Title: Giga Wrecker Alt.
Developer: Game Freak
Release Date: April 30, 2019
Reviewed On: Switch
Publisher: Rising Star Games
Genre: Puzzle Platformer
When you hear the name Game Freak, I’m sure you automatically think about one of the Pokemon games. Well, disregard that thought because this isn’t Pokemon, but it is Game Freak. Giga Wrecker Alt. puts an interesting spin on the puzzle platformer genre, by blending bits of action and adventure into the mix. While most of this concoction of unique game mechanics work well for the game, some of it doesn’t and this might end in frustrating moments of defeat.
Giga Wrecker Alt. opens by introducing a world that has been overrun by robots known as Ajeet. The game informs the player of the state of the world over the course of the game but mainly focuses on the main protagonist Reika Rekkeiji. At the beginning of the game, she is found captured by the Ajeet and is saved by a girl who is strangely trying to kill her. If this sounds confusing, well, that might be just the theme of the game. You see, officially Reika should be dead, but a strange doctor named Kozuki ends up saving her life by fusing her with robotics to use her for his own data collection. Furthermore, there are elements of time travel thrown in as well as a handful of curveballs that keep the story at an overall fast pace.
The story is so fast pace that it’s tough to consume all of what is happening in the story at the speed it is being delivered. Once you feel that you have the hang of it, something else is introduced that just makes it that much more difficult to grasp. With that said, the characters are all charming and the bosses in the game are menacing enough to truly dislike. There’s very little reason why Reika ended up in this situation until much later in the story so the first half is left up to the player to keep up with how quickly things are moving.
While the story is delivered at a fast pace, the same can’t be said for the tutorial missions of the game. For the first hour of the game, prepare yourself to be countlessly interrupted by text dialog prompts from the scientist as he explains how to do things. I felt this should have been left up to the player to learn organically through gameplay. However, after a few hours, the conversations between characters end up revealing more about themselves and their goals.
After the dust settled, I ended liking these characters and each of their reasons for fighting back against these robots. The story offers some characters with alternative motives and not everything is what it seems so I had more than enough reasons to want to see the story all the way through, even I was confused parts of the time. The best way I could explain the flow of the story is that it mimics what I’ve seen plenty of times in anime. It’s apparent that with all the twists the story throws at the player, the developers took some inspiration from the medium, but that’s not really a bad thing.
Story aside, Giga Wrecker Alt. has some extremely unique gameplay features that make it stand out when compared to other puzzle platforms. Players must travel from room to room in order to unlock doors, turn on computers, and upgrade Reika’s abilities. However, getting through these rooms isn’t really that easy since there are puzzles to solve in each of them. Puzzle difficulty is something that Giga Wrecker Alt. struggles with since the game never seems to hit the correct slow incline of difficulty that puzzle fans might be used to.
Each puzzle in the game requires the player to use the power of Reika’s arm in order to get through them. One of the most used abilities in the game is her robotic arm, which is used to Recall pieces of nanomachine-covered rubble and robots to make a large boulder that can be used to attack enemies with and even use as a sword to cut through objects. Combine this with knocking down platforms to get to high ledges or changing the boulder into a bouncing ball to get through a tough situation are all possibilities.
As frustrating or difficult as these puzzles may be, the game manages to stay consistently addicting. With that said it’s the physics of it all that can be the most annoying part about the game. You see, Reika can feel a little floaty in her movements and jumps. This becomes a huge problem when trying to make some of the more precise jumps required to get through the game. Furthermore, she suffers from knockback damage so suffering from damage could find her in a pit of spikes.
Thankfully, I think the game realizes that some deaths will come from either trial-and-error approaches to the puzzle as well as at the hands of the many robotic beasts faced in the game because they implemented a pretty forgiving checkpoint system. However, the dialog between characters still plays if it happens after a checkpoint so those parts could be annoying after the fifth time skipping through the dialog event.
Other helpful things for players who are having a tough time comes with a companion robot who will show you a picture that shows how the puzzle is solved. I ended up using this console exclusive feature more times then I’m willing to admit, but it’s just helpful enough so that someone with a huge gaming ego like myself can still come out feeling like I solved it all on my own. The console version also offers players a higher difficulty mode to make the game even harder.
Other than solving puzzles and unlocking doors, players will face some pretty insane bosses over the course of the game. Each boss has an easily noticeable pattern, but the room for error during these battles is very small. One mistake and you can expect to take damage. However, if you die enough times on the boss, the professor does chime in with some helpful tips for taking the boss down which is nice.
Music and illustrations in the game are pretty unique. I love the story illustrations and thought that character illustrations and robot designs in-game were all great to look at especially the boss designs. Music in the game isn’t super prominent and I didn’t really notice it throughout the game, but I did enjoy the sound design.
Giga Wrecker Alt. is a unique game that I never would have expected from this developer. It’s fast, frustrating, and requires the full attention of the player in order to progress. It’s a tough game to review only because it’s so unique and does some super interesting things with puzzle design and action that I haven’t experienced before. The game’s flaws are found within its pacing, but once it finds its stride I was easily hooked until the game’s conclusion.
I don’t think Giga Wrecker Alt. is going to be for everyone, but I did enjoy my time fighting through this futuristic world and getting to know these interesting characters. If you’re looking for a challenging puzzle platformer with some wildly fun boss battles then Giga Wrecker Alt. is exactly what you’re looking for. Other then that, you’ll find a rushed story that doesn’t always make sense, but the anime-like dramatics of it all held my attention for the 12 hours it took too complete.
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