by Maximillian Ringgenberg | May 17, 2019 7:00 am
Developed by GameFreak
Published by Rising Star Games
Reviewed on PlayStation 4 (also available on Xbox One, Switch, and Steam)
Dealing with the apocalypse is always an interesting prospect. Sometimes you have to deal with vast wastelands and a need for gasoline. Sometimes you have to deal with zombies and different viruses. Then there are times where you have to become a cyborg and deal with powerful nano-machine robots. Set a few years in the future in post invasion Japan, you take control of a high school girl named Reika on the verge of death. She becomes a cyborg to fight back against the occupying force, the Ajith. In her adventure to bring peace and stability to Japan, she visits different fortresses, solves puzzles, fights powerful foes, and discover secrets.
When I started Giga Wrecker Alt I wasn’t sure what to expect. I must give some serious credit to GameFreak for the game’s art style. The anime-esque designs are very detailed, though they range from fairly basic to pretty out there. The designs of the Ajith are actually pretty grotesque. They often have strange tendrils and are often dripping some kind of nasty looking nano-ooze. The bosses all have an interesting humanoid style to them. The different fortresses all have a color palette to them and a core theme for their puzzles. The puzzles are a real gem in Giga Wrecker Alt. There are a handful of head scratchers that are very satisfying to figure out. The puzzles are primarily focused around different aspects of physics, weight, refraction, and other things of that nature. As Reika progresses through her adventure she is granted new abilities that allow her to interact with different parts of the environment and is granted different combat methods.
At its core, Giga Wrecker involves traversing rooms by solving physics based puzzles. Reika can absorb debris from enemies and the environment, which allows her to use skills to reach new areas. These skills range from creating new platforms to dynamically affecting terrain. The process of acquiring debris and deploying skills becomes an engaging endeavor in each new area. Whether you defeat small enemies or find some scrap lying around, Reika can manipulate a mass of scrap together to form a cluster. Using the small cluster, you can defeat bigger enemies. A similar thing happens with the puzzles. Usually you either start with a small fragment, build up to use a larger cluster, and then apply it as a block. I found that the combat can be very challenging because if you do not have a enough scrap you can’t defeat the enemy. This adds a tense layer to boss battles as you need to stay alive long enough to accumulate enough to deal damage.
The puzzles use different concepts, like weights and counters, refracting beams of energy, using gas to fill components, and placing heavy enough blocks on switches. These are all interspersed throughout the various locales and they can be rather simplistic or very elaborate and precise. Completing enough puzzles and getting to the security panels allows you to challenge the boss for the area. You can also find alternate versions of your tools. While they don’t change stats, the tools can be quite funny looking or badass depending on what you find. They make for more goals to find if you really want to be a completionist. There is a problem that exists with the precise parts of certain puzzles and it is an issue with the protagonists own sense of weight and control.
Despite the puzzles themselves being solid in design, Reika’s ability to move and platform is down right infuriating at certain points. She has a good running speed and jumps a decent height. The issues really start to creep in when it comes to platforming, platforming under a time limit or in some cases where there is debris on the ground. The very debris you weaponize can be an unintentional obstacle. When debris is created that doesn’t have nano machines in it, you cannot summon it into your cluster. If you can’t usually you just leave it be….unless it’s a piece of the environment that can cause you to slip.
The game also features elements that are old school annoying. Heavy knock back from damage? Check. Knock back that send you flying off of platforms? Double check. Insta-kill spike traps and lots of them? Reika can also be terribly stiff when it comes to momentum and jump corrections. The game has serious edge detection issues that’ll lead to numerous accidental deaths; if you have downward momentum and you land too close to a edge, Reika will often skip past it and fall. This leads to annoying restarts to puzzles sequences. Add in the aforementioned debris and pit/spike traps and you have a a physics based puzzler with too many unintentional retires. This extends into a couple of boss battles because it requires usage of platforms. A lot of these issues could have been avoided with a simple double jump. I haven’t wanted to throw my controller in frustration in some time but this brought forth the fury a few times.
The strength of the puzzles and my desire to know more about the story and characters, and the nice, soothing electronic music helped tempered my fury bit. In terms of audio the game is a bit sparse in places. The lead character only says a couple of things in game, and there’s no spoken dialogue to be heard. The robots you encounter and the objects in the environment have some decent sound work done for them. I did enjoy the elements of Giga Wrecker Alt on an artistic and puzzle adventure level. But the frustration of having to restart entire sequences and edge detection issues when platforming is emphasized lead to too much frustration. Overall, I still had fun in the long run and that is super important.
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