Giga Wrecker Alt. Review

When it comes to puzzle platformers, it takes something special to truly stand out. Giga Wrecker Alt. certainly has a unique framework, that much has to be said, but several drawbacks hold it shy of greatness overall. The game first came to PC a couple of years back, and now, it’s hitting consoles via a moderately updated and expanded version, but, is it worthy of your time and attention overall? Well, if you’ve a decent capacity for patience and forgiveness, then yes. If not, however, this may prove to be more frustrating than anything.

The game’s story is fairly interesting. Starting out, it’s relayed to you that at some point in the near future, killing machines of an unknown origin invaded and began demolishing the planet, city by city. Three years later, it becomes clear that the machines have a favor for the young, putting them to work whilst killing the old and diseased. In the middle of this sits an imprisoned Reika, a girl that’s lost her friends, her family, and pretty much everything that she holds dear. To begin with, though, players take on the role of another young girl.

Playing as this girl, who is clearly hunting down Reika, you’ll get a grasp as to how the game handles; movement, interaction, and so forth. Before long, you’ll break into Reika’s cell before holding a gun to her head, afraid that she’s going to be the downfall of humanity. Machines breach the cell and prevent the girl from killing Reika, but a stray shot sees Reika losing her arm. Reika then awakens to Doctor Kozuki, a self professed genius that tells her she has mere minutes to live, and offers her an ultimatum; die, or become his test subject.

Reika accepts his offer, which consists of having a robotic arm attached in place of her missing one, and an assignment that sees her exploring the immediate vast factory to scavenge data for her savior. What follows suit proves to be quite a fascinating and well written tale, one with twists, turns, and despite some predictable outcomes, provides a satisfying affair. The gameplay and the entire structure of the journey is much more mixed in the grand scheme of things, which is a shame, because this could have been quite a hit.

The game does a good job of feeding you into the basics of play, gradually giving you a firm understanding as to how everything functions as new mechanics are introduced. The game’s world is that of a sprawling factory, laid out in a very metroidvania style. Though, unlike the likes of, say Hollow Knight, Giga Wrecker Alt. is a much more accessible journey. Don’t get me wrong, there’s many challenging elements within, but not so much that it will turn the casuals away. In fact if anything, it’s the game’s drawbacks that will get that job done.

Giga Wrecker Alt. is not for the impatient, nor for those that don’t have a good capacity for forgiveness. Having played the original version, I was quite happy to see the neat extras that have been thrown in here, and whilst far from enough to wholly justify a return trip, there’s enough on show to (re)entice die-hard fans. This includes the likes of new puzzles, renovated areas, and Dolma; a useful bot that aids you in regards to overcoming the game’s puzzles. Speaking of which, the puzzles here can be largely hit and miss throughout play.

Many of them are actually simple to suss out, but executing the moves to overcome them is where the difficulty sits, for more reasons than one. When you do come up against a particularly nasty looking brain twister, Dolma will serve you well nevertheless. Puzzles are served up as whole rooms, in which you’ll need to break structures via using your growing tool sets from start to finish. During the initial stages of play, Reika can do little more than throw her robotic arm forward to smash objects and foes, and then gather the remains.

The more you smash, the more you can collect, and eventually, you’ll be trotting around with a boulder-sized mass of waste. You’re then able to use this waste to smash bigger, tougher foes, foes that you wouldn’t have been able to even dent beforehand. That being said, not everything can be picked up. In fact, only certain terrains allow gathering of debris. The puzzle aspects of play feeds into this functionality too, meaning that you’ll oftentimes need to think outside the box to overcome an enemy that you cant smash with debris.

You see, sometimes a room will house a gigantic enemy, but no (or very little) debris. More often than not, the room itself is what you’ll use as a weapon; knocking a foe into a trap or loosening a huge structure to drop on its head, and so forth. I’ll credit the game for this, because in regards to the puzzle design, there’s very little reason to bash it. Giga Wrecker Alt. always finds ways to keep you on your toes too, constantly introducing new tools that you’ll need to use to access areas you that couldn’t access prior to getting said tools.

Tools such as granting you the ability to convert debris into solid objects is the main attraction; be it a huge block or a javelin. The former comes in handy when you need to activate a pressure plate, whereas the latter comes in useful when you need a wall-rung to reach new heights. That in mind, there’s many ways to use each tool, and the game encourages this on a regular basis. The more outlandish tools, such as a the sword or the drill has their uses too, and like the above examples, tend to have more uses than one.

