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[PS3 Review] Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams

The Giana Sisters are back, and just in time for their 25th anniversary!

Key Features:

* Challenging levels: Discover three distinctive worlds with a total of 23 levels, which can be transformed from a colorful dream to an eerie nightmare at the push of a button.
* Personal style: Regardless whether you dash through the levels in speed-run or take your time to explore every last corner, Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams offers something for everyone.
* Superb graphics: Dreamlike landscapes transform themselves from lush, resplendent surroundings into surreal, withered nightmare worlds, in which there are always new details to discover.
* Intriguing puzzles: Blocked paths open up when Giana transforms herself; lovely flowerbeds mutate into deadly thorn bushes, and some diamonds can only be gathered in one form or the other.
* Diverse playing modes: The game is challenging in normal mode, but it can be a truly harrowing experience in hardcore and super-hardcore modes.
* Legendary soundtrack: Listen to Chris Hülsbeck’s music as it transitions from the classic chiptunes to the metal riffs of the Swedish SID-rockers, Machinae Supremacy.
* Epic boss-battles: Whether devilish demons or powerful end-bosses, you will need every trick in your arsenal to defeat your opponents.

After a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2012 that raised $186,158 in total, the Giana Sisters have found their way to the PS3 in a colorful and dark platformer that features a nice mix of the collect-a-thon nature of platformers in the 90’s with a nice coat of 21st Century paint that brings the game into a new era. But, who are the Giana Sisters? Well, let’s hear it directly from Black Forest Games:

“Project Giana is the grandchild of The Great Giana Sisters, a Super Mario Bros clone made by the now-deceased founder of our company in the eighties. Of course, Nintendo didn’t like that, and the sisters got pulled off the shelves. That’s ancient history now, and, in an ironic twist, a legit Giana game was released for the DS in 2009. That was a pretty awesome move from Nintendo, and we’re grateful!”

Twisted Dreams is a project created to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Giana Sisters while also evolving past its roots and morphing into a unique project that brings something new to the table to keep things fresh. As for the story, well, the story is a classic: Maria, Giana’s sister, has been sucked into the dream world, and it is up to Giana to save her sister from meeting her end.

Giana can switch between a Cute and a Punk version on the fly, each with its own unique skill while also changing the entire world around you. You will see how forests die and come back to life between an alive and cheerful color palette into a drab and dark mess of a nightmare, and some paths might open while others shut your way in a heartbeat. Enemies also change their appearance, and some of them even behave differently or even turn into new hazards to avoid. Remember, a piranha and a turtle can both kill you in one hit, but jumping into a piranha’s mouth definitely isn’t the solution to your problem. Going back to the unique skills of each version of Giana, Cute Giana can twirl to increase the height and length of her jump, and she can also continue to twirl to reduce the speed at which she falls. Punk Giana is in possession of a Dash attack that allows her to fly in any direction, and she can destroy most enemies and blocks with this fierce attack. Both versions share an extra skill: if you kill an enemy while twirling or using the dash attack, you will be able to use it again! This will allow you to reach every nook and cranny in a level, something that is required if you want to find 100% of all collectibles.

There are several checkpoints in each level in case you mess up and end up dying… and you’ll die a LOT. The game is of the “one hit, and you’re done” variety and, aside from a special power-up that rewards you with a forcefield that can take an extra hit before you die, the game has been designed to make the most of the abilities of Cute and Punk Giana while offering an easy and a hard way to finish each level. For example, if you just want to complete each level, pretty much anyone can make it to the goal as long as they pay attention to their surroundings BUT, if you decide to collect every crystal in a level, you must learn how to use the skills of Cute and Punk Giana down to perfection. For example, there are some sequences in the game that require you to jump and use Punk Giana’s dash skill to rush towards and enemy in order to bounce up and be able to use that skill again into another enemy, and then into another enemy, finally twirling with Cute Giana towards a platform that contains a stash of small crystals that circle a big crystal… all in a 3 second window of opportunity. If you miss one of the steps in the sequence, you might fall into a pool of acid or into a bottomless pit, having to redo everything. Are you up for the challenge? Because trophy hunters will love this game as they are rewarded for finding everything in every single level as well as for obtaining a 5 star score for each of the levels available for you to enjoy.

If you find that the game is “too easy”, you can unlock hardcore and uber hardcore modes that will test your skills and demand perfection from your execution. The game does not have mercy of the player in the harder difficulty levels, and you will be humbled by the experience within a minute. If you haven’t mastered switching back and forth between Cute/Punk Giana and if you can’t decipher the patterns of the enemies you’ll find, you better stick to the regular story mode for Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams.

And then, you have Chris Hülsbeck’s superb soundtrack for the game, which ALSO changes in real time when you switch between Punk and Cute Giana! Chris has been around for a while, and many of you will recognize his name after having worked on Turrican back in the day, and who has also worked in hundreds of other projects all over the world. Chris’ music really makes everything “click”, and it was great to hear his work on this game.

Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is a fun platformer that has finally found its way to the PS3. The action, puzzles, graphics and music provide us with a very nice package that you should definitely own in your collection. There is a demo available in the SEN store in case you want to try before you buy, and I’m sure you will like it from start to finish.

[review score=”85″ pros=”Solid platformer.
Nice gameplay twists.
Great music.” cons=”Big difficulty bump towards the middle of the game.”]


This review is based on a PS3 copy of Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams provided by Black Forest Games.