The premise (people pulled into a D&D world? Wow!) isn’t the story, it’s a set up. The story of the characters figuring out the world, their power, and even slightly enjoying themselves has already been told. This is them coming back to the world, haunted, depressed, fatigued, and angry. They are reluctant travelers in a fantastical world with one purpose: getting out and not in any meaningful, world-changing, or fulfilling manner.
Before they get transported to this world, one point is made clear, this isn’t your typical D&D adventure setting; forget well-curated scenes of battle, forget a bandy group setting out for noble causes of loot, lust, exploration, and renown, forget memorable NPCs with funny accents and fascinating lives. This is a gulag of despair, survival, and getting through.
The narrative relies heavily on the character’s past experiences, which, due to their trauma, they’re reluctant to dredge up. They know what to do and how to do it because they’ve done it before and couldn’t care less; pretty much just going through the motions. As such, reading this, without having their magical foreknowledge, everything fantastical and imperiling that they encounter feels cheap, baiting intrigue that doesn’t deliver.
As the characters are reluctant to discuss the past, we’re left muddled as to what they’re doing and how things work in the world. There isn’t a reason to explain it (you know, except for the reader’s benefit) as the characters already lived that part of their lives.
Visually stunning artwork, great looking monsters, dull, reluctant characters, flawed, disengaging story with a “hum-ho,” wayward purpose, little depth, “meh” battles. More than not, this feels like a package of interesting concepts for someone else to develop and mature. Again, the conflicts they face are of the “oh, just use your power” variety, but they are nicely conceived.