The Cambridge Geek

The Luckless - A. M. Sohma

I've slipped back into my old obsession with LitRPGs, with this one that has sat on my Kobo for quite some time. Think it'll have to be my last for a while though, as I've got a worryingly long list of things that need my attention.

So, for this one. Kit hasn't played Chronicles of Retha for quite some time. She'd reached the heights of the game, helped lead a guild, collected all the equipment for her character and hit max level. She'd moved on, which was why she wanted to jump into the newest full immersion VR game, something science fiction-y.

Unfortunately for her, her friend, one of the developers at the company that makes the games and VR sets, has a prankish nature. And his prank this time has dropped her back into Retha, playing an Elvish dancer, one of the most useless characters it is possible to build. Worse than that, he's also tweaked all of her reputation stats so both the law and the thieves hate her.

Bit dickish, but not a massive problem, and once she's spent a couple of hours in-game, she can hop out and play what she originally intended. And since the game has that handy time-compression so loved by the LitRPG genre, she's only really going to lose five minutes of real-world time.

Oh no wait, but what's this? The server has crashed, and left them all unable to log out? And they might die if they stay in there too long? What a horrible and entirely unpredictable possibility. I'm sure there's all sorts of safeguards to make sure that can't happen. Those aren't working? What a devil. Best get started on a quest that will automatically log her off at the end of it.

There's not many of those available though. In fact, it looks like there's only one. She has to kill off Malignus, a boss that's only been murdered once, by the dev team while they were demo-ing it. Bit tricky for someone as low level as she is, with such a terrible build.

Still, she knows the game more or less in and out, and that's got to help. Plus, since everyone else is in the same situation, she'll be able to amass a team of players who are also desperate to escape.

Pretty standard for "stuck in the game" territory. We've got a few bits of class information, some skills, and a slightly sarcastic set of tooltips. It's a bit more clever in that she's playing such a sucky character, and so the game has a focus on her finding exploitable ways of breaking the game. That's a nice change from the usual "grind till you get strong" or "you have unlocked a magical unique build by just being you" wish fulfillment that tends to plague the genre.

The ensemble is also pleasing, with the team of players getting a reasonable fleshing out and having something of a LOTR fellowship feel. It's good to see an example where it's not all one overpowered player winning everything. This requires a lot of team effort, and the other players involved are pretty varied.

Decent plot, with some good silliness as they discover the daftness of gamers getting married (in-game) and just how badly a game can go when you have a luck score as low as hers. Light, but fun enough that I'll look at digging up the sequels.

Score 4

Tagged: Book GameLit Fantasy world Novel Print