There aren’t that many competitive platform games made for multiplayer matches. Giana Sisters Dream Runners is one such game. The game is a follow up to Giana Sisters Twisted Dreams, in a way acting as a stand-alone version of that game’s competitive DLC. It offers five playable characters and nine courses and it uses a rule-set that is different to other competitive multiplayer modes in platform games.
Four players race each other through one of twelve looping courses. The winner isn’t decided by whoever crosses the finish line first however. The goal is to gain three points by eliminating the other players. Players are eliminated when they are forced off screen. After the first player is eliminated a countdown begins for eliminating the other players leaving the remaining to score a point. The power ups you pick up as you race work as you would expect; creating obstacles, attacking other players, and even swapping places with first place. The world twisting is what makes things interesting. When passing through gates on the course cause it to change. Aside from aesthetic changes, switching from a peaceful world to a darker look, new paths can appear as well as changing existing features and generating new obstacles such as cannonballs. This does add something to a match as activating the gates can change the dynamics of a match, keeping things competitive.
The game controls pretty well. I was playing on a keyboard, which use the arrow keys to move. Pressing the up arrow jumps and the down arrow makes your character slide. Holding W causes the character to twirl in the air. This is used slow descents and ride on air currents on the maps. D causes the player to do a form of spin dash, which is useful for dealing with obstacles (such breaking through certain walls. The space bar uses power-ups and finally holding shift uses a boast that is powered by crystals found on the courses that fill a meter for each player. The courses are designed for players to take advantage of these control features along with the world twisting mechanic. Graphically, the game looks nice. The changes in the art style when the world twists works well and the characters are nicely detailed. The game can be played online or offline with bots that have three difficulty settings. While the bots are a good start for those new to the game, playing with other people is where the meat of things lies.
Online battles are a different animal. They feel much faster paced than matches with bots. Against bots, it plays s a good warm up as they tend to follow paths according to their difficulty settings. Matches with human players tend to be a bit more manic, with people thinking about how they use their power-ups and boosts. Things in the match can change very quickly with the right power-up, or obstacle being bought into play by twisting the world. With more skilled players things come down to the elimination timer a lot more often, with players trying to get ahead at the last second to claim the point. The online performance does look good at this stage. I didn’t have issues with latency or disconnecting from the game. Everything appeared to function well. Giana Sisters Dream Runners is looking to be an interesting game when it is released. It provides a fun multiplayer experience for platforming fans.
Screenshots courtesy of Black Forest Games and EuroVideo Medien.