Review

Guacamelee 2 Review - Ready For A Challenge

  • First Released Aug 21, 2018
    released
  • PS4

Arrows con pollo.

The mighty luchador Juan already had a devil of a time in the first Guacamelee, but that's nothing compared to his second round. Guacamelee 2 is the best kind of sequel, doubling down on everything that worked in the original. Though it's diabolically challenging, it always feels fair, letting its meticulously crafted level design and self-aware humor shine through.

It begins a few years after the original, with Juan, now married to Lupita (El Presidente's daughter), raising two precocious kids in a tiny house on the outskirts of Pueblucho. At least, that's what's happening in the good timeline. In the Darkest Timeline, one of dozens of parallel dimensions in--ahem--the Mexiverse, Juan actually dies trying to defeat the previous big boss, Carlos Calaca. A hulking meatslab of a lucha named Salvador is the one who finishes the job, and he hopes to use a sacred, arcane guacamole recipe meant only for the gods to merge the land of the dead with the realm of the living. That has dire consequences, of course, and Juan once again must mask up and trek all across Mexico for the power to defeat Salvador and his minions.

Though there are some new additions, the fundamentals of Guacamelee haven't undergone any sweeping changes. The clean look of the first game has been upgraded with some beautiful, evocative lighting effects, and the score has more variety, weaving hooks and catchy breakbeats with a wider range of Latin melodies, but that's about it, aesthetically. The atmosphere is still firmly in the realm of eye-catching and dazzling cartoon aesthetics, but even just those minor tweaks add just the right touch of looming dread to fit Guacamelee 2's intensity.

Structurally, Guacamelee 2 maintains a balance between Metroidvania and side-scrolling beat-'em-up, and it doesn't feel like either genre is being lost in the mix. Just strolling into a room to lay the smackdown on skeletons still feels big and brutal, the way a wrestler slamming an opponent into the pavement absolutely should. A split-second fiesta in the upper right-hand corner that rewards you for big combos is the chuckle-worthy cherry on top of a savage job well done. Hours upon hours later, it never gets old watching the numbers rack up.

The magic lies in how the deadly physicality of your moveset directly feeds into where and how you can explore. Every new move--a frog slam, a flying uppercut--is more than just a way to lay waste to the undead menace, but the keys to mastering your environment. Taking care of a stone barrier between you and the next room, where the solution isn't some key you picked up clear across the map but the overkill of a big, booming punch or a massive headbutt, is satisfying like little else--especially coupled with the innate Metroidvania joy of being able to backtrack into an area and open up a route you couldn't take before with extreme, gratifying prejudice.

Guacamelee 2 retains the physicality of the original, but it focuses more on letting you use your physical moveset as a means of traversal and staying off the ground. Along with Juan's punches, kicks, and grab-and-slam maneuvers, a new magical grappling mechanic can shoot Juan off into different directions, which, until you earn the ability to fly, is the primary way you get through vertical sections of the map or areas where the ground is a hazard. Juan is once again able to turn into a chicken, but what was a cute, occasional gimmick is now integral to gameplay and the touchstone of all of the most delightfully absurd elements of the plot. Chicken Juan now has a high-powered moveset of his own, including firing himself diagonally into enemies and obstacles, sliding through tight spaces, and floating through the air.

As it turns out, staying off the ground is a job requiring more finesse than fight, and finesse is a trait for far more lithe and wiry wrestlers than Juan. The challenges of traversal you face are demanding, but it can absolutely be done, and the greatest challenge of Guacamelee 2 is looking at every obstacle and determining how to execute each of Juan's abilities--only some of which were designed specifically for traversal purposes--to get to a very precise target. Later challenges even require you to change from lucha to chicken Juan and back again for the same obstacle. Guacamelee 2 will frustrate those who don't cultivate the skills, but the exhilaration of succeeding and opening up a giant chunk of the map as a result is a wonderful motivator.

