Forge of Eternity by author Tony L Joy
Thank you to author Tony L Joy for providing me with a copy of Forge of Eternity in exchange for this honest review.
Tony L Joy has also written an awesome sci fi book called Kludged Singularity.
Forge of Eternity: Alpha Testing is presented like a D&D or other large scale role playing game handbook. It comes in a beautiful and large hardcover that is simply stunning. Anyone who has played one of these games will recognize the book style and automatically feel that it’s familiar.
The book takes place within a virtual reality RPG similar to World of Warcraft or another MMORPG, if these acronyms are not familiar to you this book is not for you. Forge of Eternity starts with a volunteer entering the game in it’s Alpha testing phase. He’s tasked with building a character, playing the game, and reporting back. His effort may be rewarded with a permanent place in the game.
Forge of Eternity follows two characters playing this game. The perspective alternates between them. The problem is that both of their voices are identical. If it wasn’t for the chapter headings telling me who’s narrating I would never have been able to tell.
The two characters are also playing together so their stories are essentially the same. They’re on the same missions, fighting the same battles, with the same crew. It is never made necessary to see the story from both of their sides. It becomes more harmful than helpful to tell the story this way as it just becomes a little confusing.
The other obstacle Forge of Eternity faces is that it’s simply not interesting to read about an RPG. We follow the characters as they attempt to discover a mission, then do the mission, then gather loot, upgrade their armor, find another mission, battle a monster, rinse, repeat. When you’re actually playing an RPG you at least are active in the process, you get that satisfaction of leveling up. Reading about it is honestly quite dull.
Because we’re following the characters in the game and not the people playing them we also do not get any character development. We know which characters have magic, which are healers, who has the best weapons, etc. But we don’t actually know a single thing about their personalities, pasts, ideals, anything that would make them relatable or sympathetic.
The experience of Forge of Eternity is similar to watching someone else play a video game, without any commentary or conversation. You get to watch the screen and see any dialogue boxes but you are not taking an active role in getting to move their quests forward. I just kept wondering when I could politely go do something else.
The characters find a mission to follow but it’s too accurate to how RPGs actually are. There isn’t a true plot that I could become invested in. Since there isn’t a central plot there also isn’t a satsifactory ending. Just like with an RPG, time just kind of runs out. The book just seems to hit save and not provide any more pages.
I love RPGs. I play in a Call of Cthulu campaign and half of my video games are RPGs. The fun of these is getting to allocate my own points, getting to level up, getting to choose which mission I go on, etc. I would never ask for someone to watch me do these things because I’m certain it’s boring from the outside.
I hope others feel differently. Maybe if you’re the kind of person to watch Twitch streams (I’m very not) Forge of Eternity will be more enjoyable for you.
2/5 elves 🧝♀️🧝♀️
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Buy it here: Forge of Eternity: Alpha Testing
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