Published on August 12th, 2013 | by Alex Porter1
PC Review: Guacamelee! Gold Edition
Guacamelee! has finally come to PC! Originally released for the Playstation 3 and Vita back in April, the Luchador themed platformer has been well received by gamers with very positive reviews. The PC version is now available through Steam as the Gold Edition and comes with some extra content. Now that we have our hands on it, let us see what we think of Drinkbox’s latest game!
The game follows the story of Juan Aguacate, a Luchador wrestler who has not had much luck. When El Presidente’s daughter is captured, Juan takes up the Luchador mask and pursues her kidnapper, the evil Charro Skeleton, Carlos Calaca. Calaca intends to sacrifice her in order to merge The Living World and The Dead World together so that he can rule over it all. The game has no spoken dialogue and it is all presented through speech bubbles on screen alongside the occasional cut-scene. The dialogue gets the story across effectively and also throws in the odd joke which keeps things interesting. While the story resembles a typical ‘damsel in distress’ situation, the Mexican Luchador theme provides a nice spin on the concept which will keep you interested right the way through the game.
Graphically, the game is beautiful. The characters, enemies and environments are all 2-dimensional but the original art-style and the range of colours provide a very appealing backdrop for the game that lasts throughout. The animations and transitions are well done and, coupled with the graphics, make for a very smooth and attractive gaming experience. The game’s Mexican theme has definitely inspired many of the visual elements that can be found in the game world. This means that you will see many sombrero wearing villagers as well as the odd fellow Luchador on your travels.
The game’s combat focuses on the player purely using melee attacks against a wide array of varying enemies. The different enemy types keep the combat relatively fresh but it is the introduction of shields that really help to mix up each engagement. As you progress, enemies gain shields which make them immune to your attacks unless the right move is performed. These moves are gained every so often as you move through the game and not only do they allow you to perform more combos and deal more damage, but they are also needed to progress. Areas start to become more complicated and can only be passed by mixing the different combat moves together. These moves can also be used to unblock paths to either allow you to progress or to explore previously visited areas.
Alongside all of these combat moves, you gain other abilities such as the double-jump and the ‘Goat Climb’ which allows you to climb most vertical surfaces but the ability that stands out the most is the dimension jump that allows Juan to jump between the Living World and the Dead World at will. This makes platforms, walls, and even enemies untouchable as they are in the opposite world. These abilities allow for more complicated level designs which in turn keeps the challenge increasing at a reasonable and enjoyable rate. This, accompanied by the ability to become a chicken (This game loves chickens!), make for some interesting platforming.
While the game is not terribly difficult as a whole on the normal difficulty, it has its moments where you will have some trouble advancing, with the final boss being the most difficult part of the game, as it should be! For those looking for that extra challenge, the game has a hard mode which ups the difficulty and comes with the Devil’s Playground challenge pack which provides extra challenge levels.
As for replay value, the game has its multiple difficulties which gives you a reason to play twice as the hard mode is only unlocked for completing normal. Along with the difficulties, the game has exploration elements. You can backtrack through levels to unlock previously blocked routes by using your new abilities in order to find secrets and collectibles. These collectibles are not just for achievements, they increase Juan’s health and stamina so it is worth looking around for them! These provide the game with some replay value but accompanied with the fun gameplay and attractive visuals, it is a game worth playing more than once!
Overall Guacamelee! is a fun platformer that has its own ideas for the genre. The number of abilities and combat moves mean that the platforming continually evolves as you progress through the story which keeps the game fresh while increasing in difficulty as it moves forward. The only criticism that I have for it is that it is a little short coming in at about 5 hours to complete a play-through but there is enough replay value to keep you interested beyond the story.
Something to look out for while playing is the number of gaming references there are to be found! These range from posters of Luchadores who resemble the likes of the knights from Castle Crashers, to a level finale taken straight out of Super Mario Bros.!
Summary: A great platformer with amazing visuals, a nice story, and great and adaptive gameplay. Accompanied by the Mexican theme, the game provides a very fun and enjoyable gaming experience that I would recommend to anyone, especially those who enjoy platform games.