Steam Cleaning #29: Guacamelee 2

Guacamelee 2 is what you get when you put Rayman Origins, Shovel Knight, and Super Smash Bros into a blender and then add TONS of cilantro. The first taste is a shock, then you can’t get enough, and then you realize all the salt is getting to you and you need to stop and get a drink. That’s Guacamelee in a avocado-shell.

I went into this game only expecting something like Luchador Rayman. The platform gameplay from the beginning didn’t disappoint, but I embraced surprise after surprise. A combat system with dodges, special moves, wrestling throws, and color-coded shields? It worked well enough, and the special moves even meshed with the platforming. Metroidvania-style map? Yep, and yet little backtracking is required. A world of the living and the dead that I could warp between? Sure, that makes for some variety in the combat and platforming. A transformation with an entire extra moveset? Grapple-points for superjumps? Walljumping and wallrunning? Superdash? Float? Varied environmental hazards each worthy of their own gauntlet?

That seems like a lot, doesn’t it? It is, and that’s good! Hardly a moment went by in Guacamelee where I wasn’t facing a fresh challenge. The platforming variety overloads the main story’s short runtime with fun… but also overloaded me a little bit.

Picture the following platforming challenge. I need to time the following around an environmental hazard: Run forward, boost-slide, phase from one world to the other, grapple up, dash-punch, uppercut, phase again, superdash, doublejump out, transform, float down, transform back and phase back, grapple up again…

Fun? Yes. But unlike Rayman, Celeste, Hollow Knight, and other precise platformers, the above requires a lot of buttons I need to ingrain in my head. I found myself using the headbutt ability just to give myself a second to think about which button I needed to press to phase so I didn’t accidentally roll instead. Some challenges were trial and error, and I figured out the timing and button-presses required long before I pulled those challenges off. The amount of abilities available to me was fun, but cumbersome. Because of this issue, I do not see myself trying for 100% completion of this game, or the true ending.

I never tried multiplayer. It’s probably fun though.

Luckily, most challenges didn’t use all of the abilities at once, and much of the game’s platforming and combat avoided the above pitfall. I found that I enjoyed the combat immensely, and the game did just the right amount of pushing me to try different moves and unlock new powers.

Lastly, I cannot overemphasize how much character this game has. It is the most Mexican/Spanish culture game I’ve ever seen, with a healthy dose of humor mixed into it. However Mexican you just pictured this game being, it is twice that much. It draws humor from its strange setting (the Mexiverse!) and from memes, references to all other games, and good-old-fashioned character writing. There is a chicken illuminati in this game, and let me tell you, anything chicken-related in here is fantastic.

Play it for the chickens.

Verdict: 8 Hours Played, game beaten, all skills upgraded

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