I have to say that having been on a diet of strategy games lately, playing a bright and colorful platformer like Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams was a welcome change of pace from the moment the main menu began to animate. While it’s not going to change your mind about modern platformers, there’s plenty of beautiful game here to take in.
The first thing you’ll notice after the lengthy load screens are its luscious visuals, worthy of Rare at the peak of its powers. You play as Giana, the sister that wasn’t kidnapped and held hostage, so you must now flip between two different personalities to collect gems, reverse lifts, and make other, subtle changes to the world to make progress. As a bright and blonde avatar, the world is dark and fearsome with bridges fabricated with ribs and bizarre growths planted everywhere. As the “punk rock” version of your avatar and the world becomes bright and cheery like a Disney flick while transitioning between the two is seamless as levels change shape and color. Each version of the avatar has a specific move that serves as a clever way to quickly change between versions. Your objective is pretty simple: collect gems, reach the end.
Levels are well designed and attempts to 100% them will prove difficult considering how packed away some of these gems are. Particularly disappointing is how simple the game is. Enemies are primitive obstacles that don’t come in much of a variety, much less any hierarchy. While the avatar changing aspect is supposed to be the breadwinner here, there are no alternate objectives (aside from items that will show up in the game’s special features) or much of anything else to do. You navigate the levels and collect gems and it rarely amounts to more than that. That’s not to say you won’t have fun doing it, but it feels a bit like a throwback to a time when expectations were lower.
Still, the game is chock full of content and will last you a good while. Giana Sisters isn’t a terribly inventive platformer, but it’s obvious that a lot of heart went into it.