- Game: Guacamelee! 2
- Consoles: PS4 (reviewed), PC
- Publisher: DrinkBox Studios
- Developer: DrinkBox Studios
A Guacamelee! 2 review code was provided by the publisher.
There’s definitely no shortage of Metroidvania-like games to play nowadays. Modern indie classics such as Dust: An Elysian Tale, Axiom Verge, Ori and The Blind Forest, and more have mastered the sub-genre’s formula and harkened back to the classics of a bygone era. Another action platformer that ranks highly among such well-regarded hits is DrinkBox Studios’ ode to Mexican culture, Guacamelee!
This side-scrolling romp remains enjoyable and memorable to this very day thanks to its eye popping art style, tough but fair combat & platforming sequences, and wild Lucha Libre flair. Everything about the first entry was great, but everyone who played it figured it could get even better. Thankfully, that statement has been proven true. Guacamelee 2! shows that DrinkBox Studios knows how to polish a gem and make it even more refined than ever before.
Guacamelee 2! brings the first game’s protagonist (who’s noticeably put on some weight since saving the world) out of retirement and gives him a new threat to conquer. This sequel’s plot is a clever interpretation of the original game’s two endings – a fresh-out-of-retirement Juan Aguacate confronts the dangers of “The Mexiverse,” a universe that features timelines based on the good and bad outcome of his original quest. DrinkBox Studios made sure to up the ante when it comes to an abundance of humor, Easter Egg’s, and nods to the confusing multiverses of comic book fandom. The Darkest Timeline may be where the majority of your adventure takes place, but you’ll be enamored with the many different timelines you’ll be implored to explore. Guacamelee 2! finds a way to make its universe hopping tale funny and engaging right up until the very end thanks to clever writing and hilarious personalities.
In the gameplay department, Guacamelee 2! retains everything that made its predecessor so engaging. Juan still employs the use of melee combos, flashy special moves, and brutal slams against demonic entities. Besides the bombastic combat sequences and boss fights, you’ll also have to complete challenging platforming sequences. Thankfully, the tight and responsive controls never impede your progress. Conquering a dimension warping puzzle, jumping through spiky vines, and claiming a valuable reward at the end of it all still feels gratifying. The difficulty of each battle and platforming brain teaser steadily increases, which helps you get a grasp of everything the game has to offer as you near its conclusion.
While Guacamelee 2! brings back all the elements that worked in the first game, it also makes some welcome changes to the upgrade system and the chicken (POLLO!) transformation. Instead of being forced to spend your currency on new costumes, now you can just earn them from special chests. Now all your dinero mainly goes towards improving your arsenal and increasing the health & stamina of your luchador. This major quality of life change make a huge difference in how you’ll approach your spending habits. Running into special trainers opens up new upgrade paths that also give you extra goals to complete. Guacamelee 2! does an awesome job of pushing you to do more and earn as much currency as you possibly can – awards are plentiful and previously inaccessible areas will push you to do even more exploring during an hours-long session.
Morphing into a lucha chicken is even more of a blast now a bigger emphasis has been placed on its implementation. Your pollo abilities are now put to the test in special dungeons, you can vanquish your skeletal foes while in chicken form, and you have a few special moves specifically catered to your chicken’s repertoire. It’s cool to see DrinkBox Studios do a better job of making this special transformation feel meaningful and more worthwhile – running around as a chicken and taking down a lethal boss can not only be done, it’s encouraged. Guacamelee 2!’s “Pollovania” concept gets an extra boost in fun factor thanks to an even larger suite of abilities and a new suite of abilities for your wrestling chicken’s moveset.
One of the bigger additions to the original Guacamelee! was the option to tackle the entire game in co-op. Guacamelee 2! gets a lot grander with that multiplayer feature by giving players the option to beat the game with a 4-player option. While this feature may sound awesome in theory, it leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to actual execution. Having four different luchadores on screen presents some hilarious chaotic situations during the game’s platforming segments, however.
While it may be fun to watch everyone fall into death pits and screw up tricky jumps, it’s the type of gimmick that won’t hold you during the entirety of the game. Saving the world solo just feels a whole hell of a lot better than accidentally griefing your friends during the much harder portions of the campaign. Guacamelee 2! is a game that truly thrives on one player exploring every nook and cranny it has to offer. Trying to get through it all via couch co-op may seem cute at first, but it quickly turns into a headache not worth experiencing multiple times.
Guacamelee! 2 Takeways
DrinkBox Studios has done it again. Guacamelee 2! proves that the success of the first game was no fluke – everything that worked before returns in a sequel that’s bigger and bolder than other titles in its sub-genre. The animated visuals maintain their flashy nature due to their focus on representing the best in Mexican culture. There’s an abundance of humorous moments strewn throughout that poke fun at all parts of pop culture and your newfound world saving mission. The elements that make up Metroidvania games is fully represented and done in an even more masterful way.
The 4-player co-op is a mere sidenote that’s only good for a quick giggle with your local buddies. Getting the most enjoyment out of Guacamelee 2! should be done by your lonesome. Exploring every timeline, upgrading every move, learning new combos, completing side missions, conquering platforming sequences etc. feels even more incredible when you do it all by yourself. There’s plenty to do and see in the ever expansive Mexiverse. Guacamelee 2! helps the series graduate from an upper mid-card luchador to a main event level strongman that ultimately shines.
Our Guacamelee! 2 Review Score: 9 out of 10