Game Review: Guacamelee

Jonathan Szafran delivers his verdict on the eccentric action-platformer, out now for PlayStation 3 and PS Vita.

Guacamelee

Let’s start with a question. What’s been missing from the metroidvania genre all these years?

Luchadores of course. And Drinkbox Studios, the developers behind the hit Tales From Space series, have combined their comedic talent for designing platformers with an over-the-top view of the world of Mexican wrestlers.

The end result is Guacamelee. Offering challenging levels, amazing visuals and a cross-buy, cross-save feature with the Vita, Drinkbox have not only got another PSN hit on their hands, but they’ve produced one of the best Vita game to date.

Guacamelee’s story begins with a knock on the door of farmer Juan who, when opening said door, begins a journey that will lead him all the way to the grip of death and back again.

In an attempt to save his longtime love, Juan is murdered by Carlos Calaca, a skeleton man who wants to unite the world of the living with that of the dead. But Juan is soon resurrected and finds a magical luchadore mask that bestows him with incredible powers.

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The story of Guacamelee is full of adventure, amazing characters ( Flame Face is a major standout) and some of the funniest dialogue I have read in a long time. Breaking the fourth wall with jokes and paying tribute to other video franchises are common treats.

Juan himself doesn’t speak: instead he gets his point across with his fists. Upgradable power-ups can be found inside statues that have the same look as those from a certain Nintendo franchise. These give Juan the standard double-jump and uppercut moves that fans of the genre are used to.

However, Guacamelee has surprises in store too, with new moves never before seen in a game of its kind. They are genuine gamechangers, as well as glorious fun. Defeated enemies will drop health orbs as well as coins which can be used to enhance your health and stamina, as well as adding new grappling moves to your repertoire.

The challenge in Guacamelee ramps up about halfway in when Juan is given the power to switch between the worlds of the living and the dead. Platforming becomes puzzle-like as you have to switch between realms to make it through an area.

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If there are multiple enemies on-screen, some will be in the world of living and some in the dead, and the trick is to constantly switch between the two – because no matter what plain of existence the enemies are on, they can cause you damage. Some parts of the game will have you close to giving up in frustration, but the end result is well-worth the headache. You will definitely feel a sense of accomplishment completing this game.

Guacamelee is a beautiful adventure that looks great on an HD television. It’s definitely way too short (you can finish the game in a day, but playing on hard difficulty will take you a little longer) but is an excellent addition to the Vita.

Sony needs to have more of these cross-buy, cross-save games and Guacamelee is the PSN’s best example yet. So if you enjoy fun, humorous games that will offer you a challenge, then download Guacamelee right now.

FMV Rating: ****

 



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