Guacamelee! 2 review for PS4, PC

Platform: PS4
Also On: PC
Publisher: Drinkbox Studios
Developer: Drinkbox Studios
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-4
Online: No

A little over five years ago, a small Canadian studio released a Metroidvania-style brawler with Mexican inspired theme. Boasting a sprawling world, a robust fighting system and the ability to turn into a chicken, Guacamelee scored rave reviews and found itself released on pretty much every platform last generation. However time has passed and many similar titles have graced the market, Drinkbox wanted to show that their luchador still deserved to be in the main event.

The story of Guacamelee follows the humble agave farmer Juan, who prevented the merging of the living and the dead worlds by defeating Calaca. In doing so, he also saved the daughter of El Presidente Lupita. Guacamelee 2 reveals that once the world was saved Juan and Lupita settled down and had kids. Since the world was at peace Juan no longer practiced lucha, thus forgetting everything he learned in the last adventure (They had to find an excuse to make you lose all the upgrades you earned in the previous game after all.) That was until on a routine errand Juan discovered that black voids were appearing all over the place. At the heeding of his mentor Uay Chavo and his family, Juan sets off to stop these voids from spreading to not just save the world but the ?Mexiverse? as well.

It seems that there wasn?t only one Juan, but in fact a near infinite amount of Juans. However the Juan we control was a special one, for he was the only Juan who defeated Calaca. It appears that in one timeline, dubbed the ?darkest? timeline after Juan failed another luchador was able to get the job done, Salvador, who was this timeline?s savior has now turned into its greatest threat. Stricken with an incurable disease, he now seeks the one thing which could heal him…the sacred guacamole of the God of Time!

Guacamelee 2 doesn?t stray from the formula set in the first game. The game is set over 10 zones. As you traverse these zones, you will reacquaint yourself with skills from the previous game. These skills act as combat moves as well as traversal moves. Also in these zones are sprinkled with combat arenas, traversal challenges and items which can be collected to extend your health or stamina meter.

New to the Guacamelee 2 is the concept of trainers. During the course of your journey you meet five unique characters who train you and amplify your moveset. These enhancements include increasing the amount of gold enemies drop, increasing the power of your skills, and even adding newer more powerful wrestling holds. In fact from my experience, one of the late upgrades for a trainer can be exploited to make a lot of the combat encounters a simpler affair.

Dimension shifting was probably the biggest gimmick of the first game. Switching between the land of the living and the land of the dead would reveal environmental elements as well as enemies not found on the other plane. Guacamelee 2?s most memorable addition to this gimmick is the gravity inversion.

Chickens were a big and strange aspect of the first title and their presence have not diminished. In fact, the chicken form actually gets several substantial combat moves, so much so that fighting as a chicken is actually a viable option for some of the combat arenas. There is also a subplot regarding the chickens which gave me a few laughs.

One of the more memorable sequences of the first game were some of the challenges which were required in order to get the ?good? ending. Guacamelee 2 brings these challenges back and they are just as difficult if not more than the ones presented in the original. Completing these nearly wore my thumbs to the bone, but yet brought the same joy I felt from completing the tree tops from the original.

Guacamelee for me was primarily a single player affair, but it did have a drop in, drop out co-op mode. This is expanded so that three other players can join into the fray. Unfortunately the only time I was actually able to utilize this feature was at public demos during conventions such as PSX and PAX and those experiences were less enjoyable as some the players I was paired up with were less than stellar with the platforming and were put off when I would advance to the next screen without them. So while I?m sure this co-op mode might make some combat challenges easier, I could foresee some of the traversal challenges getting more difficult if they were played in co-op. However due to the drop in, drop out nature of this mode, some balance can be achieved.

Guacamelee 2 takes a very solid base of the original and adds enough to prevent this iteration from being stale. The new mechanics blend in seamlessly and adds to the experience. The humor hits, more than it misses and the visuals are vibrant like it?s predecessor. All in all if you had to choose only on metroidvania-style game to play in 2018, make sure Guacamelee 2 is high on your list.

Drinkbox Studios provided us with a Guacamelee! 2 code for review purposes.

Grade: A-