Mexican wrestling meets Metroid-vania in a stylistic 2D world. That would be the most accurate, albeit bizarre, description of Guacamelee!, the new game coming from Drinkbox Studios.
Drinkbox Studios is a Toronto based company that was founded in 2008 after Pseudo Interactive went out of business. “We’ve picked up a few people here and there to form our happy little indie studio,” said Chris McQuinn, one of Designers at Drinkbox. “In fact, Toronto it seems is emerging as the capital of indie studios.”
The company’s first game was Tales from Space: About a Blob, which was released on the PSN. It was a physics based game about an alien creature that the player controls through various levels and puzzles absorbing food to get larger so it can devour the world. The game got very high reviews all around. In February they released Tales from Space: Mutant Blob Attacks as a launch title for the PlayStation Vita. The game was similar to their first release.
Guacamelee! is their latest project. It revolves around a Mexican luchadore by the name of Juan and his partner Tostata fighting their way through an assortment of levels. You have at your disposal an array of moves and combos with which to take down your foes. But your moves are useful for more than just busting skulls, they can also be used to help you explore the levels and access new areas. Mastering the techniques in and out of combat will be the key to survival.
“All the mechanics in the game are really great,” said McQuinn, “but for me personally I’m proudest of the fast pace that’s been achieved while still staying true to how a luchadore might fight. The challenge of wrestling games is that there is a tendency to get overly technical in the combat, thereby slowing down gameplay.”
But beyond the traditional platforming and intense wrestling action the game presents a whole new dimension to the game: the world of the dead. Through the game the player will get the power to travel back and forth between both the world of the living and the world of the dead. This feature becomes key to solving many of the puzzles and even some fights through the game. In one world there might be a lava pit that blocks your path so you switch worlds and find that the lava is gone, allowing you to travel on before switching back. This back and forth element will be key and require quick wits and reflexes on the part of the player.
You won’t have to do it all alone though. “The game will have local co-op,” said McQuinn, “where players take on the role of Juan and Tostata. The storyline accommodates both if you want to play solo or with a partner.”
The game looks to be a lot of fun so far. Drinkbox has a video up showing some examples of the gameplay. The combat is fast and fluid and the exploration and puzzle elements seem well thought out without being overly demanding on the player. The world switching feature will definitely be something to look closer at; it looks like it will provide some very fiendish and intricate puzzles to overcome. The game is shaping up to be another hit from the indie scene. And something that is truly unique.
“Drinkbox Studios is really excited about this project,” said McQuinn. “The game just seems to get funnier and more awesome as production goes along. The objective was to create a world that hadn’t been really done before and I think we’ve done just that. Can’t wait for you all to try it.”
And I, for one, look forward to that chance.