The man’s name was Yamada Kenichi.
A 35 year old salaryman.
Relationship status, single.
“Although it’s over… but going out of service in just 3 years… really”
The man grumbled in his 1K apartment (one room apartment with a kitchen).
It was a Saturday afternoon.
He lamented as he looked at the computer screen, without going outside.
On the screen, “FIN” was displayed at the lower right in a stylish font with a fantasy-like castle in the background.
Maybe it was an online game, as the game characters were saying “Thank you for playing” while doing a farewell gesture.
“Well, this too was a nuregame«1», though.
The most nure of all nuregames.
It might be better that it ended.
More so if I consider that I won’t have to spend any more of my time or money behind it.”
While he did spend most of his bonus and salary on the game’s gacha and paid items, he didn’t feel any sorrow when the service had ended.
He had started playing the game 3 years ago but was greatly disappointed with its setting and how easy it was.
Despite his dissatisfaction with the game, he had continued believing that they would add speedrun elements to it with a version update one day.
Unfortunately, probably due to the user count not increasing much, the company announced discontinuation.
“Oh What’s this ‘We are starting a new service’”
After closing the game, he looked at the company’s homepage.
A link leading to a new game was added there.
It was the introduction page.
“What do we have here… Eh…
Kenichi was shocked.
Sentences which made him despair were lined up there.
Level up even while you’re logged off!Occupation can be easily reset!The AI will do the fights for you!!Limited offer: 3 free pulls for gacha with 100% legendary item drop rate!!
“This is hopelessly nure.
This isn’t even a nuregame, it’s a houchigame«2».
When did we get to this point…”
The man held his face with both hands and thought back to the games of the good ol’ times.
That time, 20 years ago, when he had first started an online game.
One would have to greatly struggle to level up and it was only natural for it to take at least a month to do so. He still vividly remembers the excitement he had experienced after changing to an advanced occupation after grinding for half a year.
Deaths came with penalties in that game; Equipment would drop to the floor and the player would lose 20% of their accumulated experience points.
The bosses of that game had an inconceivable amount of HP and it would take more than an hour to kill it even when 50 players did the raid at once.
It even took him 3 hours once.
He had to rapidly smash the buttons continuously so much that the keys would break — which made it necessary for him to prepare a spare keyboard in advance.
On top of that, after frantically beating the boss, it only dropped 1 item.
After which, a death match would begin between the 50 players.
Let alone hundreds of hours, he had spent tens of thousands of hours behind that game and it also went out of service more than 10 years ago.
He has tried numerous games afterwards, seeking that excitement.
However, the times have since changed.
The people have started to hate the speedrun elements which nobody even asked for.
All the big companies and huge game distributors shifted to nuregames.
They made it so that players could smoothly level up and easily obtain equipment.
“Guess I’ll look for some other game.”
Washing his hands off the developers of this game, he started exploring the internet for games with high speedrun elements.
He inserted “Game, obsolete setting, speedrun” into the search bar and looked around for the kind of game he wants.
The search results popped up and the top site wasn’t a game title nor a distributing company.
“Oh! Let’s see, what’s this — ‘We invite you to a never-ending game’”
‘Never-ending game’, ‘a game you can keep playing forever’ — such sentences flooding the screen aroused his curiosity.
“I see… a fantasy world with western-style swords and magic, eh Well, let’s try it out, for now.
Hmm, so I directly enter the setting in the site…”
Seems the catchphrases caught his attention, he decided on trying it out for the time being.
It wasn’t a download type game as the site asked to decide on the settings and transferred to the setting menu.
“First, the difficulty — it starts from ‘easy mode’.
Normal, extra, and hell.
Easy mode would be too low.”
It looks like the users could set the difficulty for the game.
The site also properly listed the points of differences for different difficulties.
Acquire skills 10 times faster than normal mode; Skill development is also readily possible.
Up to 3 extra skills can be drawn from the gacha.
Greatly popular with those players who are beginner gamers and/or hate grinding.Normal Mode
The regular mode.
Only 1 extra skill can be drawn from the gacha.
This is the most popular mode; Players can nurture their characters.
Best option if you’re puzzled on which mode to pick. Extra Mode
Acquiring skills and skill development takes 10 times more effort than the normal mode.
However, it’s possible to reach stages unavailable to normal mode in this mode.
Only 1 normal skill can be drawn from gacha.
