Black Forest Games’ upcoming multiplayer focused Giana Sisters: Dream Runners get the First Impressions treatment. As such, expect a mixture of funny and informative narration as our Video Editor, Greg Giddens, plays the Beta for the first time. Also expect some pretty strong language from the inevitable fails.
Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams offered a superbly designed, and strikingly detailed platformer with thrilling acuity. The unique environment switching abilities of Giana produced visually stunning and fascinating vistas, and offered an immersive and challenging platforming adventure. Giana Sisters: Dream Runners means to take the series on a tangent, a four player foot racing competition across multiple maps inspired by Twisted Dreams. We were lucky enough to play the Beta for Dream Runner and see how things are shaping up.
Fortunately things are indeed looking good for this multiplayer project. It’s a little rough around the edges still, with the odd glitch and oddity, but it’s an otherwise stable and enjoyable platforming racer.
It’s of the same ilk as Xbox 360 indie game – and currently early access PC game – SpeedRunners, where up to four players take to a level and race around it over multiple laps, with racers who fall off the edge of the screen being eliminated. Power-ups are strewn across the levels, offering temporary boosts to your character or a weapon to launch against your opponents, meanwhile, a refillable sprint can be charged by passing through certain sections.
It’s multiplayer focused and inherits a lot of fun simply because of it. Playing with others and competing for that precious first place and avoid elimination is intense and exciting, and Dream Runners captures that thrill brilliantly.
The strategy comes in the form of choosing when to use collected power-ups and your sprint, and choosing which path to take as you’re dashing through the level. Weighing up the risk/reward factors of longer routes for potential power-ups and staying out-of-the-way of your opponents who may launch weapons at you requires quick thinking, making a run through a level a desperate and mistake heavy affair that helps intensify the competition even more so. Dream Runners adds its own additional unique challenge in the form of shifting environments.
Much like in Twisted Dreams, the environments can be altered dramatically, but instead of being able to change your surroundings at will, you need to run through specific switches scattered amongst the levels to change it. Doing so not only makes for a visually different aesthetic to the location, but also adds new hazards and obstacles. It’s terrific, and essentially turns the 9 maps into 18.
Currently, however, on respawning after a character wins first place, the characters are pointed the wrong way, you’re also frequently respawned elsewhere to where the last point was won, adding to the confusion over direction. Helpful arrows are littered around each level to help you stay on course, but it’s so visually busy and fast paced it’s easy to miss them. These are almost certainly things that will be ironed out before release, however, so no need to fret just yet.
Giana Sisters: Dream Runners is looking like it’s going to be a terrific multiplayer title when it releases later this year. The level design for the 12 maps is superb, offering a challenging and diverse set of locations and obstacles that are enhanced even further by the environment switching mechanic. Meanwhile, playing with others is a blast. Solo play can get repetitive, the bane of all titles of this ilk, but an aggressively competitive AI makes for a more than worthy challenge to hone your skill for the next human opponent.
Giana Sisters: Dream Runners is due for release on Xbox One this Summer.
See the latest Giana Sisters title, Giana Sisters: Dream Runners, in action.
This 8 minute gameplay footage shows four colour coordinated characters from the Giana Sisters universe competing over multiple stages trying to beat each other in a platforming foot race. Using collectable abilities the foursome via for first place, once all opponents fall off screen the leader earns a point. Three points grants them the win.
Giana Sisters: Dream Runners is due for release later this year (2015) on Xbox One.
Every once in a while, a great platformer comes along from nowhere and can steal your attention with its outlandish fantasy-world scenery and before long you are engulfed in its universe collecting the collectables, fighting the giant end of level bosses and becoming a master of your own domain. Not to mention swearing like a trooper with every death!
For those old enough to remember the very original ‘The Great Giana Sisters’ when it was released on the Commodore 64 many moons ago, and its striking if not down-and-out right copy of Nintendo’s Super Mario World levels – a re-imagined sequel to this game was released on the Nintendo DS as ‘Giana Sisters: DS’ and the latest release on the Xbox LIVE Arcade, Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is not only a port of the Windows version released last year, but a sequel to the Nintendo DS game too – it was also a successful KickStarter project.
So, does it still bear any resemblance to Super Mario?
Actually, there is a little hint of Super Mario in the platforming gameplay style, but it’s more focussed on the prominent fantasy dream worlds and two-toned adventure now to make this stand out as a platformer in its own right without relying on the poor-mans-Mario title. It’s not all that challenging; so whilst Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is a great game visually and how it is presented, the lack of challenging environments and the speed at which you can run through some of the games’ dream worlds might be disappointing for some? As a whole it is worlds apart from Mario now, developers Black Forest Games has re-imagined Giana Sisters to have similar gameplay styles as almost all platformers where the basis is that you control your character, collect items and perform a few abilities to aid progression. The magic here however in this 2.5D outing is that the world is split into two different perspectives where the use of both is a requirement to achieve your main goal. Not a plumber in sight!
