The metroidvania genre is pretty packed across the entire industry, indie to AAA. For every Axiom Verge, there’s an Arkham Asylum, and the ongoing popularity of the backtracking and gear gaining gametype gives developers a lot of flexibility in experimenting.
Back in 2013, one of these experiments, Guacamelee, released to widespread acclaim, as the story of the Luchador superhero Juan Aguacate brought players through a Mexico themed world and story covered in Day of the Dead motifs and chickens.
I played the hell out of the original, spending loads of hours unlocking secrets and various costumes, so when the sequel was announced I figured getting hands on was a necessity at PAX.
Currently scheduled for a release on PS4 and Steam, “soon,” my time with Guacamelee 2 was a great continuation of the original platformer meets beat-em-up meets chicken simulator.
The demo level I played through showed off the new engine, and 4K graphics beautifully. Juan and his various skeletal enemies were glowingly rendered, with what felt like a much more pulled back view, allowing the individually hand painted backgrounds to shine. The original’s colors and design were incredibly vibrant, and it’s kind of shocking how much more rich the environments feel with that 4K gloss.
Juan feels just as fun to punch, kick, uppercut, and suplex as he ever did, with some added enhancements to his platforming abilities, like a hook like ability called eagle boost that lets him connect and pull himself airborne. The platforming itself also adds some more wrinkles and difficulties with some new parallel world exposure, making the timing of the original much more refined in landing your jumps and wall grabs.
The skill tree is changed in the sequel, after a macguffin that strips Juan of his badassery early on. This uplevel process is tied to trainers, where various unlocks (and Trophies, potentially) are based on your in-game prowess. There’s also a chicken trainer, which ties in with the developer promise that this game has 300% more chickens, one of the fan favorite sections of the first. I won’t give away some of the coolest chicken related surprises I found in my play-through, but you just might say WHAT THE HELL, very loudly like I did.
In total, I only spent about 20 minutes power-bombing my way through this gorgeous Mexican landscape, and it’s checked just about every box that I loved about the original and expanded all the best parts of Juan’s adventure.
Guacamelee 2 will be releasing (soon) in 2018, on PS4 and Steam. I wouldn’t be shocked if it ended up making its way to Xbox and Switch soon thereafter, but no comment from the devs on the likelihood of that at this time.