Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Best New English Mangas of 2017

2017 had a huge list of mangas that started to be published in English for the first time. And it is literally a daunting task to sift through these and find out the cream of the crop.

But once again I will try to keep my list short, so that you won't be disappointed picking up any of these series'.

(PS: In no particular order of preference is this list created and only new series' that started being published in English for the first time were the main selection criteria.)

"Dragon Ball Super"
Written by Akira Toriyama
Art by Toyotaro
Published by Viz Media


Goku’s adventure from the best-selling classic manga Dragon Ball continues in this new series written by Akira Toriyama himself!
Ever since Goku became Earth’s greatest hero and gathered the seven Dragon Balls to defeat the evil Boo, his life on Earth has grown a little dull. But new threats loom overhead, and Goku and his friends will have to defend the planet once again in this continuation of Akira Toriyama’s best-selling series, Dragon Ball!
Having defeated Boo, Goku is starting to get bored with his life on Earth. His wife, Chi-chi, wants him to get a job, but all he wants to do is train and fight stronger enemies. Elsewhere in the universe, the God of Destruction, Beerus, and his attendant Whis are traveling from planet to planet in search of food and entertainment. After blowing up some hapless victims, Beerus is reminded of a man from his dreams with the moniker “Super Saiyan God,” or something like that... The God of Destruction sets his sights on Earth to track down this mysterious man! Maybe this will give Goku something to do?


[ Well, I have been a fan of Dragon Ball since my childhood and this is a new sequel written by 'Akira Toriyama'. I have bought the first two volumes as physical copies and loving it so far. ]

"Delicious in Dungeon"
Story & Art by Ryoko Kui
Published by Yen Press


When young adventurer Laios and his company are attacked and soundly thrashed by a dragon deep in a dungeon, the party loses all its money and provisions...and a member! They're eager to go back and save her, but there is just one problem: If they set out with no food or coin to speak of, they're sure to starve on the way! But Laios comes up with a brilliant idea: "Let's eat the monsters!" Slimes, basilisks, and even dragons...none are safe from the appetites of these dungeon-crawling gourmands!
 
[ A dungeon fantasy cooking hybrid manga, quite a unique setting indeed. Although I am yet to read the official translated release, I have read some of the fan translations previously and loved the unique humor. This one has won a few awards too. ]

"Golden Kamuy"
Story & Art by Satoru Noda
Published by Viz Media


A tale of high adventure and survival on the Japanese frontier!
In the early 20th century, Russo-Japanese War veteran Saichi Sugimoto searches the wilderness of the Japanese frontier of Hokkaido for a hoard of hidden gold. With only a cryptic map and a native Ainu girl to help him, Saichi must also deal with every murderous cutthroat, bandit and rogue who knows about the treasure!
Immortal Sugimoto, a survivor of the assault on 203 Meter Hill during the Russo-Japanese War, now scratches out a meager existence in the post-war gold rush in the wild frontier of Hokkaido. A chance encounter in the woods puts a map to a hidden fortune of Ainu gold in his hands, but Sugimoto is not the only interested party, and everyone who knows about the gold will kill to possess it!"
 
 


[ Another award winning manga with a unique setting. It is strong historical manga with rich detail and it is quite apparent that the author has done his research. ]

"Land of the Lustrous"
Story & Art by Haruko Ichikawa
Published by Kodansha Comics


An elegant new action manga for fans of Sailor Moon and the litany of comics and animation that it inspired, Land of the Lustrous is set in a far future Earth, where humanity's distant descendants live on in a small group of sexless crystalline beings who must fight off an invasion from the Moon.
The young gem Phosphorite can't seem to do anything right. "Phos" has nothing but a big mouth and guts. Cinnabar, a classmate, is a loner, shunned by the other gems because of the toxins emitted from their body. But when they get together, they will learn that they both have an essential role to play in the fight against the Moonfolk, who are intent on coming to Earth to abduct the gem folk and destroy their world. A beautifully-drawn new action manga from Haruko Ichikawa, winner of the Osamu Tezuka Cultural Prize.


[ I was quite impressed by the first volume of this series and looking forward to the anime. An unorthodox manga focusing more on art to create the atmosphere and the setting is original too. ]

"Captain Harlock Space Pirate: Dimensional Voyage"
Written by Leiji Matsumoto
Art by Kouiti Shimaboshi
Published by Seven Seas
   


In the face of an impending alien invasion by the beautiful and deadly Mazon, the decayed and weakened Earth has little hope of defending itself. While the planet's corrupt politicians ignore the growing threat, Tadashi Daiba is one of the few people left still willing to put up a fight. He's just one person, nigh powerless on his own -- until he joins the ranks with the greatest space pirate the world has ever known: Captain Harlock! Together with Harlock and his ragtag crew aboard the space battleship Arcadia, they will journey through space, fighting not only the Mazon, but other dark forces that threaten humanity's existence.

