Giana Sisters, do you remember that DS game? Nah, me neither. Apparently it was a bit of a flop. After that the developers of Giana Sisters DS sadly became bankrupt, however after this some of the main members got their stuff together and founded Black Forest Games. Thus, the brilliant developer of Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams was born. GS:TD surpasses GS:DS by far, Black Forest Games have really raised a bar for themselves. GS:RD is about a young girl who is taken away into a crazy dream world to be help prisoner. This is where our cute heroine takes the main stage – it’s all down to Giana to rescue her sister. In order to do this, you must help Giana get through lots of different worlds in a not-so-traditional fashion. You’re going to be doing some standard jumping about, collecting colour coded jewels, jumping on enemies heads, all the standard stuff. But as you’ll know if you’ve seen any advertisements for GS:TD, the core concept and mechanic of the game is transforming between Cute Giana and Punk Giana (yes, they are the same person, not sisters as some reviewers seem to think). Cute Giana has a float ability allowing her to fall slowly whilst spinning for an accurate landing or to avoid dangers/collect jewels on the way down. Punk Giana on the other hand has a homing attack which allows her to destroy enemies, bounce off walls, get past large gaps and reach heights Cute Giana cannot. As you can probably tell the main focus in GS:TD is on the mechanics and gameplay rather than the story which works very well – this game is all about reaction skills and accuracy, the story is just a vessel to carry all.
Besides the mechanics, other awesome things in GS:TD include the aesthetics – absolutely fantastic. Smooth, eye catching, interesting environments you will want to stop and take a look at. The real awesomeness comes when you change from Cute Giana into Punk Giana – the environments change with you. Cute Giana changes the level to a dark level with lots of death – dark enemies, thorns everywhere, generally the area turned anything you see into something dark and gloomy. When you are Punk Giana however, the world turns into a cutesee fairy tale wonderland where all the enemies are adorable deadly deadly owls. The environment changes seamlessly when you transform between the two personas, as does the music. Whilst you are Cute Giana music created by the composer Chris Hulsbeck plays, when Punk Giana takes the stage music by the Swedish band Machinae Supremacy play. Both offer GS:TD a fantastic soundtrack that works brilliantly with the transforming concept.
Complimenting all of this stimulation for the senses comes stimulation for the mind – Giana Sisters offers us a large set of unique puzzles created to really push how you can use Giana’s special abilities together to get through obstacles. This is slowly introduced to the player over the first few levels, the difficulty curve is slight so you get lots of practice before the game starts making you cry. After the first few levels this game doesn’t mess around. It gets HARD. Not Nintendo hard, just hard. The game tells you how many times you die at the end of the levels. I first took notice of this when beating the first boss and saw I had died over 30 times. You’ll be in the double digits in no time. However, in all honesty most deaths in this game are fair. Sure the homing attack is a bit off at times, but it’s no Sonic Adventure 2. There’s no blaming the controls either as they are very precise – I couldn’t get to grips with the keyboard in all honesty, but the game works perfectly with a wired controller. No complaints at all.
On a not so positive note the games special features are a little disappointing. More concept art would have been nice (Dear Black Forest Games, please release an art book for this game), although included in the game are special Halloween and Christmas levels which is awesome. The game definitely feels original but if you pick it apart it has borrowed a lot of elements from other games e.g. dash attack, some of the puzzles. However they borrowed bits are the better elements of other games with a bit of a spin put on them, so this isn’t necessarily a bad thing depending on your perspective.
Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams – a brilliant platformer with a nice learning curve until it becomes old school hard. Hard enough that you will shout at your screen and feel bitter rage, but rewarding enough that when you succeed you’ll feel like a genius. Buy it if you like solid platformers, buy it if you like beautiful environments, interesting mechanics and challenging puzzles. And if you like playing consoles rather than a PC it’s coming out on the xbox 360 and PS3 early this year – buy it then.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.