Review – Giga Wrecker Alt

Giga Wrecker Alt is a re-release of a computer game that came out in 2017 that I had never even heard of prior to this review, despite it being made by none other than Game Freak, the same guys behind the Pokémon games. It’s an interesting game that, unfortunately, doesn’t hold up to the standards of the developer’s other works.

The game opens with the protagonist Reika imprisoned by machines when a mysterious woman appears to rescue her, only to end in her attempting to kill Reika as well. Awakening with a robotic arm, our hero sets out on a quest to destory the machines that have overrun the world and find out why that woman tried to kill her. The story is fairly generic and predictable, but also enjoyable, with some good story telling moments scattered around. Don’t be expecting anything memorable and you should be fine with the plot the game offers you.

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Cut scene art is pretty good!

The visual style is interesting enough, with a clearly anime inspired feel to it. Good use of colour can shine through even when texture work just looks flat and overly repetitive, with large sections of the map looking almost identical. It gets tiresome to the eyes. Animations just aren’t as smooth as I would have liked them to be. The sound department fairs pretty well with a great soundtrack that fits with the visuals of the game, as well epic tracks for boss fights. On the other hand, just like almost everything in this game, it does get a bit repetitive after a while.

Mechanically, Giga Wrecker has some really interesting and innovative ideas that help set it apart from the vast amount of side scrolling platformers out there, namely in the way Reika can pick up and use debris from the environment and enemies to progress through combat and puzzle sections. As you progress through the game, you’ll gain more abilities, like being able to slice objects and a javelin that Reika can throw as a makeshift platform.

Puzzles mainly rely on physics tests with a variety of different mechanics to use. Sometimes you will need to use debris to balance out a platform, and in other times you will need to make objects fall in certain ways to create impulse for your character. There’s plenty of variety in here, and new puzzle mechanics keep getting introduced as you progress. While they are, for the most part, well designed, they are let down by some really inconsistent physics, leading to constant retries if an object doesn’t fall down in a certain way. More than often I would need to place a block to climb up to a ledge but a piece of debris that I can’t interact with will be in the way and mess with the physics. Even if the physics don’t play exactly how you need them to, there’s often some wiggle room that allows you to get to where you are going, and if you do mess up a puzzle too badly, there are convenient restart stations in each room.

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Puzzles are great, only let down by wonky physics.

The combat is as basic as it gets, but there’s also some good mechanics at play. Smaller enemies can be killed rather easily, not requiring any debris or special planning. Larger enemies, however, can only be destroyed if you have a giant ball of debris or by using conveniently placed environmental hazards to knock them out. It’s not the deepest or most engaging combat system out there, but it is serviceable.

Boss fights, on the other hand, are much more exciting and require a deep knowledge of the game mechanics to beat. They are my personal favourite part of the game, simply because they are creative and consistently fun. They make use of all of the game’s mechanics in a test way of sorts. All of my deaths during the boss fights were due to my personal errors and very rarely did the wonky phsics come into play. Fail too many times and your companions will provide hints to help you in the battle, which can be helpful for newcomers.

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Boss fights are the highlight.

Sadly, while the mechanics are all there, the core platforming is problematic, with floaty controls where you want platforming to be tighter and more precise. Often I would jump a touch too far and fall onto some platforms below just because the controls aren’t as tight as they should be, or fall through platforms I created for no apparent reason. And that’s what ultimately killed the game for me. I can overlook the wonky physics and repetitive visuals, but when the core controls are just that off, then it’s just not fun to play. Which is a shame because there are moments in Giga Wrecker Alt that I actually really enjoyed. I would even revisit the game if the developers eventually release a few patches.

Giga Wrecker Alt is a fun 2D metroidvania with some innovative and creative ideas but it’s not entirely successful. The awful controls and awkward physics really bring down what could have otherwise been a great game. If you can overlook those issues, give this game a shot.

 

Graphics: 5.5

Some nice art and character designs aside, the environments look dull and get tiresome really fast.

Gameplay: 6.5

Creative ideas and level design are let down by inconsistent physics and awkward controls.

Sound: 7.5

The soundtrack is, for the most part, really good, but it does get repetitive after a while.

Fun Factor: 6.5

Really disappointed with this one. The game has all the marks of a great platformer but couldn’t live up to the hype due to its technical issues.

Final Verdict: 6.5

Giga Wrecker Alt is available now on PC, Switch, Xbox One and Playstation 4.

Reviewed on Xbox One.

A copy of Giga Wrecker Alt was provided by the publisher.

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