[ This is a retelling of Space Pirate Harlock's saga and it is done quite skillfully. I have read the first volume and interested following the story. The artwork is also quite gorgeous. ]
  
"To Your Eternity"
Story & Art by Yoshitoki Oima
Published by Kodansha Comics


A new manga from the creator of the acclaimed A Silent Voice, featuring intimate, emotional drama and an epic story spanning time and space...
A lonely boy wandering the Arctic regions of North America meets a wolf, and the two become fast friends, depending on each other to survive the harsh environment. But the boy has a history, and the wolf is more than meets the eye as well... To Your Eternity is a totally unique and moving manga about death, life, reincarnation, and the nature of love.
 
 


[ A new manga from the writer of 'A Silent Voice', and yet another masterpiece of amazing storytelling. This guy is the real deal, it seems. ]

"Altair: A Record of Battles"
Story & Art by Kotono Kato
Published by Kodansha Comics


For generations the Turkiye Devleti and the Balt-Rhein Empire have stood in stern opposition of each other. Then one night, when an imperial minister is found assassinated, the two nations are plunged into a potentially explosive situation! As the generals of Turkiye's council cry for war, Mahmut comes to discover the devious truth behind the assassination! Thus the young pasha's battle for his country, peace and trust in his fellow man begins!

[ Another historical manga, and this one has a setting I never though I would see in this medium. A shounen manga focusing on the Ottoman Empire setting, this one is done quite well. Refreshingly original stuff. ]

Monday, April 23, 2018

Best New English Light Novels of 2017

And, here comes my list of the best new light novel series' that started getting published in English this year.

2017 had more than 30 new light novels that got released in English, but only a handful of these were worth mentioning in my opinion.

(PS: In no particular order of preference is this list created and only new series' that started being published in English for the first time were the main selection criteria.)
"Konosuba: God's Blessing on This Wonderful World!"
Written by Natsume Akatsuki
Illutrated by Kurone Mishima
Translated by Kevin Steinbach
Published by Yen Press

Game loving shut-in Kazuma Sato's life as a young schoolboy in Japan abruptly comes to an early end...or at least it was supposed to. When he opens his eyes, though, he sees a beautiful goddess that offers him a once in an after-lifetime chance to be reborn in a parallel world. The catch is that the world is violent and threatened by a growing evil! Fortunately, he can choose any one thing to bring with him. So he chooses the goddess, Aqua! And so his adventure with his gorgeous companion begins--if he could just get enough money and food to survive, keep his goddess out of trouble, and avoid grabbing the attention of the Demon King's army!

[ A very interesting concept making fun of the 'Isekai' genre that has gotten rather tiresome with so much effort going into it. It really is quite humorous with its approach. I have read the first one and loved it (my review). ] 
"Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers"
Written by  Ishio Yamagata
Visual art by Miyagi
Published by Yen Press

In order to stop the revival of the Demon God, six heroes are to be chosen to save the world. Those chosen surely have great combat abilities, special powers, or have been intensely trained as Saints. Excellence and ability are supposed to be the calling card of the chosen heroes, but this ragtag band lived far from normal, peaceful lives before they came together to become heroes.
Hanz's mysterious assassin for hire trade. Mora and Chamo's daily life at the World Temple. Nashetania and the youth scheming to win her heart, Goldof. The one who lives her life as a demon thinking of her family, Fremi. And the boy who lives with only his dream in mind, Adlet.
Their true feelings and personalities all seem to have another side to them... They will all come together to battle mystery, reveal the past, and step into legends in this new exciting series!

[ I have heard of this one when the anime came out and never expected to see the light novel in English to be honest. But here it is and it seems to be quite a unique take on legendary heroes setting with a mystery twist. Something interesting among the generic stuff all around. ]

"Demon King Daimaou"
Written by Shoutarou Mizuki
Illustrated by Souichi Itou
Translated by David Musto
Published by J-Novel Club


Far in the future, Japan has become a land ruled by magic and those who wield it. Akuto Sai arrives at Constant Magical Academy—the most prestigious magic school in the world—for his first year of high school. The only student to pass the Academy’s intense entrance exam, he has his sights set on become a High Priest, the most powerful and virtuous magician in the land. However, when he arrives at the Academy, his future occupation is prophesied to be… The Demon King?! Now Akuto is the number one target on campus, and he must navigate his way with the help of his friends—a troublesome delinquent, a beautiful observer android, an honor-bound class representative, and a mysterious girl from his past—through the seedy underbelly of the world’s premier magic academy.

