Once seen as a legal threat to Nintendo, the Giana Sisters series has since found itself at home among the indie games industry. 2011’s Giana Sisters DS marked a different kind of relationship with the Big N and the following year saw a Kickstarter for what appeared to be a bigger game in the series known then as Project Giana. Of course, Project Giana made its goal and has seen plenty of releases on platforms since then as Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams.

As a fan of the DS game, I had been looking forward to getting Twisted Dreams in some capacity. Thankfully, given the popularity of the Nintendo Switch it was only a matter of time before the game would be ported to this lovely device. The question that remains is that now I’ve finally gotten to play the game through, what do I make of it?

Story

On the surface, it’s the usual “rescue _____” scenario. In this case Giana has to rescue her sister, Maria. Giana is not the child she was back in the day though; this time, she’s going through internal transformations which can alter the ways she sees the world around her. The loading screens sometimes even give us brief glimpses into life outside of the fantasy lands but that’s just what they are – glimpses.

Graphics

I am not going to lie, Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is a beautiful-looking game. Every level in the game is filled to the brim with lush environmental detail. It’s the kind of visual bliss you wish the New Super Mario Bros. series would have. And despite all of the decorations, the framerate sticks at 60 per second rate with only very rare exceptions of slowdown. The silhouette animations that are on display during the loading screens also never cease to catch my eye.

Audio

I kind of wish I could say the same about the audio. Well, more specifically the music. The sound effects are reasonably stimulating but the music feels too much like background fodder. With normal Giana the music is bubbly and lighthearted and as punk Giana it’s injected with a metal emphasis. That’s pretty much all that comes to mind. Granted, Giana DS played it safe with the soundtrack as well but you’d think¬†Twisted Dreams would up the ante similarly to how the graphics have been upgraded.

Gameplay

Though the Giana Sisters series were obviously influenced by the Mario games in their prime, this latest installment twists it up a bit with a shifting mechanic. Giana has two different forms she can use to her advantage and they each transform the world around her. The regular form has a spin jump while the “punk” style has a fireball attack that’s useful for hitting enemies. When the levels give you room to play around with your abilities, Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is very much a good time. And there’s a good amount of game content here with 38 levels divided into four worlds to travel through (not counting included DLC). This is especially welcome considering the levels themselves last a while compared to Mario or the previous games in Giana‘s lineup.

While the gameplay is sound for the most part, there are times where the game’s flow can feel somewhat unbalanced. This game LOVES spikes and Giana’s a one-hit wonder if there’s no shield power in sight. Some of those things come from how you never know what obstacles are manipulated by your transformations until you try it for the first time – aka trial and error.¬†Checkpoints are generous but it does nevertheless get annoying when you repeatedly die from things you wouldn’t be able to see coming.

Verdict

I think Giana Sisters DS balances out the challenge and platforming better in the grand scheme of things (therefore it is still my favorite of the series) but Twisted Dreams is still an enjoyable jump ‘n run the whole way through. There’s a lot to like about it even if there are levels that could have been ironed out. The gameplay is unique enough to at least give it that sense of identity the series ironically didn’t have in its inception. I’m glad to have finally been given the opportunity to play it.

Review copy provided by THQ Nordic