As a platformer, it’s a simple plot – as it should be, not a criticism because with Arcade games of this nature it should very much be a game that relies on the fun-factor and a diverse set of environments ranging from the pretty-impressively-cute to the dark and dreary settings, serving up a world that is both bright, with an underlying terror. The story is that two young sisters suddenly find themselves trapped in a magical dream-world with the only means of escape by searching for a huge diamond, and in the journey that follows en-route to the diamond is a land filled with huge owls, dragons, haunted castles, deadly fish and death-defying traps at every turn. The most amazing aspect of the dream world is that you can change the whole scene in a single button press, a seamless transformation between two totally different outlooks on the same environment. Play the one game across two versions of the world you’re placed in – each with their own unique style. Everything in that single seamless transformation changes your world; the backgrounds, the enemies, as well as parts of the environment so that something that might have been impossible to cross in one perspective could now be possible in another perspective.
As a platforming adventure that requires you to visit certain worlds, you have to earn your way into them, so as you might expect – it’s not a simple case of play and carry on because a required amount of smaller diamonds and gems needs to be collected before granting access to other parts of the games dream-world environments. You are freely able to return into any open world to re-try your luck, so although the process of downing enemies and wondering through the land is relatively simple, collecting your gems can be a little tricky. You will find many of them scattered through the levels and in many different colours, even split between each of the world’s perspectives so triggering that button to seamlessly switch worlds at times will allow you access to some gems you cannot collect in your current view of the dream-world.
Due to the complexity of the level design which includes high to reach places, crumbling blocks, moving objects amongst many other tricky scenarios to put your character into a near death situation, you might have to use some of your other abilities to overcome them. Early on in the game you are taught how to Twirl – a process of flying through the air, a dash attack to bounce off walls and enemies, a double jump to reach higher places. The different personas of the character in each of the two different world perspectives mean that when playing ability it will also switch the perspective of the world at the same time. It’s not as complex as it might sound as if you imagine a game with a split-personality where the characters abilities and the world changes between two outlooks, bright and fun dreams, and the Nightmare dreams. How you use and play within both worlds allow you to collect all that you need to progress and unlock other worlds in the game. Even the musical score is switched between the two different perspectives seamlessly. It’s a very original approach and is two totally different views of the one game, it’s brilliant.
The controls are relatively easy, again, as a platformer you don’t need to be over-run with finicky button presses as the aim should be just from going from one location to another with a few challenges along the way. For me, a great platformer is measured by death to understand how complex and challenging it is. Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams has a slight sense of LIMBO about it too, not just a hint of Mario – but the dark, dream worlds and the environments putting pressure on the character to overcome any obstacle. The only real key-ingredient lacking in this game that would take it from a half-decent platformer to a ‘great’ platformer is its lack of challenge. It’s not all that difficult and it feels like it needs more originality. A decent game nonetheless, but when you’ve played many like it over the years – it needs a wow factor! The seamless switching of dream perspectives is not enough. Enough to make you realise how damn good this game looks visually and that the level of detail into the environments is more than impressive enough to wow you- the gameplay at times feels a little lacking and a bit ‘samey’.
Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams, is a good game – it will be enjoyable; it even deserves to be played. It just doesn’t offer enough challenges and enough originality to be deemed completely outstanding. Great to look at, brilliant twisted dreams presented in two entire different worlds. At times funky, bright whilst other times dark and dangerous; includes a great mix of level design and musical score that complement each other really well. It is definitely an above average game and you will not regret spending money on this, but you’ve likely played a lot better in your time too!
ThisisXbox recommend downloading the demo today to play this – you’ll know if this is a worthy purchase for you in the first few moments of gameplay.
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Next week’s Xbox LIVE Arcade offering is a rather exciting platformer (you have to love a good platformer) from Black Forest Games titked “Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams”. It’s already available on STEAM and has had some pretty decent reviews so far which makes the Xbox LIVE Arcade availability all the more better!
In Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams, the player accompanies the two very dissimilar sisters on a journey to a fantastic world in which the sisters’ different abilities are the key to solving puzzles and defeating terrible monsters. Giana transforms herself with lightning speed to solve puzzles or make use of special abilities. With each transformation, her environment changes too, and only players who skillfully apply the right strategy can complete tricky levels and defeat nasty end-bosses.
Optically and acoustically, Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is built on the latest technologies: Vivid colors and astounding graphics, paired with a wonderful soundtrack by Chris Hülsbeck, promise a unique platform game adventure.
We have made contact for a review code, so hope to be able to share the greatness with our readers soon!
For now, check out the trailer below: