Guacamelee PSN review – Brawling platformer pack in tons of personality

guacamelee

Forget jetting off to Acapulco this summer ‑ as holiday destinations go, Guacamelee’s utterly charming hypersaturated hyperbole of Mexico offers way more fun. Playing as farm hand turned lucha libre warrior Juan, you’re tasked with saving the world (and your love interest) from skeletal demon Carlos Calaca.

Guacamelee PSN review

It sounds silly, but the plot’s lighthearted with the occasional twist, and the whole thing manages to be genuinely funny. Bystanders ready to deliver chuckle-worthy one-liners populate the visually brilliant and unique world, and Drinkbox Studios has dropped in references to classic games, internet memes and nerd culture in both aesthetics and gameplay features.

But charisma alone doesn’t set this apart – the combat also delivers a heady old-school kick. Square punches, while Triangle grapples and unleashes your library of unlockable special attacks. Stringing together combos, launching armadillos into the air and dodging attacks with flick of the right stick satisfies and rewards throughout the brief campaign.

You won’t be able to button-mash your way through conflicts, though. Some enemy shields can only be destroyed with specific attacks (such as the Rooster Uppercut or the Frog Slam), so you’re never able to let your concentration slip.

While it could stand alone as a stellar beat-’em-up, Juan unlocks another power just as you’ve got to grips with the skeleton-bashing. Guacamelee plays out in two linked dimensions – the lands of the living and the dead – with platforms and enemies only existing in one of the two. A tap of R1 switches between them, making for perplexing platforming sections that test your timing and logic.

While the jumping puzzles are familiar and occasionally tedious, mixing foes attacking from an alternate dimension with already hectic combat skyrockets the difficulty to bullet hell levels of co-ordination.

For a couple of pounds more than a burrito, it’s a tasty morsel but prepare yourself for a challenge

Backtracking and burrowing into the world to find health, stamina and move upgrades potentially offers as much playtime as forging onward with the story, but that’s mainly due to the brevity of the experience. However, collectibles, co-op and Cross-Play functionality demand at least a second playthrough. For a couple of pounds more than the cost of a burrito, it’s a tasty morsel of personality – but prepare yourself for a technically demanding challenge.

Marcus Beard

Our Score

Score: 9