One of the standout indie releases of 2013 was that of Guacamelee!, a Mexican-themed Metroidvania with plenty of beat-‘em-up luchador action. It was a wildly creative and fun release that shook up the genre in some notable ways, and stood as the defining game from the team at Drinkbox Studios. Now that some time has passed and the team has made a few more games, it's opted to revisit its big success with Guacamelee! 2.
What’s immediately apparent in Guacamelee! 2 is how this is a direct continuation of its predecessor. Juan Aguacate starts out at maximum strength, and it doesn’t take long to see how new abilities have come into play. For one thing, the chicken form is given far more focus this time around. In the first game, it was essentially a glorified Morph Ball that had few applications outside of running through tight spaces, but the chicken now has a full suite of combat options. Punching, grappling, and more are all possible, and it makes for quite a spectacle, watching a chicken roast dozens of enemies in a tussle. There’s even a chicken pope, too, replacing the goat of the previous game in doling out new abilities. Though we didn’t see too many new abilities in the demo that we got to try out, the new focus on chickens present some exciting possibilities of what’s in store.
Level designs employ the same light and dark world mechanic, with many puzzles and challenges centred around manoeuvring between the two worlds to progress. It’s creative, challenging, and loads of fun, even when playing with up to three other people in local co-op mode. The combat is just as refined as before, too, with a new combo meter that rewards excellent performance with more damage. The original Guacamelee! was refined enough on its own, and it seems that Guacamelee! 2 will be continuing to use what came before as a foundation to be built upon.
Drinkbox has opted to upgrade the overall look of the game, too, much to its benefit. The original’s highly stylized look is still present, but it’s now been buttressed by an advanced lighting system that adds a slight element of realism. It all still looks as it did before, it’s just that certain elements in the background have a more dynamic look to them that add to the game’s tone. It looks great in motion and will no doubt have some more awe-inspiring moments in the full release.
All told, we’re quite excited for the possibilities presented by Guacamelee! 2. This is shaping up to be everything fans could want out of a sequel, keeping all the features that made the original great, while building upon them with some refinements and new ideas. Keep an eye on this one for sure, it’s an indie release that you won’t want to pass up if you liked the original.
Will you be wrestling with Guacamelee! 2 when it releases next year? Be the Juan in the comments section below.