Since I'm still messing around with Cabbit's new game, I thought I'd drop a short review of a litrpg series I just finished reading.
Project Crysalis is based in a future where Earth has been abandoned (not because it is ruined anymore, but because the first non-Terrestrial human nation forced people to leave) in favor of living in colonies all across our solar system. The main political and scientific power in the first three books is Lunar, a nation built on the Moon that began when a private corporation morphed into its own nation-state and managed to completely defeat the Terrestrial nations when they tried to challenge their independence.
That said, it is still a solar system of many nations, with Lunar essentially being the mammoth whale in the room that everyone pretends not to be scared by.
The protagonist of the story, known for most of the story by his preferred game handle of Sagie, was one of many orphans that were presented with their first parents - in a virtual realm - at the age of twelve, when he was first allowed the use of a full immersion pod. While he experiences a brief period of blissful happiness (mostly due to how good of a fit he is with his new family), a horrid betrayal by someone he trusts ends up with him exiled to the in-game Hell, where he is subject to the kind of suffering (and the pain is real) that is really, really hard to picture, even with vivid descriptions from the author, John Gold.
As for how he handles it... well, Sagie isn't exactly a fragile sort. Rather than rerolling, like most would expect, his desire to return to his virtual (but realer than life) family drives him to climb his way up through a very horribly realistic Hell, inuring himself to suffering and gaining power along the way. For those with a weak stomach, most of the ways he gains power are pretty morbid. He uses blood rituals, necromancy, eats demons, and deliberately goes out of his way to strengthen his resistance to the various types of damage and pain Hell can dish out. Sagie, while he was extremely focused even before his fall into Hell, becomes focused to the point that it is almost painful to read his story at times.
The first four books basically focus on his adventures in Project Crysalis, as the virtual world essentially shits on him at every turn (Shield Hero had it easy in comparison). He tries to help people, he's seen as a monster. He tries to defend himself, he is seen as a monster. To be honest, I cried more than once for him, just because it was so godawful.
The last two books are... a different animal entirely. To be honest, in order to avoid spoiling it, I'll only say that those who came to love Sagie in the first three books will be frustrated for large portions of the second three. I know I was. That's not to say it wasn't interesting, it was immensely so. However, I often felt cheated, because I loved following that manic little demon while looking over his shoulder in fascination to see what crazy idea he will come up with next (and many of his ideas really are insane).
The last two books are full of conspiracy, horror, and self-sacrifice on a grand scale. Even just taken on their own, they would be first-class books. There just isn't that much of Sagie there until the final entry, where you get to see him up to his usual craziness, albeit in a way that is quite different from before.
Overall, it is an excellent book series. It has its bumpy parts and can be frequently frustrating or emotionally painful to read, but for those willing to delve into it, it is completely worth it.