Many developers have been going darker with the tones of stories lately. It's time we stop asking definitively if this is a good or bad thing and consider the artistic value at hand.
Guacamelee! Diablo’s Domain DLC Review: Scrapes The Surface Of Hell
I loved Guacamelee!. I thought it was a great brawling beat-em-up game, a great metroidvania platformer, a hilarious Internet-humour romp, and on top of all that, a goddamn great co-op game. So when I heard it was receiving some DLC, entitled Guacamelee! Diablo’s Domain, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I called my co-op partner immediately. In this case, my girlfriend.
So on Friday, I booted the game up, and used it’s in-game menu to go to the Playstation Store. I looked at the DLC.
It costs £2.
I was expecting at least a fiver. At least. Possibly more. I was expecting a whole new campaign, a big ole chunk of gameworld (or a new one, a new map) to explore, maybe with a move or two thrown in. But no. The player receives one new level- one bit of the world map added on.
I hate saying this, and usually I don’t subscribe to the “DLC-is-evil” trite, but in this case… Man, it really does feel like something which was just cut from the game. Granted, it only costs £2, so I wasn’t exactly expecting much. For that money it is a pretty good deal. Yet, it seems like something which could easily have been in the game originally, a level which was simply sliced off prematurely and polished up before being released with a promise of great new things.
And it does have a couple of pretty decent strings to it’s bow.
The one level it includes is a petty clever journey into Hell, where Diablo can’t access his office because his elevators are all shut down. The only way to activate them is to run through all of Satan’s torture chambers- something which El Diablo himself is not keen on doing. So Juan, and lady sidekick if you fancy, run off into the depths of Devil’s Advocates, the bureaucratic law firm running Hell.
Ahead are sixteen levels, split generally between platforming and combat ones. Platforming levels are fairly taxing, the player being tasked with completing obstacle courses by only using the platformer-friendly Special Attack moves, or to use the Goat Run and Goat Fly moves to get about. The other are combat rooms, where the player has to either reach high combo numbers or clear rooms in time limits, usually with a constraint (like “no special moves,” or “no throws.”) Some of them are really frustrating- some are really easy.
This is one of the more awkward aspects of the DLC: the ordering of the levels. Challenge 10 or 11, a platforming one, is actually significantly harder than challenge 14 or 15, which I did in one go. The rooms don’t really follow any rhyme or reason for difficulty ordering, which can lead to a really false sense of level-design security.
There are a couple of other weird design issues.
For one, the level’s very small indeed. It’s actually shorter than some of the main campaign levels, or at least it feels it. It’s easy to rip through all of the challenges in a short sitting, especially with a friend. Indeed, on singleplayer, the levels are much tougher.
I also encountered a couple of serious technical issues: on one challenge, halfway up a necessary wall is a random invisible door which leads you back to the corridor. Halfway through the very difficult challenge I repeatedly quit it by accident. Worse were a couple of challenges where the game kept crashing, or world elements kept vanishing, rendering them uncompletable. In the former’s case, I had to hard-reboot my PS3 three or four times.
The gameplay issues in the DLC are minor, frustrating snags. Frankly, a bigger problem is that… There’s basically no payoff for doing these challenges. They’re fun, and you get PS Trophies for doing them. And you get three new costumes for it- but this means that you get three new costumes with which to play a completed game. You’ve already done it, you’ve seen all the challenges to come. Why does it give you a new costume? It looks great, but it’s completely useless.
I’m worried that I’ve missed something. I’m worried that there’s something more to the DLC, that you do some final challenge and a big boss comes, or something happens with Diablo.
Nope. This is it, within the main campaign’s story. You do the challenges, and in return get a nice little bit of dialogue, and three costumes which you have nothing to do anything with.
I’m not complaining too much. The challenges are really fun. The dialogue is great, especially talking to the skeletal clerical workers who populate Diablo’s offices. But this is basically all stuff which should have been in the game to begin with. And worse, it’s tiny with very little payoff. Regardless, for £2, we can’t really complain too much about Guacamelee! Diablo’s Domain.