Viridian Gate Online: Cataclysm

The Viridian Gate Archives, Book 1
Narrated by: Armen Taylor
Series: The Viridian Gate Archives, Book 1
Length: 8 hrs and 44 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (3,564 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

October, 2042

An extinction-level asteroid, 213 Astraea, is cannonballing toward Earth. Collision, imminent. An international team of scientists is working around the clock to avert the cataclysm - few are optimistic. World governments are preparing for impact with deep earth bio-dome bunkers, but only a select few lottery winners will be saved.

Jack Mitchel, a 32-year-old EMT living in a tiny studio apartment on the west coast, isn't one of those winners.

Still, there might be a way for him to survive Astraea: a slim chance, requiring a radical leap of faith. Through a connection at Osmark Technologies, Jack's acquired a NexGenVR capsule and with it, a one-way ticket to the brand-new, ultra-immersive, fantasy-based VRMMORPG, Viridian Gate Online. Taking that leap of faith, though, means permanently trapping his mind in the game, killing his body in the process.

Worse, one in six die during the transition, and even if Jack beats the odds, he'll have to navigate a fantastical world filled with vicious monsters, domineering AIs, and cutthroat players. And when Jack stumbles upon a secret conspiracy to sell off virtual real estate to the ultrawealthy - transforming V.G.O. into a new feudal dark age - the deadly creatures inhabiting Viridian Gate's expansive dungeons will be the least of his concerns.

If Jack can't game the system, he's going to be trading in a quick death for a long, brutal one....

©2017 James A. Hunter and Shadow Alley Press, Inc. (P)2017 James A. Hunter and Shadow Alley Press, Inc.

What listeners say about Viridian Gate Online: Cataclysm

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Popcorn LitRPG

So, after having listened to a couple of the books in this series, I decided to come back to this one to write a review. At 3 books in, I'm not unhappy with the books I purchased, but I'm also probably not going to buy any others by this author. Considering the fact that there's nothing grossly wrong with any of them, I feel like my lack of investment in continuing with the series is somewhat telling.

Here's a brief idea as to what to expect. Jack's the hero, he's a good guy, and he's going to get into dangerous situations and triumph over them. There's a villain. He's a bad guy. There's not a lot in the way of moral grays here, with the exception of making questionable alliances.

The story has a rather interesting lead in as far as backstories go, but other than the basic premise, (forced into the game to escape the end of the world,) much of the backstory kinda gets ignored. You find out that Jack is or was an emt, mostly a loner these days iirc. Either way, there's a lot of care given to ensuring that you realize that being an emt is a big part of who he is. And yet, aside from one brief situation at the start of the game, it's really not something that plays much of a role in how he plays the game and lives his life. He just fully embraces his main character status. Only time it really gets brought up after that is to let you know how he's a decent guy.

Side characters are kinda generic. By way of example, the first person he meets in the game makes a big show of only being out for number one, but then proceeds to help Jack out at every turn, grumbling the whole way.

Now, there's nothing inherently bad about any of this, if this is the story you're looking for. You can kick back and relax and listen to about 9 hours of Jack kicking ass and being the hero. The fight and dungeon scenes can be pretty interesting. But to me, it lacked a hook to keep me invested in the story in the future.

91 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A genuinely enjoyable LitRPG

**MINOR SPOILER ALERT**

I've really been enjoying this series so far. I've finished book 1 & 2, and have just started into book 3.

Overall, I think that the story is solid, the pacing is well done for the most part, and the characters have been consistent. Sometimes books in this genre tend to be poorly planned and force the characters to shift irrationally to drive the plot, but I haven't experienced that so far in this series.

I think that the only qualms I have so far are with the narrator. They are fairly minor, but are constantly irritating. I don't like the way that he says the ending phrase of every chapter in an overly dramatic tone, even when nothing particularly dramatic is happening. There have been several instances where he really read the intended tone of a characters sentence the wrong way - Like they were just stating a fact, but he read it as being REALLY sarcastic and smarmy for no reason.

