One More Dungeon 2 from Ratalaika Games

One More Dungeon

The team at Ratalaika Games have returned along with Stately Snail to release the sequel One More Dungeon 2.

Our friends of Ratalaika Games shared one of their latest titles, One More Dungeon 2, with us and we recently had the chance to sit down and give it a play. We had never heard of the franchise prior to the announcement of this sequel but based on images alone we were excited to dive right in. In both titles you play an unnamed adventurer. I don’t know much of the original storyline but in OMD2 you are held captive by a kingdom of snails, or are they snails and slugs? Either way, they are green and slimy looking, but in a cute way. To earn your freedom, you must run through the dungeons and remove the evil denizens there to keep them from raiding the snail-king’s domain. More than enough justification for me to explore these dangerous spaces.

As I mentioned, the slugs are pretty damn cute and the enemies themselves are rendered in a chunky art style that reminds me of the Super-Hero Squad line that Hasbro released over a decade ago. The stages are randomly generated with each expedition but are hampered by the controls. Most games with a poor controller setup have a chance to make up for this by having easier gameplay, an engaging story or stellar graphics. The controls for this game are obscenely sticky, making aiming with ranged weapons quite difficult. They were so bad that they turned what would have been a great game into one that is only okay. The difficulty (when set higher) was much higher than I expected and provided a great challenge that was made more frustrating by these same controller issues. Overall we enjoyed the game but, without the necessary controls making it nearly impossible at times, it fell short of its potential.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Aquaman

Aquaman returns for what appears to be the final move of the current DC Cinematic Universe.

Recently the folks at Warner Brothers sent us a copy of Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, featuring Jason Mamoa. Unlike most sequels this film directly follows its predecessor in every way. That means it is a direct continuation of the previous film. The story had ended off with Arthur and Mera in love, Orm imprisoned, Black Manta off somewhere licking his wounds and Arthur remains the ruler of Atlantis.

The film starts with Arthur sharing the joys and frustrations of balancing, life, family, jobs and how much he misses the more simple days where he could simply punch his problems. To make matters worse, his son likes to target his face whenever he changes the diaper. Life does not sound too enjoyable for our hero. Black Manta is using this time to hunt the oceans for any sign of Atlantean technology to repair his broken suit so he can kill Aquaman once and for all.

Visually the film is absolutely stunning. The effect and detail of the underwater cities and creatures alone make the film worth watching. The dialogue can be a bit campy at times but not more so than the original film. The fight scenes were a lot of fun and well choreographed. Overall I had fun watching the film but I only had one main complaint, that Amber Heard wasn’t recast. It makes no sense that she would be allowed to continue in her role after being found as the guilty party but when she accused Depp of the same behavior he was immediately removed. It’s an odd double standard that frankly doesn’t make sese.

Cat and Ghostly Road – Distinguished Journey of Demons & Ghosts

Cat and Ghostly Road

Cat and Ghostly Road is a point and click adventure from Sometimes You and BOV featuring BOV’s actual cat as protagonist.

For most of Cat and Ghostly Road you play as a white cat that is adopted by a local painter. The painter “falls ill” and it’s up to you to save him. Specifically after you drift off to sleep, a demon appears and steals the soul of the painter. It’s up to you to follow the demon and get it back. The premise of the game, at least to me, sounds pretty awesome already, however point and click adventures rarely keep me engaged enough that I don’t drift off to sleep at some point due to their tediousness and slow sections. Is this as awesome as I hoped are did I fall asleep part way through? Keep reading!

BOV and Sometimes You teamed up to publish the title, with the main character modeled after BOV’s real cat that they recued from under a bridge. This was about fifteen years ago. Observing this cat they were inspired to create this game, specifically from the fact that the real feline reminded them of a moon cat and they went from there. The game suffers from the typically slow paced monotony that most point and click adventures are plagued with. The quirky nature of the cat does help with some of this but isn’t enough to make it enough to keep me awake or hold my attention for two long, one of the downsides to my ADHD. If you enjoy point and click adventures or an excuse to play as a cat then this will be right up your alley. The thing this game gets right is the puzzles, some require you to essentially play minigames to resolve their objective but unfortunately these were few and far between. I found the game to be cute and easy to play and master but with just a little too much tedium.

The Feeding by Drew Zucker and David Booher

The Feeding

The Feeding, by Drew Zucker and David Booher, is a horror story centered around a painting of the same name in a tale of hunger!

Written by David Booher and line art by Drew Zucker, The Feeding is a tale of a man surrounded by death and misery, some of which is tied to a painting. This painting, with the same name as the book itself, is hungry and needs to feed. It follows the life of Nolan Ward, a Day Trader and total douche, prick, asshole, take your pick, they all fit. No matter how much he tries to distance himself from it, the painting seems to always find it’s way back to Nolan so instead of trying to escape it he instead purchases it from an art gallery it seemed to appear in by anonymous donation and tries to feed it one last time.

The book is currently a one-shot that you can purchase through Zoop but I’m hoping that we see it become an anthology of some sort. Maybe a series about the painting interacting with various people and the ruin it causes, something along the lines of the Silver Coin. Overall the book is well written with even better art and as I said, I very much would like to see the painting return for either the occasional one-shot or even a full series. In the meantime, if you haven’t already I highly recommend Drew’s series Canto- one of the best fantasy series out to date and currently at Dark Horse comics.

Unlife from Ratalaika Games

Unlife

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

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

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.