Faceless Corporations. Neon lights that hide rampant crime underneath. The year is 2041.
Cole Dorsett is a Script Kiddie, a thief of information with a chip against the system.
Rune Universe is a game with a billion worlds. With great interstellar alliances, unending adventure, spaceships
that dance around black holes.
And it hides a secret the CIA would love to crack. A secret many are willing to kill for.
Inside Rune Universe, Cole will stumble upon real, mortal danger. To avenge a fallen friend, he must risk it all.
And make a decision that will change the face of the world... forever.
My Opinion: 502 pages, $2.99 and available on Kindle Unlimited.
The first 20% percent of the novel, takes place almost entirely in the ‘real world’. That time is spent setting up backstory for the main character and why he’s decided to enter this online VR game. He’s from a bad neighborhood, he’s had criminal dealings, he loves his mom and sister and will do anything to support them. Also, his friend is murdered and he’ll fulfill his last request, which is to find out why he was killed. Cole, the MC, has to log into this game Rune Universe to do so. It’s a well told and interesting backstory but be aware that’s how you’re spending the beginning of this novel.
I’m at 45% into the book and I’ve only seen the character gain three skills, hand to hand combat, shooting and piloting. About half way through, there’s a little bit of crafting, they collect parts then bam it’s a spaceship. The showing of game mechanics is pretty sparse.
Still, technically, this is LitRPG. It meets the two criteria I’ve talked about. Game world with obviously stated mechanics and character development with references to those mechanics. However, I ‘feel’ like LitRPG elements were inserted into a cyberpunk story. I have no idea if Hugo Huesca meant to do this. I know that some authors that are trying to write in the LitRPG genre for the first time lean towards minimizing talking about game mechanics because that’s what they’re used to. Things like levels, skill trees, detailed crafting, the finer points of magic systems, or things like that. I know personally, that’s the part of LitRPG that I love the most. Getting to understand the game mechanics of these worlds enough that I can reverse engineer the formulas the authors are using to calculate damage notifications if I want. Or planning my own fictional character in that world and imagining my own builds.
Now I want to be perfectly clear. The writing in this novel is good. Pacing, character development, the whole thing, is done well. It actually has one of the few ‘real world’ sections that I didn’t skip. It was interesting. As a cyberpunk novel, this is a good story. As a LitRPG novel, it left much to be desired.
Score: 5 out of 10