In a forest; we could hear the sounds of multiple footsteps crumpling the leaves. The sounds were approaching us.
"Onee-chan, support please!"
"Understood. 《Enchant》——Attack, Speed."
We had noticed them immediately. To prepare for battle we boosted our stats, as we waited for the enemy to approach us.
What appeared soon after, were three monkeys covered with dark brown fur and malformed arms——a pack of Mash Apes. Their arms were long and delicate, but the monkeys fist were hard as stone. Their pupils didn't show any intellect and they displayed their sharp fangs with frenzied expressions. The monkeys let out strange squeaks as they raised their arms up high.
After the first one leaped at us to attack, the other two followed up in the same manner.
"I'll take on two of them! Stall the third one and buy some time!"
In response to the instruction, I pulled out my weapon – a bow, aimed at the monkey in the back and released an arrow.
The released arrow hit beyond the hardened part of its arm and pierced deep into its shoulder. As the arrow struck, the monkey released a painful squeal and pulled away. While maintaining distance between me and the attacking monkey I continued to shoot arrows at a regular interval, making sure its attention was focused on me.
The two remaining monkeys that were left to my female partner pounced and whipped at her with their long forearms. She was calm and prepared for the prey, parrying with a slash of the long sword in her hand. A sideways glance confirmed her safety and I judged that she could take on two monkeys simultaneously without any problems. As always, I admired the skill of the girl who at all times positioned herself in my field of view.
The monkeys were lured in, and the moment they entered attack range of the girl, an Art was released.
As the beasts received continuous sword attacks, their HP displayed above their heads continued to decrease until they completely disappeared.
Every time I saw that I was impressed by the sharp slashes, and this time I even forgot I was still fighting against the remaining monkey.
Although I managed to avoid the monkey's hammer-like arm, it grazed my body and after staggering from the impact, I fell on my bottom.
As I looked up at the monkey from the floor, it seemed like it was bigger than me. Once again it raised its hardened arms above its head, getting ready to swing them down any moment. Seeing that, I closed my eyes tightly and curled up. But the shock from the attack didn't come.
That dry comment made me slowly open my eyes again. In front of me was a crumbling monkey and the girl with shiny silver hair sheathing her sword.
"Thank you for the follow-up Onee-chan."
"No, I was the one who forced you to do this. I need to do at least this much, don't I."
Even though I said that, I could only attract attention of one beast and ended up looking so pathetic.
For the time being I was using a bow as my main weapon, from the fact that I couldn't defeat a single monkey one could tell it was not easy to use.
Before brooding over it further, I checked the vicinity of tree roots which were my original objective and collected an item.
"That was the last one. I've collected all necessary materials."
"Looks like it. That's great, so Onee-chan's errand is complete. By the way, what are you making?"
"My crafting skill is making drugs. For that, I need to acquire a large amount of materials."
"In combat it always feels like *dang* and *bang*, but it's hard for me to imagine Yun-oneechan's crafting."
"No, I don't think you can describe crafting with onomatopoeia. Also, Myu——don't call me as if I am your sister."
That's right. For the time being my in-game character is female, but in ''real'' I'm a man.
"Who cares. Next, let's go and have you level up, Onee-chan! Time to head to the hunting grounds, let's go!"
"Hey, wait. Myu!"
"You looked quite pitiful earlier! That's because you didn't level your Senses enough! Now, let's go and fight against a bit stronger mobs!"
I muttered 'geez'. My little sister, Myu took my hand and pulled me deeper into the forest.
In this forest there was a variety of monsters like the malformed monkeys from earlier. For the current me it was a little bit too heavy of a load.
I didn't feel any pleasure from forcing myself to level, and doing so only mentally exhausts me. However, Myu was just the opposite, and as she had a lot of fun I just left it at a sigh and followed her.
Originally, the first opportunity I had to play this game was during summer vacation.
In 【Only Sense Online】, also known as 【OSO】, the players are all equipped with abilities called 'Senses', with only one way of life, it's an VRMMORPG which attracted players with the slogan 'only one play style' when it was still in beta.
