Guacamelee! 2, from developer DrinkBox Studios, oozes Mexican culture. It’s in the game’s towns, residents, enemies, music, and luchadores. The game is also a Metroidvania, with many areas to explore and platform around, as well as powerups to find. Whether forging ahead through the game’s various locales or backtracking to find every last item, there is a celebration of both Latino folklore and the genres of platforming/beat-em-ups felt throughout.
Save the Mexiverse
Guacamelee! 2 starts off with the final battle of the first game. It’s very reminiscent of Symphony of the Night‘s intro (in fact, that game is referenced in the boss battle). As Juan Aguacate, you relive your triumph over the evil Calaca, rescue El Presidente’s Daughter, and flash forward seven years.
Now, Juan is retired and married with kids. However, dark lines soon appear in the sky and Juan is called upon to deal with an inter-dimensional crisis. A luchador named Salvador is looking for the sacred guacamole, and he’s willing to tear every known dimension apart in order to do so. It’s up to the last remaining dimensional Juan to save all the realities, including his own.
Lucha your way around
Making your way across the Darkest Timeline, you’ll slowly relearn Juan’s luchador abilities from the previous title, as well as some new ones. Juan is a regular Swiss Army knife of a wrestler: by the end of the journey, he can uppercut, frog splash, headbutt, forward punch, dodge, double jump, soar like an eagle, and travel between the world of the living and the dead instantaneously.
Juan will also learn to transform into a chicken, who has his own moves and abilities. Throughout the game, Juan will meet a set of trainers who help him boost his moves through challenges and training. These characters will really power Juan up, making him into a one-man wrestling killing machine.
Fortresses of pain
Juan’s main objective is to travel to each of the Darkest Timeline’s fortresses and defeat Salvador’s henchmen, ultimately leading up to a match with the head honcho himself. These areas test Juan’s skills through an awesome mix of platforming and brawling. As you advance and become more powerful, these locations become more difficult.
It isn’t long before Juan has to jump, fly, and dimension swap his way through a single room. Of course, like the previous entry, there are special locales you can uncover that contain pieces of a hidden item that will grant you an ultimate move and special ending. These deathtraps will test your muscle memory and hand-eye coordination unlike any other game you’ve played before. Guacamelee! 2 doesn’t mess around.
Amigos and dificil mode
Guacamelee! 2 can be a co-op adventure if you so choose. Gamers can play with up to four characters, some of whom have different costumes you can unlock in the game (you can also choose these protagonists in single player if you want Juan to take a backseat). The multiplayer mode can be a blast with friends, though navigating the brutal platforming sections as one cohesive unit is a difficult feat.
Thankfully, players can wander around as bubbles if they die, leaving the most skilled individual to conquer an area before they are resurrected. Guacamelee! 2 also contains a Hard Mode once the Normal Mode is completed. This is quite a step up from the relatively breezy default difficulty, and moves and health do not carry over. It’s quite a challenge to take on.
An all-around joy
More than anything, Guacamelee! 2 is just a damn fun game to play. It controls beautifully once you learn the various buttons and their respective moves. Massacring enemies is a delight: you’ll suplex, kick, and body slam creatures into each other or deadly hazards with a smile on your face, as both a chicken and a man. The humor is off the charts: there are references to so many games and memes that you’ll laugh out loud on more than one occasion, and be genuinely shocked to see Guacamelee! 2 turn into a different genre before your very eyes.
Completionists and fans of backtracking will experience bliss as they track down every last health and special move upgrades, as well as fill out every last pixel on their map. Lastly, the celebration of Mexican traditions and customs is incredible: it’s in the game’s art style, mariachi music, character design. It permeates throughout the entire experience.
Guacamelee! 2 is a must play for fans of luchadores, Mexico, platformers, beat-em-ups…hell, just a well-designed title, in general. It’s fluid, fun, gorgeous, and wonderfully paced. Though the game is a little bit easy on the first run; besides the frustrating challenge rooms that you will die MANY times attempting; it’s still an amazing world to explore. Hell, you can suplex a skeleton as a bright blue chicken while clucking aggressively. If that doesn’t do it for you, then nothing ever will.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.
A tribute to Mexico and Metroidvanias
Gameplay - 10/10
Difficulty - 7/10
Design - 10/10
Guacamelee! 2 is as close to perfection as you can get. It melds together combat and platforming in a truly unique way that makes it stand out among other titles of its ilk. With a little bit more challenge, it would have been perfect, but as it stands, Guacamelee! 2 is a fascinating adventure that is well worth your time.