Guacamelee 2 Review – Ready For A Challenge. The mighty luchador Juan already had a devil of a time in the first Guacamelee, but that’s nothing compared to his second round. Guacamelee 2 is the best kind of sequel, doubling down on everything that worked in the original. Though it’s diabolically challenging, it always feels fair, letting its meticulously crafted level design and self-aware humor shine through.
It begins a few years after the original, with Juan, now married to Lupita (El Presidente’s daughter), raising two precocious kids in a tiny house on the outskirts of Pueblucho. At least, that’s what’s happening in the good timeline. In the Darkest Timeline, one of dozens of parallel dimensions in–ahem–the Mexiverse, Juan actually dies trying to defeat the previous big boss, Carlos Calaca. A hulking meatslab of a lucha named Salvador is the one who finishes the job, and he hopes to use a sacred, arcane guacamole recipe meant only for the gods to merge the land of the dead with the realm of the living. That has dire consequences, of course, and Juan once again must mask up and trek all across Mexico for the power to defeat Salvador and his minions.
Though there are some new additions, the fundamentals of Guacamelee haven’t undergone any sweeping changes. The clean look of the first game has been upgraded with some beautiful, evocative lighting effects, and the score has more variety, weaving hooks and catchy breakbeats with a wider range of Latin melodies, but that’s about it, aesthetically. The atmosphere is still firmly in the realm of eye-catching and dazzling cartoon aesthetics, but even just those minor tweaks add just the right touch of looming dread to fit Guacamelee 2’s intensity.
Structurally, Guacamelee 2 maintains a balance between Metroidvania and side-scrolling beat-’em-up, and it doesn’t feel like either genre is being lost in the mix. Just strolling into a room to lay the smackdown on skeletons still feels big and brutal, the way a wrestler slamming an opponent into the pavement absolutely should. A split-second fiesta in the upper right-hand corner that rewards you for big combos is the chuckle-worthy cherry on top of a savage job well done. Hours upon hours later, it never gets old watching the numbers rack up.