Guacamelee 2 Review
Reviewed on Sony PlayStation 4
Making a sequel is a tricky business; too similar and it'll be accused of being samey, too different and you lose what made the first game great. Developers somehow have to make something that is the same as the first game, but with enough changes to make it feel like it isn't just overpriced DLC. Well DrinkBox Studios have overachieved with their efforts in Guacamelee 2.
Sometimes the only way to make a story more intense is to simultaneously go in every direction all at once and add some more dimensions. This time the Mexiverse is on the verge of complete destruction and there is only Juan man for the job. With strange black voids popping up in your world you are summoned to the Darkest Timeline in order to try and prevent the oncoming apocalypse.
You are the only Luchador left in all of space and time that can truly stand against the evil that threatens all of existence. So you must don the mask, get back in shape (yay magic), and get back to the business of suplexing skeletons into dust. In a meeting of a hundred goat men you are told your fate and spent on your way, the only hope of billions.
In case you haven't played the first game, Guacamelee is a 2d action-platformer where you unlock new abilities as you go through your adventure which get you access to yet more areas. Where this one sets itself apart is in the Mexican flavour present throughout the game, and in the stellar combat mechanics. Each ability you unlock adds more layers to the fights as well, you see enemies can have different shields which can only be destroyed by using the corresponding ability, so you have to use everything that you are given.
Along with these abilities are two other ones that really give this game a kick. The first of which allows you to switch between the world of the living, and the world of the dead. Shifting between the two is essential to survival, you'll need to master the timing in order to get through some of the incredibly challenging platforming sections. You see while all of the platforms exist, some only exist on one of the two planes of existence at any one time.
The second ability is the most unique, and it will help you to stop the fowl machinations of the evil-doers in this timeline. You can transform into an all-powerful chicken. While in this feathery from you can peck, slide, and charge the unsuspecting foes that litter the paths before you. You can also still suplex them and throw them about, it's more than a little strange but it works.
It all flows from one part to the next, constantly shifting between timing intensive platforming sections, which demand you have full mastery over the various special attacks you have, your ability to shift between worlds, and your power to turn into a chicken. The combat is slightly less testing, mostly requiring you to get the dodge down and learn how to string together some combos. Every aspect of this game mixes together to create a perfect salsa with which to dip your face into. Although don't actually dip your face in salsa, it wouldn't be good for you.
The special warmth that the gameplay itself leaves you with is only complimented by the humour present throughout the game. Like a squeeze of lime juice over a perfectly cooked fajita filling, the jokes included in this one really add to the experience. The first Guacamelee had its fair share of memes, but due to how quickly the internet ages things they were more or lest out of fashion by the time the game arrived. This time it includes some more classic memes, ageless ones that remind us all of better times, simpler times.
There are a plethora of references to other games throughout as well. These range from graphical changes to an entire genre shift at one point. One of the highlights is a Street Fighter reference that is so expertly pulled off it almost makes you wish they made their own fighting game. There are no doubt countless references which will miss certain people, but there is something for everyone.
There are a huge amount of secrets to find, an eight hour campaign to make your way through, and even different speed running categories that are tracked as you play. The fun doesn't even stop when you finish the game. Doing so unlocks the hard mode and an even greater challenge, there is a lot here to work your way through and the challenge is very definitely real.
Guacamelee 2 takes everything the first game does, adds sour cream and a smooth salsa, and comes up with a perfectly sized burrito that will fit your tastes. As long as your tastes include platforming and punching things. It is at times incredibly unforgiving and if you want to 100% it then you are going to have to search far and wide for every little secret. Not to mention attain an almost zen-like mastery of the controls. It is an astounding game and the fact that you can play it through in up to four player co-op just makes the experience better. This is like a bowl of nachos, unforgiving addictive and occasionally pointy, but one which you won't be able to stop revisiting.