[ It is another light novel that I never thought of getting an official translation. This one from the time when magical schools were the popular setting of Japanese fiction. While I am not really iterested in the setting or the genres this series represents, my interest in this one was mostly due to this being one of the classic light novels, but it was rather fun as well. ]

"Infinite Dendrogram"
Written by Sakon Kaidou
Illustrated by Taiki
Translated by Andrew Hodgson
Published by J-Novel Club


In the year 2043, Infinite Dendrogram, the world's first successful full-dive VRMMO was released. In addition to its ability to perfectly simulate the five senses, along with its many other amazing features, the game promised to offer players a world full of infinite possibilities. Nearly two years later, soon-to-be college freshman, Reiji Mukudori, is finally able to buy a copy of the game and start playing. With some help from his experienced older brother, Shu, and his partner Embryo, Reiji embarks on an adventure into the world of Infinite Dendrogram. Just what will he discover and encounter in this game world known for its incredible realism and infinite possibilities?


[ Although this concept has been done to death, this one has executed a true RPG novel perfectly. And the main character is not ridiculously overpowered and is quite likeable. Any lovers of RPG should give this one a try. ]

"The Empty Box and Zeroth Maria"
Written by Eiji Mikage
Illustrated by 415
Translated by Luke Baker
Published by Yen Press


Kazuki Hoshino leads the easy-going life of a typical high school student--until the appearance of a new girl in his class turns his world upside down! Introducing herself with a promise to "break" Kazuki is abnormal enough to make an impression, sure, but why does she seem so familiar...?


[ Ah, the highest rated light novel of MAL finally gets translated. And it is well worth the wait as this novel is indeed a masterpiece of this particular medium of fiction. ]

"So I'm a Spider, So What?"
Written by Okina Baba
Illustrated by Kiryu Tsukasa
Translated by Jenny McKeon
Published by Yen Press


I used to be a normal high school girl but in the blink of an eye, I woke up in a place I've never seen before and-and I was reborn as a spider?! How could something that's nothing more than a tiny spider (that's me) possibly survive in literally the worst dungeon ever? Are there no rules? There should be some rules! Who the hell is responsible for this? SHOW YOUR FACE! 
 

[ While the setting is generic it has an unorthodox twist with a protagonist who is a spider, and she used to be a girl. It was fun to read her point-of-view and the author did manage to create something original. ] 

Friday, April 20, 2018

Best 3ds games of 2017

Well, I am way later than last time this year with my 'best-of' lists. But, let me just begin while I have some free time on my hands.

I will start this year with the best in what 3ds had to offer in 2017. These games are listed in order of their release date and not in any particular order of ranking.

Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King

Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King, is a role-playing video game developed by Level-5 and published by Square Enix for the PlayStation 2. It was first released in Japan in 2004, and was later released in North America in 2005 and PAL regions in 2006, making it the first main series installment released in the PAL region.It is the eighth installment of the popular Dragon Quest series and it is the first English version of a Dragon Quest game to drop the Dragon Warrior title. This version of the game for 3DS was released in English in January 20, 2017.

[ While its original was one of the fastest selling release of PS2, I was waiting for this remake for a long time. This one is must have for any JRPG fan and a definite classic among classics. ]

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia is a tactical role-playing game developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 3DS handheld video game console in 2017. The game is a full remake of the 1992 Famicom title Fire Emblem Gaiden, the second entry in the Fire Emblem series. Following childhood friends Alm and Celica as they fight on opposites sides of a war between their respective nations, Fire Emblem Echoes carries over the core gameplay mechanics of the Fire Emblem series while incorporating mechanics from Gaiden and new elements including dungeon crawling. It was released on May 19, 2017 for English speaking regions.

[ The second entry is another remake. This time it is the latest entry into Fire Emblem, one of the greatest tactical role-playing series ever. Another must play, I guess. ]

Metroid: Samus Returns

Metroid: Samus Returns is a side-scrolling action-adventure game developed by MercurySteam and Nintendo for the Nintendo 3DS handheld game console, with the latter also publishing it. A part of the science fiction Metroid series, the game is a reimagining of the 1991 Game Boy game Metroid II: Return of Samus. Players control Samus Aran, who is sent by the Galactic Federation to exterminate the parasitic Metroids on their home planet of SR388. The story and structure are similar to Metroid II, but the game adds controls, visuals, and gameplay, and introduces features new to 2D Metroid games, such as a melee counterattack, the ability to fire freely at any angle, and a selection of abilities. Development began in 2015, produced by longtime Metroid developer Yoshio Sakamoto. The game received positive reviews for its visuals and improved gameplay over the original game, with many viewing it as a return to form for the series. It was released worldwide on 15 September 2017.


[ The third entry is yet another remake. And while this might be more of a reimagining than a remake it does retain the awesomeness of the original and create a breathtaking experience. ]

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga is a role-playing video game developed by AlphaDream and published by Nintendo for the Game Boy Advance in 2003. The game is the first in the Mario & Luigi RPG series. The game was later re-released for the Wii U Virtual Console on the Nintendo eShop in 2014, and remade for the Nintendo 3DS as Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions in 2017. The setting of the game begins in the Mushroom Kingdom, but progresses to the Beanbean Kingdom for the majority of the game. In the game, Mario and Luigi combat Cackletta, the primary antagonist. The quest begins when Cackletta, with the aid of her assistant Fawful, steals Princess Peach's voice after adopting the guise of an ambassador from the Beanbean Kingdom. The 3DS port features updated graphics, maintaining the use of sprites but with additional lighting effects, akin to Dream Team and Paper Jam. The port also adds an additional storyline, Minion Quest: The Search for Bowser, which follows Captain Goomba and features different gameplay mechanics. The game also features Amiibo functions, tied to the existing Boo and new Goomba and Koopa Troopa figures. The game was released worldwide on October 6, 2017.

[ Wow, seems like 2017 was a year of remakes for 3DS. And this is the remake of the first Mario & Luigi RPG which has the perfect blend of adventure and humor to make it enjoyable to anyone that gives it a try. ]

Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth

Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth is a dungeon crawler role-playing video game developed and published by Atlus for the Nintendo 3DS. Etrian Odyssey V chronicles the quest of a new adventurer as he or she attempts to reach the crown of the towering Yggdrasil Tree. For it is said that whoever braves the dangers of the dreaded Yggdrasil Labyrinth and reaches the summit will have their greatest wish fulfilled. Each culture has their own myth, some say great power will be granted, others believe the great mysteries will be solved. Some believe the ultimate techniques can be mastered there, and a number believe the lost treasures can be found at the top of the Yggdrasil Tree's boughs. There's a reason why no one has ever reached the top. Dangerous creatures and terrifying FOEs roam the labyrinth on every floor, so prepare to test your mettle with challenging turn-based battles. Form your own party and partner up to unleash devastating attacks. Personalize your party to work to your advantage. With endless character customization, adventurers will cast and create their own party from four unique races and ten different classes to explore the uncharted labyrinth. The game was released in Japan in August 2016, in North America in October 2017, and in Europe and Australasia in November 2017.

[ Finally a fresh new game. The fifth entry into the Etrian Odyssey is as good as the last four with steep difficulty giving greater sense of accomplishment once you get the hang of it. This just might be the best in the series if you ask me and must have for any fans. ]

Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon

Pokémon Ultra Sun and Pokémon Ultra Moon are role-playing video games developed by Game Freak, published by The Pokémon Company, and distributed by Nintendo for Nintendo 3DS. The titles are enhanced versions of Pokémon Sun and Moon with a modified storyline. The games are set in the Hawaii-based Alola region with an alternate storyline and introduce several new characters, Pokémon, forms, and gameplay features. As with previous titles in the series, the game follows a young trainer in a Pokémon-training journey across the region. The games feature new forms of the legendary Pokémon Necrozma as version mascots. The paired games were released worldwide on 17 November 2017.

[ Although these might seem like a blatant attempt at exploiting existing fans, most of the said fans have already bought and played the shit out of these ungraded versions. The additional features are good though, and at the end of the day any new pokemon game is welcome. ] 

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Promising Sci-fi, Horror & Fantasy - December 2017

The last month of 2017 is not very good for fiction it seems. Only a handful of mention worthy title in December actually.

"Persepolis Rising (The Expanse #7)" by James S.A. Corey from Orbit

In the thousand-sun network of humanity's expansion, new colony worlds are struggling to find their way. Every new planet lives on a knife edge between collapse and wonder, and the crew of the aging gunship Rocinante have their hands more than full keeping the fragile peace.
In the vast space between Earth and Jupiter, the inner planets and belt have formed a tentative and uncertain alliance still haunted by a history of wars and prejudices. On the lost colony world of Laconia, a hidden enemy has a new vision for all of humanity and the power to enforce it.
New technologies clash with old as the history of human conflict returns to its ancient patterns of war and subjugation. But human nature is not the only enemy, and the forces being unleashed have their own price. A price that will change the shape of humanity -- and of the Rocinante -- unexpectedly and forever...