Besides that, I really dislike the voice that the narrator uses for most "monster" type characters. They come off like what a particularly dumb ogre would sound like as a puppet on Sesame Street. Just really cringey. The spider queen sounds like a really bad impression of Smeagol from LOTR. I've been right on the edge of just skipping past those parts several times.

And don't get me started on how he just covers his mouth with his hand to muffle his voice when he does Sophia's (The overmind) voice. Just, why?

That said, when he's not doing a monster voice, or reading the last line of each chapter, I think he does a great job. The main character is well done, as well as most of the side characters.

There are also small issues with the authors use of MMO terminology. I get the feeling that he doesn't actually have a ton of experience in that realm. Things like saying "Port hub" instead of "Instance". Or how the MC tells us several times that he's familiar with MMOs, but then consistently makes just god-awful choices, like not assigning 10 levels of stat points before going into absolutely critical battles.

You might also catch some of the errors where either the narrator just said something incorrectly, or maybe it was missed in editing. Things like saying RIL instead of IRL.

All in all though, I definitely recommend this series if you're into LitRPGs, or even as a gateway to them if you're interested in giving them a try. I don't think you'll be disappointed if you can suspend your disbelief a bit.

18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Escape death in exchange for eternal serfdom

How would you like to learn that your worl was going to be wiped out by an asteroid in just days, and the best hope that you have is to go into a VR Game in order to survive it? Now imagine that after you are in, you find that the game has been rigged to heavily favor of some members of the upper 1% when they enter the game. You are fated to be an eternal servant? You'd probably like it as much as Grimjack does.

VGO is an interesting take on the RPGlit/Gamelit genre. It has some familiar twists and turns, but done in brilliant ways. Hunter has a nice flowing writing style; he knows how to open and close a chapter, and his ability to do dialogue is fantastic. I would put this book up against Delvers, LLC, Awaken Online, and Lion's Quest. Cutter, Grimjack's sidekick/partner in crime is a complete jerk, but one who is loyal to the core; Taylor makes him sound like a young Mick Jagger, all cocky and vitrolic, to a point I thought he had to have practiced that voice for hours. One thing I liked was that the book did not focus on having to level up or power level in such as hurry; it happened as it happened.

Again, Taylot was a palpable force while narrating. He played out the entire cast of characters in different voices, and their personalities shined through. He was a one man troupe in a play of dozens.

I also enjoyed the way in which the character used his head, rather than his hammer, to defeat his foes. It really came into play during the big "Godzilla vs Mothra" fight at the end.Even though I did receive a promo code for this review it in no way influenced my considerations of the material, and in fact, inspired me to be more honest. In fact, getting a code generally makes me harsher as a reviewer as I am more often concerned what someone like Me will decide based on my review.

This book really popped and stood out as a new take in a fledgling genre. If you are a fan of fantasy or RPGgamelit (LitRPG/GameLit) then you will regret not getting this book.

42 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Huge plot holes and lazy story development

Great narration – poor story.

The premise is good, but the writing is way too formulaic. Plot holes – ugh, plot holes and lazy writing for days!

So the main character is supposed to be an experienced gamer, but is constantly making mistakes that would make even a casual gamer cringe.

He is presented as this genius smart guy, and all of his friends and associates are impressed with his ideas, strategy, and wit. He makes ridiculous far fetched plans and decisions that always work out, but when faced with simple problems with glaring answers are presented to him, he ALWAYS (as in every single time) makes the obviously bad choice and has to be bailed out by his friends or “barely scrape through.”

Let's talk about his outlook/attitude: he flips between arrogantly cocky, a beacon of virtue, even keeled, constantly second guessing himself, and full of self doubt. Instead of choosing a character mentality (smart guy, cocksure asshole, Mr. Virtue, emo kid, etc.) the author tried to do it all, and it leaves you with a bi-polar, sometimes schizophrenic who is frequently high on coffee and sugar. Be ready for some whiplash.