While you can now access upgrades at any time--rather than only at checkpoints--obtaining upgrades isn't just a matter of having enough gold but also performing feats in-game. Want to upgrade your health? You'll need to have found and opened a certain number of chests. Want more power out of a certain move? You'll need to have killed enough enemies with the basic version first. The side effect is that you're given further motivation to explore your environment and engage with even the easiest fights. Gold is still needed to make the purchase, however, and things do get mildly unbalanced there as the game goes on--after a few key upgrades, you'll be able to earn more gold than you can spend just from getting into one fight with a low-level goon.

Straightforward hand-to-hand fights usually aren't terribly difficult. Every enemy has a weakness, and once you figure out what attack leaves them wide open, it's just a matter of you learning how best to capitalize. The danger comes from the placement. To the game’s great credit, no gauntlet of enemies in the game is unfair or unbeatable, they just require a keen eye for picking up the numerous, sly visual cues that tell you exactly what’s possible in a given area.

There is, however, another way to earn the enhancements you'll need to take the fight to Salvador: Challenge Rooms. These tricky, self-contained obstacle courses with a treasure at the end are numerous in Guacamelee 2. The challenges themselves are wickedly conceived and executed, often designed to get you bouncing off walls, flying across rooms, and barrelling towards the ground at maximum speed, just barely missing a fatal hazard. Typically, you'll need to use every single available move in your repertoire to emerge victorious--anything less than surgical precision and command over the physics and minutiae of everything Juan can do will get you instantly killed.

The issue with the Challenge Rooms is that the reward at the end can vary. When you survive a rough room, and you're rewarded with a heart piece that extends Juan's life, you can walk away knowing it was all worth it. Getting through a difficult room but only receiving 400 gold, can feel like a slap in the face, especially when money is no object.

No Caption Provided

Thankfully, with infinite lives and the game's generous checkpoints, you're never too far from where you started should you fail. You will scream and curse at the screen often, but there's no luck, glitches, or happy accidents involved in conquering Guacamelee 2's most stringent tasks; there's only deft, acquired, well-practiced skill.

But there's more than just steel-hearted challenges waiting in the dark corners of Guacamelee 2's world, and many of its secret areas hide the best jokes in the game. There's an RPG dimension where all of Juan's fights are turn-based and, probably the best of the bunch, a hilariously spiteful take on lootboxes where Juan must spend enormous amounts of gold to simply open a closet door in a poor family's home to get his reward for saving their lives. Choozo statues--calling back to Metroid's Chozo statues--are still where Juan gets his main powers, and the script consistently has fun with the idea that smashing each statue is smashing up Uay Chivo's private and precious property.

Everything about Guacamelee 2 comes off as smarter and more thoughtful than the first game, even while indulging in its self-aware shenanigans and Rick & Morty-esque dimensional hijinks. The game never stops finding new ways to hook you in, to the point that even the most painstaking and intensive playthroughs feel like they just fly by. Saving the numerous timelines in Guacamelee 2 is just as much about partaking in a marvel of devious, meticulous game design as it is about saving Juan and his family from peril.

Back To Top

The Good

  • Outstanding and wicked level design
  • Sharp and self-aware humor adds great personality
  • A catchy soundtrack that features a wide range of Latin inspirations
  • Numerous upgrade options allow for great flexibility in combat

The Bad

  • Rewards are sometimes a little paltry for the effort

About the Author

Justin Clark's playthrough of Guacamelee 2 topped out at 15 hours. He has not stopped making Spanish-based puns to his friends and family all week. Yes, this is a cry for help. A code was provided by the publisher.
21 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for MarkoftheSivak
MarkoftheSivak

456

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 4

User Lists: 0

This game is sublime.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for atacan
atacan

3

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 5

Edited By atacan

harika http://www.albayrakevdenevenakliyat.com/

Upvote • 
Avatar image for sakaixx
sakaiXx

9949

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 8

User Lists: 5

Another win for playstation

Upvote • 
Avatar image for rglgathrawn
RGLGAThrawn

358

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@sakaixx: It's not an exclusive...this is just the system that Justin chose to review it on.