[ The latest entry into 'The Expanse' series. I have finally started reading the first book of the series. It will be long while before I'll be able to catch up, I guess. ]

"Mississippi Roll (Wild Cards #25)" edited by George R.R. Martin  from Tor Books

Perfect for current fans and new readers alike, Mississippi Roll is an all-new, adventurous jaunt along one of America's greatest rivers, featuring many beloved characters from the Wild Cards universe
Edited by #1 New York Times bestselling author George R. R. Martin, Mississippi Roll features the writing talents of Stephen Leigh, David D. Levine, John Jos. Miller, Kevin Andrew Murphy, Cherie Priest, and Carrie Vaughn.
Now in development for TV: Rights to develop Wild Cards for TV have been acquired by Universal Cable Productions, the team behind The Magicians and Mr. Robot, with the co-editor of Wild Cards, Melinda Snodgrass, as executive producer.
 


[ Hmm, another latest entry into a well established series. The setting and the format is quite interesting. ]

"The Two of Swords, Volume Three" by K.J. Parker from Orbit

The epic concluding volume in The Two of Swords trilogy by World Fantasy Award-winning author K. J. Parker.
"Why are we fighting this war? Because evil must be resisted, and sooner or later there comes a time when men of principle have to make a stand. Because war is good for business and it's better to die on our feet than live on our knees. Because they started it. But at this stage in the proceedings," he added, with a slightly lop-sided grin, "mostly from force of habit."
A soldier with a gift for archery. A woman who kills without care. Two brothers, both unbeatable generals, now fighting for opposing armies. No-one in the vast and once glorious United Empire remains untouched by the rift between East and West, and the war has been fought for as long as anyone can remember. Some still survive who know how it was started, but no-one knows how it will end.
The Two of Swords is the story of a war on a grand scale, told through the eyes of its soldiers, politicians, victims and heroes.
 


[ This guy can write very interesting characters and this is his conclusion to his latest epic. A must read if you ask me. ]

"God’s Last Breath (Bring Down Heaven #3)" by Sam Sykes from Orbit

Acclaimed author Sam Sykes returns with the exhilarating conclusion to his Bring Down Heaven trilogy.
The great demon Khoth-Kapira has broken free of his prison and taken his first step upon the mortal world. And he owes it all to Lenk. Believing that the demon will heal a broken world that the gods have abandoned, Lenk serves as reluctant champion to Khoth-Kapira's cause. But as the desperate and fearful flock to Khoth-Kapira's banner, begging for salvation, Lenk begins to doubt his patron's great designs.
The city of Cier'Djaal, meanwhile, has become the field for the last great battle of mortals. And as humans, shicts and tulwar prepare to tear each other apart, none are aware of the ancient horror that marches upon their tiny wars.
At the tip of a spear or beneath the heel of demons, the reign of mortals ends.
 

[ I love this Sam Sykes guy. But I have only read one of his books so far (my review of 'Tome of the Undergates'). I need to binge read him soon. ]

Promising Sci-fi, Horror & Fantasy - November 2017

Wow, I am finally almost up to the end of 2017 in a monthly list topic. Yay, me.

"Mandelbrot the Magnificent" by Liz Ziemska from Tor.com Publishing

Mandelbrot the Magnificent is a stunning, magical pseudo-biography of Benoit Mandelbrot as he flees into deep mathematics to escape the rise of Hitler
Born in the Warsaw ghetto and growing up in France during the rise of Hitler, Benoit Mandelbrot found escape from the cruelties of the world around him through mathematics. Logic sometimes makes monsters, and Mandelbrot began hunting monsters at an early age. Drawn into the infinite promulgations of formulae, he sinks into secret dimensions and unknown wonders.
His gifts do not make his life easier, however. As the Nazis give up the pretense of puppet government in Vichy France, the jealousy of Mandelbrot's classmates leads to denunciation and disaster. The young mathematician must save his family with the secret spaces he's discovered, or his genius will destroy them.


[ Starting off with a tor.com novella with a unique setting. Should be a quick and fun read. ]

"The Wrong Stars" by Tim Pratt from Angry Robot

A ragtag crew of humans and posthumans discover alien technology that could change the fate of humanity... or awaken an ancient evil and destroy all life in the galaxy.
The shady crew of the White Raven run freight and salvage at the fringes of our solar system. They discover the wreck of a centuries-old exploration vessel floating light years away from its intended destination and revive its sole occupant, who wakes with news of First Alien Contact. When the crew break it to her that humanity has alien allies already, she reveals that these are very different extra-terrestrials... and the gifts they bestowed on her could kill all humanity, or take it out to the most distant stars.
 


