Friday, 26 April 2013

Review: Guacamelee! (PS3)

Perhaps the lasting legacy of this generation of consoles will be the rise of independent (indie) development studios.

At a time when big game studios appear to be struggling in a sluggish economy, indie developers seem to have flourished. Sony, Microsoft and Apple have made it easy for these developers bring their works to the masses. 2012 was a great example as the indie game, Journey, took home many game of the year awards.

Drinkbox Studios new title, Guacamelee! feels like another title that should get a lot of attention from gamers.

Guacamelee! is a 2D side-scrolling adventure game which sees you play a simple Mexican farmer named Juan. His love interest is kidnapped, he transforms into a luchadore (Mexican masked wrestler) to get his lady back. Throughout Juan's adventure, you'll transverse the lands of the living and the dead and fight bone-throwing skeletons, plants, and reapers.

One of Guacamelee!'s strengths is that it does not take itself seriously. There is a great deal of silly humour in the game's dialogue and story. That's my only major complaint about the game's story is that everything is told through text. It seems like we've progressed so far from the days of 8-bit games only to have dialogue told entirely through text.

As you progress through the game, you can upgrade Juan's abilities.

These abilities include combat and jumping skills, switching between different realms and, yes, even chicken to navigate tight spaces. The realms are rather interesting. You can switch between the alive and dead worlds on the fly when facing enemies or when navigating obstacles. Certain enemies can only be killed in one realm and some obstacles in the world disappear when you switch from one realm to the other This adds an interesting element when battling several enemies, each of which appears in different realms or when jumping from one area to another only to switch the realm mid-leap. It's a mechanic that works brilliantly and feels innovative.
switching between Juan and a

Each of Juan's abilities are colour coded as are some enemies and environmental obstacles. This makes it easy to figure out which moves will defeat a particular enemy or get past a certain obstacle.

Guacamelee!'s combat system is terrific! You can string together a number of different combos, throw bad guys at a crowd of enemies or even use enemy's weapons against themselves. There's so much variety and so many ways to attack enemies; the possibilities seem endless!

The enemies don't necessarily get harder as you progress through the game, but the battles do get larger. The game will throw four or five enemies at you, each with their own colour code and realm.

Guacamelee! also features co-op play that lets a second person to drop in at any time  While on paper it sounds great, there are some extremely difficult platforming parts of the game that don't work well with two players.

The game's story clocks in around five or six hours. It's a shame that such a great game is over too quickly, but the game world is large and there is lots of room for exploration.

Guacamelee! is a terrific game and is a prime example of what indie development studios are capable of. Simply put, Guacamelee! is a fun game with a great colour palette, excellent combat and plenty of laughs.

- Sidd Masand

The Good:
- Great looking colourful game with a unique style and great sense of humour
- Lots of upgrades and moves to learn
- Lots to explore in the game's levels
- Crossplay with PS Vita

The Bad:
- No voice acting, the whole story is told through text
- Short single player
- Co-op doesn't add much

Score: 9.0 / 10