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May. 4th, 2014 @ 11:54 am Finished series: Log Horizon
Current Mood: okayokay
I haven't been reviewing series we've completed -- the volume is too high and I just can't be bothered. But once in a while, something comes along that is in some way special. Those do warrant a review, because I have something to say about it apart from a short resume. One of those is Log Horizon. You can find my first-episode review here.

In short: just when a new expansion hits, all the players in a popular MMORPG get stuck 'inside' the game Elder Tales. It's something you play with a mouse and keyboard on a computer screen -- there's nothing like Sword Art Online's VR helmets. No, it seems the players get bodily sucked into the game. They can't log out, but it is quickly discovered that when you die in the game, you reincarnate in the cathedral of the last city you visit -- just like when it was a game. In the cities, player killing is forbidden (and still enforced like in the game), but away from the cities, it's a free for all.
Several thousand players find themselves in one of the cities, Akihabara. One of them is Shiroe, who thinks that every Adventurer should be free to pursue their own goals in this world that is both familiar and new -- their new reality.

I'm not going to talk about the plot too much. Let's just say that it takes some heavy scheming by Shiroe to (quite literally) liberate more junior players from the clutches of less-scrupulous guilds. There is also the People of the Land (NPCs) who have changed: from shopkeeps and quest-givers, they have changed into a complex society with their own rules -- one that either has to co-exist with the immortal and stronger Adventurers, or get into an all-out war...

I really enjoyed the series. The writing is very tight: at the end of every episode, you are left wondering what is going to happen next. Unlike in SAO, the focus is not on getting out or beating the game, but on the social aspects: now that the Adventurers are stuck in the world of Elder Tale, they have to make their own structures while also ensuring good relations with the People of the Land.
There are also some fights which show the MMORPG side of things, which still use the mechanics and spells from when Elder Tale was only a game, which makes for amusing meta-gaming. The characters speak of spells, powers, HPs and MPs and cooldown, and that is exactly what they are doing in their new reality as well.

I found the whole series incredibly inspiring. After only five episodes, I was thinking how you could make a cool RPG campaign out of this. You could use one system for the MMORPG mechanics (perhaps D&D 4th edition, I've heard people compare it to a MMORPG (which is not a plus for a table-top game, but for this it might just fit the bill)) and another (such as Fate Core)for the (social) interaction between the Adventurers (and others). Your character in the game has a certain strength or a certain skill which can be used in the game, while the player (who shares the body of the character) has a certain skill which can be used about the game...

I recommend this series, and I was pleased when a second series was announced for this fall. I'll give it a 8.5.
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sakuracoin