Prior to just a few weeks ago, I had never heard of Giana Sisters. I wasn’t aware that there was a game coming out called Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams, and I certainly did not know that the franchise was actually one of the oldest in Germany.
Because I’m unfamiliar with the franchise as a whole, I feel like I can offer a fresh perspective when reviewing this game. I can review it based on its own merits as opposed to comparing it to other Giana Sisters games from the past. Imagine being someone who was asked to review Super Mario 64 without having played any previous Mario titles. There are no preconceived notions of what the new game should be.
[quote_right]It’s a gorgeous looking platformer that’s going to offer fans a pretty beefy challenge.[/quote_right]So what is GS: TD? It’s a gorgeous looking platformer that’s going to offer fans a pretty beefy challenge. As Giana, you can switch between two different personalities, which in turn switch the surrounding environment into two very different dimensions (is it just me or have there been a LOT of games lately with this premise? Outland, Fractured Souls, the upcoming Guacamelee). Giana has a sugar and spice split; her “sugar” side is a cutesy, hopping, twirling girl, and her “spice” side is a punky, spikey haired, balls to the wall vixen. Depending on whichever personality you choose to be, the surrounding environment will change as well to reflect that.
That means platforms that were once there may not be after you switch. Enemies may suddenly appear, deadly spikes may suddenly appear, and rotating platforms may suddenly spin the other way. Speed runners have got their hands full, to put it lightly.
Controlling Giana is a breeze, as she moves throughout the game world with speed and fluidity. Other than her appearance (and that of the world surrounding her), the biggest difference between Giana’s two personas is in her primary attack. Both characters move around the same and jump the same, but sugar Giana has a twirling jump attack (which allows her to glide slowly as well), and spice Giana has a hammering dash attack, which can be unleashed in any direction.
This fast and fun gameplay stretches across 23 levels, with DLC incoming as well. Perhaps the one thing that you should take away from this review is how blisteringly difficult this game is. My goodness, it’s hard. On more than one occasion, I wanted to hurt someone. I don’t know if it’s just because this game is truly hard, or if modern day gaming has turned me into a wuss when old-school platformers drop into my hands, but regardless, GS: TD will certainly give you a run for your money.
Perhaps one of the most pleasant surprises when I first fired up this game was how beautiful it looked. This game is a eye poke of colors and effects. It’s like being on an acid trip (not that I would know what that’s like) with a controller in your hands. Add to that a trippy yet addictive and catchy soundtrack, and you’ve got an other-worldly experience when playing through GS: TD. No, it doesn’t really bring anything new to the table when you consider other platformers that are out there, but man…it sure is fun.
The last thing I want to mention has to do with Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight. I may not have heard of Giana Sisters, but clearly I’m in the minority as far as an international audience goes. The series has been around since the days of Commodore 64 and Amiga, so it is certainly not lacking in fan support. Any game franchise that has been around since 1987 is clearly just as big a deal as Mario or Sonic. Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is a great little game that I’m glad got to see the light of day. Larger studios may have passed on it (I guess we won’t know if any actually did or not), but with Kickstarter, Black Forest Games was able to raise $190,000 towards the game, $40,000 more than the original goal of $150,000. I mean, clearly there are still plenty of people out there that want to see this franchise live on. Add in the fact that the game was also picked up on Steam Greenlight, and you now have a powerful tool for promotion.
I’m thrilled to see success stories like this. I love big AAA blockbusters as much as the next person, and looking at my game shelf, all I can see are sequels upon sequels. Sometimes, it’s just nice to have a long lost gem make a triumphant return to the industry that made it famous in the first place. Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is a fantastic game that is a boatload of fun. Its difficulty curve may turn some off, and due to that, quite a bit of trial and error becomes necessary. Look past that, however, and you’ve got yourself a solid little platformer.