Review: Guacamelee! 2 (PS4)

Review: Guacamelee! 2 (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: Guacamelee! 2
Format: PSN (1.93 GB)
Release Date: August 21, 2018
Publisher: DrinkBox Studios
Developer: DrinkBox Studios
Original MSRP: $19.99 (US), £15.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E10+
PEGI: 12
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Audio Review:
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 587 of the podcast.

Gameplay:
Guacamelee! 2, the sequel to the highly rated Guacamelee!, is finally here. People have been waiting for almost five years for DrinkBox Studios to bring this sequel out. Will it live up to the hype? Is it as good as the first one? Yeah, it’s even better.

Similar to the first game, you play as Juan, an agave farmer. Juan has been living with his family, just being a dad for the past seven years, but it doesn’t take long for the craziness to begin. It appears that there are issues in other timelines of the Mexiverse!

Juan is the last living Juan in all the timelines and the world needs his help to save everyone. What’s nice is that you don’t need to play the first game to understand what is going on in this one. It does help, and there are a few callbacks to some of the story in the first game but nothing that would make you feel lost.

Review: Guacamelee! 2 (PS4) Review: Guacamelee! 2 (PS4)

Guacamelee! 2 is a side-scrolling, beat-em-up, platformer, Metroidvania game. I know that’s a long way to describe it so let’s unpack that a little. As you progress through the game you will need to use all the skills and abilities that are given to you over time, uppercuts, side-punching, and wall-running just to name a few. Some of these abilities will need to be used within one jump to get past an encounter. Don’t worry, the game eases you into these new abilities one at a time and even has special areas that you cannot get to until you have new abilities.

There aren’t a whole lot of new abilities added to the sequel when compared to the original, but that’s okay since they all worked so well in that first game. The gameplay has been refined and it now feels even better. The major change you’ll see is with all the additions to Pollo, your alter ego chicken that you get turned into during the game.

In the original Pollo was used more as a punishment or a requirement to get into a small area for a brief time. This time around I found myself wanting to play as Pollo more and more since he is so powerful now and downright fun to play. You also have Pollo dungeons that you will find by exploring the world which will test your abilities and reward you with stronger abilities with which to escape.

Adding Pollo to the combat feels seamless as well. I found myself paying attention to the enemy colored shields that you need to match with your abilities and seeing that these now match the colors of Pollo’s abilities. So not only do you have to juggle all of Juan’s abilities but you will need to switch to Pollo from time to time to get past a wave of enemies.

Review: Guacamelee! 2 (PS4) Review: Guacamelee! 2 (PS4)

Juan/Pollo have a health meter and a stamina meter. If your health goes down you die, but if your stamina goes down you need to wait for it to build back up to perform special abilities. Defeating enemies and finding chests throughout the world gives you the ability to purchase combat, health, and stamina upgrades.

In the original game, you needed to find save points in order to make skill tree upgrades. Now you just press the Options button and make the purchase, presuming you have completed some of the minor objectives and have the gold on hand to do so.

The combat feels crisp and rewarding. Whenever I died or didn’t complete an encounter it was because of a personal mistake, not a game issue. Chaining combos and special abilities while fighting enemies all around the screen is just downright fun and makes me want to build the combo meter higher and higher. At first it was just a pride thing but over time it became a true skill that gave me benefits in combat.

In Guacamelee! 2 you’re fighting in a few different timelines as well as moving back and forth from the living world and the dead world. Early on in the game, you’ll need to find portals to change back and forth between the living and dead world until you unlock the ability to change the world on demand with a button press. This becomes a huge mechanic in the game as changing the world will show you a path you couldn’t access before.

Review: Guacamelee! 2 (PS4) Review: Guacamelee! 2 (PS4)

You’ll need to change worlds while in mid-jump just to make sure you can then grab a wall, run up that wall, and change worlds again so that you don’t die. Each screen change brings on new and challenging encounters to progress through the level or to just find a chest that has a heart or stamina upgrade in it.

Sometimes getting to that chest that only has coins in it didn’t feel worth it, but then I’d try to get it and fail multiple times, wipe off my sweaty palms from gripping the controller too hard, and give it another go. Then I’d get there and feel a small sense of pride for getting that chest and progressing the percentage meter of completing that area of the world just a little further.

Boss fights are tuned just as well as the basic combat. Each boss has a basic pattern that can be bested in multiple ways depending on your comfort level with Juan’s/Pollo’s abilities. In the original game there were a couple of boss encounters that were deemed unfair and almost felt like the bosses were cheating. I didn’t get that feeling at all in the sequel. As a matter of fact, I almost feel like a few of the boss fights might have been too easy. I was able to complete some of them in one or two tries instead of twenty to twenty-five while I figured out the pattern. This wasn’t the case with all the boss fights, but at least a few of them.

I found the gameplay to be very addictive and rewarding. I kept telling myself “one more try” that would then turn into twelve more tries. Then I would get so close to getting past a puzzle and just miss the last edge by inches by not hitting the right button combo at the exact time. I’d keep at it, doing it again and getting way too excited for beating an encounter I had been working on for twelve to twenty minutes and suddenly completing it in thirty seconds to only be met with an even harder encounter in the next room.

Review: Guacamelee! 2 (PS4) Review: Guacamelee! 2 (PS4)

Visuals:
Guacamelee! 2 is just a beautiful, bright, and colorful game filled with plenty of small callbacks to not only the first game but other games as well. Walking around some of the towns you will see billboards and I urge you to take a few seconds to really read them. Some are basic and some are very very funny.

Audio:
There’s not much to say here other than the music fits the game perfectly. It sounds like you’re in the right place for each part of the world you travel to. You can tell you’re getting close to something big by the way the music ramps up.

Sadly, there’s no voice acting. I wish they would have added even a few basic lines of dialogue. The small sounds that some of the characters make are great but I was really hoping to hear a few lines. That being said, the writing in this game is even better than the first one. Plenty of lines had me laughing or taking a screenshot to share with my friends.

Online/Multiplayer:
Sadly this game only has local co-op. Granted it’s now four player instead of the two players it was in the first game. This is the first negative that I have come across while playing. I really wish they could’ve figured out online co-op so that I could play with two or three of my friends that don’t live close enough to me. There are online leaderboards for speed run tracking.

Review: Guacamelee! 2 (PS4) Review: Guacamelee! 2 (PS4)

Conclusion:
Guacamelee! 2 is the kind of game that needs to be treasured. It never felt like it was dragging on and it never felt like it had any filler added to it. There’s a great balance of tough encounters, funny dialogue, and a world that continues to draw my interest.

Completion of the game on Normal unlocks a Hard Mode that I haven’t had a chance to try yet, but I’ll be doing it very soon. It’s worth taking the time to explore each area to find all the little secrets, Easter eggs, and even the callbacks to other games. DrinkBox even makes fun of themselves on multiple occasions. This is definitely a Game of the Year contender for me.

Score:
9.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Dave Hunt

Dave Hunt

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