Guacamelee! 2 Review
It’s been more than five years since DrinkBox Studios first released Guacamelee!. When it released, the game was a great success, earning stellar reviews from critics. Its story, art, and gameplay were all praised for being fresh and exciting. But again, five years have gone by. The gaming climate is different now. Does Guacamelee! 2 stand as tall as its predecessor? I’m not going to beat around the bush here. The answer is yes.
In fact, Guacamelee! 2 improves on a lot of what the first game does well. The art that was so well loved from the first game has been upgraded significantly in this sequel, with a stunning palette and a satisfyingly reactive background, the stylized graphical prowess of the predecessor is far from lost here. The music shares in this. Retro synths combine with uplifting mariachi music to create a fantastic, and unique, soundtrack. The flair and humor that gave the original so much charm are abundant as well, and likewise they share a quality that I’m going to gripe about later. You can also turn into a chicken like in the first game, but now the chickens have powers, so that’s cool.
Before I do, though, let me talk about how Guacamelee! 2 stands apart gameplay-wise. There are a few more powers, there are a few more enemy types, and the chickens now have combat capabilities. That’s basically it. It seems DrinkBox Studios took the stance of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” and I think this is probably for the best.
Definitely a Sequel
As always, though, the game has problems. I mentioned before that the first game came out more than five years ago. I played it five years ago, and I haven’t played it since. This is something of a problem, as the story of Guacamelee! 2 assumes that you know the story of the first game. I don’t remember the plot of a random six-hour game from five years ago, and so I had only a vague understanding of what the characters were talking about in the early parts of the game. This issue persisted, as I was unsure about what was going on with the lands of the dead and of the living, and I felt like I was missing a lot of other general info about the game’s world. If you want to play Guacamelee! 2, make sure you know the story of the original Guacamelee! first. It’s not necessarily bad to assume that players of a sequel have played the first game, but when there are five years separating the games, making that assumption becomes less appropriate.
Strangely enough, the biggest issue I took with the game was actually less related to the game itself, but rather the times it decided to be a different game altogether. As with its predecessor, meta references are everywhere in Guacamelee! 2. This is fun and cute a few times. The first time I caught one, I felt clever for having gotten the reference. After that, though, the references quickly get out of hand. They’re not particularly clever, they’re certainly not subtle, and they often occur in moments where the suspense and intensity of a moment should be preserved.
My last gripe is related to the multiplayer. With only one additional player, things usually work out pretty well. Combat is fun, you can chain combos off of one another, and it’s a generally good time. Once you add a third or fourth player, however, the game is a hectic mess. You can’t tell what’s going on, and the levels require so much precision at times that the wonky camera movement will throw you off enough to kill you. The game was built for one player. It just so happens that multiple people can also be on the screen.
Well, there you have it. Guacamelee! 2 is a good time, but it’s not without its faults. Speaking frankly, though, my complaints are mostly just long-winded nit-picks. If you liked the first one, you’ll like this one. It’s as simple as that. I honestly can’t think of anything that this game doesn’t do as well or better than its predecessor.
*** Switch code provided by the publisher ***
- Beautiful art and music
- Satisfying combat
- Great sense of humor
- You can be a chicken
- Too many references
- Multiplayer is hectic
- The story isn’t explained well