doesn’t work for me). It’s almost completely irrelevant that Li Huang was pulled from another world, and the story would have worked just as well if he hadn’t been.

I don’t really care about characters other than Li Huang and his ever-expanding collection of monsters. I do like how the antagonists get a reasonable amount of development but so far haven’t stuck around for ages. They get dealt with fairly quickly, or else they get out of the spotlight so the plot isn’t bogged down in the same place for too long.

The story does play around in several different genres. Some of the monsters Li Huang hunts ends up more like a mystery story, as he has to investigate corpses and clues to try to find the killer. Some of them are straight up fights. And some of the progression, like him teaching a class for a semester, are kind of random. I didn’t mind the random bits too much but I can see where it would bother others.

Overall I thought this was still a fairly enjoyable read, and I’m kind of upset now that I’ve caught up and can no longer blow through multiple chapters a day. I rate this story Recommended.

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Dragon Seed (Archemi Online #1)

Title: Dragon Seed

Author: James Baldwin

Series: Archemi Online #1

Hector is dying of an artificial virus, but he’s determined not to go out quietly. When he receives a message from his estranged brother, he returns home to find an unexpected opportunity to extend his life via the first full virtual reality game. The only problem is that the game’s still in progress. Still, Hector decides it’s worth the chance, and plunges into a fantastic world with the goal of becoming a dragon rider . . .

This has amazing characterization. From the very beginning, Hector’s reckless personality shines bright, and the various humans and NPCs he runs into are equally compelling. (I’m not totally ditching the “this is actually another world” plot twist, but for now they do appear to be actual NPCs).

Hector’s start in the game is plagued by some disturbing glitches. He’s dumped straight into a nightmare-grade quest, the safety measures that the devs assured him were in place don’t seem to be working for him, and he somehow caught the interest of one of the local gods (which really wasn’t supposed to happen given the game’s background lore).

Of course, my absolute favorite character is Cutthroat, the dinosaur-like mount used to haze the newbies, which of course ends up as his gifted steed. Cutthroat has all the tricks of a bad horse and then some, and her antics frequently had me laughing out loud.

Given where this ends, the next book is going to be really entertaining.

The litRPG element is fairly light, with most of the game elements confined to the character creation scene. Most of the rest of the book plays out like a more typical fantasy adventure, just with a few skills to use during battles.

Overall this was a very fun book, and I’m eager to see where the series goes from here. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

Changing World: How It All Began

Title: Changing World: How It All Began

Author: Sergei Katz

Dave is a stock analyst with a disability. When he’s offered the chance to beta test a newly developed full-immersion virtual reality game, he’s all in. But a few early mistakes puts him at a disadvantage starting out, and it will take luck and cleverness to ensure his character isn’t eliminated early on.

I probably should’ve stopped reading when the first chapter was pumping the main character up as a super-awesome stock analyst with an unbelievable ability to make money. It would have been a more engaging story if it had focused more on his disability and how going into the game world changed that.

It was also a very odd choice for a disability–the inability to see colors doesn’t seem to be as compelling a reason to abandon your everyday life for three years as perhaps some others might have been. And Dave doesn’t seem like much of a gamer otherwise. His main draw for playing is supposed to be getting around this disability.

And that all ignores the fact that after the very beginning, his life and personality outside the game has no relevance.

The actual game begins the litRPG aspect. Unfortunately, the story has a tendency to play up whatever the main character is finding or doing as awesome, without giving a good sense of the strengths or weaknesses of others. This makes the story as a whole less interesting because the stakes are either not there or poorly defined.

The fights, for example, tend to describe what’s going on by what’s happening with HP bars, rather than focusing on specific skills or strategies by both sides (and when it does try to show what both sides are doing, it tends to give a tiny bit of detail and then go back to talking about HP bars). So the fights are no fun to read because of their vagueness and lack of detail in the important parts, and excessive detail on the unimportant parts.

Both of his pets bother me. The bird in no way acts like a bird, which could be partially explained by this being a game, except nothing really indicates this is pet behavior specifically.

Overall, this has the bones of an interesting story, but the execution falls flat in a number of areas. I rate this book Neutral.

Crota (The Gods’ Game #1)

Title: Crota

Author: Rohan M. Vider

Series: The Gods’ Game #1

For ages, the gods have called mortals to champion them in a grand game. But for one such mortal, Kyran, the summons was unexpected on both sides. With no gods willing to sponsor him, Kyran steps in as a free agent, and selects the skills and abilities he hopes will allow him to survive. But his presence signals a potential shift in the stalemate, and the gods are eager to either recruit or destroy him.

This is a pretty solid litRPG about a modern college-age gamer who ends up living out something that’s a cross between a game and real life. I like how the game mechanics actually constrain the players more than the non-participants. Kyran is no exception, although he has somewhat less to worry about than a normal champion, because he doesn’t have a god sitting behind his every decision.

