Drinkbox Studios is a renown indie developer that brought us indie darlings like the touchscreen slasher Severed and the zany platformer Mutant Blobs Attack. However, it was the original Gaucamelee! that really put the studio on the map. Gamers everywhere fell in love with its blend of wrestling-based melee, precise platforming, and wacky humor. If you loved the original Guacamelee! then you’re in luck. The long-awaited sequel, Guacamelee! 2, offers more of what you love and simultaneously goes above and beyond all expectations.
(Disclaimer: review code provided by PopAgenda for review purposes)
Before I jump into the gameplay specifics, I can’t go without mentioning the game’s fantastic presentation. While it is aesthetically very similar to the original, I can’t really complain. Guacamelee! 2 is bursting with charm and personality. The game’s Mexican-fiesta setting constantly impresses and changes in style. There are two separate realms that you and switch back and forth between, both equally as pleasing to look at.
Much like the original Guacamelee, the sequel is written fantastically. I’m constantly finding myself smiling and chuckling throughout my journey. There are several callbacks to the original game and even some nods to other game franchises. As silly as it may sound for a game like this, I recommend going in without watching tons of gameplay beforehand, for spoiler reasons.
My one gripe with Guacamelee! 2 so far is the fact that all your character’s progress you made in the previous game gets reset. And you spend a large portion of the game collecting all the abilities unlocked in the last game. However, it does make sense that Drinkbox did this in Guacamelee! 2, because of how the puzzle sequences fall into place. If you had the same abilities at the beginning of the game you would miss a lot of fun and challenging puzzles early Guacamelee! 2 where you have a limited supply of moves at your disposal. So the progression system works, it was just kind of a bummer seeing a lot of the same moves. However, Guacamelee! 2 does have a few new tricks up its sleeve.
Early on the game introduces a slingshot mechanic that lets you catapult Juan into the air. Your trajectory is based on where you are located when you press triangle. It’s a neat new mechanic that calls for a lot of fun puzzles. This isn’t the only new feature, Guacamelee! 2 puts a lot more emphasis on chicken gameplay. Yes, you read that correctly. Not only is Juan’s human form given a new skill tree and abilities, but even his chicken form can learn awesome fighting and traversal moves along the way. Chicken Juan plays just as important of a role in Guacamelee! 2 as normal Juan. You’ll constantly be switching back and forth from the two in order to fend off against specific enemies and make your way into certain areas. I thought this was a nice change from the first game, where the chicken was basically only used for squeezing into small sections of the map.
One thing that I didn’t expect when jumping into this sequel was how unrelentingly difficult it would be. And no, I’m not talking about the main storyline and objectives, but rather the optional platforming sections that earn you extra money or upgrades for Juan. These sections were a joy to complete and I could not walk about until I finally figured out the puzzle. Notice how I said puzzle; that’s because Guacamelee! 2‘s platforming is more than simply jumping. You have to use certain attacks on certain enemies, specific jumps at the precise time, and constantly swap between realities in order to succeed. All of that and more is involved, but the crux of it all is the reality swapping aspect. It seriously ups the ante and is a huge step above the first Guacamelee!.
Lastly, Guacamelee! 2 introduces four-player local co-op. While I was only able to try out two players, it is a fun time to be had with friends, and adds even more chaos to the combat of Guacamelee!. I look forward to playing more with my wife and collecting all the extra treasure chests on the map.
Overall, Guacamelee! 2 feels like a beefed up version of the original game. And I don’t mean that in a derogatory sense, as the original Guacamelee! is a masterclass of game design. This sequel offers rock-solid platforming, funny dialogue, and addicting-as-ever Metroidvania mechanics. It’s challenging, rewarding and full of spunk. I recommend it as a must play for anyone who likes platformers, co-op titles, and of course, Metroidvania games.
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