Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams PS3 reivew – Two-in-one platforming suffers from split personality
Hear the one about the two sisters who were sucked into a supernatural portal that opened up in their bedroom? I can’t quite remember the middle act, but it ends with a reviewer going into anger hysteria and trying to bite chunks out of his PS3 DualShock handles. Thanks Giana Sisters.
Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams PS3 reivew
However, my rage blackouts should not obscure the fact that this remake/sequel/reboot (I’ve lost track of how we calculate these things anymore) of the 1987 Amiga platformer manages to do a lot more right than wrong. Unfortunately, that good stuff has a tendency to get lost amid difficulty spikes, fiddly sections requiring a precision that the controls don’t offer, and – compounding both these problems – levels that go on far, far too long.
At first it seems like the most basic kind of platforming: collect the shiny stars, jump onto the grassy ledges, bounce on the bad guys’ heads in order to make them have a nice lie down. But then the ‘twisted’ part of Twisted Dreams makes itself known. Tap R2 and leading lady Giana, who’s chasing her kidnapped sister through a dream world, switches between her ‘cute’ and ‘punk’ personas. Visually this means a change from a doe-eyed blonde darling to a pink-haired rocker type with – won’t someone think of the children? – a skull printed on her skirt.
But the alteration also affects your abilities: Giana the sweet can traverse long distances using a floaty ‘twirl’ manoeuvre, while Giana the don’t-introduce-her-to-mother has a fiery dash move that can be used to KO enemies, bounce off surfaces in order to climb higher, or smash through weak walls to access new areas,
Switching between Gianas also alters the world around you, changing it from a brightly coloured idyll to a toxic swamp populated by flying dragons (these correspond to her two personas the opposite way round to what you’d expect). Certain platforms, doors, lifts or collectibles only exist in one realm or the other, and it’s the combination of this and both Gianas’ range of abilities that provides the gameplay thrust.
It’s fun at first, but the difficulty quickly
shifts from ‘enjoyably challenging’ to ‘I
hate and want to dismember you’
At first it’s as simple as just flicking from one realm to the other to open a door or summon a bridge into existence, but before long you’re tapping R2 in between every precisely timed jump in order to land on intermittently existing platforms while dodging fast-moving spikes, before bouncing your way up a wall with one version and switching to the other to flutter across a yawning chasm.
It’s fun at first, but the difficulty quickly shifts from ‘enjoyably challenging’ to ‘I hate and want to dismember you’. On the first boss level, for example, I died 97 times. And while checkpoints are liberal, levels massively overstay their welcome in terms of length, to the point that the game begins to obscure its own qualities. A lovely art style and a well-integrated twist on familiar platforming gameplay aren’t quite washed away by curious design decisions, but they are let down by them.