Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams Review!
Overview:Systems: PC, PS3, XBOX 360
Pros:Unique world-switching gameplay, amazing soundtrack, high replay value.
Cons:Frustrating puzzles at some points.
The Giana Sisters enter a twisted dream world where nothing is as it seems. Switch between personas on the fly and make use of each one’s powers in this unique puzzle-platformer that has been resurrected from years past. Strap in and get ready for a wild ride!
Released in 1987, The Great Giana Sisters blew critics away with its solid platforming and now famous soundtrack. Upon seeing the game, it becomes clear that it is heavily based on Super Mario Bros., even to the point of the title being unmistakably similar. This caused the developers to receive warnings from Nintendo regarding the title’s potential infringement, leading to the game being removed from shelves. Since that time, the original Giana Sisters has become a rare collector’s item and has spawned multiple sequels. Twisted Dreams is the next official game in the series, maintaining the tight platforming and rewarding exploration seen in the previous titles.
Giana and Maria, the great Giana sisters, must enter the dream world when Maria is pulled in and abducted by a giant dragon. It’s up to Giana to defeat the dragon, rescue her sister, and get back to their own world in one piece. It’s a somewhat cliché storyline but it serves its purpose as the game’s overall plot. As a game that so closely resembled Super Mario Bros. in the past, is it any surprise that the protagonist must rescue the helpless damsel from the big bad monster?
The controls are spot-on, leaving much of the gameplay up to player skill. A simple scheme is used: run, jump, dash. With controls this simple, one might expect a simple game; that is where the ability to transform comes in. There are many objects in each level that will react to each of Giana’s personalities, such as gates that will only open for her cute form or blocks that can only be broken by her punk form’s dash ability. This makes for a great puzzle game having to switch between both forms as needed, usually on the fly while in the middle of a treacherous area. There are sections that are so complicated that one might become frustrated at the spike in difficulty, but this is actually one of the positive factors of the game in some regard. It takes us back to the time of NES games whose method of expanding gameplay was often a brutal difficulty that kept us persistent until we finally got the relief of overcoming the hurdle. This is certainly not a game that holds your hand but stays forgiving with checkpoints throughout each level.
The ability to transform between personas with a press of a button makes the gameplay feel complete. Not only do we get a solid platformer with incredibly tight controls, but the puzzle aspect is built into the standard move set. It’s a very satisfying control scheme that truly leaves the chances of success up to player skill. There are also many hidden gems throughout each world giving players further motivation to complete each level, doing better with each run.
Twisted Dreams is graphically impressive with both worlds seamlessly morphing between personas. The textures are well defined and blend smoothly with the surrounding world. Each area is breath-taking in the “punk” world and visually horrifying in the “cute” world; a contrast that does a great job of making you feel helpless in one form and powerful in the other. The monsters even turn into fluffy creatures while in the punk form. When it comes to animation there is nothing particularly advanced as the game takes place in a 2D perspective, but there is nothing that stands out as rough or unpolished. The in-game animations are flawless and provide a nice fluid experience to compliment the gameplay.
The soundtrack is a mixture of eerily calm instruments in one world and heavy metal awesomeness in the other. Swedish SID-metal band Machinae Supremacy recreates all of the normal songs in their heavy, pounding style. This helps separate the worlds even further, giving the “cute” world the heavy metal audio and the darker world the standard soundtrack. The sound effects are your standard fare for a fantasy-themed game, with nothing standing as exemplary but with nothing out of place.
Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is a fun title that doesn’t take itself too seriously. As an independently developed game that was already something of a spin-off from a more popular game, it does a fantastic job of making itself stand out with a unique gameplay concept and head-banging music to further complement the level of greatness. As a lower priced title available through Steam, I highly recommend picking this game up and giving it a play through. Not only is there a solid adventure mode, but further unlockables and game modes are available to keep the replay value high for some time. Give it a try, you won’t regret once again stepping into the dream world.