Being a Luchador isn’t an easy life. It’s a life of pain that takes you on a road of ups and downs as you push yourself to reach the top. Luchador’s are also at the centre of the latest indie hit from DrinkBox Studios with the release of Guacamelee. A Metroid-vania style action-platformer that takes place in both the living and dead realms of a Mexican inspired world.
What makes Guacamelee stand out as a strong title on the surface is of course it’s beautiful visual style. Not only the style but the graphic fidelity which Guacamelee holds is just jaw dropping, eye popping and damn good. From the backdrops and swinging lights to the unique and memorable characters, every visual element of Guacamelee is eye candy and really helps bring the heavy inspiration of traditional Mexican culture and folklore to life. Not only the visuals but the audio is also under the inspiration and creates a soundtrack your ears will love.
Moving on to what makes Guacamelee what it is, we need to explore the gameplay. Taking a Metroid-vania style to the gameplay you find yourself in a non-linear open world in which you will yourself back tracking and exploring for some time. The game has your linear pathways but gives you so much freedom as to how you handle the overall journey. Add to this some side quests and a countless amount of pop-culture references found throughout the world and your set. The exploration part of Guacamelee however is blurred nicely into the combat as you’ll find colour blocks which link to colour based special attacks. As you use each of these to break through the walls and floors your soon open up a lot more to explore.
A key feature to take into account here is the way in which the game lets you swap from the realm of the living to that of the dead. You don’t have a button to push, oh no. It’s all done through pre-marked portals that may sound awful at first but in fact really drive the combat forward. Building up long combos, solving puzzles and even pulling off the best of your platforming tricks will be made all that much cooler with these portals. Given you’ll face enemies in both worlds at once you’ll need to think about when to switch between them and when to land that hit. It plays nicely into the gameplay and really adds to the experience. That and of course it ties into the visual style so smoothly.
Guacamelee’s pace is something to take a lesson from as well as it’s pulled off perfectly. You learn moves at a steady rate and at no point do you feel out of your depth. Your eased nicely into the game but never feel like it’s holding your hand. From basic kicks and punches to pulling off a prefect suplex. It’s all there and as you big these combos together your create some stunning fights throughout the length of the game. This is where the problem with the game is however. Guacamelee is short. Not so short that your finish it in under two hours but we are looking at about five to eight hours to 100% Guacamelee. That said however, you’ll want to come back for more. Guacamelee offers a lot into it’s short play time that really offers a lot of replay value.
Guacamelee is not only beautiful but also one of the funnest games I’ve ever played. From it’s strong inspiration and references that will put a smile on your face, Guacamelee does a lot to stand out. Along with a fantastic game with good replay value it also features local coop through PS3 and Vita. Though I wish there was online coop this isn’t a deal breaker. Guacamelee is a game not to be missed and DrinkBox Studio’s have truly out done themselves.