Oh Penitent One, it is good to see you again! Yes, our favourite knight with his pointy hat is back in Blasphemous 2, the long awaited sequel to 2019’s Blasphemous.
The original Blasphemous was a flagbearer of the souls-like metroidvania surge that has occurred post-Hollow Knight, and it was a hugely successful one at that. Developers The Game Kitchen have returned and have apparently rebuilt the code of the original from the ground up, and they are also this time backed by the might of Team 17 on the publishing side from the ground up. It all sounds very exciting, so let's dive into how it plays!
Blasphemous 2 acts as a direct sequel to the original and follows on from where it left off, even factoring in Blasphemous’ DLC update The Wounds Of Eventide. You play as the Penitent One, a knight who long ago survived a massacre known as the Silent Sorrow. Again set in the world of Custodia (stylised as Cvstodia) this time you must again defeat the mysterious entity known as the Miracle. On this occasion, there’s a floating island above Custodia that's being held on the backs of three giant beings, a bit like the turtle in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. Each being is represented by three bosses you must defeat, known as the Regrets. In true metroidvania fashion, from the offset, you are able to choose which Regret you tackle first, and all three are marked as destinations on your map.
As with the original Blasphemous, here again the art style and iconography are heavy on the gothic-religious aesthetic. It plays out on a tapestry so rich and unique that you have to sit back and applaud it all. Here you have art direction, game design and creative direction all holding hands and skipping down the street in harmony. It all just… works. So damn well. As original IPs go, Blasphemous 2’s dark motifs and gory vistas are, in my opinion, unmatched in the gaming world. Each cutscene is worthy of being a scene in 300 (the movie, that is) as the Penitent One’s eerie lack of emotion and lack of movement make you feel uneasy but also glued. All of the oldy-worldy words like ‘penitence’ and ‘visage’ return in what is a fantastically put together and carefully thought-out script. It’s all just a superb piece of storytelling.
What else? Well, the challenging boss fights are back and are as balletic and mesmerising as ever. One particular boss fight against one of the Regrets involves them dancing and teleporting around the screen. You have to learn, and then predict, their every move, and as the fight moves through its four phases (indicated by the four quarters of their health bar), the beat of the music gets quicker and their movement becomes more abrupt and urgent. By the end, my heart was racing, my palms were sweaty, and my knees were weak… All that was missing was mom’s spaghetti! The point I'm trying to make is that Blasphemous 2 is packed with stressful but strangely enjoyable moments like this, which all make for a memorable gaming experience.
- True metroidvania gameplay which you can tackle at your discretion
- Art style, game design and creative direction are all absolutely on point
- Thrilling boss fights and set pieces
So, I’m really going to struggle to find much for this section, which means I’ll be nitpicking here. The original Blasphemous was known for being VERY difficult. However, to me, it actually felt like Blasphemous 2’s difficulty had been toned down ever so slightly. Sure, it was still challenging and I still died a lot, but overall, I found it more forgiving with the general combat. Perhaps this is because I’ve played the first game, so I know what to expect, or because in Blasphemous 2, there’s a wider arsenal of weapons at your disposal. Either way, I feel that any die-hard souls-like metroidvania fans who want their asses whooped will be slightly let down.
On a similar theme of feeling unfulfilled, I was surprised to learn that the game world in Blasphemous 2 isn’t really any bigger than the original. This is fine because the original Blasphemous was a time-sinking experience, but I was perhaps expecting a bit more ambition on that front.
Lastly, there are some minor issues with the camera in Blasphemous 2 when it adjusts to showing you what’s above or below the Penitent One. He's, of course, normally in the centre of the screen, but sometimes the camera pans down (so he’s then at the top of the screen) so you can see a pit or something like that below you. There was some occasional jankiness (technical term) where the camera kind of got confused and kept flickering between the centred-camera view and the adjusted camera-view, which was annoying at times.
- Slightly less challenging than the original
- The scope of the game world is not larger than the original
- Sometimes the camera gets confused and flickers around
Final Score: 9/10
I honestly feel that in a few years’ time, when people say, ‘They don’t make them like they used to', they’ll be reflecting on Blasphemous 1 and 2. Both games are superb examples of how to come up with original creative direction and art direction and ensure that both are interwoven into the gameplay. Blasphemous 2 is a prime example of what you need to do to be successful in a crowded genre. Penitent One; I hope it’s not another four years until we meet again!
Thank you for checking out our Blasphemous 2 Switch review, thank you to Team17 for providing the review code and thank you to our Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: