Released back in 2013, the original Guacamelee! was a fun adventure game where a farmer was bestowed with the powers of a luchador to save the love of his life. The game was filled with tricky traversal, sarcastic humour and fun combat. Its 2018 and we finally have a sequel conveniently titled Guacamelee! 2. Is it a worthy successor?
It’s been a few years since our protagonist, Juan, saved the love of his life and like every hero, has finally settled down, has kids and is living the dream life. But now, the Mexiverse is in trouble! Random Tetris blocks shaped portals hover over the land and the sacred Guacamelee is about to get stolen! It is up to Juan to find the mask, regain the powers of the luchador and save the day. The plot for the game is as you’d expect, filled with cheesy humour, pop culture references and of course goat humour. There is a Harry Potter reference with a chicken ‘that must not be named’ that brought a smile to my face but for some reason I feel the humour in the first game was a lot more tongue-and-cheek and made me laugh out more than the sequel. Apart from that the plot is what you’d expect – a hero’s journey to save the day from a villain who just wants to eat some sacred Guacamelee, even if it means the end of the Mexiverse.
The parallel timeline where the events of the second game takes place is an interesting. In the new world, Juan wasn’t victorious and some of the antagonists from the first game play an interesting role in Guacamelee! 2. If you are one that hasn’t played the first game, then worry not. The story will still make sense to you as you do have a brief recap. In the opening of the game, you can also talk to people who will have throwbacks to the first game which will help fill some blanks.
If you have played the original Guacamelee!, then you will feel right at home with Guacamelee! 2. A lot of the traversal and special moves are the same. Like its predecessor, the game is a metroidvania style side scroller. As you progress through the game, you will unlock powers which will help you get to places you otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach. You have the ability to parry through obstacles, have the standard slew of power-ups that work for traversal as well as combat. From the uppercut to dash, double jump and head bump along with the ability to fly a short distance, there is a nice mix of all the old moves with some new ones thrown into the mix.
If you’ve played the first Guacamelee!, you know that you turn into an action pecked chicken as well in the game. If this is the first time you are playing Guacamelee!, then know that the segments where you play as a chicken are a lot of fun. The gameplay of the chicken has greatly been expanded in the sequel. Not only does the chicken have some challenging platforming with its newfound abilities, but there are dedicated combat sequences for the chicken adding some diversity to the gameplay.
All-in-all, it is easy to say that little has changed in the gameplay of Guacamelee when you look at the game overall, but the new abilities and level design does breathe fresh life into a game with a solid foundation. Sections in the last third of the game combine all the tricks that you have learned to challenge you with platforming as well as combat. There are times when I thought I was going to rip through my controller to get through a section that involved some serious timing with combos.
If there is one department where the game truly excels, it is with perfect controller mapping. When we played Cuphead, we had to remap some of the controls to suit our style but the controls layout in Guacamelee! 2 are spot on.
For some, the change in gameplay may not be enough to justify a sequel but if you are one that enjoys metroidvania style action games, then you will enjoy this experience.
When it comes to the graphics of the game, you will definitely notice the oomph in visuals when playing on 4K HDR display. For the most part we played the game on a 1080p TV. The visuals of the game are colourful, clean, vibrant and diverse enough to distinguish between the world of the living and the dead. Each environment tries to have a signature colour theme, but it blends into the overall theme of the game which can be a bummer for some.
A nice touch to the visuals, and this will help with multiplayer, is that a player 1 and player 2 icon will pop up where your character is located when the action gets too hot on the screen. This is a subtle but really nice touch as it helps you identify your position on screen in the midst of 15 enemies.
Visually the game is no Uncharted and that’s ok as it isn’t meant to be. Its beauty lies in its simplicity and that’s what we love. From the fluid combat animations to enemy design, the game looks very good. A lot of the enemies are recycled from its predecessor with some new thrown into the mix. The new enemies do challenge your reflexes with the older ones bringing some new tricks up their sleeves.
The only department where the game falls short for me is with sound. If you have played Cuphead or Ori and the Blind Forest, you know that the soundtrack of both the games is in perfect tune with the visual and narrative experience. Cuphead’s soundtrack feels like Sh Boom by The Chords, but on steroids whereas Ori and the Blind Forest has a soundtrack that can make you cry. I could go through Guacamelee! 2 on mute and it wouldn’t make much of a difference. The soundtrack sounds the same as we saw on the first game , leaving a lot to be desired. Trumpets can be identified as the signature instrument in the music and does give the game a Mexican muchacho (mischievous) feel.
Sound effects on the other hand are spot on which was the case with Guacamelee. All the swish and pops of traversing the environment combined with the thuds and slams of a luchador taking on his foes sound convincing.
Verdict: Guacamelee! 2
If you are looking for a metroidvania style game on a console or PC today, then you are spoiled for choice. Having said that, Guacamelee! 2 delivers an action-packed game that will test your reflexes with traversal and combat. The story of the game has enough to make you chuckle. If there is one qualm I have, it is that the sound design could have been better. If you are a fan of the first game or looking for a challenging metroidvania, then for the price, you can definitely consider Guacamelee! 2. It will take you under 10 hours to beat the game. It is also a fun game to fire up in multiplayer when you have a few friends over.
|Platform: PS4 Pro
Developer: DrinkBox Studios
Publisher: DrinkBox Studios
Platforms: PS4 Pro, PC
Price:PlayStation 4 (Rs 1,664 or Rs 1331 for PS Plus Subscribers)
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Sameer "Psycho Mantis" Mitha
I live for gaming and technology is my muse. When I am not busy playing with gadgets or video games I delve into the world of fantasy novels.