[ Although I was a bit skeptical about this one, I decided to pick up the hard copy from amazon. Seems an interesting release from Angry Robot. ]

"Ironclads" by Adrian Tchaikovsky from Solaris

Scions have no limits. Scions do not die. And Scions do not disappear.
Sergeant Ted Regan has a problem. A son of one of the great corporate families, a Scion, has gone missing at the front. He should have been protected by his Ironclad – the lethal battle suits that make the Scions masters of war – but something has gone catastrophically wrong.
Now Regan and his men, ill equipped and demoralised, must go behind enemy lines, find the missing Scion, and uncover how his suit failed. Is there a new Ironclad-killer out there? And how are common soldiers lacking the protection afforded the rich supposed to survive the battlefield of tomorrow?
 


[ Should be a good little military sci-fi. ]



"Artemis" by Andy Weir from Crown Publishing

Jazz Bashara is a criminal.
Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you're not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you've got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.
Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she's stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.
 


[ Latest novel from Andy Weir. Hoping it will be as good as the hype. ]


"Old Earth (The Horus Heresy #47)" by Nick Kyme from Black Library

Reborn in body and spirit beneath Mount Deathfire, the primarch Vulkan gathers his most trusted sons and prepares for the final part of his journey. The Legions shattered at Isstvan V have stalled the Warmaster’s advance across the galaxy, but fresh cracks are spreading through the alliance between the Iron Hands, Salamanders and Raven Guard, along with mysterious rumours of the return of Ferrus Manus. Haunted by a sense of destiny unfulfilled, Vulkan must choose between joining their war of vengeance against the traitors, or following his own barely understood path all the way to the Throneworld itself.
Read it Because
It's the final stage in Vulkan's journey. Through tragedy, madness and death itself, the Salamanders primarch has prevailed – but what awaits him now will test him to his very limits. 


[ Hmm, another entry into the ever growing 'Horus Heresy' series. ]

"Jade City (Green Bone Saga #1)" by Fonda Lee from Orbit

FAMILY IS DUTY. MAGIC IS POWER. HONOR IS EVERYTHING.
Magical jade—mined, traded, stolen, and killed for—is the lifeblood of the island of Kekon. For centuries, honorable Green Bone warriors like the Kaul family have used it to enhance their abilities and defend the island from foreign invasion.
Now the war is over and a new generation of Kauls vies for control of Kekon's bustling capital city. They care about nothing but protecting their own, cornering the jade market, and defending the districts under their protection. Ancient tradition has little place in this rapidly changing nation.
When a powerful new drug emerges that lets anyone—even foreigners—wield jade, the simmering tension between the Kauls and the rival Ayt family erupts into open violence. The outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones—from their grandest patriarch to the lowliest motorcycle runner on the streets—and of Kekon itself.
Jade City begins an epic tale of family, honor, and those who live and die by the ancient laws of jade and blood.
 


[ Fonda Lee has created quite a buzz with both her releases in 2017. I guess its time I start finding out how good she actually is. ]

"The Sisters of the Crescent Empress (Waning Moon #2)" by Leena Likitalo from Tor.com Publishing

The Sisters of the Crescent Empress is the second book in Leena Likitalo’s Waning Moon Duology, a fabulous historical fantasy based on the lives of the Romanov sisters.
With the Crescent Empress dead, a civil war has torn the empire asunder. No one seems able to stop the ruthless Gagargi Prataslav. The five Daughters of the Moon are where he wants them to be, held captive in an isolated house in the far north.
Little Alina senses that the rooms that have fallen in disrepair have a sad tale to tell. Indeed, she soon meets two elderly ladies, the ghosts of the house’s former inhabitants.
Merile finds the ghosts suspiciously friendly and too interested in her sisters. She resolves to uncover their agenda with the help of her two dogs.
Sibilia isn’t terribly interested in her younger sisters’ imaginary friends, for she has other concerns. If they don’t leave the house by spring, she’ll miss her debut. And while reading through the holy scriptures, she stumbles upon a mystery that reeks of power.
Elise struggles to come to terms with her relationship with Captain Janlav. Her former lover now serves the gagargi, and it’s his duty to keep the daughters confined in the house. But if the opportunity were to arise, she might be able sway him into helping them flee.
Celestia is perfectly aware of the gagargi coming to claim her rather sooner than later. She’s resolved to come up with a plan to keep her sisters safe at any cost. For she knows what tends to happen to the sisters of the Crescent Empress.
 


