Indie Review: Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams
Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is a platformer developed by Black Forest Games that is a successor to the 1987 Commodore 64 title Great Giana Sisters, and a sequel to the 2009 re-imagining Giana Sisters DS. Funded through fan donations on Kickstarter, it shows a lot of promise. How does it measure up?
- Worth The Time?Yes, it's really rewarding to play.
- Things LovedThe platforming is varied and lots of fun, the gameplay is fluid, it's challenging, there's a welcome variety of game modes, the game is lengthy, the graphics are gorgeous, the mood shift is an awesome mechanic, the music is fantastic and really makes the game.
- Things HatedNo in-level progress saving, you can only unlock boss levels by collecting enough gems in previous levels.
- RecommendationThe game does quite enough to justify the asking price, and with a good variety in game modes, a lengthy playing time and fresh and exciting mechanics, it's very easy to recommend.
- Name: Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams
- Genre: Platformer
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: N/A
- Platforms: PC (Steam), PSN, XBLA
- Developer: Black Forest Games
- Publisher: Black Forest Games
- Price: $14.99 (about R125)
- Reviewed On: PC
Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is a platformer developed by Black Forest Games that is a successor to the 1987 Commodore 64 title Great Giana Sisters, and a sequel to the 2009 re-imagining Giana Sisters DS. But don’t worry, I don’t think it’s entirely necessary to have played the previous games, and you’re quite safe to just jump into this one and have a good time. The game was funded through fan donations on Kickstarter, reaching its goal of $150,000, which is quite impressive, and the title shows a lot of promise as a result. I went into this one with pretty much a clean slate, and I came out of it very impressed. This is a unique and special platformer that just has it all, and it’s just awesome.
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The story follows two sisters, Maria and Giana. At the beginning of the game, Maria is abducted to a Dream World, where she is captured by a giant dragon who holds her prisoner. This means it’s up to Giana, who is now a teenager since the last game, to enter the Dream World and rescue her from the dragon. Giana has learned how to manipulate her dreams, because she is in a stage of her life that is all about
awkward transformation, and she will have to use this new-found ability to jump between dreams and shift between between her “Cute” and “Punk” personas, fighting against her inner conflict and fear while she tries to find her sister. But really, while it may sound complicated, it’s all relatively simple once you get into it, and after the intro cutscene, you’re pretty much thrown into the game.
The game offers a welcome variety of game modes that ensure completionists and achievement junkies will be satisfied, and it dose well to add to the game’s longevity. You’ve got your main Adventure mode, which is the default story mode that will also unlock new levels for other modes. All in all it features three chapters, and 23 fairly lengthy levels in total. Then there are standard modes like Score Attack, where you boost your score by collecting gems quickly and get extra points for defeating enemies, and Time Attack, where you have to play through levels as fast as you can and are encouraged to ignore gems and secrets. Then there is Hardcore, which means you get no checkpoints in levels, and you’ll unlock it by earning stars in boss battles during Adventure mode. Lastly, you’ve got Uber Hardcore, for the insane, because if you die, you restart the entire game from level one, and you’ll need to beat every level in hardcore to unlock it. It’s a solid package, and it offers enough to make you satisfied.
This is definitely a unique and exciting platformer. The highlight of the game is definitely Giana’s persona shift ability, where you can instantly switch between her Cute and Punk personalities at the push of a button. Doing this doesn’t just change your appearance and ability, but it actually transforms the entire world and everything in it. I mean literally everything. While her Cute persona depicts a decayed, desolate and darker world, her Punk persona is lively, colourful and brilliant. Every single detail in the environment undergoes complete transformation, enemies morph right in front of your eyes, broken bridges may become repaired, pathways open and close and even the game’s music shifts in tone, bursting to life in the Punk world but remaining low and subdued for the Cute persona. It’s truly a magnificent mechanic that is simply stunning to watch and experience, and honestly it gives the game a certain spark of magic that just makes it one of the most compelling, unique and exciting visual experiences I’ve had this entire year. This is a gorgeous game, and I seriously wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said that it can win you over and give you enough reason to play it with just its audio and visual experience alone. I absolutely loved the game’s great music and bold sense of style.
The gameplay is simple, but challenging to master and it certainly asks a lot of questions of your skill level in its later stages, as you’ll need good reflexes, wit and timing to make it through. It’s not just your standard jumping affair, as the persona shifts also give you two unique abilities that you’ll constantly need. While the Cute persona lets you spin after a jump that increases your height and lets you glide slowly and completely control your landing, the Punk persona lets you surge forward in a ball of fire and either take enemies out, travel a short distance, move or destroy certain objects or violently bounce off terrain. The good part is that you don’t need to first shift personas in order to use these abilities, as using any one of them automatically shifts for you, which is convenient and helps the gameplay remain fluid, which is a must especially when you’ll need to rapidly shift personas on the go or multiple times in quick succession in order to get through a certain section. It’s highly demanding at times, but honestly rarely frustrating because checkpoints are frequent and there’s no penalty for death other than being pushed back a few minutes or seconds, making it a smooth and enjoyably challenging experience.
The platforming is dynamic and plenty of fun, as both the scenarios and enemies present a good sense of variety. The persona shift can do things like make you able to touch certain platforms, or render some enemies completely useless. A fun example of this is a deadly fish in the Cute world becoming a harmless turtle that you can jump on in the Punk world. Your personas also get you into different places, but it’s not a matter of them having separate functionality because you’ll need to constantly shift between them and use them in motion, which is great. An example of this is in the Gem collecting, where Yellow gems can only be picked up by the Cute persona and red gems only by the Punk persona. Now, I quite liked that part about the Gem collecting, and the secret areas that can give you big Gems to unlock artwork, but there was one aspect I didn’t like at all. That’s the fact that in order to unlock boss levels at the end of chapters and progress, you need to collect a certain amount of Gems, and I was highly annoyed when I was forced to replay two entire levels, which weren’t short or exactly a breeze, just to collect Gems. It’s just an irritating means to artificially extend the game’s length.
However, I’m happy to say that it’s probably the only thing in the game I didn’t like. But I do have another small nitpick though, and that’s the fact that there’s no in-level progress saving, so while you get natural checkpoints in levels, you can’t quit the game and then restart from the latest checkpoint, you have to play the whole level again. You could just leave the game minimized, but then its music doesn’t stop playing. But it doesn’t really cause much harm at all, and there’s nothing majorly wrong with the game in truth. It’s all awesome, and it’s easy to enjoy every minute with this game.
Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is a great platformer that has it all, and it can win you over purely with its incredible audio and visual experience alone. It’s truly some of the best I’ve seen this entire year. Otherwise, the game does quite enough to justify the asking price, and with a good variety in game modes, a lengthy playing time and fresh and exciting mechanics, it’s very easy to recommend.