Murder is Game Over

Murder is Game Over

Murder is Game Over is murder mystery title from Ratalaika Games the features a detective and his dog but they aren’t part of Mystery Inc.

Ratalaika Games brings another graphics-nostalgia title with Murder is Game Over. You play as Detective Guy and his dog Cleo. You’ve both been summoned to a castle in rural Vermont to investigate the murder of a famous game designer. This is the first of three games in the franchise and the first to come to consoles. The copy provided to us for our review was for the Xbox One Series X.

As you play the game you can swap between Guy and Cleo on the fly. This is essential to the gameplay because when questioning suspects you need to be in control of Guy and when looking for clues you need Cleo. Hidden throughout the map are not just clues but also doggy bags. To get the best ending you need to find all thirty doggy bags and as long as you do most of your walking as Cleo you won’t have trouble finding them all. There is also a hidden treasure you might find that helps towards finding the true ending as well. The officer on scene tells you at the start to return to her when you are ready to make an arrest but you are blocked from doing so until you find all the clues.

Once you have all the clues you go through a list of the suspects and their motives, like watching Hercules Poirot or Sherlock, as you explain why each suspect couldn’t have done it and then in detail explain who the real culprit was. There are a few missable achievements so I suggest reviewing the descriptions FIRST. The two easiest are petting the cat and finding the bear in the woods.

Visually the game looks and feels like the classic Zelda: A Link to the Past. The controls are simple and work well with the game. The overall experience interesting. The story begins with an excessive amount of dialogue that must be read and is quite dry. I admit that I was tired when I started and fell asleep during the intro twice (at least). Once I got control of the character tough and started interacting with the story it started to pick up and kept me awake until completing the game in a single sitting. The complete story and the whodunit at the end made it worth the experience and overall I enjoyed the game, I just suggest not being sleepy when you start it because you might have some difficulty at the start.

Cyber Citizen Shockman 1 and 2- a Dual Title Review!

Cyber Citizen Shockman

Ratalaika Games have restored two iterations of Cyber Citizen Shockman and brought them to consoles but do they capture the essence?

Cyber Citizen Shockman has returned, with the second game in the series having not seen since 1992 and both given a new lease on life by Ratalaika games. Both games follow Tasuke and Kyapiko, two teens that have the ability to transform into Shockman. They are beset by evil robots and monsters that appear as a cross between organic creature and machine. The first boss in the sequel is a prime example of this.

The saving is a save state system that can be forced at any time. You had a couple lucky hits and dodged the attacks? Save. Know the next fight kicked your ass one too many times? Save often to make it easier and guarantee success. Doing this on the fly makes these difficult games extremely easy.

Both games look and feel like playing classic Mega-Man titles but without the ready to swap out weapons in the early game. Graphically it takes me right back, another win for the nostalgia masters at Ratalaika. The controls on the other hand are where this game falls short. To be clear I never played the original versions of the game so this could be carried over from that and may not be a failing in the games. Now with that disclaimer out of the way I felt the controls were clunky and at times downright sticky. Multiple moves required hitting the stick a couple times or holding it for a second or two before Shockman would move. This made for sloppy combat that made it more difficult to enjoy and play long term.

Gastro Force

Gastro Force

Gastro Force is a retro first person shooter from Ratalaika Games that focuses on eliminating aliens from the inside out.

The masters of rereleases and retro style gaming at Ratalaika Games are back with another port for consoles with Gastro Force. The game was originally released on PC in 2022 and again on consoles in September of 2023. The game focuses on the last soldier set to defend the galaxy again aliens from an eldritch nebula. Basically this means that you will be facing monsters full of tentacles and some that are very bug-like.

The game looks and feels like I’m playing my memories of the original Blake Stone from the PC. Both games you run around killing a ton of aliens but with one big difference- GF gives you a map. The map makes traversing the similar hallways much easier because it not only shows the layout but shows the areas you’ve walked. That means if you get turned around it’s easy to orientate yourself again. Graphics are on par with the 90s shooters I grew up with. Controls are smooth and take little effort to master. I had a lot of fun with this one, kept telling myself I’d put it down after just one more level and eventually realized hours had passed before closing the game.

Ashina: The Red Witch


Ashina: The Red Witch is part of the same world of My Big Sister from Ratalaika Games but is it’s own title.

