Guacamelee is side-scrolling free-roaming brawler set in a magical Mexican-inspired world, featuring Lucha libre moves and local multiplayer co-op.
What I enjoy most: Combat with Lucha libre moves (especially throwing)
You play as Juan, a farmer who was on his way to meet his childhood friend, Lupita. When she was kidnapped by the evil skeleton Carlos, Juan tried to stop him but was killed. Miraculously, a mysterious luchador named Tostada appeared and gave Juan a mask that brought him back to life and transformed him into a luchador. Thus began Juan’s journey to defeat Carlos and rescue Lupita.
Theme, Combat & Abilities
Mexican folklore and Luchador wrestling are the driving forces of the game. Everything from graphics to music oozes theme, and all the movement and combat abilities are based on Luchador wrestling. Basic combat involves hitting enemies, throwing enemies into each other, as well as throwing projectiles back at enemies, and special moves like upper-cut and ground-pound are acquired throughout the game (by breaking “Choozo” statues) and vastly expanded the combo potential.
The variability of normal enemies are quite limited, but the bosses are all fun and unique. There are times when you are required to perform specific move in order to intercept or damage an enemy, but generally the combat are free-flowing - and comboing enemies and keep them stunlock is always fun.
Platforming & Exploration
There are also a number of non-combat abilities, including wall jump, horizontal flight and, most importantly, the ability to switch between the worlds of the living and the dead. This is often used in combat situations where you need to defeat enemies from both worlds at the same time; but there are also platforming sections which require you to switch back and forth between the worlds in order to avoid obstacles. Your mileage might vary, but these platforming sections are definitely the most frustrating parts of the game for me - maybe because I played the game on keyboard, and the switching is one key too many.
In terms of exploration, the special combat moves can get you to previously unreachable places, and can also be used to destroy obstacles (which are colour-coded to correspond to each of the four special moves) to open new paths and hidden upgrades. In some way, there is limited trial-and-error in terms of where you can go, but there is definitely some backtracking whenever you unlock a special move, as well as platforming challenges to get to places where you know you should be able to get to.
NPC & Unlockables
The few main NPCs (both friends and foes) are all very colourful and memorable - if not nuanced. There are humours abound, and you can also be turned into a chicken (or turn yourself into one) at some point in the game.
The in-game upgrading system also allow you to change to different costumes (which provide benefits like better stamina or life-steal), as well as standard upgrades like improved stun or hitpoint. There is also a hard-mode and a secret ending.
Guacamelee is a very charming game. The combat is fun and the world (the environment, the NPC, and the music) are extremely entertaining. I am not personally into platforming, so those part are less enjoyable for me - but I think Guacamelee is still worth checking out.
List of metroidvania elements
Name of game: Guacamelee
Designer / Publisher: DrinkBox Studio
System: PC, PS3, PS4, PSV, Wii U, XBox 360, XBox One, Switch
Year of publication: 2013
Style of combat: Melee
Use of magic: No
Combat-focus versus Platform-focus: Both
Death mechanics: Check-point
(Fall damage): No
Levelling / Farming for XP: No
Farming for Gold / Item: Yes
Skill pick-up: Yes
(Skill-tree): Pay for abilities upgrades
(Stats allocation): No
Gated by movement abilities: Yes
Gated by bosses: Yes
Type of world map: Multiple connected maps
World generation: Fixed map
Alternative game modes
Playability with just keyboard: Yes
Switching between world of the living and the world of the dead