[ Second book in another series with a promising setting. ]

"The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy #1)" by S.A. Chakraborty from Harper Voyager

Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles.
But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass?a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.
In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.
After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for . . .
 


[ The premise is very interesting to say the least. And the reviews also speak quite high of this one. Gotta check it out soon. ]

"Oathbringer (Stormlight Archive #3)" by Brandon Sanderson from Tor Books

The eagerly awaited sequel to the #1 New York Times bestselling Words of Radiance, from an epic fantasy author Brandon Sanderson at the top of his game.
In Oathbringer, the third volume of the New York Times bestselling Stormlight Archive, humanity faces a new Desolation with the return of the Voidbringers, a foe with numbers as great as their thirst for vengeance.
Dalinar Kholin's Alethi armies won a fleeting victory at a terrible cost: The enemy Parshendi summoned the violent Everstorm, which now sweeps the world with destruction, and in its passing awakens the once peaceful and subservient parshmen to the horror of their millennia-long enslavement by humans. While on a desperate flight to warn his family of the threat, Kaladin Stormblessed must come to grips with the fact that the newly kindled anger of the parshmen may be wholly justified.
Nestled in the mountains high above the storms, in the tower city of Urithiru, Shallan Davar investigates the wonders of the ancient stronghold of the Knights Radiant and unearths dark secrets lurking in its depths. And Dalinar realizes that his holy mission to unite his homeland of Alethkar was too narrow in scope. Unless all the nations of Roshar can put aside Dalinar's blood-soaked past and stand together--and unless Dalinar himself can confront that past--even the restoration of the Knights Radiant will not prevent the end of civilization.
 


[ The third book in the 'Stormlight Archive', need I say more? ] 

Monday, April 2, 2018

December 2017 New PC Games To Watch For

The last month of 2017 was rather mediocre in case of PC games. While it wasn't necessarily bad, neither were there any releases that were rather spectacular.

SpellForce 3

SpellForce 3 is a 2017 video game developed by Grimlore Games and published by THQ Nordic. SpellForce 3 is the third full and the ninth overall release in the SpellForce video game series and the first entry in the series since 2014's SpellForce 2: Demons of the Past, itself only an expansion to 2006's SpellForce 2: Shadow Wars (the last full entry in the series). The plot serves as a prequel to the first game, the 2003 SpellForce: The Order of Dawn, depicting the events that lead to the creation of The Circle of mages whose actions were the basis for the first game's story. Combining role-playing and real-time strategy elements the same way as in previous games of the series, players take control of a mage called Tahar as well as a group of supporting characters with different backstories and abilities. It was released for Microsoft Windows on 7 December 2017.

Hello Neighbor

Hello Neighbor is a survival horror stealth game developed by Dynamic Pixels and published by tinyBuild. The goal of the game is for the player to successfully sneak into the basement of their neighbor's house to uncover a secret. The game's artificial intelligence modifies the neighbor's behavior based on the player's past actions, such as setting traps along paths the player followed in a previous attempt. The game was released for Microsoft Windows and Xbox One on December 8, 2017.

Tokyo Xanadu eX+

Tokyo Xanadu is an action role-playing game developed by Nihon Falcom. The game is a part of the Xanadu series, and was developed out of Nihon Falcom's desire to create a game of a different type and setting than their other role-playing game franchises, The Legend of Heroes and Ys. The game was first released in Japan for the PlayStation Vita in September 2015, and worldwide in June 2017. An enhanced version of the game, Tokyo Xanadu eX+, was released in Japan for the PlayStation 4 in September 2016, and worldwide, in addition to a Microsoft Windows version, in December 2017.

Ōkami HD

Ōkami  is an action-adventure video game developed by Clover Studio and published by Capcom. Set sometime in classical Japanese history, the game combines several Japanese myths, legends and folklore to tell the story of how the land was saved from darkness by the Shinto sun goddess, named Amaterasu, who took the form of a white wolf. It features a distinct sumi-e-inspired cel-shaded visual style and the Celestial Brush, a gesture-system to perform miracles. The gameplay itself is modeled off The Legend of Zelda, one of director Hideki Kamiya's favorite titles. The high-definition port was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in December 12, 2017 worldwide.

