Guacamelee from DrinkBox Studios was one of 2013’s best-damned games, period. It was one of the first to bring back the idea of the Metroidvania as a genre, and it deserved every heaping bit of praise it got back then. Now, five years later, DrinkBox is serving up the sequel. For the most part, it’s more of the same great zany Mexiverse-fueled action you know and love, but is that enough in a world where there’s a new Metroidvania released seemingly every week? This is our Guacamelee 2 review.
To my question from above, the short answer is simply: Yes. Guacamelee 2 is everything you loved about the original just with more. More moves, more jokes, more levels, more bosses – even more players, as Guac 2 packs in 1-4 simultaneous co-op play both local and online. We reviewed the game on PC using an Xbox One controller (do NOT try to play it with keyboard, seriously).
Guacamelee 2 takes place sometime after the first game’s ending. Spoiler alert, while there were two endings back in 2013, this one assumes you saved your beloved and defeated the big bad Calaca. Heck, you even use a simplified version of that final boss fight as tutorial fodder to fill in the back story. Seven years later and Juan is living a happy fat retired Luchador life with his wife and kids. But there are many timelines in the Mexiverse, and in one of them – the Darkest Timeline, things have gone so awry that it’s threatening the very existence of the Mexiverse. It’s up for Juan to straddle the land of the living and the dead once more to save everyone from utter doom.
You know, hero stuff.
Fans of the original will immediately be familiar with the basics, punching, throwing, uppercutting. As you play, you’ll meet and unlock four schools of fighting (skill trees) and you can spend your in-game currency to upgrade your moves between the larger dungeon romps in the game’s main campaign. There are tons of secrets as always too, and plenty of places in the game that will only become unlockable as you yourself unlock more moves.
The thing to remember about Guacamelee is that, unlike many recent Roguelites and Metroidvanias, it’s generally forgiving. You may die a lot in Guacamelee 2, but there’s never a game over screen. You simply go back to the last screen/checkpoint and try again until you get it right. This is something from the Prince of Persia school of design that I’ve greatly missed and I’m hoping that more games take up this sort of difficulty – hard, but not punishing.
The core gameplay of Guac 2 is as solid as ever, and learning new skills and leveling up feels like it adds a whole new layer of RPG-lite to the adventure. But what makes DrinkBox’s sequel even more sublime is the addition of 2-4 player co-op. If you thought the action of Guacamelee was hilarious and fun as one person, imagine sitting down and hammering skeletons with three of your closest friends. It’s an absolute riot, and it’s drop-in/drop-out so anyone can join it at any time to help (or hinder) your progress.