A while back I picked up DrinkBox Studios’ Guacamelee! from a Humble Bundle. I believe I recall playing for a bit, then shortly losing interest for some reason. Later I went to a buddy’s house to find that he had grabbed a copy of the game as well. He was quite into it so we spent a few hours punching, grappling, and luchadoring through Guacamelee's levels. And I’m glad we did because after our play session I had changed my mind and suddenly felt really into the game as well. I proceeded to go home and play it on my own, eventually seeing the game through to the final boss fight. It’s an experience I almost passed by, and I’m glad to have not missed it.
All that is why when I saw announcements and news for a sequel, I was happy to see the series make a return in all of its silly, yet satisfying, glory. If you enjoyed the first installment and were always looking for something more, then chances are Guacamelee! 2 will sufficiently scratch that itch. Guacamelee! 2 delivers more of what you loved from its predecessor, while also bringing some new things to the table.
Guacamelee! 2 is available on Steam for $19.99
Seven years after the events of the first game we find our protagonist Juan Aguacate, now a father of two kids, living peacefully with his wife Lupita. It seems they got their “happily ever after” and now there’s nothing left to do but enjoy life and eat tacos. But alas! There are no avocados left for said tacos, so it’s up to Juan to retrieve some from the town market. Truly, a perilous task has been laid out for our hero. Juan arrives at the market and nearly finishes his quest when suddenly the town is accosted by black interdimensional time rifts.
From here Juan discovers that a new villain, a luchador named Salvador, is threatening to destroy the Mexiverse and the entirety of its timelines in his pursuit for the three Golden Relics. He seeks the relics in order to assemble the Sacred Guacamole and become godlike. All the other Juans from across all the different timelines are dead, so your Juan is the only one who can save the Mexiverse. Juan must travel to the Darkest Timeline where Salvador resides, gather the three Golden Relics, and stop Salvador from creating and consuming the Sacred Guacamole. If all that sounds silly to you, well, welcome to Guacamelee.
Guacamelee! 2 is a platforming metroidvania beat’em up. As such, gameplay revolves around traversing a variety of different levels, finding secrets, clearing environmental puzzles/obstacles, and backtracking to previous areas, all while ruthlessly punching and kicking through the enemies who dare stand in your way. Exactly how you go about dishing out the pain is up to you. Along with normal punches and kicks, Juan also has access to a number of special directional moves you unlock throughout the game. These moves include the Rooster Uppercut, KO Headbutt, Frog Slam, and Dash Punch.
These moves are powerful and will wear down your stamina with each use. When stamina is depleted, these special moves cannot be used until you regain enough stamina. They can also only be used once when in the air, after which you’ll have to make contact with the ground if you want to use that special move again. If you hit a foe enough times with your attacks, they become stunned and vulnerable to being grappled and thrown across the screen to knock over other enemies. A dodge may be used either on the ground or in the air to make Juan invulnerable to damage for a brief moment. Though there are some exceptions where he will still take damage. Juan also has a dimension jump ability, which allows him to swap between the World of the Living and the World of the Dead on a whim. This is required for certain puzzles, platforming, and gaining access to hidden areas. Finally, he can also double jump, wall grab, wall jump, run up walls, and fly straight off walls to cover great distances.
Juan can improve on his abilities via five different trainers. Each trainer focuses on a specific aspect of Juan’s moveset. For example, one trainer boosts the power of special moves, while another enhances the grapple ability. If you have enough gold and fulfill certain challenge requirements (getting high combos, finding enough hidden chests, getting kills with certain moves, etc.), you can buy these various skills and upgrades to improve your combat abilities.
Your arsenal of moves is useful both in combat and also as a means to unlock new paths in the world, navigate the environment, and solve puzzles. Often times you’ll find an obstacle preventing passage to a section of a level. With the correct move(s), you can overcome these obstacles. If you don’t have the correct move, you’ll have to come back and try again once you’ve learned a new move, which is how the metroidvania aspect comes into play. There are plenty of secrets and treasure chests to be found, so exploration and backtracking are a must if you want to find everything and complete the game to 100%.
Once you begin to master these skills and methods of movement, you’ll be able to pull off impressive maneuvers, and that feels fantastic. Flying, punching, jumping, dashing, dodging, sliding, slamming, and chaining combos all in seamless succession makes you feel like an awesome luchador action hero. Guacamelee has a great sense of rhythm and flow in this way. On a similar note, little is more satisfying than making use of your abilities to expertly speed through obstacle courses without skipping a beat. The different moves blend into other very smoothly to make for one fluid path of movement.
Like he did in the first game, Juan also has the amusing ability to morph into a chicken. And before, that’s essentially what the ability amounted to: amusing. The chicken used to be relegated to the role of “oh there’s a small hole here I can’t fit through as normal Juan, time to be a chicken for a second.” This is not so anymore. In Guacamelee! 2, the chicken has been vastly fleshed out into what is essentially a completely new character with his own unique playstyle and fighting technique. Similar to normal Juan, chicken Juan can fight, dodge, grapple, and wall jump. He differs in that he is smaller and has
speedier attacks, allowing you to zip around the screen in an incredibly satisfying way.
And while fast, he also has a smaller hit range with his standard attacks. This means you’ll have to be closer to your enemies to hit them. Sometimes I would find myself just a little too far away and would wind up whiffing my attacks, which left me open to my enemy. Chicken Juan also comes with a number of new tricks. He can perform two new directional moves called Pollo Shot and Pollo Slide. Pollo Shot is similar to Juan’s uppercut except that it is much faster, is done diagonally, can be performed downward, and with an upgrade can be used twice in the air. Pollo Slide is a power slide done along the ground. Both of these require stamina. Chicken Juan can also slowly glide down in the air and float upwards when air updrafts are present. All these moves open the door
for new movement styles, platforming puzzles, and pulling off cool maneuvers. Oh, there are also ridiculous segments where you transform into a monster chicken and bulldoze through enemies.
This change is by far my favorite. I love that fighting as the chicken is viable. It fits in very well with the game’s overall silly and light-hearted nature, while also providing variety with a fun and speedy new way to engage in combat. At times it’s even a necessity to use your chicken form in fights. I found myself wanting to play as chicken Juan over normal Juan whenever the chance was available because it is just so great. Heck, even the special costumes you can find for Juan that change his appearance apply to the chicken as well, which I was excited to discover. Soccer ball chicken? Oh absolutely, I’m down with that.
As I think I’ve already begun to allude to, Guacamelee! 2 knows how to have a good time, and never takes itself too seriously. The game is incredibly self-referential, chock-full of references to popular games and culture, and is known to throw in the “occasional” meme here and there. The writing is funny and goofy, the characters are entertaining, and I cracked a smile more than a few times during my playthrough. Sometimes it really goes all in with its jokes, such as one instance wherein you enter a portal to a different timeline and without warning the game suddenly switches into a turn-based RPG. And that works how you would expect. Running into enemies will initiate a combat sequence. Fighting consists of making your move, waiting for all enemies to make their moves while you stand there and just take the damage without being afforded the chance to dodge, and then it’s your turn again. Completed battles end with victory fanfare music, the experience points you gained, any stats or skills you leveled up, and the loot you found. At the end of this roughly ten-minute timeline there’s even a little boss fight.
Or how about another instance where an NPC innocently asks you to retrieve something from his basement, and next thing you know you’re playing a recreation of PacMan?
You’ll encounter a number of moments like these, but it’s never too much and they never last longer than you would want. Guacamelee just puts them in front of you, has some fun for a few minutes, then gets right back on track to the actual game. Quirky little things like this are part of what makes this series great. To be honest, I personally would have been perfectly okay with that RPG timeline lasting for an hour or two and posing a legitimate challenge, but that’s just me.
I have very few problems with Guacamelee! 2. I loved the idea of having to fulfill challenges in order to purchase certain skills from the trainers, though they were mostly pretty easy to complete. I guess I find myself wishing that some of the challenges provided more of a, well, challenge. One skill requires you to find ten chests containing health upgrades and ten chests containing stamina upgrades, and I liked that concept. It incentivizes you to explore the world, and rewards you in return. However, it doesn’t take too much work to hunt down those twenty chests, which is a tad disappointing. And perhaps this is a product of the fact that the game is somewhat short, so having to spend too much time and effort to meet these requirements wouldn’t be ideal for the pacing. Either way, I personally would have liked a touch more difficulty in these challenges, along with more variety as well. Also, it would be nice if skipping dialogue was faster, as there is a delay before the game will allow you to do so. It never became a serious issue or turnoff for me, but it would be nice nonetheless.
Graphics and Audio
Unsurprisingly, Guacamelee! 2 returns to form when it comes to its visuals and sound design. Your journey to stop Salvador is accompanied by fantastically appealing visuals and a soundtrack that is likely to worm its way into your brain and remain there even after you set down the controller (I personally recommend the track to Los Manglares).
Look forward to visiting stunning new locales, pulling off heroic-looking special moves and combos, and fighting a slew of uniquely designed enemies, all while being serenaded by Guacamelee! 2’s spicy blend of “electro-Mexican" tunes.
If you came looking for more Guacamelee, you certainly won’t be disappointed.
Guacamelee! 2 delivers more of what you love while also providing a new story, new characters, and new skills to master, set in a fantastic new world that’s accompanied by even more music to get stuck in your head. With all the abilities it provides you,
Guacamelee! 2 is great at making you feel like an awesome hero as you zip and dodge across a room to dispatch your foes. Even just getting from point A to point B by making expert use of all your moves is exhilarating, satisfying, and rewarding. Fleshing out Juan’s chicken form as a new character with a unique, fast fighting style was a stroke of genius, and absolutely my favorite addition to the game. Guacamelee! 2 is easy to get into and get the hang of, but also provides challenging opportunities to overcome. It has an undeniable personality and charm that you can’t help but smile and chuckle at when it dedicates a few minutes to one specific reference or joke. After this review, I can’t wait to get back in and explore the world some more, find the secrets and collectables I’ve yet to discover, and hey even try my hand at hard mode. Now if you'll excuse me, I must assume my chicken form so that I may provide assistance to the Chicken Illuminati. Yes, that is a thing. Or is it…(it actually absolutely is)
|+ Makes you feel like incredible action hero||– Skill upgrade challenges are fairly easy|
|+ Chicken offers unique new fighting style||– Might be nice if dialogue skip was faster|
|+ Easy to pick up, but still offers challenges|
|+ Many secrets to find, a hard mode to complete|
|+ 4-player local coop|
|+ Goofy and entertaining|
|+ Fantastic visuals and soundtrack|
|+ I now crave guacamole|
If you're looking for tips on how to get started on your journey, take a look at our guide on 5 Tips to Save the Mexiverse in Guacamelee! 2.