Or rather, how Celeste has spoiled me.
I never had the chance to play the first game, but I always heard it was a nice gem of a game. The metroidvania genre has always been a fun time. Super Metroid really did a bang up job there, and most of the DS Castlevania games hit it out of the park. The genre does seem somewhat relegated to the indie space, as it doesn’t translate well to 3d games. Darksiders tried that approach, and there’s a bit of it in the Zelda series, but I can’t really think of other examples.
The game seems to be aiming for satire more than much else. The skill upgrade nodes are straight out of Metroid. I get the stereotypical/pun heavy humor. It generally works, and makes the story move forward. The art and music is top notch too. Feels like a realized world, which is oddly important.
Your character unlocks various abilities over the course of the game, but those abilities seem at odd with the fundamental concepts of the game. I mean, you’re a wrestler. Should you not know how to body slam from the start? The various directional slams are used in combat, and also used to destroy extremely obvious blocks, for extra areas. There’s an entire subset of the game dedicated to the chicken form (yes!) and it’s skills. You’ll go an hour only being able to punch up, then 2 hours of punching sideways, then you finally unlock punching down. Meh.
The good thing, is that the map is extremely detailed, and shows you exactly which blocks are where, and what treasure chests you’ve seen but haven’t yet acquired. It diminishes a lot of the secret finding, as the map is likely more obvious than the game screen, but it’s a welcome addition.
Where I am spoiled is in the controls. Celeste has perfect controls. It has perfect level design, down to the pixel. You don’t scrape by a spike, you hit a spike. You don’t hit imaginary walls, momentum means something, and it’s crystal clear each puzzle was tested to infinity and beyond.
Guacamelee 2 is very loose, and the timing is off. Many of the more challenging puzzles require multiple sequential button presses, and specific directions to complete. It may go something like, jump, slam, punch, pull, slam, pull, pull, punch, dash. And at no time can you touch the ground. Celeste taught me that was achievable and that I simply had to learn the timing. Guacamelee 2 has nothing to do with timing. It has pixel correction and the art does not match the pixels. Some spikes are wider than others, even though they look the same. Momentum is not applied consistently. You character will get animation-locked in a specific direction. What I mean here is that the puzzles are well designed, but poorly implemented.
Thankfully, nearly all of the puzzles are optional.
Take the puzzles out and the rest is really top notch. Battles are fun, the world is great to explore, the chicken mode is great, there are multiple alternate costumes, plenty of side quests, a neat skill tree, and really fun boss fights. The important thing, is that it’s fun. Well worth the buy.