Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams + Rise of the Owlverlord
Despite being separate entries the two games are fundamentally identical, and you should consider them as a main one and a small standalone expansion.
Unlike with the old “The Great Giana Sisters”, a deliberate clone of super Mario Bros. (I still wonder how that game has been allowed to be released, so blatant are the similarities with the Japanese icon), this recent platformer game has found its originality and aside from the name it borrows nothing from its predecessor.
Controlling one of the two sisters, you will have to scout the dream lands in search of your sibling, kidnapped by the dragon Gurglewocky. Fact is, your playable character clearly suffers from a split personality syndrome, allowing her to turn from a “cute” girl capable to double jump and fall slower to a “punk” one able to dash and destroy walls.
The entire game revolves around this duality: each time Giana changes her personality, the rest of the world changes as well, and each level will force you to combine the usual jump mechanics, your abilities and the two different environments to succeed.
The art department is particularly fitting to the theme: each time you switch, both the aesthetics and the music will change as well while maintaining contrast with the current personality, a creepy and decadent world with vidoegame-y sounds for the “cute” girl and a lush, green fable one with the same tracks revised in a metal key (from the band Machinae supremacy, nonetheless) for the “punk” one.
Don't let the art deceive you, though: the cartoonish graphics hide a very high level of challenge.
Each of the low in number but wide in dimentions stages will require a clever use of your abilities and a good timing for each action, still all of them are very reasonable and feasible even for not very skilled player with a few retries. On normal, you will never feel like the game is cheating you or that you have to be surgically precise to pass the hardest sections; on easy, you'll breeze though every level without any kind of problem.
The game gets really hard only with the optional challenges, being them gathering all the crystals (the equivalent of coins in Super Mario, they will help in gaining the stars that will unlock the boss stages -don't worry though, to progress you'll need just a few, not all of them) the rare giant gems or the score or time attack modes. Those side objectives will put you to the test with no mercy, and some of them are really cruelly hard.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for boss stages: each big monster must be hit three times, mostly after they leave their defenses open following a series of progressively harder attacks completely based on randomness. That means that if you are lucky, you can almost stay immobile and avoid them; if you happen to be in the wrong side of the screen, though, you are doomed. This makes those encounters extremely frustrating, unfair and entirely based on chance -the last boss is so insanely hard and luck based that I simply HAD to lower the difficulty.
I can certainly recommend the game for its excellent levels to any platformer lover, but rest assured that the bosses will make you rage quit at least once.