We don’t see too much of the world in this novel, although hopefully that’s coming. This book mostly paints some broad strokes about the game, a few of the gods and champions, and a small piece of Crota, the land where Kyran starts out. I like the fact that there are multiple demi-human races, and that Kyran chooses not to be a human. Given his location, it’s unlikely he’ll have allies for a while (although I have suspicions about the ending), but some of the other groups look like they’ll contain a mix of types.

I did think the stat windows should have only been shown once in full per chapter, towards the end, as some bits of the novel felt like table after table of information. And I’m not a huge fan of pre-chapter quotes, especially when they could get somewhat long. I would have preferred that off in an appendix.

The beginning also confused me as to which century the story was happening in. Stealing apples from a cart is a rather common trope for stories set in the middle ages, and calling the kid a “street rat” combined with a lack of setting details meant I originally read the prologue as a huge time skip before the first chapter, and was subsequently confused why they seemed to be referring to the same person.

Overall I liked this well enough that I would like to pick up the next book whenever it arrives to see where it goes from here. I rate this book Recommended.

I Reincarnated for Nothing

Title: I Reincarnated for Nothing

Translator: NaughtyOtter

Chapters: 128 (Ongoing)

Link: https://www.wuxiaworld.com/novel/i-reincarnated-for-nothing
(Please note the site is temporarily taking this novel offline, but it can likely still be read at web.archive.org)

Artpe used to be the weakest of the four demon lords, the final bosses before the demon king. But after being killed by the hero’s party, he finds he’s somehow gone back in time. Now he’s a second hero, alongside the original hero . . . and he can finally get his revenge on the demon king who had formerly enslaved him.

This is a lot of fun. Artpe still has all his memories as a demon, as well as an innate ability that lets him analyze whatever he’s looking at to extract a high degree of information. He used to be the demon in charge of gathering intelligence due to that ability, so he has a lot of knowledge about how things used to go (although of course things are changing now that he’s veering off-script from the original events).

And he may be the hero, but his basic personality hasn’t changed. Which means people really question whether he’s actually a hero or if he’s somehow a demon.

The original hero, Maetel, is naive, good-hearted, crazy strong, and a moron when it comes to anything not related to physical combat. Artpe, on the other hand, is a genius with limited physical abilities. So Artpe decides he’ll specialize as a magician (since heroes can learn all class skills) and have Maetel focus on melee combat.

This is a litRPG, but the skills and stats angle is fairly light. Artpe does focus on leveling up as much as possible, but his interaction with various opponents usually comes down to cleverness and his innate skill rather than pure firepower. So far his interactions with demons have been limited, although that’s looking to change in the near future. Once he’s prepared enough to go back to the demon world, things should get very interesting. Because two Heroes means it’s highly likely there’s an additional Demon Lord to deal with . . . and if the one Artpe remembers was some kind of counterbalance to Maetel, the unknown one is likely to be a great deal more threatening as a counterbalance to HIM.

Overall even though I’m not fond of the “all the girls fall for Artpe” angle, I’m still enjoying the rest of the story. I rate this book Recommended.

Everyone Else is a Returnee

Title: Everyone Else is a Returnee

Author: Toika/Toy Car

Chapters: 348 + 4 extra (Complete)

Location: https://kobatochan.com/korean-novels/everyone-else-is-a-returnee/

Yu IlHan has always been left out because no one notices him. And when God moves all of humanity off to other worlds to prepare for the coming Cataclysm on Earth, Yu IlHan remains the sole person left behind. But the endless years of being alone transforms him into someone able to break all common sense when everyone else returns . . .

This is a hilarious twist on the usual formula. Instead of one person getting sent from Earth to another world, all of humanity is sent to other worlds, and the story follows the one poor guy who didn’t get the intergalactic tourism experience.

So Yu IlHan tries to teach himself what he’ll need to know when mana shows up and monsters start spawning on Earth. With the help of a sole angel who visits every few days to keep him from going insane, he learns combat techniques, blacksmithing, dissection, etc. My personal favorite is how he eventually ends up on a quest to read all the books in the world, because it gives him something new to do.

This is a litRPG, so levels, skills, and stats provide a framework for how the world works. Of course, Yu IlHan is so busy proving he can do the impossible from pretty much the get-go that it’s not like these numbers represent much other than how much experience he can get.

I’m not fond of the predictable way the story set up Heaven as basically just another group of high-level beings who banded together under one leader, which has the expected outcome. The author does make a point that he’s not specifically trying to dump on religion, just use some angel names, but just the structure telegraphs the ending from miles away. So I had more fun with the book before about the last quarter, because that’s when the innovation is strongest and the threats are still credible.

