Competitive E-Sports are becoming more of a reality every day, and with the current technologies the potential is very much at its peak and it is still growing. Some titles such as Counter Strike: Global Offensive or DotA2 come out specifically for multiplayer, and this emphasises how much developers are putting into their game going global. Other developers simply take an inspiration from these big releases and go on a more subtle route by creating a game which, although having multiplayer at its core, is not aiming to go big on the worldwide scene but still offer a fun and competitive experience for its player base.
Giana Sisters’ new title, called Dream Runners, is just one example of such games. The game is similar to Xbox 360 indie title SpeedRunners in that the general aim of the game is to outrun your opponents. In Dream Runners, the objective of the game is to literally wipe the enemies off the screen, since to win one has to be the only player showing on the screen. The game looks and feels like a traditional platformer, very similar to Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams, with sidescrolling mechanics and a lot of jumping to do. Winning a game does not come upon getting rid of the enemies once, but three times, so there is plenty of time for the other players to come back.
There are a lot of obstacles along the very well-drawn maps, ranging from simple pathway alterations which need jumping to evade, to items which stun you upon hitting them. Coupled with the fact that you need to do everything in your power to stay close to the pack and the relatively fast pacing of the game, it all adds up to create a colourful and chaotic clusterfuck, and laughter or rage is sure to ensue, me myself guilty of the latter. Power ups are also present in the game, and add quite some depth to the game. The depth stems from the fact that these present players with potentially game changing choices. The first choice players are faced with is whether to pick up said power ups or not, since they are often placed in disadvantageous places and gathering them may come at the risk of continuation of the race. Even though players manage to pick up these power ups, they will then be faced with another decision, which is when would be the perfect time to unleash said power ups. Some may say it is best to hold unto them until the contest is a one versus one, while others may argue that it is best to just use it to gain an immediate advantage over the others.
Dream Runners thus becomes a game in which quick thinking is as important as fast reflexes, if not more. Players will gain the edge through quick decision making, which does not always mean quick action. The game is pretty open and information is shown all over the board, meaning that players can come up with tactics to counter enemy power ups or devise the best strategy to unleash their own. With that said, the game is still a bit from release and naturally some glitches may occur. One thing which has to be fixed is the fact that sometimes, after one player wins a round, that is just one instance and not three times, the characters respawn facing the opposite direction of where one needs to go, and for players who get caught up it is instantly game over since the screen also moves against them. That said, there are relatively no more game breaking bugs or glitches in the game, which means that come release the big issue concerning direction facing should be resolved.
In terms of graphics, the game looks superb, and not due to the extreme detail but due to the different colours which blend incredibly well together. It is, after all, a game which is meant to run at fast speeds, and a game going all blurry would ruin the experience. The music is also very good and suits the action well, and menu music and loading tunes are very addictive and are a pleasure to hear regardless the situation.
Giana Sisters: Dream Runners may have taken a page out of Speed Runners’ book, but it definitely feels like its own game. While maybe not appealing to everybody, this game makes a name for itself for its simple yet addicting competitivity, and playing it online or against mates on the same couch will surely satisfy that competitive itch.