Review: Guacamelee! 2 (Computer)
- Release Date (NA): August 21, 2018
- Release Date (EU): August 21, 2018
- Publisher: DrinkBox Studios
- Developer: DrinkBox Studios
- Genres: Action Platformer
- ESRB Rating: Everyone 10 and up
- PEGI Rating: Twelve years and older
- Also For: PlayStation 4
Single playerLocal MultiplayerOnline MultiplayerCo-operative
The Hero We Need Right Now
After a short recap of the first opus, Guacamelee! 2 sees the legendary luchador, Juan Aguacate, seven years after triumphing over Calaca. Juan is now leading a quiet, happily married life with his wife and two kids when one day he is visited by an old friend, Uay Chavo. The latter warns him of a growing force of evil that menaces... the very fabric of time and space itself! Of course, Juan’s help is much needed to prevent the apocalypse and he must bring back his fabled Masked luchador self for this purpose.
To tackle his new challenge, Juan will travel across Mexico, across different Mexicos actually which are part of the Mexiverse and even to Hell and back! Along the way, he will come across old friends, befriend new people, all while running, jumping and even flying while facing various enemy types and bosses across vibrant platforming levels bathed in electro-Mexican soundtracks.
Memes, powerups and the Chicken Illuminati
I didn’t play the first Guacamelee! title but I did hear good things about it, and given that I reviewed and really liked DrinkBox Studios previous game, Severed, I happily jumped into Guacamelee! 2 to see what it had to offer.
Unlike the darker tones of Severed, Guacamelee! 2 is full of jokes, inside-jokes, fourth wall breaking and pop-culture references despite a looming apocalypse as its premise. The memes and references aren’t overdone but blend in the game and are oftentimes subtle (there’re a few things titles like Crossing Souls which tried to replicate a similar effect could learn here). If you pay close attention, you’ll see “Mexicanized” posters of Black Panther, God of War and Metal Gear. There’s even a Street Fighter Bonus Stage-inspired bit, where filled with some punching and kicking urge, Juan can demolish an innocent bystander’s new car to collect coins (poor bystander but fun addition).
For anime fans out there: there's even an achievement labeled as "Juan Punch Man" ;)
Speaking of coins, you can use those to upgrade Juan’s skills in a Skill Tree fashion. More of his abilities can be strengthened like his life bar and stamina by exploring and unlocking chests with pieces of hearts or masks that will buff up those attributes respectively.
Since we are talking about skills, Juan is once again able to make use of the Pollo Power in this sequel to turn into a chicken! More than just a skill to get through tight passages, this feature has been revamped to be of actual importance in this title like to take on some color-coded battle sequences and explore some chicken-only places. One of my favorite sequences are the rare instances where you come across a special feather in pollo form which turns you into a gigantic quasi-unbeatable chicken that will stomp, peck and headbutt its way through the waves of enemies barging its way. Chicken-Juan can also learn and upgrade his abilities with the help of the Chicken Illuminati members (just don’t let them know I made mention of their society...).
As over the top as Guacamelee! 2 comes off at times, it just adds to the fun of this fast paced platformer. You can even double, triple or quadruple the fun by teaming with up to four amigos in local co-op and help save the Mexiverse. However, there is no online co-op option which might be a disappointment for those looking forward to this feature.
I mentioned about the vibrant nature of the levels before and this does not pertain solely to the aesthetics.The gameplay itself is one fuelled by adrenaline and will have platforming sessions that progressively innovate in complexity and challenge, making use of the Juan's various abilities. However it might take a few tries and dexterity before besting a new challenge but the difficulty level feels balanced overall. Additionally the time spent in some "dungeons" make several areas feel more of the same with some rare instances of truly innovative setting like a clear room with invisible obstacles.
Guacamelee! 2 - Launch Trailer
+ Balanced challenges
+ Fun fast-paced action
+ Up to 4 player co-op
- Getting a grasp of the mechanics and combos can feel like a chore at the beginning
- No online co-op
- Several areas feel more of the same
The visuals are similar to the prequel and is accompanied by some mood-setting Mexican soundtracks. The subtle and not-so-subtle pop-culture references are also masterfully blended to fit in the universe (or Mexiverse for that matter).
Guacamelee! 2 features fluid and easy controls that can be readily used as combos for the highest lucha points.
Clocking in at about 7-8 hours, Guacamelee! 2 might seem short but some challenges and boss fights will need some restarts before being mastered. Other than that there are hidden areas to discover and explore but not much to write home about.
out of 10
(not an average)
A balanced title offering some proper fast-paced fun imbued in good humor, recommended for those who are looking for a fun game without too much time commitment!