When I saw that Game Freak was making a game and it wasn’t Pokémon I could hardly hold my excitement. It’s easy to forget that the developers do make other games outside one of gaming’s most iconic series, so to say I was ready for Giga Wrecker Alt to blow me away would be an understatement.
Giga Wrecker first landed on PC two years ago. Its port to consoles as Giga Wrecker Alt has given humble console players like me the chance to finally check this gem out. But it isn’t quite the smooth treat I had hoped for.
At its core Giga Wrecker Alt is a 2D Metroidvania puzzle game, and for the most part it does a good job of that. Your character’s main ability is being able to pick up metal scraps into a hovering ball which she can use to smash enemies and other objects. The more objects you smash, the bigger your ball gets and the easier it is to smash enemies or use the weight to manipulate puzzles.
The level design and puzzles themselves are clever fun. They balance being hard enough to take a few moments or a few experiments to beat, but rarely had me slamming my head against a wall trying to figure it out. The biggest frustration with puzzles isn’t the puzzles but the sketchy controls.
Moving your character around can be annoying at best, and hugely frustrating at worst. Movement is ever so slightly off. There were times I would try to drop down a step, but the character would float straight over and fall down a hole putting me back at a checkpoint. Early on I had one that I did a dozen times before I decided to jump further back as I couldn’t rely on the physics to nail edging slightly over the edge to drop me down.
Frustrations like this and how you break objects to beat puzzles being massively inconsistent is a theme throughout the game. It was common to see how to beat a puzzle, and I’d have to retry the puzzles regularly for silly reasons that felt out of my control. Fortunately, there is a gem that you can walk over to reset a puzzle. Unfortunately, a lot of puzzles were failed by me falling to my death which would go way too far back to a checkpoint.
The worst part of this was when there was dialogue after a checkpoint but before the puzzle. This meant that you must go through that same dialogue repetitively until you got to the next checkpoint. It sucks that the game isn’t more generous with these checkpoints because the tedious repetitiveness is ultimately what kept me from beating the game that without this frustration, I would have enjoyed it a lot more.
The art style is bright and colourful, with an anime aesthetic that pops. The story itself is weird as all hell thanks to the nice blend of anime tropes. The protagonist Reika wakes up in a pile of rubble and is almost killed by someone saying that it was required for the greater good. Reika survives and spends the game unfolding the plot around her cyborg ways. Unfortunately, I never got to see how the story ended because after hours of getting annoyed at the physics, I never saw the end of her journey.
Ultimately Giga Wrecker Alt is a series of fantastic ideas, with a fantastic look that is let down by its frustrating physics. If you can put up with that or adjust to it then there is something special here for you. Unfortunately for me I couldn’t adjust.