In Ashina: The Red Witch, from Ratalaika Games, you play as Ash, a young woman who wishes for something new while clinging onto the loss of her mother. The game starts as you make dinner for you and your sister, talking some trash as siblings do and enjoying the home-cooked meal. After the sister leaves for the night, you awake to the sound of someone in the other room and find a yokai making food and almost starting a fire. He steals a keepsake of your mother’s and runs. Chasing him leads you to arriving in the afterlife and a world full of yokai. Here you must track down the item, with the help of the thief and his friends.

The dialogue in this game is great. The banter between the two sisters alone is worth playing for. I legit laughed out loud while playing through making dinner during the game’s intro. I honestly can’t say the last time I laughed that often just during the opening, never before in an RPG/JRPG game either. Visually the game and animations are clean, despite being made in a retro style, very similar to SNES titles from back in the day. With the amount of laughing I’d done during my first two hours of gameplay is anything to go by I expect the rest of the game to be funny as hell and a great deal of fun.

Sephonie from Ratalaika Games has arrived on consoles


Ratalaika Games have ported over another game that was originally a PC release, this time with Sephonie, a gem developed by Analgesic Productions.

Sephonie follows three scientists from all over the world as they head to the island of the same name. As they approach the island they are greeted by a wave of energy, distorting their signals and washing them up on shore. A chaotic way to start the adventure for sure. The goal of your trio is to research the odd behavior in the local wildlife and immediately learn that it is happening to the bacteria as well when a member of the team begins having a strange reaction to an injury caused by coral.

The game focuses on pushing these researchers to their limits by testing them with physical challenges as well as twisting their dreams against them. Analgesic and Ratalaika have made this a near perfect port as controls are fluid and easy to learn. The platforming aspect of the game is pretty simple to grasp early on but increase in complexity as you progress. Visuals are clean as is the audio but I would have preferred if there were some voices for the characters- you can get so much more out of a character’s emotions or feelings by listening to them. Listening sure beats reading a ton of dialogue, especially when you’re a little tired. Curious to see where the story goes but I hope it’s not as dialogue heavy as the start of the game was.

Where the game shines most is the puzzle system. You play Tetris-like game mode to learn about different things in nature where you place various shapes made of blocks together. When you run out of pieces to place or run out of room to place them you have every set of blocks that touch that are the same color, as long as there are at least three, vanish and fill up the bar. Your goal is to completely fill the bar to complete your task. Trying to plan ahead and fill the bar leads to an engaging experience that makes the game worth playing for this alone.



Replikator is a twin stick shooter from the folks at Ratalaika Games and posits that death is only the beginning of the story.

Ratalaika Games how been kind enough to share a copy of their latest twin stick shooter, Replikator. The game places you as a mercenary aboard an, until recently, abandoned scientific facility in space. Your role is to explore the facility and learn the secrets of the Replikator device. The first time you are killed by the denizens of the facility you learn that the device be able to make duplicates of any item, including yourself when you die. Like most twin stick shooters the game provides an isometric view that looks like feels like JRPGs from the SNES era.

Unlike most games of this style there is a limited amount of ammunition for your guns so aiming is essential. The good news is if you do run out you have a powerful melee attack you can use. Most enemies will have consistent attack patterns making both easier if you are patient. Trying to speed through the map is one of the easiest ways to end up dead. Along the way you will find dozens if not hundreds of weapons to use and items to improve your skills. Remember to explore everything and be patient. Did I mention, be patient? My impatience resulted in my death more than any single foe.

Visually the game felt like I was returning to some of my favorite titles from the early 90s and matches the level of quality we are used to seeing from Ratalaika. Overall I found the game engaging and at the same time frustrating. I have terrible aim and with limited ammunition some of the map sections were harder than they should have been. That is entirely a reflection of my skill and not of the gameplay quality. At $10USD the price is quite reasonable for the hours of gameplay you’ll find and I have played some garbage titles with higher price tags too. Once again I find myself looking forward to seeing what Ratalika comes out with next.



Gematombe is an Action-Puzzle-Versus game from Ratalaika Games that is a hybrid of several classic puzzle titles.

What happens when you take a fighter like Street Fighter Puzzle Fighter and blend in controls from Bubble Bobble? You get Gematombe from Ratalaika Games. Controlling one of six Greek entities, referred to as the daemons along with a hidden seventh character. Working alongside Pandora you are sent to help capture all of the evils in the world.

The game plays like Bubble Bobble in terms of controls and stage layout but with a slight twist. In BB you would shoot bubbles of a specific color to pop similarly colored bubbles that were already there or add additional colors to existing ones. With Gematombe, the bubbles you shoot hit and bounce off of different bubbles or blocks and as long as you hit two or more it will pop all connected bubbles of the same color. Each stage is a battle between you and one of the evils. Winning is done by either clearing your board OR banking enough combos to generate extra bubbles for the evil you’re facing to deal with.