Nevertheless, and back to the point, the game’s puzzles never tire. They’re always fresh and there’s usually more than one way to overcome them. I can say the same about defeating the game’s enemies, many of which house their own movement and attack patterns, but can only be defeated in very specific ways. Sadly, the game falls short where it matters the most. Its handling is way too floaty for my liking. This is a game that often demands pinpoint precision when it comes to platforming, so it’s a shame that this aspect of play is quite poor.

I lost count of how many times I fell into a death-pit or failed to avoid a danger of some sort, simply due to the overcompensated feedback. Outside of that problem, there’s some baffling design choices to contend with too, as well as the occasional bug. Whilst for the most part, as alluded to above, the game keeps things interesting and fresh, there are several rooms that do little but piss you off due to how they’ve been designed. Before I go any further, I should point out that Giga Wrecker Alt. houses physics-based elements of play.

This alone isn’t a bad thing, but, when it comes to the aforementioned poorly designed rooms, this feature is a nightmare. Most of the time, these drawbacks tend to consist of trying to get a very specific structure to fall into a very specific place. However, rather than relying on skill, these moments seem to rely entirely on luck of the draw. I found myself religiously needing to refresh a room due to a structure falling in the wrong way, forcing a room restart upon each and every instance that it occurred. It’s irritating to say the least.

Don’t get me wrong, these moments of irritation are few and far between as most of the game’s rooms are well designed, but still, the few that stick out as frustrating, will firmly stay in my mind for a good while yet to come. If you can overlook that and the game’s floaty handling, both of which collectively went towards a great deal of my deaths and failures, the game’s uninspired boss encounters will be the only thing left to forgive. There’s not that many bosses to come up against here (some get recycled too) but they’re pretty lackluster.

You’ll do little more than use the functions you’ve been using throughout the entirety of play to defeat them, and they don’t truly have a wide range of attacks of behavioral patterns. Sure, they can be difficult, but there’s very little sense of satisfaction present when you beat them, simply due to the fact that all you’re doing is gathering enough debris and walloping them one once you’ve amassed enough. Still, with these problems to the side, there’s a lot to like about Giga Wrecker Alt. and it certainly gets more right than wrong.

There’s even a skill-tree system in place to bolster your character as progress is made, and although it’s not very deep, it’s deep enough to get the job done. The more you play and the more you bash, the more orbs you’ll pick up from dead enemies and broken pieces of the environment. Once you’ve collected enough orbs, you’ll earn a point to spend in the tree. It’s as simple as that. The skill-tree mainly encompasses the ability to enhance your health and your regen, as well as housing a few abilities that, although useful, are not mandatory.

That, ladies and gents, is the crux of play. You’ll dive on in to the game’s metroidvania-like map, use your tools to solve a range of physics-based puzzles, defeat the occasional boss, and rinse and repeat. There’s some gateways to be mindful of, specifically the need to access varying panels to unlock towering doors, but this is all rather well struck. The ability to fast travel is present, and there’s a generous checkpoint system in place too, which coincides with the ability to reset a room should you screw up. Believe me, you will…

When all is said and done, Giga Wrecker Alt. offers a competent puzzler that should keep you entertained for a fair few hours, and then some more if you plan on max completion. In regards to the game’s visual and audio design, Giga Wrecker Alt. gets a safe pass. Whilst the game could have sounded better, the visual design is largely stunning and packs quite a nice variation of detail throughout. It helps, of course, that each area of the factory looks distinct and has its own theme, ensuring that, at the very least, visual repetition is kept at bay.

Conclusion

Giga Wrecker Alt. has all the markings of a stellar platform puzzler, but sadly doesn’t quite manage to achieve greatness due to its lackluster boss encounters, its at times frustrating design choices, and its somewhat floaty handling. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a hell of a lot to like about the journey at hand, from its intriguing story through to its several interesting mechanics, but the fun is religiously interrupted by the game’s aforementioned drawbacks.

This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.
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Good
  • Intriguing story to get to grips with.
  • Interesting mechanics throughout.
  • Intelligent puzzles for the most part.
  • Decent audio and visual design.
Bad
  • Poor design choices present.
  • Lackluster boss encounters.
  • Floaty handling.
6.5
Okay
Gameplay - 6
Graphics - 7
Audio - 7
Longevity - 6
Written by
Howdy folks! Now, as of July 23rd, 2019, I no longer operate here at Xbox Tavern. It was one hell of a ride; creating this, building this, and operating it for several years, but, we all hit a proverbial point that encourages us to move on, and that's what I've done; handing the reigns to the very capable Jamie. Want to keep in touch? My Gamertag is Kaloudz Peace! Love to you all, Mark!

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