Giga Wrecker Alt. (PlayStation 4) Review

By Gabriel Jones 26.04.2019

Review for Giga Wrecker Alt. on PlayStation 4

On March 20, 2032, the first 'Killing Machines' were sighted. Indiscriminate in their pursuit of violence and death, they pushed mankind to the brink of extinction. In just three years, very few survivors remained. That wasn't enough for the soulless killers, as they imprisoned and executed anyone they could find. Seemingly all hope was lost. Nobody could ever hope to fight against these ruthless automatons. Nobody, except for one girl, and her name is Reika Rekkeiji. Imprisoned and severely wounded, it seemed that her story might be ending prematurely. Luckily, she's rescued by Doctor Kozuki. However, while her life has been saved, her body isn't the same as it was before. Her left arm was lost when she suffered a near-fatal attack. The slightly deranged Doc replaced the missing limb with a twisted hunk of circuits and machinery. With this new robot arm, Reika just might be able to save the world, or at least destroy a lot of machines. This is Giga Wrecker Alt., a cyborg's story.

Game Freak, when they're not busy with the next gazillion-selling Pokémon title, seem to have an affinity for concept-driven mascot platformers. Looking back, one can recall titles like Pulseman, Drill Dozer, and Tembo the Badass Elephant. These are games focused around problem-solving, typically through a series of character-specific actions. The titular hero of the 1994 Mega Drive classic could use his electric form to cross gaps or climb up narrow passages. The heroine of the 2005 sleeper hit was always finding new and exciting uses for her drill. Tembo usually sticks to crushing adversity into dust, but he can put his trunk to work as a fire hose. The point is that these characters use their talents for more than inflicting pain on bad guys. Sometimes a little puzzle-solving is required.

With that in mind, let's take a look at Game Freak's latest platforming effort, Giga Wrecker Alt. As the story helpfully pointed out, Reika is a cyborg. Although her mechanical arm can easily smash killer robots, it's not as if she can just punch her way through every situation. Over time, she learns how to harness her abilities, creating new methods to help her along. The player's job is to guide her through this insane world, all the while figuring out solutions to increasingly complex problems.

Screenshot for Giga Wrecker Alt. on PlayStation 4

Upon starting out, there's very little that differentiates the cyborg from other platformer heroes. She can run, jump, and throw those aforementioned punches. In short order, she gains her first power. By channelling her nano-machines and performing some other technical mumbo jumbo, she can gather nearby scrap into a giant orb. This hunk of shrapnel can be hurled at baddies, or used to tear through fragile walls. Later on, she can take her orb and form it into cube, which can be used as a stepping stone to reach higher platforms, or as a counterweight for levers. Indeed, a number of puzzles employ physics.

Admittedly, this critic wasn't too hot on the idea of manipulating physics. It was the sort of thing that would get tiring of back in the days of Half-Life 2. Surprisingly, this aspect works quite well. Objects respond to each other in a convincing fashion. In one instance, Reika has to chop down a pillar, and then cross the platform it makes when it falls over. The challenge is that the platform falls onto a bed of sawblades, and she'll have to hurry and cross before it is torn to pieces. This puzzle is nicely done. Everything is arranged so that as long as the heroine moves quickly, she can make it through. The platform crumbling just behind her as she runs across creates a satisfying close-call.

This isn't even close to how complex the puzzles can get. Thankfully, they never reach the point where they become arbitrary, overly-convoluted, or just plain absurd. Some switch-flipping is involved, but there aren't any rooms where a dozen or so have to be flicked several times, before the solution is reached. Also, in case anything goes wrong, nearby portals allow Reika to go back in time, and retry the puzzle. If the player ever feels like they're truly stuck, they can call upon the assistance of Dolma. This friendly robot will give hints as to what to do next. Keep in mind that he isn't available all of the time. This tends to be the case when dealing with optional puzzles. Oh and one last thing, not every problem has one solution. They're open-ended enough that if one spends a little time experimenting, they might find an alternate method for solving them - a really cool aspect.

