We love a good left field game, and you couldn’t get more of a blindside than this. You know GAME FREAK, those people partly behind one of the most popular franchises of all time, you know the one … well, they have GIGA WRECKER ALT. now, a new game with cyborgs, robots and puzzles.
The game opens with a thoroughly optimistic cutscene detailing the robotic invasion of Earth, the subsequent enslavement of humanity, and all kinds of positive events. We then join our understandably unhappy protagonist, Reika, in a robot prison, having been taken prisoner by the mechanical menaces after the deaths of her family.
If this isn’t a bad enough set of circumstances, Reika then has what could easily be called a pretty bad day, as a mysterious girl breaks into the prison, tries to kill her to save humanity, and leaves her for dead as she is then captured herself. Oh, and Reika is then experimented on, by essentially “some guy” and changed into a cyborg too.
This isn’t without a price though, as the “scientist” in question demands that in return for her continuing to be alive, and to be of use with the great power she has now acquired, she must now help him in researching the robots and mapping out the facility in which they are both trapped. Once she has done this for him, she’s free to go.
You complete this task for him by exploring the various rooms of the sprawling robotic facility, dispatching various robotic guards of increasing difficulty and solving the physics-based puzzles within that strangely make up the entire building. We can only assume that apparently George Trevor designed more than creepy mansions in his time.
This is where Reika’s new found cyborg powers come into play. She can manipulate the nanomachines in the facility to control elements of the environment to her benefit. As these are in the walls as well as the robots themselves, you won’t be running out of this resource. How you use this will, of course, depend on the circumstances you need it in.
It mostly manifests itself in balling together mechanical scraps to use as a projectile against enemies or to break walls down. But, once you acquire the ability to do so, you can transform this ball of scrap into other objects such as swords to attack and slice through robots and scenery, or blocks to stand on to reach higher platforms and to weigh down objects.
That isn’t all, this mechanic bleeds out into everything the game does, with some impressively clever uses to be found throughout the various rooms. Also, the boss encounters have to be worked out like a puzzle themselves, using weapons and environment objects against them. If you do get stuck, you can turn to Dölma, your robot companion, for assistance.
When you access certain terminals in the rooms, Dölma will give you with physical direction, or a weird vague picture set, on how to solve that particular room. If you literally trap yourself, you can also activate pink panels on the ground that reset the room entirely, so nothing is ever irreversible. The end result of this is a game that constantly has you progressing.
This might all sound straightforward, the game isn’t as linear as this all sounds, having you backtracking and exploring previous and new areas to find keys and to activate panels to progress. As you progress all of the gates, blockages and Beacons (the in-game fast travel points) are marked on the detailed yet simple map for later reference.
All of this is helped by the fact that this title is incredibly striking to look at, with crisp and beautiful anime art used in the story and cutscene moments being matched with the colourful, blocky (sorry) in-game action. It looks incredibly polished, and it’s a shame that the sound just isn’t quite as good as the visuals, with slightly repetitive sound effects and lacklustre music.
GIGA WRECKER ALT. is undeniably an interesting and polished experience. The sheer quality throughout is really evident across the visuals, puzzle design and general gameplay. Some of the puzzles are genuinely challenging, with complex, multi-tiered solutions. Yet, they have copious aid if the player needs it, so no part of the game feels frustrating.
The level of quality that most would expect from GAME FREAK is here in spades, and it’s a shame really that many will likely overlook this puzzle platforming gem. If head-scratching, physics-based platforming nonsense is your thing, we cannot recommend this more.
GIGA WRECKER ALT. is out now for Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch and XBox One.
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