Guacamelee was mine, and I think many folks’ introduction to Drinkbox and their incredible style, and after finishing up Severed, they’ve returned to the franchise with Guacamelee 2. I got to sit down with one of the developers and play a short demo of the sequel, expected to launch sometime this year.
My big takeaway from the first title was it was fun but maybe not exactly my style, and I’m not sure what exactly meshed better with me this time, but Guacamelee 2 grabbed me a bit more for this demo. It was broken up into a couple of sections as we slowly made our way through a dungeon-like area called the Jade Caverns. It turned out to be a far more linear section, that focused on specific platforming challenges. One of the new mechanics introduced were grapple points that you could fling yourself past. The angel you approached them from affected directly where you’d fall after pulling the move, and it reminded me a lot of the bash move from Ori and the Blind Forest, only instead of with enemies or projectiles they were specific sustained points.
This, in conjunction with wall jumping made up part of the challenge, but the other major mechanic introduced were waves of energy that essentially changed and shifted the scene from its regular appearance to the Land of the Dead appearance, something you could manually do in the original Guacamelee, but I didn’t see any ability to here. There would be passing waves that would slowly reveal and then hide grapple points or pools of lava that you had to traverse around.
A lot of these platforming puzzles definitely felt far more intense than anything I ever saw in Guacamelee 1, which definitely learned a bit more on, say, wall jumping or more Metroidvania-centric situations. That, coupled with several back-to-back sections of just “beat all these enemies in order to progress” had me feeling like a lot of the Metroidvania aspects from the first game, like the hub areas and backtracking, were being left behind in favor of a more Platformer/Beat ‘Em Up balance, but the Graham Smith, who was presenting the game to me, assured me that wasn’t the case. He said there were multiple hub areas and plenty of backtracking to be had. Even later on in the demo we earned a new move for the Chicken-form, which I was told would have a much greater role here than in the original, only to return to an earlier room and get through an obstruction I couldn’t before.
My time with Guacamelee 2 was pretty exciting. I got to see the several different skill trees, all of which centered around different new and stylish characters, and the charm of the villains and characters from before all felt very present. I think there is so much heart in this game, and plenty of ideas clearly leftover from the first game that this sequel has a much more ambitious feeling to it.
Look for Guacamelee 2 later this year, coming first to PC and PlayStation 4.