I missed Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams when it was released on the PC last year. So when I saw it on Xbox Live, I decided to take a chance and jump into a whole new adventure. And I’m glad that I did. Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is not only a great homage to 2d platforming past, but also a whole new refreshing take on old tropes.
Lets get the plot out of the way. You play as the hero Giana as she enters into a dream world to save her sister Maria. Giana can switch between two different forms, punk and cute, and when the switch occurs the dimension itself changes to match. Each version of Giana has her own abilities and as you play the game the ease of switching between the two makes things pretty exciting. It also helps that it feels both natural and easy to perform the switch.
The highlight of Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams isn’t the switching, it’s the platforming and everything you could want. Platforming is smooth, and running and jumping through the levels is slick and easy. Giana feels like she’s responding to your control quickly, and there’s no sense that the game doesn’t respond to your commands. Which is great because Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is not an easy game, so it’s important that you master the controls or one wrong move and you’ll end up dying. There’s a lot to do, and your reflexes have to be on point to do it all. It’s not just running and jumping, it’s also shifting between forms, extending bridges, opening doors, and changing the direction of moving platforms. Sure, you’ll probably die a lot, but once you get the rhythm and beat a level, the sense of satisfaction you get makes it worth it.
Giana’s abilities will help you achieve that satisfaction. She can dash, allowing you to break through blocks and also bounce off wall. Or you can spin, which lets Giana float in the air and trigger specific points on the ground. As you move through each level, remember to keep an eye on the gems which you’ll end up collecting throughout the level. In Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams, the gems allow you to access boss battles at the end of the each of the worlds in the game. You’ll only need half the gems, but for completionists feel free to catch’em all.
As for the enemies, they litter the levels, but you have the choice between actually beating them or avoiding them. I would suggest going after them, because you can use your foes as platforms to access areas that would otherwise have been out of reach, and you never know what secrets those areas hide. But like any good platformer, some of these enemies cannot be touched, so be careful. The bosses remind me of the 90′s era of platforming. Even though they can be frustrating cheaters, each boss does have a pattern to their attacks. By paying attention, eventually you’ll figure it out and get the better of them.
Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is a beautiful game to look at. Every world is full of color and a lot of charm. When Giana switches between her punk and cute forms, the landscape changes with her and it’s easy to get caught up in the way the world simply looks. The only downside is that sometimes the world is so vibrant and so alive that you might think that a hazard is actually background until the moment it kills you.
The music is just as vibrant as the world itself. You get a great mix of cute sounds and rock music, and as a bonus the music will change depending on which version of Giana you’re playing as.
If there is any problem with Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams it’s within the levels themselves. They are pretty large, and luckily there are checkpoints spread throughout the level and help with the pacing. The problem is the tediousness of it all. Remember the game is challenging, you will die a lot, and as a result you will be repeating over and over again. It’s not a bad thing, but you might just get stuck in a section of the level for an hour before you break through, so prepare.
Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is a refreshing blast to the past. Yes, it is a bit challenging, and that might turn some people off, but if you stick with it you’ll find out it’s an amazing platformer that is more than worth it.
(Note: Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams was reviewed after 20 hours of gameplay on the Xbox 360 and is also available on the PC and PlayStation 3. It may soon be available for the Wii U. This copy was purchased by the reviewer).