2 • 
Avatar image for KiriharaZro
KiriharaZro

326

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

@rglgathrawn:

"Maybe he chose it because PS4 is the best system"

.-A PS fanboy intented to start a flame war. XD

2 • 
Avatar image for sakaixx
sakaiXx

9949

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 8

User Lists: 5

@rglgathrawn: duh

Upvote • 
Avatar image for ahmetxca
ahmetxca

141

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 5

User Lists: 0

Some programmers love Dragon Ninja (Or known as Bad Dudes) and other older beat'em ups :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_O6v5VNFCXc

Upvote • 
Avatar image for deactivated-5bda06edf37ee
deactivated-5bda06edf37ee

4675

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 3

User Lists: 0

I really like this game aesthetically, but i was really let down by the first game because of the complete lack of depth in the gameplay. It wasn't a metroidvania like i thought and hoped it was. Seems like this sequel is not improving on that front...

Not every platformer needs to be a metrodvania, but lesser gameplay is just, well, lesser gameplay. IMO, it's just hard to look back after experiencing metroidvania gameplay.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for rhenom
rhenom

162

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@groowagon: I've played both Guacamelee games and there is nothing "lesser" about the gameplay. Keep on hating though.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

24227

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 606

User Lists: 4

@groowagon: Were you expecting abilities other than pugilistic, smash-happy superhero powers?

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

24227

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 606

User Lists: 4

I have heard that there are quite a lot of guys with colour blindness that complained about the previous game having too much colour-coding. DrinkBox's attempts to solve this problem by adding non-colour visuals were not exactly great either, especially in the more intense fights when there are many enemies on-screen and overlapping each other.

Are there options for colour blindness in this one?

Upvote • 
Avatar image for doyoya
doyoya

56

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 5

@Gelugon_baat: yes before the main menu or even the initial game load the option is given to stop being color blind and concurrently expecting the same user experience playing colorful games. I heard this option so far has great results.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for captainwonton
captainwonton

361

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 3

User Lists: 0

I was actually very interested to know how the game plays with 4 players, no mention of that in the review

2 • 
Avatar image for Litchie
Litchie

26757

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 12

User Lists: 0

@captainwonton: Reviewers on big websites don't have the time needed to properly review games. Find a youtuber or a good writer on a smaller website to get the needed info on games.

2 • 
Avatar image for csward
csward

2155

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 20

User Lists: 0

Justin your avatar matches the game's theme. Great job!

Upvote • 
Avatar image for olddadgamer
OldDadGamer

2929

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 5

OldDadGamer  Moderator

Hey @justinofclark:

Do you think this is too diabolically challenging for, say, an 11 year old who is pretty good at games for an 11 year old, but still has the skill, of, you know, an 11 year old?

Or is this for very seasoned gamers only?

2 • 
Avatar image for justinofclark
justinofclark

124

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 5

@olddadgamer: I'd say, it won't go easy on them, but an 11 year old would definitely still have a lot of fun with it. If nothing else, a lot of the hardest parts (except for the final temple, which is no joke all around) are optional.

As long as they're patient enough to die fairly often without tossing a controller through the TV like a batarang, it's still very accessible.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for olddadgamer
OldDadGamer

2929

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 5

OldDadGamer  Moderator

@justinofclark: Thanks!

Hopefully, they won't get that batarang idea.....

Upvote • 
Avatar image for snugglebear
snugglebear

5009

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 17

User Lists: 0

The first game is one of my all-time favorites. Ive been so busy i completely forgot part 2 was out!

Upvote • 
Avatar image for TrueLink
TrueLink

621

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

I loved the original, so it's good to hear the sequel is great too. I'm really looking forward to this... but I already broke my "finish my backlog" goal picking up Dead Cells, so I think I have to wait. Hopefully, I won't be waiting too long.

Upvote • 

Guacamelee! 2

First Released Aug 21, 2018
released
  • Nintendo Switch
  • PC
  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One

9
Superb

Average Rating

29 Rating(s)

7.6

Developed by:

Published by:

Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
Everyone 10+
Alcohol Reference, Fantasy Violence, Mild Language