It boasted an autonomous AI developed by the publisher, Epsony Inc., and a realistic virtual world maintained by a huge amount of computing power from large servers. The world looked like your regular middle ages fantasy setting with swords and magic, yet it stood out from other worlds of that genre thanks to its degree of perfection... or so it seemed.
How one masters his Sense is up to the player. There's a countless amount of basic Senses, and even more of them have been added which didn't exist in the open beta.
——The play style, and there was truly an only one, was to play together with your friends.
And I, the day before the game officially went live... eh? why? Why!? I've been abducted, imprisoned in my friend's house and forced to help out with the collective summer homework on the first day of break.
And the culprit was my no-good friend Takumi.
"Hey, Shun. Show me what you did for maths for a moment."
Without any reservations, Takumi ripped off all my effort. A blood vein appeared on my temple and my cheeks began to convulse. Then, I forcefully quelled the anger welling up inside of me.
"You... why? Not only do you bring me here, but you also make me show you my homework."
"It's fine. Haven't we done this every year? The homework piled up and the end of the holidays was coming."
My no-good childhood friend Takumi said that nonchalantly. And this time we did it early because he wanted to absorb himself in gaming for the entire holidays. Seriously, I give up.
"I don't want to bother worrying about it later. Also, there's a game I want to play together with you."
"No, seriously, you blackmailed me by saying you'll reveal that story from my past that I don't want to be known. Well, fine. It's not a bad thing to finish the homework as soon as possible. But there's nothing in it for me."
"I told you not to worry. You'll be able to play a game together with me like this."
"Why do I have to play a game with you? Also, for us to do all the collective homework on day one, unlike you, I'm quite busy. There's housework I need to do..."
Our household has both of the parents working, so during summer vacation, the children are supposed to be responsible for housework. However, in reality the only one who's responsible for it is me, the brother. With the older sister far away in college and the little sister Miu's ability to do chores on a devastatingly low level, as a matter of course I became responsible for all the housework.
That's why I shouldn't waste time here by being kidnapped. When I started to think about that, Takumi mentioned something unexpected.
"You, you haven't spoken with Shizuka-neesan so you don't know, but she is also playing this game. So if you play it you'll be able to play with both your older sister and your little sister, all three of you, for the first time in a while, right?"
"You mean Miu is playing that game as well?"
"Yeah, I met the two of them occasionally while it was still in beta."
Ohh, I see. Miu made a huge scene when she learned Shizuka-nee was going far away for university. So that's the reason why she's been so cheerful lately, like that never happened.
"Now, let's put all the homework behind us! In exchange, I'll release you and prepare the game hardware for you."
"Good grief, I get it. I'll play the game with you. But don't expect me to match the pace of you three hardcore gamers."
As I said so, I took the paper bag Takumi held out to me. Inside, there was the VR gear, the hardware for new games. It was the latest VR hardware, a hypnotic-induction type rather than a head display type.
It was the latest hardware developed by Epsony Inc., and the only game that was currently supported was 【OSO】. In other words, it was hardware dedicated to one game.
The advantage of the hypnotic-induction type was the fact that operating it was done through brain waves. Conventionally one watched the display from first-person perspective and manipulated the controller in one's hand, but this long-standing problem in operability has finally been solved.
"H-hey. This is the latest model! I've seen it on TV before. They can't keep up with producing them, right? I can't take something this expensive."
"Don't mind it. So that I can play 【OSO】 with you, I got it from a sweepstakes site; it was quite hard to get it before they went out of stock. I got my own for free because I was a beta tester. Now, it takes time to set up the characteristic brain wave detection so go back home already. If there's anything you don't know, just ask Miu-chan."
I kept the bag and was sent off from the entrance by my no-good friend.
Geez, he could handle this matter more politely, and thinking that, I continued to walk on the road home taking steps on the sultry asphalt.
