Guacamelee 2 is preoccupied with two things: letting players have flashy fun while periodically challenging them to apply everything they’ve learned to earn big rewards, like chests full of gold as well as health and stamina upgrades.
We spoke with Drinkbox Studios co-founder and producer Graham Smith about developing and playing the game, and that conversation turned into this guide. Below, you’ll find several tips from one of Guacamelee 2’s creators.
Dodge early and often
In the original Guacamelee, dodging wan’t essential — until it absolutely was. Late in that game, a boss fight required players to dodge, and people tended to struggle because they hadn’t internalized the mechanic. Drinkbox rethought that in Guacamelee 2, where dodging is an essential part of gameplay from the earliest hours.
Dodging lets you move faster, avoid damage, keep your combos alive and even cancel super moves to dish out more damage. In other words, it applies well beyond rolling to avoid enemy attacks or pass through thorny vines.
“I don’t know if you ever canceled your super moves with dodge, but that’s often really useful, too,” Smith said. “Especially when you’re platforming, you might want to chain together, moves more quickly so you can dodge. You could start a dash punch and then dodge to break out of the dash punch and then do an upper cut right away.
“We kind of added these things to the dodge one at a time. Putting out fires is a new one. Guacamelee 2 introduces fire on the ground. You can roll through to put it out, and then that just eliminates a hazard from wherever you’re fighting.”
Find all of the challenges, but consider leaving and returning
Guacamelee 2 is peppered with challenge rooms, which are the most difficult — and rewarding — parts of of the game. As you traverse the map, you’ll see chest icons often gated behind colored blocks. In these areas, you’ll find new costumes, monetary rewards, as well as health and stamina upgrades. But to get them, you’ll have to chain together many of Juan’s special moves in precise ways to earn your reward.
Challenge rooms are deliberately difficult and often optional.
“We tried to be pretty careful about putting any of the more difficult challenges on the main path, because first of all we don’t want to block people on the main path and just frustrate them,” Smith said. “And also we want people to earn their rewards, too — especially the heart and the stamina chunks.
“So, some of the challenges are easier than others, obviously. We wanted to make sure that you have to earn your challenges — you have to earn your upgrades — and it is pretty gratifying when you do finish those things.”
In general, Smith said, if you can get into a challenge room and see the chest, you can probably get it. But if a challenge is too difficult, consider returning with new moves, health, and stamina.
“If you’re not able to and you’re like, ‘OK, I’m going to come back to this later,’ usually when you come back the challenges are a bit easier.
“I mean, you’re also better if you come back later on with more experience playing the game, but sometimes you’ll have a additional abilities, and it brings down the difficulty a notch for you if you have an extra ability or two that helps you get to the end of the challenge. It’s almost like a self-balancing difficulty. Like, ‘If I’m not able to do it the first time, if I come back later it’ll be a little bit easier. If I come back later again it will be a little bit easier and eventually I’ll be able to get it.’”
Smith also offered another tip for finding challenge rooms: Look for fuzzy areas on the Guacamelee 2 map. There might be a secret challenge room hiding there. And even if there isn’t, it’s still probably worth exploring to see what’s inside.
Skill tree tips
There’s no wrong way to unlock the perks in Guacamelee 2’s skill tree, but there may be a way to unlock things faster. It just takes a lot of patience to get it.
Nearly at the bottom of the Chamoya Fitness skill tree, you’ll find the Peso Pesado skill, which grants you more gold for killing enemies. It’s among the most expensive skills you can buy, but it also pays huge dividends — and Drinkbox recommends that you buy it quickly so that you can more easily buy powerful skills later.
Then again, you could (as we did), focus on the skills that seem like the best and most obvious way to help you play — say, upgrading your favorite moves like the uppercut, the punch and buying an extra stamina orb as soon as you can.
The wrestling moves upgrade tree is also a great place to invest early on. These allow you to do more powerful moves when you grab an enemy. And the best part is that they don’t cost any stamina to use. You’re just getting more powerful moves for free (after that initial investment to unlock them).
No matter how you do it, by the end of Guacamelee 2, you should wind up with everything.
“There’s no wrong decision that actually in the skill tree,” Smith said. “It’s just like, how do you want to play the game, if are you willing to forego powers now for powers for faster powers later. But by the end of the game, by the end of the last level, you’ll have every skill from every tree. We were very generous about giving money near the end of the game. It’s like, during the middle of the game, how quickly you’re getting powers will be determined by whether or not you purchased the money upgrades early on.”
And given that you’ll have everything by the end of the game, this ties into the notably difficult challenge rooms. If you’re looking to 100 percent Guacamelee 2, you’ll be best equipped to do that at the end because you’ll have it all.
Embrace your inner chicken
Chickens return in Guacamelee 2, and they’re significantly more powerful this time around. Just like our luchador hero, they have a distinct set of super moves — but pollo powers only require half of the stamina that Juan’s do.
Their four-hit combo is fast — and excellent for destroying white shields around enemies. Their general movement speed is also fast. In short, the great for combat and platforming.
In fact, to hear Smith describe it, Guacamelee 2’s pollos constitute a game within a game.
“It’s like a chicken Metroidvania inside of the luchador Metroidvania,” he said.
Pollos have their own challenge dungeons, and while the story that unfolds about halfway through the game is optional, there’s every reason to play through it.