The original Guacamelee! was one of the surprise indie hits of 2013, following the story of a dead/reborn Mexican farmer-turned-luchador's quest to rescue his girlfriend and stop the bad guys from merging the lands of the dead and the living. Guacamelee! 2 takes place seven years after the events of the first game, and once again the “Mexiverse” is in grave danger, although now our hero finds himself transported to an alternate timeline where he must take on an even greater foe than anything he's faced before...
Much like the first game, this is a Metroidvania in which players unlock new moves and abilities throughout the game which allow access to previously gated areas. The vibrant Mexiverse looks and sounds fantastic, and there are tons of skills and special moves to unlock - you really get a sense of growing more and more powerful as the game progresses. And yes, you can still transform into a chicken, although this time our feathered friend has its own moves and can be used in combat, rather than only being useful for moving through small spaces like before.
As great as everything sounds individually, there are a few frustrations that prevent Guacamelee! 2 from reaching its full potential. When the game decides to get tricky (surprisingly early on), the controls turn out to be a bit of a nightmare. You'll often have to juggle three or four buttons as well as changing direction multiple times during a single platforming sequence, which always feels just a little bit too busy. On top of this, the use of special moves is limited by a stamina bar. This can be extended by collecting items from hidden chests, but even with additional stamina you'll still find yourself running out of moves at the most inopportune times. This usually happens midway through a string of jumps and manoeuvres, landing you in a bed of spikes and sending you back to the start of the screen.
It's a shame that some awkward controls might deter players from persevering, as underneath it all Guacamelee! 2 is a really great game that would easily surpass the original if a little more thought had been put into the way players interact with it. There's fun to be had if you can master the controls, but awkward inputs are the last thing you want in a platformer, so it's difficult to give this one our fullest recommendation.
GUACAMELEE! 2 / DEVELOPER: DRINKBOX STUDIOS / PUBLISHER: DRINKBOX STUDIOS / PLATFORM: NINTENDO SWITCH, PC, PS4, XBOX ONE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (XBOX ONE TBC)