If you’re like me, you’re going to spend as much time exploring as you are completing the main game. Thankfully the platforming is difficult, yet rewarding and the combat is just complex enough that it doesn’t get tedious. If you like the Metroid-vania style of games with gear-gating and exploration with a dose of character growth then you’re going to be right at home- er, ring with Guacamelee! If one of the players is having difficulty with some of the platforming or if they fall offscreen, they can turn into a bubble. The bubble allows the player to move through the level unscathed and skips the platforming, but i but must be popped by the partner. It is helpful for beginner players, but it can cheapen the experience if abused. It came in very handy for some of the puzzles where coordination was paramount and it was much easier to have one player solve it instead of both.
Halfway through Guacamelee! you gain the ability to travel between the Living World and the Dead World, all while trying to solve puzzles using elements between them. Juan’s ability to hop between worlds sets up a range of platforming puzzles. This quickly becomes second nature, and the battles between enemies that keep jumping between each world are particularly satisfying. Oddly though the whole twin world concept is largely ignored for the first half of the game and by consequence seems strangely underutilised by the end until you find the more difficult platforming puzzles. Either player may swap the dimension at any time, which can make for frustrating (read: hilarious) platforming sequences. It may be in the best interests of both parties to have a designated world-swapper for the more difficult puzzles.
The PS3 version allows two player local co-op on the same screen, so two players on one system. If you own a Vita, you can use it as a controller with remote play and you get the benefit of having the map on your Vita screen whilst you play on your TV. The game does not change or scale depending on the number of players, in co-op you simply have another set of fists to take down the undead. Money is shared across the board, and character upgrades apply to both players. Both the PS3 and Vita versions are yours with a single purchase off the Playstation Network. Guacamelee! doesn’t necessarily need co-op but it doesn’t hurt it to have a buddy along for the ride. Plus, it is especially satisfying when you uppercut a skeleton into the clutches of your partner who then power bombs them into la muerte.
Guacamelee! uses gorgeous artwork, animation, and sound to provide so much character to the game that you can’t take your eyes off it. The visuals are clearly influenced by traditional Mexican art, but the bold angular style still has a personality all of its own. Guacamelee! is one of the best games I have played this year, and should definitely be on your bucket list. It may not have the same impact to have a whole genre named after it, but it does a great job of using the best parts of these types of games and adds its own flavor that tightens the package as a whole. With two luchadors for the price of one I suggest grabbing your favorite amigo and double teaming Guacamelee!
A review copy of Guacamelee! was provided by the publisher.
The Co-Op Experience: A Mexican-themed 2 player local co-op-multiplayer dimension-swapping Metroid-vania beat-em-up platformer
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.