Archives February 2024

Unlife from Ratalaika Games


Nukes have fallen and the world all but destroyed in Unlife from Ratalaika Games.

Unlife begins with what looks like vintage, archival footage of the days leading to the end of the world. Bombs falling on city centers and mushroom clouds. It’s a rather grim sight. You play as Michael, the last surviving member of a rescue team and who’s blood may mean the cure to the infection spread by the monsters from the Black Sea. Combining his blood and that of the creatures stops or slows his own infection and may be the key needed for that cure.

The game controls, level formatting and general vibe remind me so much of Shadow Complex from the 360. I absolutely loved that game. With Unlife, the graphics are not nearly as clean but they do the job well enough. In terms of graphics think of Terraria but with a darker pallet. The game suffers from some poor writing but I have a feeling it was originally written in another language and then translated by Google Translate. This is even more apparent when you die. At death you get a message similar to the iconic “You Died” message in Resident Evil and instead see “You Dead”.

Released by Ratalaika Games on Nintendo Switch, PS4/PS5 and Xbox One, the game seems to be one of the few truly original titles from them and not a port or remaster. While much of the game, as I mentioned, reminded me of Shadow Complex it wasn’t enough like it to fully scratch that nostalgic itch. However I found the game to be less smooth with inferior graphics but with the darker tones it actually worked well within the world of the game and game the combat and overall surviving more difficult. The game was fun with enough similarities to keep me playing for a couple hours and the added difficulty, whether intentional or not, kept me playing a bit longer.

Poor Things from Searchlight Pictures

Poor Things

Emma Stone leads in Poor Things from Searchlight Pictures alongside Willem Dafoe in a twisted tale of self discovery and learning.

Poor Things from Searchlight Pictures features Emma Stone and Willem Dafoe, The film begins with Emma Stone jumping from a bridge to kill herself without any explanation. Just as suddenly we see her through a black and white lens and she walks like a toddler, her mind clearly underdeveloped. Again, no explanation, at least not at first. We soon learn that the woman is mostly the same as the one that jumped but that she had died on the operating table and the deceased brain was swapped with that of the brain of the unborn baby she carried. Through the entire film she gradually grows and develops her skills and abilities at a rapid rate. This is similar to an infant growing to adulthood, just in a much more accelerated rate.

Emma’s portrayal of Bella is absolutely brilliant, overshadowing the other cast members who take the spotlight less often. I would be shocked if she isn’t nominated for an Oscar for this role, along with the film itself and the makeup department. I don’t know if the makeup departments get nominated but for Willem’s many scars. The story itself is dark and twisted but done in a way that makes light of the mad science with a focus more on Bella’s personal development and growth. The film as a whole was brilliantly directed, acted and filmed but left me respecting the work and efforts of the whole cast but failed to provide a story I personally enjoyed. The film is now available through digital retailers.

Willy Wonka returns from Warner Brothers with Wonka


Willy Wonka returns to tell his origin story from Warner Brothers and staring Timothee Chalamet!

Timothee Chalamet stars in Wonka as the main man himself, Willy, in the film from Warner Brothers. The film follows the early days of Willy after he completes seven years at sea collecting ingredients so he can start his own chocolate business and bring joy to the world through his creations. I had no idea this was going to be a musical. Willy immediately is noticed by the dastardly Chocolate Cartel who’s aim is to control the world through chocolate and believe that it should be simple.

The world is no place for the complexities and imagination in his treats. In a world designed to strip new comers of every sovereign they own, Willy runs afoul of a dastardly pair and must use his ingenuity to free himself from their employ. There he befriends a few others that were in similar circumstances and he was forced to work alongside them.

Visually the movie is a feast for the eyes and the cast are fantastic. The music I did not enjoy despite how well the cast performed the songs. The story was well written and felt like a perfect origin story to the master chocolate maker. My only complaint with the story was that we didn’t see his father in the story and I learned that this version of his father was only ever in the film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, my wife had to look it up and prove that I was wrong on that note. Overall, the film was a great experience to watch with the whole family.

Contagion from Warner Brothers


Contagion has been re-released by Warner Brothers but this time in 4k!

Contagion was originally released by Warner Brothers in 2011 and focuses on the spread of an unknown disease as it rapidly spreads, originating in China. Nearly a decade before the world experienced it’s own real life version with Covid-19. In some ways the real story was worse but the other surrounding events and actions went better. In the film the fear of this virus caused an extreme reaction from the population. The film does a great job of painting our worst fears of what could have happened and what many of us thought would have happened. 