On the way home I stopped by a convenience store and bought ice candy to cool myself off.
"Welcome back, Onii-chan. You were at Takumi-san's place weren't you?"
After I arrived at home all sweaty from walking in the midsummer heat rising from the asphalt, a voice welcomed me. Moreover, there's that look and that expectant grin. I know what you're going to say.
"I bought ice candy on the way home, let's eat it."
"Yaay! Ice candy! Is it my favourite boribori-kun? ...no, wrong!! Wait, not wrong, I like boribori-kun, but... What I want to say is, that!"
And as she said that, she energetically pointed at the bag with the VR gear I held in my hand.
A third year middle schooler, a cute and lively girl who still had some childish facial features. Unfortunately, she was a hardcore gamer. As her older brother I've already exhausted myself worrying about her.
She's been a bit down until recently because our elder sister Shizuka-nee left home for university. I've heard she regained her vigour after discovering the world of 【OSO】 which made me a bit interested in it as well.
"I get it. I want to see Shizuka-nee as well, so I'll play with you."
"Really?! Thank you! It's officially starting tomorrow, so let's set it up now, ahead of time."
"At least let's eat the ice candy first."
Although she tried to steal away the VR gear I held, I quickly moved away, turned my body and dangled the convenience store bag I had in the other hand in front of her. She displayed a frustrated expression..
However, after she took the boribori-kun from the bag her mood immediately changed to a happy one. I don't know whether she's innocent, or just simple.
I stopped for a moment to take a breather and ate the ice candy I bought. After that, I booted the PC in my room while listening to Miu's directions and set up the VR gear.
I installed the game, attached the VR gear and laid down on the bed.
"Now, first let's try detecting the brainwaves. You need to put that on, fall asleep and it'll be over soon."
Miu's voice could be heard from far away, my eyelids became heavier and I closed my eyes. When I opened my eyes again, it seemed like the set-up of the brainwaves was over. While I was sleeping it seems like Miu finished the required procedures like account registration.
However, I had to hurry up and prepare dinner. I hurried over to do so and postponed the detailed settings for later.
And as we sat to eat the dinner, I asked Miu.
"What kind of play style you use?"
"Umm. In my case, I use swords and magic, a magic swordsman. As for elements, I use the Light Element and Healing Senses. Well, money aside, everything from the beta test has been reset."
"Although it would seem like light magic might just as well include recovery magic. The name reminds me of priests in RPGs."
"I'm not a priest! I fight with a sword and protect my allies in my armour!"
"Ohh—, so your role is to happily charge at the enemies."
"No! My character is made in paladin's image!"
"And how about Shizuka-nee?"
Interrupting Miu's protests, I forcibly changed the topic.
"Grr... Onee-chan's configuration was that of a pure sorceress who's wearing a robe and wielding a wand. Her main element was water, and she could use healing as well. She'll probably end up fighting similarly again because she's used to it."
"Well, she's surely not the type to hack at things with a sword."
I've seen a little bit of the directions Miu and Shizuka-nee have proceeded in.
After questioning Miu lightly I've decided not to overlap with the two.
Then, after going back to my room I started skimming through strategy sites.
【OSO】's basic overview is as follows.
【OSO】 is built around Senses.
A Sense is an equippable talent that exists separately from the normal equipment like weapons.
Learning such a talent consumes points and every player can equip them through their inventory window.
While equipped, a Sense can give you a permanently active ability, allow you to use certain skills, have an effect on various actions, or provide corrections and multipliers during the game.
And by repeatedly making use of their effect, Senses gather experience points and continue to level up. When that happens the effects of the multipliers and corrections become greater.
Up to 10 Senses can be equipped at once.
The player starts with 10 Sense points (from here on referred to as SP). There's no point in just having a Sense! Remember to properly equip it!
An acquired Sense does not have to be equipped, and can be kept as backup. The Senses can be freely re-equipped. If a Sense's level is high enough, it can advance or branch and become even stronger.
