Genre: Action, Adventure, Indie
Developer: DrinkBox Studios
Publisher: DrinkBox Studios
Release Date: Aug 22, 2018
Edited by KnightAvenger
Guacamelee! was a beloved darling in the world of indies. First released in 2013, the metroidvania action-platformer has generally been well-received by fans and critics alike, with a 94% positive rating from Steam reviewers for the original Gold Edition (2.4k reviews) and the slightly beefier Super Turbo Championship Edition (1.1k reviews).
I’m not entirely sure how many people expected a sequel to pop up, but that’s what Canada-based developers DrinkBox Studios have done and released a sequel that is much larger than the original in various ways. As always, I’m hugely thankful to TDM for the opportunity to check out this game, and I had a blast. Here’s why.
Minor story spoilers, including a major spoiler about the end of the first Guacamelee!, here.
Guacamelee! 2 assumes that the best ending was achieved in the first Guacamelee! and opens up with a rather abridged and downscaled form of the final boss fight in the first game. Your hero, Juan Aguacate, became a luchador through the events of the first game, all in the process of saving his love interest, who we know as El Presidente’s Daughter. Spoiler: she miraculously lives and settles down with Juan to have a family. Unfortunately, things don’t stay peaceful for long, and the, uh, Mexiverse is in danger. Long story short, Juan regains the Luchador mask and sets out on his quest to save the world. Bit outlandish, I know.
Spoilers end here.
Comically, the achievement you get from beating that first boss fight is called “I Remember That Being Harder,” and this is a testament to the Guacamelee! series’ penchant for flippant humor and breaking the fourth wall. There are dozens of puns and hilarious jokes throughout the game; too numerous to list here, but they certainly had me in stitches throughout.
For those that aren’t well-versed with the Guacamelee! series, it focuses on brawler-style combat and exploration. Enemies are defeated via the use of melee combat and combos of button presses. Of course, being a sequel, you’ll definitely settle into the game mechanics easier if you’ve played the first game, but it’s not a requirement; the game gradually teaches you along the way how to use your abilities, much the same way it did in the first game. An easy-to-access world map will always show you just where you are at any given point of time.
As for the exploration segment, like any typical Metroidvania, areas are visible from the start but are gated off by special ability checks (which you can get by, again, smashing Choozo statues). The second Guacamelee! is way larger than the first, both in terms of scope and the world map. I feel that the sequel has a much larger focus on the precision platforming, combined with all the skills you’ll unlock. What is seemingly gone from the sequel are all the sidequests; that’s a good thing, because, in the first game, I found them too distracting from the main storyline. In their place, though, is a revamped skill section, where you find trainers across the game, then fulfill certain conditions and pay gold to unlock new skills/boosts (separate from the Choozo statue special abilities). It, at least, feels slightly more plausible compared to the way they executed it in the first game (which, if I remember correctly, was just spending gold at checkpoints in a rather haphazard fashion).
Once again, the game features boss battles. Although more challenging in the long run, I do prefer bosses that vary up their attacks accordingly — it makes things feel fresh without being repetitive. Thankfully, this design ethos is observed here in the sequel. There’s even a turn-based RPG boss battle, funnily enough; a welcome and humorous change of pace!
Like the first game, the audiovisual design is amazing. The graphics and the choice of color palette are great; the chickens are the best, not gonna lie. The music tracks are great, and, thankfully, because the game doesn’t auto-mute when I tab out, I could reach a certain region and then alt-tab out if I want to just listen to it as background music. (A simpler solution: the soundtrack is also available for purchase.) It’s not entirely perfect, though. Each area has a sole music track dedicated to it, and, if the area is rather large or requires serious effort to navigate, the repetition can really set in. (Wait a minute, did I just plagiarize my own Iconoclasts review?)
You can only really save (automatically) at checkpoints (autosave altars), but they are plentiful, making this game rather forgiving. While I was unable to test it out, the local co-op mode from the first Guacamelee! returns, only expanded even more, as it supports up to four players now. Great for if you have actual real-life friends over regularly. Unfortunately, there’s (currently?) no workshop support for this game, so no custom character skins at this point in time.
- More of the same of what made the first Guacamelee! so great
- Continuously hilarious
- Polished feel; charming audiovisual design
- Local multiplayer mode
- Intricate precision platforming and puzzles
- Forgiving number of checkpoints
- Fun and challenging boss battles
Your mileage may vary:
- You don’t necessarily need to have played the first game, but it’d help a bit
- No workshop support (yet?)
- Music loops can get repetitive the longer you stay in a zone
K3W3L gives Guacamelee! 2 a Drastik Measure of 9.5 out of 10 (95).
Top-notch. A welcome sequel to the first game. If you enjoyed the first game, you’ll definitely desire more of the same; heck, even if you haven’t played the first but you’re a metroidvania fan, you’ll love this, too. Worth the $19.99 (USD) asking price on Steam.