For Playstation 3 and PS Vita
Guacamelee! is a fresh take on the tired side-scroller genre. The beautiful art style and solid gameplay help it stand out from other indie titles, but the game isn’t without a few faults.
The story in Guacamelee! doesn’t take itself too seriously as the game starts out with Carlos Calaca kidnapping El Presidente’s daughter and killing Juan, the main character. Juan is revived from the world of the dead by wearing a magical luchador mask and embarks on a quest to rescue his love and stop Calaca from merging the world of the dead with the living.
Right off the bat, Guacamelee! is full of Mexican inspired flair and style. The world of the living is bright and colorful with a fantastic guitar filled soundtrack, and is contrasted by the world of the dead, which is filled with skeletons and a night sky. The world of the dead has a Day of the Dead theme, with sugar skull backgrounds and bright colors that compliment the dark sky.
Guacamelee! isn’t just piñatas and skeletons though
Behind the colorful aesthetic lies a deep “Metroidvania” style progression. The world is open ended with new areas opening up as Juan’s combat abilities evolve. I often revisited older areas as I gained new abilities to find hidden treasures and secret challenge areas.
The early single button combat felt rough and slow at first, but it became more fluid and deep as I got used to it and added new moves to my repertoire. The dual world mechanic adds another layer of creativity to the puzzles and platforming sections. Juan jumps freely from the world of the dead to that of the living, which can do things like change lava into harmless water.
The game’s playtime is only about six hours, and it suffers from a lot of backtracking. The end of the game also seems to run out of ideas. Challenges stop being puzzles and instead become onslaughts of enemy forces. These sections become repetitive, stale and simply frustrating.
New ideas and a solid combat system make Guacamelee! a fantastic take on an old genre despite its flaws – definitely worth the $15 price tag.