Wednesday, October 3

Review: Giana Sisters - Twisted Dreams - Owltimate Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]


While I’d heard of the Giana Sisters games before, this is actually the first time I’ve had the pleasure to check one out. From the start there’s an element of style and cleverness to its scheme, with you being able to quickly switch back and forth between the two sisters, with each of them in their own version of the same world, and each of them having their own unique abilities. When you start out this all feels pretty good, and the level design is generally pretty clever, having you move between the two sides often to collect gems and abuse the fact that elements change between the two worlds. 



It’s more when you get rolling that the problems begin to materialize. The easiest criticism is that as a whole the stages tend to drag on a bit too long and include far too many crystals to collect. There’s a certain sweet spot to stage design and it’s not just that they drag on a bit long here there are levels that are easily too long by double and you begin feeling surprised not to see the end show up as you complete another screen. It isn’t as if checkpoints aren’t around or this makes things feel too impossibly hard, it just detracts from the light feel I expect in titles like this. Throw on stages having crystals to collect in multiple hundreds and there’s a secondary reminder of things dragging on longer than they should.



Thankfully the controls generally feel pretty tight and getting to tough to reach spots with either sister is generally very satisfying. You’ll need to switch back and forth frequently, and sometimes at critical moments to pull of a given section, but it never felt like a chore particularly aside from the sheer number you need to find. The fact that the levels aren’t designed for moving backwards in many cases can be frustrating though, a problem compounded by the fact that with each run you’ll need to re-collect the same gems again rather than just trying to hunt down the ones you’d missed. Though there aren’t a great number of boss battles and monsters generally aren’t too hard to defeat they do provide a nice change of pace.



Aside from level length I’d say the other concern is with some of the visuals, both in terms of the design and in places in terms of quality as well. There are segments, in particular when you’re underwater, where I understand the goal is to give the appearance of being in the water but in some spots the underwater overlay can be annoying. Coupling that with the almost Vaseline-coated look to many things and the game doesn’t look that bad but it’s also a bit too muddy to be ecstatic over.



My feelings on Giana Sisters are a bit mixed. Coming out of the gate I really appreciated the dynamic feel of moving through the levels and alternating between sisters. As it wore on the excessive length of the levels began to take its toll on my feelings though. Throw in some cases where visual clarity wasn’t all it could be, sometimes resulting in a dumb death, and there were moments where it felt like it was letting me down. If you’re a big platforming fan it’s likely well worth checking out, but for casual players I do think there are more worthy titles out there to choose from.

Score: 7

Pros:
  • Some clever level design that combines well with the switching mechanic
  • Controls are generally tight and satisfying
  • Nice boss battles, though I’d prefer more

Cons:
  • Stages are generally too long and require too many crystal pick-ups along the way
  • Visual clarity is on the lacking side, particularly when underwater
  • Some visual cues aren’t as clear as they should be, occasionally leading to unnecessary deaths