Having never played the first Guacamelee! I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the sequel. Seeing it fall into the “Metroidvania genre” though, piqued my interest enough to give it a shot. Thankfully, that willingness to try a new game in one of my favorite genres paid off. What I got was a rewarding, challenging experience that took me on a vibrant, sometimes frustrating adventure.
Guacamelee! 2 picks up 7 years after the events of the first game. From what I understand Guacamelee! saw Juan Aguacate become a super-luchador and take on the nefariously evil skeleton Carlos Calaca. This is where the start of Guacamelee! 2 picks up, because what better way to start a game than tossing you into a boss fight that lulls you into a false sense of security of how easy said boss fights will be, right?
Regardless, this flashback sets the stage for the rest of the game. Juan has hung up his lacha-fit (outfit + luchador.. try and keep up) and focused on being a fetch-quest dad, rocking one fine ass beer gut. His loving wife sends him on yet another errand to get some avocados; needless to say she never gets those avocados. A tear in space-time sends Juan to an alternate reality within the Mexi-verse (I didn’t make this one up, that was all Drinkbox), and it is here he learns that this is a timeline where he did not come out victorious.
Both endings from the first Guacamelee! are taken into consideration here and easily explained away with the existence of the Mexi-verse. The one where Juan lost everything is referred to as the “Darkest Timeline”, and is home to the “hero” that DID save the day and that universe. Sadly, he has now become corrupt and it falls on Juan to save this timeline from his wrath. These alternate timelines occur seamlessly within the world of Guacamelee! 2 and become a natural part of making your way through the game. Ripples of different timelines make their way across the screen and you must pop in and out of them at certain times in order to clear certain areas.
One such timeline was a beautiful Easter egg moment where Juan ends up in a Limbo-verse version of the game. Complete with killer spider legs and all. It’s these subtle, yet not so subtle, moments that deliver fresh humor and keep things feeling alive and new. It’s these moments that keep the platforming from getting stale. The platforming, at points, gets borderline insane though and there will certainly be times that demand on-point reactions in order to make it through. While these moments are in fact infuriating, there is no better feeling of accomplishment after finally making it through some of these sadistic sections.
Thankfully, the world you’re attempting to navigate is absolutely beautiful and wears its Mexican influences on its sleeve. To compliment this Day of the Dead-looking world, the soundtrack is one that’s upbeat and full of Mexican flare. The environments and soundtrack come together and deliver a breathtaking world full of nods and appreciation for Mexican culture. So at least you can appreciate all of that while you’re making your 30th attempt at getting across some seemingly impossible expanse.
But enough about all of that. The real shining gem here is the combat, and the option to kill as many skeletons as you want while in the form of a lucha-icken (luchador + chicken, seriously, try to keep up). Yes, while the game rewards you with a number of skills that let you unlock areas that were once impassable, the greatest feat this game has achieved is letting you do that while in the form of a cucco-wannabe (Cuccos are from the Legend of Zelda and if you didn’t know that then you should probably leave our site). Building on the foundation of the first game, Guacamelee! 2 has given your poultry form a full arsenal of abilities to use, and honestly it’s hard to play this game not as a chicken, so having the option to transform into one is pretty much the coolest thing ever.
Regardless of which form you want to take, the gameplay is what makes this game as good as it is. The controls are responsive and while some platforming sections can feel unfair, its a game that rewards those that have put in the time to fully understand the controls. Thankfully, there are training sections that let you familiarize yourself with a new power or ability so if you’re finding yourself stuck, it doesn’t always hurt to take a break and re-learn whatever mechanic it is you’re trying to pull off. While the button commands don’t stray away from the repetitive square-triangle mash-fest, it’s the ever-growing roster of moves and abilities that keep things from feeling redundant.
The bosses are great fun as well and obviously, their difficulty scales with your progression through the game. They offer a decent challenge while never feeling too one-sided. Look at it this way, if you can make it through the platforming areas, the bosses shouldn’t be too much of a threat. Sure there are some that will push you over the edge, literally and figuratively, but really the platforming sections help you understand the controls and the bosses are just a final exam, if you will.
Guacamelee! 2, while being considered a sequel, can stand on it’s own thanks to the self contained story that only mildly references the events of the past. That being said, this is an excellent Metroidvania style game that gives players a sense of accomplishment thanks to it’s sometimes insane platforming sections. The humor is spot on as well, making this experience a light-hearted one, easy to pick up and enjoy without too much backstory or explanation needed. Oh, and you get to beat up skeletons as a fucking chicken! That alone should make you want to play this game.