Guacamelee First Impressions

It’s no secret that the PlayStation 3 has one of the strongest lineups of indie exclusives outside of the PC, and with the newly-released Guacamelee, it looks like they intend to uphold their reputation.

The latest from Drink Box Studios, Guacamelee is a 2D Metroidvania platformer that puts players in control of Juan, a luchador with the unique ability to travel between the worlds of the living and the dead.

I sat down with the game for my first review playthrough yesterday, and while I continue to chip away at it for the proper review coming later this week, I thought I’d share my general first impressions of the game in my early stages.

If you’re a fan of Super Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (and come on, who isn’t?), you’ll feel right at home with Guacamelee. There are plenty of places to explore, multiple abilities to collect, and different areas to unlock after said abilities have been gained. So far, it seems like a game that will allow you to explore the environment over and over, without ever feeling tedious or boring. You’ll be too busy trying to find collectibles and abilities to care about traversing a certain section of a level over and over. And yes, that’s a good thing.

Of course, one of the first things you’ll notice about the game is its distinct presentation and design. Heavily influenced by Mexican culture and traditions, the game features a striking art style composed of bold shapes and vibrant colors, coupled with a great soundtrack featuring heavy Spanish guitar and some electronic flavor. It feels unique in a fun and interesting way, all while managing to explore influence and terrain that few games ever have before.

On top of that, it has a wonderfully self-aware sense of humor that isn’t afraid to say or do anything. There are multiple throwbacks to the classic games of old that gave birth to the ideas in Guacamelee, a mystical goat master will make jokes about dating your mom, there’s a character named Tostada, and at one point in the beginning, a man will offer you a sidequest to put his escaped chickens back in their pen. Don’t worry, you can hit or kick them all you want. After all, they’re incredibly “tough chickens”.

Speaking of kicking and punching, there’s something that deserves to be said of the fluidity of Guacamelee’s combat. While I’m still early in and don’t have all of the abilities or combat moves nailed down yet, I still love enemy encounters for the sheer thrill and satisfaction they give. There’s nothing quite as satisfying about throwing an enemy into another and destroying both of them in a one fell swoop. Fighting moves are delightfully over the top and closely mirror that of pro wrestling and the fancy moves of classic Luchadores.

I’m currently playing it on PlayStation 3, but it’s easy to see that this would be a great experience to be had on Vita. There is the possibility that things will be reduced in size somewhat thanks to a smaller screen, but overall, the systems and design seem to lend itself well to the smaller platform.

And yes, it is incredibly generous with its trophies. And, it has a platinum. Score and score.

Look for the complete review of Guacamelee later this week, and leave us your thoughts and impressions in the comments below!