I also hated YuNa. She was funny when it was her aggressive pursuit bouncing off Yu IlHan’s stone heart. It was less funny when this turned into sexual assault. And the harem ending was depressing because the whole story has been about Yu IlHan sticking closer to Liera than anyone else, and suddenly he’s okay with multiple wives because he thinks he shouldn’t limit himself.

So it’s a bit of a mixed bag for me. I love seeing the bizarre and completely overpowered things Yu IlHan creates. I love his pessimism, which prompts him to over-prepare for every possible scenario and then some. (Like how he designed his house to be usable in space. Because he was sure THAT was somehow a likely possibility.)

It’s the kind of mentality that results in this:

“Yes. It’s a great idiom meaning that I should not act until I am convinced that I can defeat the last boss, the true last boss that comes after that, the hidden dungeon that comes after the true last boss, and the hidden last boss that comes out at the end of the hidden dungeon, and the true-true last boss that can only be met when I install a super expensive downloadable content later, even after I have the strongest equipment and maxed out all my levels.”

So overall this is kind of a mixed bag. There is plenty to enjoy, but also some things that really annoy me. Still, it made me laugh a lot. I rate this book Recommended.

Infinite Competitive Dungeon Society

Title: Infinite Competitive Dungeon Society

Author: Toika

Translator: FudgeNouget

Chapters: 354 (Complete)

https://www.wuxiaworld.com/novel/infinite-competitive-dungeon-society

Shin is following in his father’s footsteps of exploring a mysterious dungeon whose depths are invite-only. Meanwhile, Earth is drastically changing as monsters start appear, followed by dungeons of their own. But Shin isn’t concerned about the new ability users or monsters. He’s determined to conquer the depths of the dungeon.

It’s hard to give this one a good summary because it is a very long story, so there’s a lot going on. On a surface level, at the beginning there are two plot threads that rarely intersect: the Two Moons incident that caused Earth to gain monsters, magic, and little dungeons, and the giant extra-dimensional Dungeon that Shin is working his way through.

It takes a good while before the full story comes out about why both the big Dungeon and the little ones exist, and I like how this takes a familiar trope and twists it a bit, and then goes on to break out of it completely. Heroes defend their world, and monsters invade, but there are reasons behind why all of this is going on, and it’s a lot more grey than it first appears. Shin is stubborn and passionate, and even though Earth is in a very bad situation, he’s looking beyond the immediate problem and towards the bigger picture. Because Earth isn’t the only world facing these kinds of problems. And some of those other worlds have already lost.

This is a litRPG, but it twists away from skills and stats by the end. Actually, it was fascinating that the whole “dungeon” concept is an abstraction, and Shin eventually tries to tackle things at a deeper level. I liked that Shin has actual experience as a spearman from training with his father (and I also like that he’s using a less-common weapon), which makes his progress in the dungeon more believable. He picks up or creates a number of skills and abilities, but I like that after a certain point the concept of a skill can’t overcome actual knowledge/training in how to fight with his chosen weapon or technique.

A large focus of the fights isn’t so much the stats but the strategy. Some of that is tied to skills and their cooldowns, but more of it is about evaluating his enemy, trying to interrupt their dangerous moves, and most importantly not getting hit. Despite his rapidly increasing power, he’s also got enemies far stronger than him—and also a father who is determined to win in any competition against his son.

The one downside for me is unfortunately a rather big one. I don’t like any of the girls. They’re all introduced by hair and eye color, height, and breast size, and every single one falls in love with him and competes to be his wife. They have only the most minor personality variations because of this. They’re flat, uninteresting, and clearly there just to pander. Which makes the harem ending unsurprising but also annoying.

I kept hoping that he’d meet at least one girl that either hated him for real or just wasn’t interested, or could get more of a focus than trying to jump him. In the same vein, all of the elementals are female, all of the tamed monsters are female, and even his sister’s relationship with him is less than platonic (for a while I was hoping she was just playing up to his crush on her to extract benefits from him, but no luck). Even Daisy, who initially appeared to be sane, eventually joins in the “marry me too, please” crowd.

So that being said, I found Ren, Walker, Leon, and Lin way more interesting. Ren is a hotheaded beastman who can’t always live up to his own expectations, but gives his all however he can. Lin is half-dragon and a blacksmith who takes over the dungeon floor shop when Loretta gets a vacation. His grumpiness hides a sharp mind. He’s unwillingly friends with Shin, who keeps toppling his expectations (and thus creating more work with every bet he loses). And so on. The men manage to have better character arcs, and they aren’t spending every other sentence trying to get down Shin’s pants.

The chapters are a bit longer than the other web novels I’ve read so far, so it took quite a bit of time to finish, but the story is complete. I’m on the fence about recommending it, though, as the girls all harping on Shin gets really tedious, even though the fight scenes and the idea behind the dungeon was great. I rate this book Neutral.