The stats each player has are MP and HP; physical attack is ATK, physical defence is DEF, magic attack is INT, magic defence is MIND. Then there is SPEED which influences speed, DEX which applies a correction to weapon and production skills and LUK which increases drop rates and the chance of critical hits.
These statistics are calculated from the total configuration of all equipped Senses.
Players cannot see their own stats. It is presumed that this was decided in order to make the game more realistic.
The are special techniques and moves called 'arts' and 'skills' in this game.
【Arts】 are weapon-based special attacks. 【Skills】 are magic-based attacks and support abilities. In addition to that, the naming varies depending on the Sense, for example there are also 【Recipes】 or 【EX-Skills】.
【Arts】 apply a correction to weapon attacks and make dealing damage easy. People who aren't accustomed to fighting are recommended to solely rely on Arts.
【Skills】 use spells and techniques that cause a fixed, pre-determined phenomenon. Paying attention to MP management is required in this case.
【Recipe】 are related to crafting skills and allow players to produce items.
In order to obtain MP necessary for using Arts and Skills, a player must obtain the 【Magic Power】 Sense. After obtaining MP that way, player is required to obtain yet another Sense.
In order to use magic, the 【Magic Talent】 Sense and an 【Element】 Sense are required. These two senses are mandatory if a player wants to use magic. Moreover, there are different 【Element】 Senses namely: Fire, Water, Wind, Earth, Darkness, Light – a total of six elements. These element's usage is not limited to magic. Apart from these six elements there are magic Senses that specialize in things like support and recovery.
There are highly-versatile Elemental Senses as well as multiple magical Senses which specialize in specific actions. Considering the Senses related to magic the three of 【Magic Power】, 【Magic Talent】 and 【Element】 are considered the basic set.
The same way as there is a basic set for magic, there is also a basic set for warrior-type players.
Weapon Senses allow attacking with a corresponding weapon and increase the damage dealt.
Another type are the Armour Senses, they are Senses which add a correction to the corresponding armour type. The armour can be equipped even without using an Armour Sense. However, in order to damage the enemy with a weapon one needs to use a corresponding Sense, which makes it a mandatory sense.
The recommended Senses other than for weapons and armor, don't allow using any special abilities, magic or attacks, but in return they do raise certain stats a lot.
Now, it is recommended to chose the weapon, armour, and stat-raising Senses to suit your style.
In this game, the play style changes as you equip and combine Senses. You can enjoy the occasional adventures while equipped with the Senses that suit you. Moreover, if you do not like your own play style, even without deleting the character you can reset the equipment and relocate the Senses.
As I looked through the strategy guide, that's the kind of feeling I had after briefly skimming through it.
Here and there were advices for which I was very thankful. Also, the template builder was very helpful, too.
There was quite a large number of Senses that can be initially obtained after starting to play.
I was troubled over what Sense configuration I should use. I was the only beginner among of three of us siblings. And I absolutely didn't want to become a burden on my older and my little sister.
So, what to do.
——Going full support should be good.
In that case, I need to acquire Senses that give me a long-range attack, crafting supplies for adventure, and non-offensive magic with an emphasis on convenience.
And then, in front of my eyes appeared the strategy site's questionnaire.
On the top were the names of major Senses. As I scrolled down through the screen, just the opposite of the popular ones from the top, were lined up the unpopular ones.
"If I'm picking, then I might as well aim for the Senses which are in industrial gap."
It took me quite a while to pick the potential candidates from among Senses.
While comparing the template with the mandatory requirements, I started picking the Senses from among the ones that were classified as unpopular. The only thing that was left to do——【OSO】's character's appearance edit seemed to have been already finished by Miu.
I was told changing the character's colour scheme was unusually time consuming so I gave up on it.
In the character editor there was a projection of how the player appeared in reality; apparently the body build, amount of muscles and so on could then be adjusted naturally.
There was nothing to tamper with in particular, the character could be left as it is, that's what I thought. And like like that, my preparation for adventure has ended.
From now on, the Only One Game begins.