This is a review of the indie video game Guacamelee, based on my own experiences as a limitedly skilled gamer.
This has to be the best game I’ve played all year. Of course, it is quite different. Typically I play puzzle-like games… ones that don’t require me to play and deal with adrenaline at the same time 😄 Guacamelee is definitely a great starter action game. It’s mostly a button-masher, like Castle Crashers, so it doesn’t require much. However, there is much more to this game that makes it so great.
First, let’s take a minute to appreciate the music. I personally feel as though it is hard to screw up Mexican music. It’s just like Polka music, with a few “ondelay!” or “ayayay!”… I mean… that’s all I hear outside. But, the game not only captures this real-life element in the music, it also includes an element which captures the environment of the game as well. The game is light-hearted with funny characters and relationships, and yet it is dark because of the impending doom. I feel as though the music gets this across in a catchy tune. I usually mute game music and play my own. For this game, I didn’t.
Now, let’s appreciate the art. The more I draw and the more I learn about programming, the more I appreciate all the hard work that goes into a video game. That SH** is hard. Especially when you’ve got to consider all the different variables involved in a game. In other words, I am not as hard of a critic as most. The game perfectly captured the idea we all have of Mexico: bright and rural. The art pieces of the towns even capture, more so, the Mexican culture: chickens, mariachi band, farms, beautiful se
ñoritas, rounded se
ñoras, and the namesake guacamole. I’m not sure what the style of art is… but when I google “Mexican art”, I feel like this is where the game’s style is based. And that makes sense.
That brings up the next aspect of the game. The plot. Obviously, both music and art capture the concept of Mexican culture. But without the plot, none of that would be necessary. The plot is just wonderful. The setting is in Mexico, which is clear by now. But the story line involves Mexican myth/legend/lore/etc, that of Calaca. Wikipedia states:
A calaca is a figure of a skull or skeleton (usually human) commonly used for decoration during the Mexican Day of the Dead festival. Calacas are generally depicted as joyous rather than mournful figures. This draws on the Mexican belief that no dead soul likes to be thought of sadly, and that death should be a joyous occasion.
Those of you that don’t know anything about Mexicans should know that the Day of the Dead is a BIG celebration. You can think of it as the Mexican version of the American Halloween. The creators of the story have taken a symbol of death in Mexico, and have used it in a more negative manner than in real-life. That’s okay. Because a calaca is as much a symbol for death as the Grim Reaper. If Scrooge can shake in his slippers when the third Ghost of Christmas to Come (who looks an awful lot like the Grim Reaper) shows up, then why can’t Mexicans shake their maracas when a walking, talking Calaca walks into the room.
This is something about the story that I enjoyed. The fact that the hero of the story must fight Calaca, who is trying to take over both the world of the dead and the land of the living.
I haven’t completed the game yet, because it is just challenging enough that I need to take breaks. I’ve played up until I actually fight Calaca, but I’ve seen enough of all of this. I give it a 5 out of 5. You should go check it out. Or at least let me know what you thought.