SAN FRANCISCO – With tight Metroidvania gameplay and an inspired Mexican aesthetic, Guacamelee was one of the best indie surprises of the previous console generation. The original game got a few expansion packs and re-releases, but it hasn't seen an honest-to-goodness sequel – until now.
Gucamelee 2 will be out this summer, and it provides everything that made the first game so memorable – plus the ability to transform into a giant, murderous chicken.
I got a chance to go hands-on with Guacamelee 2 at GDC 2018, and it was like I'd never stepped away. Once again, I took control of humble-farmer-turned-flamboyant-luchador Juan Aguacate, as he prepared to do battle with the undead. This time, the villain in question was a sombrero-clad mage called El Muñeca, who dispatched three evil chickens to steal a precious artifact from Juan. (If you hadn't guessed, the game takes itself about as seriously as the first one).
From there, Juan was up to all of his old tricks. I came across skeletons of varying shapes, sizes and special abilities, all of whom needed to be punched, uppercutted and/or suplexed back into the underworld. I gained the ability to transform into a chicken, in order to squeeze through narrow spaces. (And, occasionally, the ability to transform into a giant chicken, to crush my enemies.)
This time, though, Juan has a new ability in his chicken form: smashing through purple walls at diagonal angles. As before, every new ability gives you options in combat, plus more methods of exploring the world and uncovering its secrets.
The graphics and animation in Guacamelee 2 are striking. In addition to having an inherently likable art style, Guacamelee 2 oozes color and attitude, replete with fluid animations and memorable character designs. The skittering, bug-eyed chickens never fail to elicit a smile, while Muñeca is equal parts debonair and menacing.
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While the game isn't punishing, however, it can still get pretty difficult. Facing off against Muñeca at the end of the demo required a combination of dodging, platforming and precision attacks, all while avoiding environmental hazards and fighting off lesser foes. The boss fight wasn't harrowing, exactly, but victory felt earned, not just a checked off a list en route to the ending.
Guacamelee 2 should be out in the summer of 2018 on the PS4, although there's no price set yet. It'll probably be more expensive than buying a cooked chicken, and cheaper than raising a live one.