In the world of platform gaming, there are many notable titles that stand out for any number of reasons. Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams will be recognized as one of the most artistic and beautiful worlds we’ve ever had the pleasure of running through, but also as one of the most unforgiving.

The game is played as the Giana Sisters, one of which exists in a dark and gloomy world while the other blasts her way through a world alive with color and vegetation. The sisters each have a unique ability, which allows them to overcome obstacles that you encounter throughout the game. One can hurl herself forward in a ball of flame while the other can drift across the air. You will often find yourself quickly shifting between each sister as many of the puzzles and encounters will require the use of both abilities. The game does a great job of helping you along the way by providing you with large in-game billboards that tell you how to utilize your abilities with new objects, which are introduced regularly. Sometimes you’ll have to float in a bubble-gum bubble and other times you will have to pinball your way through a level, but the first time you encounter these objects, you’ll get a hint on how to use them.

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You’ll get a helping hand each time a new game mechanic is introduced.

But that’s where the help stops. Make no mistake, this is a very difficult game. While the levels are brilliantly designed, they are designed to be extremely challenging and they will punish you for every error you make. Early in the game, I personally found it extremely difficult due to the fact that I was often unsure of what in the world would hurt me. For instance, the game introduces you to water and allows you to swim in it, but shortly after, you encounter water and jump right in only to die. At first glance, the water seemed the same. But the reality is that the slight difference in water color indicates whether or not you can dive into it, and the game never really let you know about that little detail. The environments are plush with creatures and foliage, and it can be confusing at first, as you aren’t really sure if that plant will hurt you or not. It usually does.

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It isn’t always as clear as crystal that you are surrounded by danger.

The game thrives on trial and error, which is fine, except for the fact that the final stage of each world in the game is locked, and unlocking those final stages requires that you acquire a certain number of stars. Each time you complete a level, you are awarded a certain number of stars based on your performance. The major issue with that is that you’re never really explicitly told what the criteria for getting a maximum 5 out of 5 stars is. Over time, you start to figure it out, but when your progression through the story is locked early in your adventure because you haven’t earned enough stars and you aren’t even sure how to earn them, that’s needless confusion that shouldn’t exist. This system forces you to replay levels so that you can progress which is irritating because you will want to experience more of the game, not the same content you just finished playing through. Not to mention that one of the primary ways to get more stars is to not die, so good luck with that.

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Get out of the way, I need that so I can play the boss level!

Despite the brutal difficulty and the world progression system, it’s hard to stay mad at this game due to it’s fantastic art style and charm. The graphics are crisp, colorful and attractive, and the attention to detail is absolutely incredible. What’s even more impressive is that each world is actually two, as each time you switch between the sisters, the world transitions. Each art asset in the world transitions into another without a hitch, and watching it happen in motion is incredible. The mood of the world completely changes depending on which sister you are actively playing, and each transition is flawless. The music is fantastic as well and does an excellent job of capturing the mood of the world while shifting and changing alongside the world with each transition. The entire presentation of the game is phenomenal, as the audio and visuals work cohesively together to provide an experience that is genuinely unique and enticing.

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Beautiful.

Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is an enjoyable game that unfortunately suffers from a massive difficulty curve and a world progression system that punishes you for making mistakes on your first play through. There’s a lot to like about the game, and Black Forest Games has certainly demonstrated their ability to craft beautiful worlds. But the core gameplay is too hard, especially when a player is punished by not being able to progress through the game until they replay previous stages and improve their scores.

Summary

+ Beautiful world

+ Fantastic presentation

+ Great music

- Way too difficult

- Objectives not clearly defined

- Replaying levels to progress isn’t fun

Final Verdict

Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is a game that you will love even though it hates you.

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