Review: Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams – A Stunning Phoenix Lands on Multiplatforms

Review: Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams – A Stunning Phoenix Lands on Multiplatforms
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Platforms:

Windows PC, XBLA, PSN

Game Name:

Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams

Developer(s):

Black Forest Games

Genre(s):

Platformer

Release Date:

October 23rd 2012

Developer Summary:

Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is a challenging fast-paced platformer with a twist. You can warp Giana’s dream world to transform your abilities and surroundings. Use your skill, speed, brains, and powers to defeat the dangers that populate these twisted dreams!

Cute Giana moves with speed and grace, twirling past hazards and adversaries with a light touch and gentle heart. But, Giana isn’t limited to soft solutions. With a quick morph her punk side comes out to play, full of raw attitude and a powerful dash to crush obstacles that block her way!

giana sisters twisted dreams screenshot - purple

What We Think:

Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is another example of the enduring success of Kickstarter. Having set a target of $150,000 Black Forest Games exceeded this goal and reached $186,158 before the end of their funding period. The Giana Sisters franchise actually has an interesting history going back to the late 1980s. It’s not all fun and games either; the original title The Great Giana Sisters was basically a Super Mario Bros. clone that led to some legal wrangling from Nintendo. Ultimately the game was taken off the shelves but the series has seen installments since, including Giana Sisters DS. Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams promises to be the most ambitious game in the franchise to date, offering retro platforming gameplay coupled with modern graphics. With a successful Kickstarter behind them, Black Forest has high expectations to live up to.

Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams opens with the titular sisters being pulled through a portal to a bizarre dream world. This is all the narrative you can expect as the game promptly thrusts you into its single player platforming gameplay. There several modes to play in and a selection of extras to unlock. So how does this game set itself apart from its peers?

Well, for a start Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams looks absolutely stunning. From the moment you plunge into the lush forested opening stage the game dazzles the eyes. The environments, enemies and the protagonist herself are all beautifully styled much in the same awe-inspiring style as last year’s Trine 2. Blending a cutesy and slightly unnerving aesthetic, the game manages to keep its visual style fresh.

This leads into one of the key gameplay mechanics of Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams. While you’re hopping and scampering from platform to platform you also have the ability to warp between two different versions of Giana- the blonde Cute Giana and the pink haired Punk Giana. The real twist (forgive the pun) is that when you change Giana the world changes with you. The entire environment warps from a lush, living world to a menacing and corrupted place. Even the enemies change from fluffy creatures to spiky demons. This change can be enacted at any time and at any location.

The elegance with which the world warps between these two forms is breathtaking. Considering the effort that has gone into the design of the environments it’s impressive to see that there are two versions of every location in the game. Changing to Punk Giana shifts the world to the living form while warping to Cute Giana changes the world to its dark form. Graphically this is pleasing but it also links into the game’s fundamental mechanic and that which sets it apart.

You are given two powers to utilize while navigating the game: Punk Giana can lunge in any direction in a fireball while Cute Giana can twirl to float gently downwards. These abilities can be used at any time and Giana will instantly change to the appropriate form when you use them. The last gameplay element to be influenced by this change in form is the physicality of the environment; some platforms only exist in one version of the world while other obstacles will move or become impossible to traverse in one of the two versions.

The game rises in difficulty at a healthy pace and it uses a system of checkpoints to save progress. After the first few levels you’ll start to encounter some extremely challenging moments that’ll force you to replay the same section over and over again. Some may find this irritating, but for those who enjoy the sense of frustration that evokes the classic platformers then this will be a positive. Personally I would say that the sense of satisfaction when you finally reach the next checkpoint outweighs the tooth-grinding that precedes it.

In terms of content Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams features twenty-three levels spread across three worlds. There are several art styles from forests to castles and caves. The levels are sizable and they house a variety of large hidden areas. Beyond the basic adventure there is hardcore mode which removes all checkpoints and if that’s too laid back for you there is uber hardcore which forces you to restart the game if you die. There’s certainly a lot of challenge on offer but it’s a shame that these options must be unlocked before you can try out the harder modes.

Altogether Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is a superbly polished platforming experience featuring stunning visuals, compulsive gameplay, a great soundtrack and plenty to do. There is a lot of content on offer here too; the game isn’t huge but it’s certainly big enough to warrant the £12.99 price. Twisted Dreams is a complete package and platforming fans will find a lot to love here.

Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams – Official Site

Get Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams on Steam

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Kit Goodliffe

Kit is a freelance writer specialising in gaming, film and digital media. His passion for games began at a very young age and has only grown since then. Kit is IGR's U.K. correspondent.

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