Is there a serious/semi-serious fight happening? Things start off well – take a turn for the worst – and right at that point where things are going to go terribly wrong or maybe somehow work out – this is when the main character decides to ponder the meaning of life – or the price of beans – or what his favorite color is or should be (you know – to build suspense) – then he makes the right choice and hooray it somehow works out. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

It is very frustrating because the premise is great, and the overarching story isn't bad either. It is the details that ruin this series.

Does it get better later on in the series?

No.

It doesn't.

The author uses the same old formulas and patterns over and over. Which is a shame because with just a little bit of rewriting this could be one of the best series in the genera. It really had that much potential, but I'm 5 books in and it is just the same pattern repeating endlessly.

27 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Decent book for this genre

Would you listen to Viridian Gate Online: Cataclysm again? Why?

No, it is a decent book and I will continue the series but not good enough for a second listen.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Grim Jack is really the only choice, the other characters are not developed enough to be a favorite character so he wins by default

Any additional comments?

The story is good but not as good as other series in this genre. I do have a slight issue with the narrator also. He does a good job but he is WAY too serious, the entire book is read in a serious tone.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

There's some potential here, but far from perfect

The premise is definitely strong - I've always loved the clash of the real and the virtual worlds, trying to come to terms with age old challenges in a new environment, with a chance to upset the balance of power.

That said, this book has a lot of weaknesses that keep it from really taking advantage of its own plot. It leaves much for sequels, but ends up focusing so much on the quests, the levelling, making them the primary focus rather than storytelling devices.

This is very much my own opinion, but I've always preferred litrpgs that don't rely on quests and interactions with npcs (unless they're really fleshed out) to drive the story forward. The thing about quests is that they feel inherently fabricated - it's like reading a standard fantasy novel, obstructed by the lens of VR and MMORPGs. Again, this is specific to what I look for in a litrpg, but my favourite titles have always been much more rooted in the interactions of real players, using the virtual world, the npcs, the quests, etc. as a backdrop.

Story aside, I did feel that the writing ckuld use some refinement. While there was some lovely turn of phrase, much of the vocabulary smelled of ex-roleplayers, who have a tendency of needlessly over complicating their wording. Complexity is not always the best choice.

Finally, the narration - generally not bad, a great variety of voices. My only issue was with the way there seemed at times a sort of forced sense of drama, especially at the end of each chapter, in the way the last few words were read. May have also been more if an issue with the writing itself, trying to punctuate every chapter with an almost campy concluding phrase.

27 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Slow-paced, mediocre but promising setting

I had to listen at 150% speed, sometimes faster, not to get bored by the lack anything exciting happening. There seems to only be one interesting character in the whole book, and it's not the MC. It's not terrible, but much less excitement than other LitRPG books I've read.

HOWEVER, the setting is interesting, so the sequels could be better.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A good lit RPG just like the rest of them

This lit RPG is good although it is just like all the rest with a kind and well meaning hero who dies in the real world and is made special for some reason or other Destined to say the game world with the help of an AI god.
Even so I liked this book I can't get enough of them so this author has nothing to worry about from me. Just keep the XP coming and give him a cool Mount an I'll keep listening.

P.S. I just have to say no offense but the Reader is just not good. He is just to one dimensional. All of the male characters had the same deep voice it just put me off for some reason.

7 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Frustrating

If you can ignore the frustration of the writing style and the irritating character, you may get threw this. The self deprecating worries that the main character has that last 15-20min each time is by far the most irritating thing I’ve listened to in awhile. If you like these mmo style books there are better options

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Kinda bland

This story just seemed to follow all of the stereotypes I'm beginning to expect from LitRPGs. The stakes for the main character seem kinda minor and the action seems kinda odd.

1 person found this helpful

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  • John
  • 02-16-18

very enjoyable

first venture into this genre and very impressed - would recommend to anyone looking for an entry point into LitRPG

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Annabel Hill
  • 02-18-20

Big fan!

I was looking for something to fill the void whilst waiting for new instalments in Chaos Seeds, The Realms, SAM and Eden’s Gate, and boy am I glad I found this!

