Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams Reviewed
By Nathaniel Liles
Playing Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is like being slapped the hell around by a pretty girl while she feeds you candy and plays sweet panflute solos in a rocking chair, and while yes, there is a gas leak in my building, this statement wasn’t inspired by any kind of gas-induced hallucinations or bird internet. While it may seem outlandish, you will soon come to understand exactly what I mean. This game is… Difficult. Outlandishly difficult at times, but it’s a good one.
Now I must’ve missed some sort of culture-wide memo, because I don’t enjoy a game more when it’s just ridiculously difficult, and platformers these days have been holding closely to the unwritten rule that easier games are the worst thing in the world. I don’t feel that urge to pump my fists upon beating a boss I’ve been trying to beat for an hour, I just feel like I’ve wasted my time repeating the same thing over and over instead of enjoying whatever lies past that boss, and Giana Sisters: TD is one of those games. The levels themselves aren’t all that hard, and I was able to breeze through most of them without much trouble.
The checkpoints are forgiving enough that nothing will truly punish you, although the absence of a life bar means you die in a single hit, and it can get a little frustrating, but the true core of difficulty lies in two things: collecting enough gems to advance to the later levels, and the bosses. The boss fights are simple, formulaic, and fairly well-executed, but they’re difficult to the point where I hated them. I had to fight the first boss so many times that I racked up an extra 40 minutes or so of gameplay just trying to beat His Wormyness, with some attempts only lasting a few seconds.
Once you get past the difficulty, though, you can start to realize what a gorgeous game this is. The game allows you to switch between two sisters throughout, each having the ability to do a whirlwind jump or turn into a fast bouncy fireball, and each of them can stand on different platforms or disable certain hazards. The thing is, they each also have their own graphical styles and soundtracks. When you switch between the two sisters, the music seamlessly flows between a cutesy, bouncy soundtrack full of harps and flutes and a punk rock version of the same thing. At the same time, every pixel of the environment changes drastically. Trees turn into spinal columns, flowers turn into disgusting mushrooms, clouds swell with rain and thunder, and even the enemies change form. Some even change into a completely different enemy with different attacks and movement patterns.
All in all, Giana Sisters: TD really pleased the people that helped it become a reality through Kickstarter, and that’s what matters most. This is a game that harkens back to the tough-as-nails platformers of ages past, bringing with it new ideas and an absolutely stunning coat of paint. If you’re not very good at these games, just bring it down to easy and be prepared to sink some time into practicing for those boss fights. This game is truly a triumph and accomplished exactly what it set out to do: bringing back the challenge and charm of the games many of us cut our teeth on, but slapping us upside the head with new ideas. It’s a shining example of what the end product of a Kickstarter campaign can be. I highly recommend this game to every single one of you out there that enjoys a good platformer, especially if you never plan on beating it on higher difficulties. Because damn.[divider]
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[author image=”http://cliqist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/nathaniel.jpg” ] Nathaniel Liles is a freelance writer, writing major, and indie musician based in Southern Indiana. While procrastinating or avoiding real-world responsibility, Nathaniel enjoys playing rhythm games, action RPGs, and very colorful games with many bright, flashing lights. You can listen to Nathaniel sing songs or download his music for free at http://nathanielliles.bandcamp.com/. [/author]