Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams Video Reflex Review: I Thought I Knew You

Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is a re-imagining of classic Mario-clone The Great Giana Sisters. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the franchise, Black Forest Games ran a successful Kickstarter in June of ’12 to create this new entry.

The Machinae Supremacy soundtrack may own bones, but will that be enough to get Justin through some questionable level design and his lack of platforming skills? Join Josh in heckling him in this hot ‘n fresh Reflex Review!

This video is intended for a mature audience as our commentary is not kid-friendly:

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I hadn’t followed much of the history of Giana Sisters since us Americans were spoiled in our youth by its Super Mario Bros. inspiration. However, I found the franchise’s Kickstarter success intriguing and decided to follow up on playing the game.

The world of Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is gorgeous and it gets doubly gorgeous the first time you “twist” into the other realm. The core game mechanic at play in this polygonal 2D platformer is to trigger your character, Giana,  into switching between a good version and a bad/punk version of herself while the world around her changes at the same time, all while she hunts down a dragon to try to save her sister, Maria. The shifting between realms is striking to say the least, and I like the touch that the world is the opposite of whatever version of Giana you are playing, i.e. Good world with punk Giana, bad world with good Giana. The soundtrack also stands out as it seamlessly shifts along with the realms, and I always enjoy a dose of alt-metal with my adventuring.

All of this makes for a great first impression for Twisted Dreams, and the game does a great job of easing you into the different skills available to the two versions of Giana. Even with all of the “twisting,” the game performs well and the mechanic never gets in the way of the gameplay. Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams features a lot of diamond collecting throughout your journey through a fantastic dream world with various enemies and boss battles along the way.

Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams

The shinies will take you far.

While there is nothing strikingly bad about Twisted Dreams, the level design and controls hold it back from standing out in this crowded genre. Sure, the setting is gorgeous, but after the first few levels it isn’t always clear where your objective is when progressing through the level. I struggled a lot with knowing whether or not I was on the main path or if I was off in some secret portion of the map. I appreciate having multiple paths, but the game’s lack of distinct branches made it easy to get lost. This turned into mild frustration as it happened a few stages in a row, and I consider myself a thoroughly experienced platform gamer. A simple map or means of marking your location would have done wonders.

The difficulty of being able to clearly identify the main path through the level is only amplified by Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams’ loose controls. There were several instances where merely jumping up to a higher platform seemed impossible even if it looked like the proper way to go. In these cases, most players are trained to move on to a different area in hopes of acquiring some sort of skill or item to overcome such an obstacle, yet I came to find out through much trial and error that I possessed the skill all along or my timing was just off. Chalking it up to a lack of skills is fine the first few times, but my frustrations quickly added up.

Maybe it’s that the first few levels are too easy, but the difficulty spike caught me off guard and the game had not prepared me for the challenges it had in the waiting. At least it implements a friendly and quick checkpoint system for when you die (and you will die…a lot). With countless platformers already available and more coming out every day, Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams will find its fans, but many others will move on from the awesome sights and sounds to more fun and better playing experiences. It is easy to get swept up in the magical presentation of Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams, but this game will turn on you, so you had better be prepared for that twist to enjoy actually enjoy the game.

Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams was released on Oct 22, 2012 on PC and will be available on XBLA and PSN in “early 2013.”

Reflex Review – Like a memorable meal, some games make a big enough impression that you’ve got to tell other people about them before they’re fully digested.


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