What many people don’t know about me is that I had contracted Covid-19 before it was named at the end of 2019 and was in a coma by New Years Eve of that year. I was one of the lucky ones and made it through. I still have PTSD from the experience and watching the film was a bit triggering. The first half hour of the film especially. It was physically difficult for me to watch.

The film was brilliantly filmed and an amazing cast. Watching it now it feels almost prophetic but the response of the population was a much more extreme version than what we had seen. Perhaps the film inspired better planning? If you have PTSD related to the pandemic this film will likely be difficult for you as well. The did a great job on the film but I expect I likely won’t be watching it again, even though it was released into 4k.

All of Us Strangers from Searchlight Pictures

All of Us Strangers

Searchlight Pictures bring us a film about finding ways to overcome grief with their latest film, All of Us Strangers.

All of Us Strangers is a film that focuses on finding ways to deal with your own grief while also allowing yourself to find love along the way. The film begins with a chance meeting between Alan and an inebriated neighbor that ends as quickly as it begins, transitioning to Adam writing a new screenplay for a film or show. Another chance encounter and the neighbor is invited in for drinks. As they navigate their own feelings and sexuality, Alan begins to think more about his deceased parents. With a trip into the country, or possibly suburbs, where he takes a walk by what has become of his childhood home. Seeing a boy in the window they stare at each other for a moment before continuing the walk.

This is where things get a little weird and I apologize for the slight spoilers to come. Seeing a man watching him, he follows to find it is his own father but oddly younger than himself. They return to the former home and find Alan’s mother there, also younger. Is this a dream? Is this some weird wormhole through space and time? Is any of this even happening? Watching the film you will have these questions answered but I won’t be spoiling them.

The cast and directing were fantastic as different parts of the past and modern day were blended together. The film will leave even some of the hardest hearts feeling for Alan and those around them, including my own. The story telling was absolutely brilliant and edited together perfectly. If you are looking for a film that stuns you on almost every level this film is it.

Ikonei Island: An Earthlock Adventure

Ikonei Island

Ikonei Island is an adventure game that is based in the world of Earthlock, both of which are from Snowcastle Games.

Snowcastle Games, the team behind Earthlock and the upcoming Earthlock 2, brings us another adventure title set in the same world- Ikonei Island. The game centers around a group of adventurers that have been shipwrecked on the island and must work together to both survive the elements and make their new homes. Customization features allow you to build your living space however you’d like where you are mostly limited by your own imagination.

The island features many animals and creatures to befriend/control that will assist you with defeating the monsters and collecting materials. Some help you reach new areas where others are geared more for combat. The visuals on these creatures and the island as a whole are gorgeous, even in the early release copy we received. Having never played Earthlock I didn’t know what to expect from this game or the world. At first glance it appears to be a JRPG of sorts set in this world and aimed at younger audiences. Quickly learned that there is a rich banquet of experiences that will be enjoyable to older players but may be a little too complex for some of the younger audience members. Basic controls are easy enough to pick up but some of the creature controls take a little getting used to. Overall I found the game to be fun, gorgeous and an overall enjoyable experience. Despite the early release I did not discover any of the bugs that delayed the release which made it even better for me.

The Adventures of Panzer: Legacy Collection

Adventures of Panzer

The first Adventures of Panzer title was released in 2021 and was rereleased along with it’s sequel in the Legacy Collection from Ratalaika Games.

Originally created by PixelCraft Games in 2021, The Adventures of Panzer is a side scrolling adventure designed to be played on the original NES. A sequel was later developed and added alongside the first for the Legacy Collection release on current generation consoles. This was with the help of Ratalaika Games. You play as General Panzer, a raid leader, who first must find his friend from his raiding party and embark on the most harrowing adventure of his raiding career.

When playing the game I didn’t realize how recent the original was released and immediately began to question it once the first NPCs began talking. Playing a game that looks like it is straight out of the 80’s but dialogue that came from players preparing for a session of World of Warcraft had me really confused. It was also funny as hell. The two experiences shouldn’t have worked as well as they did but they did work. Gameplay felt exactly like I would expect from what I thought was an NES classic. The controls are a little stiff but feels absolutely right for a game that looks the way it does. Further enforcing the NES classic vibe of the game is how unforgiving it is. If you rush forward you will inevitably get injured, frequently. You’ll also fall to your death, quite a bit.

With everything in the experience telling my mind that this was a classic I had never experienced when it came out in the 80’s it left me thinking I was deprived of an experience I should have had. Having actually been released in 2021 I’m actually surprised I had never heard of it until this year. Clearly PixelCraft had done a poor job on marketing it because former NES players will love this one and with the current generation release of the Legacy Collection they now have no excuse to jump in. Same goes for the second game in the series that is also included. They are not only worth playing but are easily some of the best to be released from Ratalaika to date.