Conceptually the game is quite simple as are the controls. Quickly planning combos though is where the real skill lies and I don’t have it. I was fast enough to clear my board on each level but could never bank the high points and deal damage effectively. The game is a fun game that is easy to play in small doses or longer runs. I feel like most games these days strive to increase the time needed to play a single level and draw out that conclusion. This is definitely not one of those games. In a matter of 10-15 minutes, tops, I was able to complete the first two stages. This game is perfect for my wife who is great at recognizing patterns quickly and I am excited to see how well she fares.

Ultra Pixel Survive

Ultra Pixel Survive

Ultra Pixel Survive is a two dimensional side scroller that looks and plays more like Minecraft than it does Terraria.

Ratalaika Games brings us Ultra Pixel Survive, a game about crafting and survival. When most people think of games like Minecraft they typically think of Terraria. Terraria is also two dimensional but has always felt like it was more about the survival aspect than the building a world. This game is more of a happy medium between the two. Unlike these two titles though your tools never break.

Players choose between one of close to two dozen characters, each with their own abilities. You must unlock almost all of these characters though. You unlock them by purchasing them with red gems which are earned by opening chests. Chests in this game were the bane of my existence, at first. You see, there is an achievement related to opening one that I was trying to get since the beginning. The trick here lies in the house you have. STAY OUT of the house. This resets the period of time you must survive to earn the daily chest. That means you have to stay outside and remain there for 24 in game hours straight to have the chest appear. When it does appear though it is almost always offscreen.

Graphically the game is quite simple, leaning into the traditional 8-bit look and feel. Controls are quite simple and feel organic. I loved the simplicity of the game and had an absolute blast playing. I want to see what some of these other characters are capable of too. My only complaint is on the chest mechanic; I feel that going into the house should only pause the time and not reset it, other than that, the game was great.

Steel Defier

Steel Defier

Ratalaika Games returns with Steel Defier, a game about escape from a prison ship full of traps and augmetics!

Sometimes a game comes along that sucks you in so much you can’t stop playing it. Steel Defier from Ratalaika Games was one of those titles for me! You wake up aboard a prison ship and manage to escape your cell. The security gets stronger and more aggressive as you progress through the ship. If you manage to escape then you will unlock endless mode and that’s where things get really interesting. Each room you must collect fifteen security cards to proceed to the next. The controls are easy to learn and upgrades you find add further complexity. Some upgrades make gameplay easier like double jump or slowing time. Others feel more like a novelty like the running boost. Running is already fast enough in my opinion, most deaths caused by greed and impatience more than anything else.

Overall the game is fun yet challenging, providing increasingly difficult rooms. Graphics are a blend of the retro 8Bit style we are used to from Ralaika but blended with three dimensional devices that are trying to kill you like spinning blades. At $4.99USD this game is well worth the price tag and is an enjoyable yet easy 1000 Gamerscore!

The Guise

The Guise

The Guise from Ratalaika Games is a game centered around the fall of the All Father and the rise of monsters and orphans!

The All Father has left his children to protect the world but like every story of old gods things eventually devolved to infighting and eventually allowing the world to fall in the process. Ratalaika Games are notorious for their retro-esque titles with a twist, each game looking and feeling like a game from my past. Like how Go! Go! Pogo Girl‘s world was reminiscent of the original Sonic the Hedgehog game. The Guise is the first title I’ve played of their that feels entirely unique in terms of story and world. The controls are fluid and easy to learn for the most part. Some actions are not included in the controller settings list and you can’t replay the events where you learned how to do them. I’m specifically referring to the absorption ability which allows you to recover health, on Xbox you tap B repeatedly.

The story starts with a group of kids in an orphanage, the oldest leaves to run an errand, reminding the others to stay out of her room. See this opportunity to snoop in the normally locked room they ignore her wishes. You play as Ogden after he puts on a mask that the older girl had in her room. He is instantly transformed into a spike covered monster set on a quest to turn yourself back into a boy and destroy as many monsters along the way you can. The combat is quite simple where attacks are telegraphed making avoiding them quite easy. If you play like I do though that won’t matter and you’re going to die many times. The game has a world that is full of history and danger with an art style like no other I’ve seen. Overall I found the game to be intriguing and looking forward to the next time I load it up!