Omega Quintet

Omega Quintet is a video game developed by Galapagos RPG, a subsidiary of Compile Heart, for the PlayStation 4. A hybrid between an idol simulation game and a role-playing video game, the player plays as Takuto, the manager of the Verse Maidens, an idol group that use the power of song and dance to fight off a phenomenon called the "Beep" and save the world. Omega Quintet is the first game by Compile Heart for the PlayStation 4, and also the first retail game for the PS4 to utilize PlayStation Move. An English version of the game, available in both digital and retail format, has been announced, and was released on April 28, 2015 in the United States and in Europe on 1 May 2015. A Microsoft Windows version, produced and published by Ghostlight, was released December 15, 2017.

Romancing SaGa 2

Romancing SaGa 2 is a role-playing video game developed by Square and released for the Super Famicom in Japan on December 10, 1993. It is the fifth title in the SaGa series. In Romancing SaGa 2, the player plays as the Emperor or Empress of Avalon, a castle located in the northwest corner of the game's world map. Throughout the game the player will be able to expand the capital. They will not appear until the player cleared a generation though after accepting the offers to start the public works. It was released on December 15, 2017 on Steam.

Tiny Metal

Tiny Metal is a military-themed turn-based tactics video game developed by Area 35 and published Unties. Tiny Metal is the debut game from Japanese video game development studio Area 35. The golden age of turn-based tactics returns with a distinct Japanese flavor. A story filled with political intrigue and personal conflict follows the assassination of the Artemesian king. Command your infantry, roll out the tanks, and take to the skies to exact swift retribution against your foes. Artemesia is awaiting your orders! The game was released for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Windows in December 21, 2017.

[ Despite not having any big name releases making a splash, December seems a nice month for PC gaming, specially because of some of the remakes/ports. ]

Friday, March 30, 2018

November 2017 New PC Games To Watch For

Unlike the last two months features November in not a very good month for PC games. Only a meager handful games to list and nothing really spectacular at all.

Call of Duty: WWII

Call of Duty: WWII is a first-person shooter video game developed by Sledgehammer Games and published by Activision. It is the fourteenth main installment in the Call of Duty series and the first title in the series to be set primarily during World War II since Call of Duty: World at War in 2008. The game's campaign is set in the European theatre, and is centered around a squad in the 1st Infantry Division, following their battles on the Western Front, and set mainly in the historical events of Operation Overlord. The player controls Ronald "Red" Daniels, who has squadmates that can supply the player with extra ammunition, health, or grenades; none of these are automatically replenished in the campaign. The multiplayer mode features map locations not seen in the campaign. The mode also features the new Divisions system, replacing the create-a-class system that previous games in the series used. A social hub, Headquarters, was also implemented into the game, allowing for players to interact with each other. It was released worldwide on November 3, 2017 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

.hack//G.U. Last Recode

Log back into the .hack//G.U. trilogy and return to “The World,” as Haseo tracks down Tri-Edge in .hack//G.U. Last Recode, now with enhanced graphics, improved gameplay, and brand new modes!
This collection includes all 3 original .hack//G.U. titles, Rebirth, Reminisce, and Redemption, all fully restored and remastered. As well as an all new exclusive 4th Volume: .hack//G.U. Reconnection.
15 years of .hack – Celebrate the 15th anniversary of the beloved global cross media franchise that first released in 2002
Fully restored – Graphically enhanced gameplay and cut scenes now in 1080p and 60fps
Improved system features – Enhanced battle balance and game pacing to provide an optimal experience for new and old fans alike.
It was released on November 3, 2017 for Microsoft Windows on Steam and PlayStation 4.

Nioh

Nioh is an action role-playing video game developed by Team Ninja for the PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Windows. Gameplay revolves around navigating levels and defeating monsters that have infested an area. Nioh takes place in the early 1600s during a fictionalized version of the Sengoku period, when Japan was in the midst of civil war prior to the ascension of the Tokugawa shogunate. A sailor named William, in pursuit of an enemy, arrives in Japan and is enlisted by Hattori Hanzo, servant to Tokugawa Ieyasu, in defeating yōkai that are flourishing in the chaos of war. It was released worldwide on November 7, 2017 for Microsoft Windows.

Star Wars Battlefront II 

Star Wars Battlefront II is an action shooter video game based on the Star Wars film franchise. It is the fourth major installment of the Star Wars: Battlefront series and seventh overall, and a sequel to the 2015 reboot of the series. It was developed by EA DICE, in collaboration with Criterion Games and Motive Studios, and published by Electronic Arts. The game was released worldwide on November 17, 2017 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows.

[ Only four games to list for November and among these only 'Nioh' interests me a lot. A rather weak month to be sure. ]