Great main character to cheer for, interesting setting, lots of progression and not bogged down in stats or status updates like others. I’m hooked and excited for the next one!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Ian
  • 12-18-19

A great book

loving Viridian gate online, it's very well written, thurraly entertained and enjoyable, it keeps you engaged.
the narration is really good giving each character individualailty and bring each to life.
It's a great serise.
I'd deffinatly recommend it to anyone

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Technopath
  • 04-25-20

Quiet Shouting

The character does a lot of shouting in this story and the narrator fails miserably to capture any shouting and the voice used is actually quieter than the MC normal speaking voice. Also the narrator fails to capture the feminine sound of any characters whether it be a human or monster so the story didn't really grip me as well as "The Land" audiobooks do.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-01-19

An unexpected journey

I have to admit that I was hesitant to buy the book, it felt like it was not my style, from narration to the plot. but I decided against my judgement and jumped right in. it's a refreshing take on the litRPG genre where it's less about gaming but more about living in a VR Game world, unlike most other where it's about surviving until you get back to real life. The narration grew quickly on me and I started to see quickly why they chose him. There was one part where I could have sworn the narrator's voice changed completely. that's why I am not giving a 5 star on performance, but it didn't affect the mood that much.

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  • Dehs
  • 08-23-19

Brilliant

This story flows deliciously from one plot element to the next, weaving a delightful tale to help you whittle down the hours. Highly recommended

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 05-16-19

Great listen

Good story, good pacing.
The narrator was top notch, he did all the voices so well and Cutter was great!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Voyager
  • 04-30-18

Way better than I thought

I ignored this series for months and months, mainly because of the front covers. Yep, all because of the front covers.

What an idiot, me I mean. It just didn't have that, whatever we look for in that subjective way we choose things.

Very glad I tried it. Looking forward to the rest.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 03-07-18

An interesting new LitPRG

The world is ending for most people as an asteroid threatens to destroy Earth but salvation lies in the virtual gaming world.
For our stalwart hero this is an opportunity to improve his life but he soon finds that he might just have stepped from the frying pa into the fire as he discovers sinster forces out to take over his new world.
Your soon whisked away with the skill of writing and narration on offer and although this is a heavy LitRPG with plenty of skill, attribute points etc the introduction is done very well for a newcomer to this Genre.
A throughly good read with quite a few books of this series all ready done on audio so well worth getting into.

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  • Dustyfox
  • 01-20-18

Top class

Very good...best of the type of book I have read so far, very enjoyable.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Tarcha
  • 07-16-17

Interesting story

I liked the storyline, it is obviously well thought out and planned.
The main character was interesting, not a noob and not a hardcore MMORPG player as in many stories.
I didn't like Armen's redition very much, I felt that he may not have read the lines before he recorders them as often he would read someone's comment but the emotion that the book followed up with didn't represent how he had read it. And many of the side characters were very hard to understand.

Overall I enjoyed it and wished that the next two were on audible so I could listen to them too. As it is I'm going to have to read them :)

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • The Keyboard
  • 04-09-20

What a pleasant surprise!

After listening to a string of less-than-satisfactory LitRPGs, along comes this gem. Narrator was great, with varied voices. Storyline was intelligent. No grammatical errors, and the author knows how to carry a story - the tension he builds before the fight scenes is incredible! I can 100% recommend this book to anyone interested in gameLIT (it's particularly great for audio listeners, as while there's stats and levels and all the usual stuff, the story DOESN'T get bogged down with tables).

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  • David Durbin
  • 03-25-19

Dreadful voice characterisation

Makes Dick Van Dyke sound like a pearly king. Story is hohum LitRPG with far too many inconsistencies in the first 5 chapters to warrant listening any further. Just go read Awaken Online instead of this pale imitation

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-13-18

didnt think much of it but damn if it ain't good.

didnt think much of it, but tried it out, and damn I was pleasantly surprised. I loved every bit of it, really short to be honest but every chapter was enchanting, captivating me to continue on until... it finished without me realizing it. on to the 2nd book I go!