Screenshot for Giga Wrecker Alt. on PlayStation 4

All progress is meaningful, and there are many optional areas where the heroine can earn extra skill points. Points can be spent at the skill-tree to obtain benefits, such as more health and enhanced abilities. The skill-tree grows in size as more arm-transformations are unlocked, so there's always an incentive to explore. It's also possible to uncover customization items, which change the looks of Reika's cyborg abilities. A sword made of voxels doesn't produce a deadlier cut, but some people just like looking at voxels. In any case, pick-ups and locked-doors will be marked on the map, after they're found. This lets the player know if they've explored an area, or if they need to come back.

In most cases, adversaries in Giga Wrecker Alt. are a part of the puzzle. Think of them as guidelines. The smallest enemies are fodder designed to offer metal for the problem ahead. Huge baddies can only be taken out by objects larger than them. Sometimes it's just a matter of accumulating a ton of scrap to create a huge orb. Crushing a bot from above or cutting it with a sawblade is also a viable option. In almost every case, all of the tools Reika needs are in the immediate area. It's just a matter of figuring out what goes where. Checkpoints are very frequent, so deaths aren't too punishing. Unfortunately, the cyborg's jumping controls are a bit finicky, so expect to unintentionally fall in spike beds and bottom-less pits, at least until you get the hang of them.

As mentioned earlier, skill-points can be spent to increase maximum health. While players might opt to avoid this feature in the pursuit of a greater challenge, it's generally not a good idea. When dealing with the bosses, Reika will need all of the help she can get. This game runs at 30 frames per second. At first this isn't a huge concern. After all, the bulk of one's time will be spent with puzzles, which don't usually require twitch reflexes. That all changes once the first boss is encountered.

Screenshot for Giga Wrecker Alt. on PlayStation 4

As one would expect, each boss has a pattern. They perform a series of moves that are designed to defeat their adversity, while at the same time creating opportunities for the adversity to defeat them. It's an interesting paradox, to be sure. Anyway, in order to beat the major foes of this game, the player most counterattack them at certain moments, which allows for Reika to gather the leftover scrap and land a damaging blow. This part of the game is very traditional, especially since a number of bosses can be taken down in three direct hits.

Unfortunately, due to the frame-rate, the window for counter-attacking is smaller than it should be. The bosses also require good reaction times. It's on the player to figure out exactly what they're doing and knock them out of it, in the span of just a few seconds. Again, the frame-rate produces a sort of handicap that only affects the person holding the controller. Something that takes three seconds to occur feels like it only takes one and a half, ensuring that you'll have to work harder in order to keep up. Conversely, the bosses act almost as if they're in a 60fps version of the game. On the bright side, as annoying as these encounters can get, they don't usually take very long. First-timers should definitely stick with normal difficulty though, just to cut down on potential headaches.

Previously, Giga Wrecker was a PC-only game. The console-exclusive 'Alt.' edition adds the aforementioned robo-helper Dolma. Fans of the storyline will appreciate the revamped translation. The campaign has also received about 20 additional puzzle stages. There's also an Iron-man mode, which quintuples the amount of damage enemies do. Imagine trying to beat a boss without taking a single hit, and then be thankful that this mode is an unlockable. The new stages are pretty neat, but it's unfortunate that the level editor remains a PC-exclusive feature. Still, the campaign is fairly lengthy. It'll take quite some time to complete every puzzle and gather all of the items.

Screenshot for Giga Wrecker Alt. on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

As with their previous non-Pokémon efforts, Game Freak's Giga Wrecker Alt. shows that the developer has a knack for character-driven platformers. Utilizing an array of tools and physics to progress is satisfying. It's especially fun to discover solutions that weren't intended by the developers. Creativity goes a long way in this adventure. However, while the PS4 version adds a few extras over its PC counterpart, the halved frame-rate is really disappointing. Some sections, particularly the boss battles, are made harder than they should be because of this. The level-creator going MIA is unfortunate, as well. If you're willing to look past these issues, then definitely give this a look.

Developer

Game Freak

Publisher

Rising Star Games

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date 30.04.2019   North America release date 30.04.2019   Japan release date TBA   Australian release date 30.04.2019   

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