The Game Kitchen and Team 17 have teamed up to release Blasphemous, a 2D “metroidvania” style game that’s dripping with a dark aesthetic and sinister undertones. In Blasphemous, players will take on the role of “The Penitent One” in his quest to seek redemption. The game is available on PS4, Xbox One, PC via Steam and on Nintendo Switch and is well worth playing through if you’re a fan of challenging games.
As “The Penitent One”, players take on the role of a man that wears a giant pin shaped helmet. Small tidbits of information are given to you as progress throughout the game and much of the story lies in text found in item descriptions or in conversations with the surviving populace of the world. Things gets extremely dark and disturbing in Blasphemous though and this is by no means a kids game. There are intense religious undertones regarding sin and redemption as well as a lot of gore and nightmare inducing enemy designs. If you’re a fan of fictional content that delves into the occult and apocalyptic Catholicism, Blasphemous will be a treat for you.
Gameplay in Blasphemous involves fairly basic hack and slash style combat interspersed with platforming elements. The Penitent One can perform a sword slash combo and is able to upgrade his weapon throughout the game. You’ll be able to unlock new combos and charge attacks but Blasphemous only has one main weapon and that’s quite a disappointment to be honest. Nevertheless, using your sword is a fun experience and since you’re able to execute enemies with it, there is a lot of enjoyment to be had.
Players have access to a “Fervour” gauge that is depleted when using special sword attacks. Dying slowly chips away at your fervour and locks it behind a thorny vine of “Guilt” that wraps around the gauge. Players will have to visit the place they last died at to retrieve their missing fervour or alternatively have it unlocked at special shrines in the game. Given the fact that you’ll die extremely often in Blasphemous, we’d suggest trying not to get too accustomed to using fervour and playing the game without worrying about it too much.
Blasphemous’s world is intertwined in such a way that players will be able to progress freely throughout its map by taking different routes available. You aren’t specifically locked into traversing the map in one particular pattern so you’ll be able to access much harder sections right from the start should you choose to do so. This, however, is not advisable since some sections become a lot easier later in the game when you are far more powerful and have more abilities at your disposal in the form of “Prayers”. There are also boss enemies that block particular paths and some of these are downright despicable in terms of their difficulty so it’s best to face off against them only when you are truly ready. The boss fights are well thought out though and a lot of them require a lot of strategies to defeat. Defeating a boss always feels satisfying in Blasphemous.
Gameplay is a mixed bag of excellent combat and abysmal platforming in the end. Blasphemous is great when you’re enjoying the visceral combat and taking down enemies with executions. However, it’s absolutely terrible when you repeatedly die because you missed a particular jump in a platforming segment and have to run for 3 minutes straight just to die again in the same spot to the same jump. Instantly being killed by pitfalls is a major put off and if you don’t have the patience to keep at it, this game will make you want to rage-quit and play something else. This is compounded by the fact that fast travel spots in the game are few and far between so there’s a lot of backtracking and repetition in traversing areas of the game’s world. This takes away far too much from the game’s enjoyment and makes gameplay feel tedious and annoying at times.
Graphically, Blasphemous is gorgeous. The pixel-art graphical style is incredibly eye-catching and character designs are great throughout. The soundtrack is good with a lot of Spanish guitar backed tracks featuring. The voice acting in the game is well done and sticks with the game’s theme quite well.
Overall, Blasphemous is a good game with some blatant design flaws that keep it from becoming a truly memorable title. If the backtracking and repetition involved with dying and re-running through an area doesn’t annoy you, the game will deliver a solid hack and slash metroidvania experience throughout. There are multiple endings available so you’ll probably want to play the game more than once. As it stands right now, Blasphemous is recommended by us but only if you have the patience to slog through a game that severely punishes you for mistakes in platforming and exploration.
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