Guacamelee (PC) Review

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Guacamelee is an action platformer (metroidvania) game by Drinkbox Studios, it follows Juan on his quest to rescue the presidente’s daughter.

guacamelee

Right off the bat, im going to go ahead and say that Guacamelee was 4 hours of gaming bliss.

Gameplay wise, Guacamelee plays very similar to Dust:ET (reviewed earlier this year), it’s a metroidvania with side quests, secret items and areas, great varied fighting and some platforming segments.

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Unlike Dust:ET however, which I felt focused more on exploration and fighting, Guacamelee also has a fantastic helping of challenging platforming segments. The progression skills acquired whilst playing Guacamelee are primarily movement based (with some offensive twist), which means by the end of the game you have an impressive array of movement abilities which the developers take full advantage of. Eventually you also get the ability to change to an alternate dimension at will – which results in gameplay mechanics somewhat similar to that of ‘Ikaruga’ or more recent XBLA/PSN platformer ‘Outland’.

Swapping dimensions is a core part of the game, it also makes it hard as hell.
Swapping dimensions is a core part of the game, it also makes it hard as hell.

I was seriously shocked at how fantastic the platforming segments in Guacamelee were, not only from a design perspective, but from a challenge perspective too – with some rooms on par with levels from games whose main gameplay hook is in their difficulty.
One thing to note however is that because these platforming rooms were so shockingly difficult, i’d be somewhat concerned for those gamers who maybe have less experience than myself – a majority of these segments are tied in to the main story and are thus unavoidable, and i’d really hate to see someone unable to progress in the game because of this.

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It’s not just the platforming that is challenging in Guacamelee though, the combat difficulty scales incredibly quickly, with the game rapidly introducing enemies able to evade, enemies with unblockable attacks, and enemies with shields requiring particular attacks to break through. Couple this with environmental hazards, enemies in alternate dimensions and everything else and combat quickly descends into chaos as soon as you get ambushed by enemies (and you will).

Odd. I thought I was playing a metroidvania, not Tekken 6
Odd. I thought I was playing an action adventure game, not Tekken 6

Visually, the game is gorgeous, a colourful and vibrant 2d artstyle, special effects and plenty of references worked into the game world (see article banner for their take on the TF2 Gentlemen Meme). The camera does a lot of cool stuff as well at set moments (which I wont spoil, but you’ll definitely know what bit I’m talking about when you see it).
The side characters, whilst few, are well written and practically explode with personality, from the combo chicken, to the goat-man and the guy with a flaming head, all of them are great.
The music isn’t quite as catchy as it could be, mostly as its hard to identify clear patterns and hooks (due to the style of music primarily), however it is very well done and fits with the game’s mexican style brilliantly. Different remixes of music play depending on what dimension you are in at the time, and music during more action filled areas are fast paced with a good beat and rhythm to them. I’ve found myself listening to the game soundtrack on a few occasions after finishing it as its pseudo mexican take on electro game music leaves an interesting taste in the mouth.

Meatboy? Is that you?
Meatboy? Is that you?

Aside from the mandatory platforming segments ( I personally had no problem with, but…) which I worry may be too difficult for some, Guacamelee has a somewhat weak plot line which follows a rather generic “princess has been captured” story straight out of the 80’s.
It’s also incredibly short – my playthrough lasting only 3.5 hours –  and lacks the same sort of epic scale found in some other similar genre games.

Verdict:

Guacamelee is incredible, featuring challenging and varied combat, fantastic platforming as well as great art, music and humour. It’s the full package, the only let down is that its over too soon.

Approximate Game Length :  Short (3-5 Hours story)
Actual Worth / Steam Price:  £10 / £12 = 0.833
Should you play it : Yes! Though it was short lived, my time spent with Juan the luchador was a memorable one, and for all the right reasons.

Rating: 5/5

Oh also, the FInal boss was hard as nails.

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