When Guacamelee broke onto the scene earlier this year, it was a smash hit for the PS3 and PS Vita. The 2D platformer immediately stood out as one of the best Metroidvania games to come out in recent history, and for great reason. It was well received by most critics and gamers but the biggest complaint that people had with it was that they couldn’t play it on their computer.
Drinkbox Studios aimed to correct that when they released Guacamelee Gold Edition for the PC, and I have to say that we are definitely better off for it. For those of you who have already played through the PS3 or Vita version, I’ll save you some time and say you should probably jump to the end of this review. Those of you who are brand new to Guacamelee can get a quick refresher here, but I highly suggest reading John’s full review for a really in-depth look at the game.
In Guacamelee you’ll be playing as Juan, a young man living in a Mexican village who grew up dreaming of being a luchador. After being briefly reunited with his childhood love, an undead skeleton going by the name of Carlos Calaca kidnaps her with the intention of using her to bring forth the end of the world. Juan, through the power of a magical luchador mask, has to find his lost love and stop Carlos before the world of the living and dying are merged, ending existence for both of them.
It’s a simplistic story, but one that falls in line with the rest of the game’s motif. While the world is extremely colorful and absolutely overflowing with puns, it’s often downplayed as to not be overwhelming. It’s really rare that a company manages to add so much depth into a world while minimalizing what it’s really doing, and it’s really a treat to explore the universe.
The gameplay shines as a title that is equal parts platformer and brawler. You’ll need to progress through the game to unlock new moves and attacks, and in order to afford some of the much needed upgrades, you’ll have to rack up some pretty heavy combos. Guacamelee an absolute joy to play as the combat consistently feels powerful and the platforming mechanics are damn near perfect. As is the standard with Metroidvania games, you’ll do a fair bit of backtracking as you unlock new techniques and previously inaccessible paths open up to you. Guacamelee does feel a bit on the small side of things when compared to other Metroidvania games, so I honestly didn’t feel as if there were a whole lot of ways to explore. That being said, this also offered a more streamlined game where I never once worried about getting lost or heading in the wrong direction.
Guacamelee also allows almost the entire game outside of the initial tutorial section to be played in co-op. This can be done with either two controllers or one player wielding a controller while the other pecks away at the keyboard. There’s no online component, sadly, but it’s always great to see couch co-op included in a PC game.
Furthermore, as is the case with many PC platformers, you can play Guacamelee Gold Edition while using your keyboard, but I can’t imagine that being enjoyable in the long term. I’d highly recommend using a controller unless you simply don’t have any other options.
For those of you who already have gotten your grubby little mitts on Guacamelee, you may be hard pressed to find reasons to buy it again. Sure, the game does come with the costume pack DLC and The Devil’s Playground DLC (you can read our review of that here), but outside of that that, there’s really not much else being offered. While cloud saves, and Steam trading cards have been included, that’s not really enough to get that excited over.
The big inclusion to separate the game from its console brethren is the ability to download custom luchador costumes through the Steam Workshop. The game has been out for nearly a week now, and as of writing there are 12 costumes available for download. Sure, some of them are pretty cute or well done, but I can’t use that as justification to buy a second copy if you’ve played the previous version.
That being said, Guacamelee Gold Edition is still an absolutely fantastic game. With the PC market not having many strong Metroidvania titles, this almost becomes a must buy for fans of the genre. It’s important to reinforce that this is basically a carbon copy of the version that was on the PS Vita and PS3, so those of you who were hoping to find more meat on the bones are going to have the same disappointments you had earlier. However, if you haven’t played the game by now, this is a perfect time to experience one of the strongest indie titles to be released this year.
This review is based on a PC version of the game given to us for review purposes.
Guacamelee Gold Edition stands out as the best Metroidvania game to hit PCs as of late, but there's just not enough here to justify a purchase if you already own the PS3 or Vita version.