Posted: November 24
Guacamelee is a 2D platformer that, in my opinion, does almost everything right. First of all the cross-platform availability, because if the game had not been available for Linux, I would most likely never have played it.
The graphics have a beautiful flat cartoon style without lines, which gives the game a stylish look without being childish. The storyline, though linear, is not strictly enforced, and you are free to roam and enjoy previously visited areas of the game. The story itself at first seems cliché, but the unique and humorous setting—a grand parody of Dia de los Muertos in Mexico, and the beautifully drawn high resolution cutscenes in the same style as the game, coupled with a great soundtrack evokes an unexpectedly strong emotional response. If you collect five out of six orbs before the final fight, you get the happy ending. This also unlocks the sad ending cutscenes in the main menu. I watched those and they made me very sad indeed.
The combat is fast paced, at times frantic, but luckily not too often. Additionally many important fights are as much a battle of wits as a battle of skill since different enemies require different approaches. It is important to find the right balance between preemptive attacks to interrupt enemy moves, dodging uninterruptible attacks, and quick moves to avoid undodgable attacks. The platforming part of the gameplay is intricately interwoven with the combat, as the various special moves you unlock have each their own movement function. Execute Rooster Uppercut at the height of your jump, and you can reach higher platforms that are unclimbable in a single jump. Execute a Dashing Derpderp to suddenly dash sideways or change direction in mid-air, or turn into a chicken to fit down a small passage! Every attack can be chained into one big combofest and it looks great too. Plus it allows you to juggle enemies helplessly while dealing continuous damage. The control is fantastic, which means that whenever I die for the umpteenth time, I still feel convinced that it is entirely my fault. Which leads me to the next part:
Practice really pays off, as does taking a break. Sometimes I gave up on an area and I would take a break—hours or days. When I returned I would suddenly find the areas far less difficult than I had initially believed. This really noticeble improvement as a result of dedicated practice—and a break to integrate the results—is one of the reasons that Guacamelee is a platformer that I really recommend. It gave me horrible challenges, but because I could really feel the practice pay off, I kept coming back for more. I even opted to complete all achievements. I think this is the first game on Steam where I got all achievements, and it is a testament to how Guacamelee is a beautiful, at times masochistic, and thoroughly enjoyable game.