Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams for Wii U, Xbox 360, PS3 and PC
Giana Sisters is a game about two worlds; one is bright and filled with heroics, the other murky and unpleasant. This is appropriate, as it reflects my own feelings about this game. There are some great things here, but its flaws hold it back from standing alongside other better platformers out there.
The titular Giana Sisters are asleep when one is kidnapped and held prisoner by a dragon in the Dream World. It is up to her sister to rescue her, who is able to manipulate the world of dreams to change between pleasant dreams and nightmares. Hey, it’s not exactly Shakespeare, but it complex plots aren’t exactly the priority in platformers are they?
Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is a platformer with a twin world mechanic; it’s not the first, nor does it really do it the best. In the lighter world Giana can launch herself as a fireball which can obliterate foes and bounce off walls, and in the dark world she can spin herself around into a controlled float. The worlds can be switched in an instant, with obstacles that only exist in some of the worlds. The problem is that compared to games like Outlander and Guacamelee with very similar mechanics, Giana Sisters ends up feeling very simple. That’s not to say it’s easy, and the levels are competently designed, but the core mechanic is never used in any particularly interesting ways.
There are only three main sections, but the individual levels are quite lengthy giving you decent bang for your buck. It can get a bit exhausting, and I wonder if double the levels at half the length might have been better. There’s sadly not a huge amount of variety between them; the two worlds are very distinct, but the levels lack any real character. As with much of this game, it’s functional rather than inspired.
Things aren’t all bad though as Giana Sisters has a surprising trick up its sleeve; it’s soundtrack. Put simply, the music is this game is incredible. Even better is that each track has two versions, which switch between the two worlds seamlessly as the player changes. There’s a glam rocky guitar version, and a sinister synth-y version, and both sound great. Alas, the same cannot be said for the visuals, which are bland and uninspired. It functions, but it never soars. One exception is the character animation for the final boss, who despite never being developed as a character is amusingly smug and loathsome.
Giana Sisters does a lot of things well, but on a console containing Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and Rayman Legends, you really need to do something special to set yourself apart if you’re doing a platformer. Giana Sisters does not do that.