Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams|
Despite being born in the same era as the Commodore 64ís lifetime, I never had the chance to play one let alone see one of its most sought after titles, The Great Giana Sisters. Itís now more than a few years in the future and gamers everywhere will get to see the labor of love that Black Forest Games, with a little help from Kickstarter.com, has brought to the PC with the release of Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams.
Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is a sequel of the re-imagined platformer Giana Sisters DS released a few years ago. In this tale Gianaís sister is abducted into the Dream World and held captive by a really big dragon. As with previous incarnations, Giana must set out through monster filled levels to rescue her. Monsters arenít your only obstacle in Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams though. While avoiding or trouncing your foes on the head you still have to navigate the devious Dream World through 23 levels of pure retro platforming fun.
Twisted Dreams isnít exactly like other side-scrolling platformers that have you going up and down on the screen from ground to platform and back again. While the goal is still to get to the end of the level somewhere on the right side of the screen, getting there is all of the fun. You see Giana has developed a dual personality during this stage in her life and she uses that to affect the Dream World. Giana can switch back and forth between a cute yellow haired version and a fiery red haired punkish persona.
Each of the personas has its own special ability to use to when getting around and navigating the trickier spots. The cute version can twirl and float over large gaps and enemies with relative ease. The punk version however is probably my favorite as she can dash forward through most enemies and cracked walls with a fiery passion. Between these two personas you go through the levels collecting crystals of the corresponding persona, yellow and red, as well as the neutral blue ones. Itís not as easy as it sounds though as each corresponding color crystal only becomes solid when that persona is active. This makes for great switching back and forth when there is a string of alternating crystals in mid air.
The really interesting and unique thing about my experience with Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is that not only can you switch between the two personas of Giana but the fact that the levels change graphical and physically when doing so. Most importantly switching open iron gates, the materialization of phased out platforms, and the direction of moving platforms is crucial to making through some treacherous locales filled with spikes, vines, deadly water and of course all manners of enemies. There are also a set number of crystals in each level to collect including some really hidden ones that takes some pretty quick finger work.
One the subject of finger work, Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams offers players two different means in which to navigate the levels. The first is by the use of the WASD and Arrow clusters which worked pretty well for a while until my hands cramped up from complex maneuvers. The other option which is far more favorable is a gamepad or Xbox 360. The game often requires some finely tuned maneuvers to reach out of the way places or avoid some near deaths and a controller is much more suited for this while youíre traveling through hellish and picturesque lands.
Graphically Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is a stunning experience that has two very unique visual sets. On the one hand you have the blonde going through hellish twisted forest, castles and over sinister locales while defeating the likes of demons and skeletons. On the more bizarre side you have the punky Giana who spends her time going through those same places that has a more cheery side filled with owls that sheíd rather punch though than stop and admire their beauty and use turtles as stepping stones. The best part is both versions of the dream are only a button press away as you switch back between personas.
The visuals arenít the only area that has some duality to it. The original score in the original game was apparently very well received in its day. Iíve learned to understand why after listening to the scores while playing Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams. There are two audio tracks playing simultaneously at any given time. One is the light fare composed by the original composer of The Great Giana Sisters, Chris HŁlsbeck, with help from Fabian Del Priore who has done work on another Giana project. The other track is composed by Machinae Supremacy, a Swedish SID metal band that uses a SID chip from a Commodore 64 in their music. Somehow these two very different music styles blend together perfectly and seamlessly as you switch between the two versions of Giana. I could play this game for hours just to listen to the music alone.
Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreamsí music is one reason to keep playing but certainly not the only one. There are five different modes of play including the main Adventure mode. Score Attack challenges you to score points by collecting crystals and defeating enemies. Time Attack on the other hand wants you to forget all about the crystals and speed run through each level as fast as you can. Though the real test comes with the two hardest difficulties: Hardcore and Uber Hardcore. These are both unlocked by completing other prerequisites. In these two modes the first has no checkpoints and the other is the most punishing as one wrong step will send you back to square one. Do you have what it takes to go all the way to the end?
Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is without a doubt a very unique experience that offers some good old fashioned platforming action with a killer score and amazing visuals that change with the character. There is a lot of gameplay available if youíre up to the challenge and Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is available now digitally via GoG.com and on Steam,so get going. This is one twisted dream that you donít want to miss.