A mode suited for players used to the game and/or players who are discontent with how easy the normal mode is.Hell Mode
Leveling up, acquiring skills, developing skills — all are 100 times harder than normal mode.
There is no limit to how much the character can grow.
As there’s no gacha in this mode, only the skills chosen in occupation can be acquired during early stages.
“Repentance always comes too late”.
You will most likely be faced with despair.
If you are able to overcome this despair, you will surely come upon one truth.
This is a mode made by the developers’ playfulness.
From normal mode to hell mode, the difficulty keeps rising and it gets harder to acquire skills and level up.
However, it seems the growth-limit also gets mitigated with rising difficulty.
“Hell mode it is then.
Can I choose my occupation”
He went with hell mode without a shred of hesitation.
The screen changed to display the occupation selection menu.
Most of the occupations were ones you would normally see in games.
The options were swordsman, martial artist, thief, merchant, magician, sage, master swordsman, saint, and great magician.
It seems there’s a difficulty setting for the occupation as well.
Once you click the occupation, the difficulty is shown.
“There are quite a few.
The difficulty for nurturing also keeps getting harsher as you go down.
There’s even a hero and a demon lord, eh”
It seems the ones at the bottom side are set to be more rare and strong.
And the difficulty was shown with asterisks beside the occupation, displaying how easy it was to use.
Swordsman and martial artist difficulty was 1 star.
Master swordsman and great magician had 3 stars.
Hero and demon lord had 5 stars.
“Hmm I feel master swordsman is clearly better than just swordsman so… why are they keeping that option”
It’s only natural to think that master swordsman is the superior version of swordsman.
If so, anyone would choose master swordsman.
For the time being, he clicked on swordsman for further details.
The screen changed once again and displayed a selection of rank.
“Commoner, baron, count.
Ah, I see.
The social ranking is decided by gacha, eh There’s even ‘king’ here.
Is it the same for master swordsman”
The ranks were like the ones that would come up in an ‘isekai light novel’.
Kenichi had read his fair share of isekai novels and so could understand the ranking quite easily.
After clicking the ‘do-over’ button, he went back to the occupation selection screen and chose master swordsman this time.
“Only serf, commoner and baron.
Stronger occupations would need harsher nurturing and so the ranks go even lower.”
As for ‘hero’, the ranks are only ‘serf’ and ‘commoner’ and it’s decided by a gacha.
The gacha drop rates were also displayed, leaving it to luck.
The stronger the occupation, the higher the percentage for lower social rank.
He could comprehend and accept this system of social rank being lower with stronger occupations if you can nurture your skills a lot.
“Which should I go with I have done swordsman and magician plenty of times till now.
I wonder if I should try out healer this time.
Ah, that reminds me, I have never quite been a demon lord.
A serf demon lord certainly sounds interesting… mm There’s more.”
After pondering for a while on which occupation to pick, when he finally decided on the lowest one, ‘demon lord’, he realized that there were more options underneath.
“Summoner Does that mean being a summoner is harder than a demon lord”
The occupation at the very bottom was ‘summoner’.
There were 8 stars displayed beside it.
When he clicked on it to check the ranks, he saw that ‘serf’ was the only option available.
“Summoner, eh I haven’t really done this one either but it would definitely be cool if I could summon a Shenron or something.”
The man had played countless games.
Not only online games, but also story based single-player ones.
He recalled that in one game which is popular throughout the country, the summoner could summon beasts from ancient Greek mythology.
“Alright, summoner it is.
And, serf would be the rank.
Is that all”
Mode was set to ‘Hell mode’, occupation to ‘Summoner’, and rank to ‘Serf’.
It seemed there were no further choices to make.
He looked all over the screen for choices regarding gender and appearance but there was only one button displayed.
A big button with “Start” written on it.
A message popped up as he clicked on it.
«The testing period for ‘Summoner’ has not yet ended and there are no players with that occupation yet.
Would you still like to continue»
“Ah The test is still going on Then why can I select it But that kinda makes it more interesting, on the contrary.
Alright, I will test it for you!”
Kenichi chose «Yes» without hesitation.
The screen shone bright and nobody could be seen inside the one kitchen, 8 tatami flat.
Kenichi had just disappeared from the real world.
«1»Nuregames (ヌレゲー) are games which are too simple and easily completed.
The games which don’t really leave you with a sense of accomplishment once you have finished them.
«2»Houchigames (放置ゲー) are games where you can significantly progress without even playing.