Title – Blasphemous 2
Platforms – PS5, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, PC
Release Date – August 24th, 2023
Developer – The Game Kitchen
Publisher – Team17
MSRP – $34.99
ESRB – M for Mature
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Disclaimer – This product is being reviewed on the PC. A review copy was provided by Team17 for the purpose of this review. Gaming Instincts is an Amazon Affiliate and does gain financial benefits if you choose to purchase this product on this page.
Blasphemous, for those who don’t know or are completely new to the franchise, is a 2D hardcore souls-like Metroidvania action game. In other words, as I would like to call it – Soulsvania. If you are a big fan of the Dark Souls franchise but want something similar but in 2D, then the original Blasphemous and its newly released sequel will be your best bet.
The original title came out in September 2019. Fast forward almost four years later, and the sequel to the dark gothic religiously themed horror is finally here. How much better or worse is Blasphemous 2 compared to its original game, and most importantly, was it worth the wait? Let’s dive deep into the world of Cvsotida and find out.
The Dark Horrors of Cvstodia
Blasphemous takes place in a world called Cvostida. This world is very dark and gothic and has a deeply religious society heavily inspired by Roman Catholicism. It’s a bit difficult to talk about due to spoilers, but it takes place right after the events of Wounds of Eventide DLC, which was the third and final piece of downloadable content for the original game.
So, if you’ve been playing since then, you should already know what will happen. However, the story is set up so you don’t need to have played Blasphemous back in the day. You can still enjoy the sequel and learn about its lore as you play. Just in case you didn’t know, it’s worth noting that you play as the Penitent One, just like in the original game, and your job is to free the world from a horrendous fate.
With that story and setting introduction out of the way, let’s talk about the atmosphere of this dark world, enemies, soundtrack, and visual appeal. Even though Blasphemous 2 and its predecessor are video games that rely heavily on pixel art, they still manage to immerse the player in this awesome, yet horrific world. I fell in love with the art style the instant I started playing.
If you’ve played any of the Dark Souls titles or even Elden Ring, then you’ll notice many similarities: the creepy and dark aesthetics, the grotesque and disfigured enemies, and even the soundtrack. The only difference really is that Blasphemous relies a lot more on religious themes, horror, and, of course, the fact that it’s in 2D. Meanwhile, the Souls series is a tad more medieval with a mix of high and dark fantasy, and a full-fledged 3D world.
The soundtrack in Blasphemous 2 is absolutely top-notch. It’s fitting, atmospheric, and doesn’t sound cheap. You could tell the development team really wanted to capture the essence of such a dark and horrific world on all fronts. Each region in the game’s large world map has different themes and unique music. You will not be hearing the same thing over and over again, which is nice. The sound design is crunchy and has weight to it.
Whether you are hitting your enemies with a giant flail, a sword, or dual blades, you can always hear the clashing sound effect and, most importantly, feel how impactful they are. And it’s not just the weapons that sound good either, it’s everything else in the world, including your character jumping, sliding on the floor, enemies hitting you, or whatever else.
In a nutshell, The Game Kitchen has captured the magic of such a world. Everything is so awesome in Blasphemous 2 as far as the world-building goes that I wish From Software would create a full-fledged 3d world of Cvstodia with Elden Ring open-world mechanics in collaboration with The Game Kitchen. That is, sadly, only a dream, but my point is that it would be an incredible experience.
The Exploration, Combat and Gameplay
Now that I am done drooling over this game’s amazing atmosphere, sounds, and music, it’s time we discuss how Blasphemous 2 plays when it comes to its exploration aspects, combat, and so on. At the start of the game, you are given a choice of one weapon out of the three. There is a giant flail, a blade, and dual-wielding swords. Each of these weapons also comes with its own unique exploration abilities. The giant flail is powerful enough to hit big bells that echo throughout the world and unlock new platforms and doors for you to go through. Meanwhile, the blade allows you to break through organic floors or blockades by performing a slam-down attack from a high height. And then there are the dual swords that let you teleport through mirrors.
As you can imagine, picking only one weapon will limit you from exploring certain areas because you lack the other two traversal abilities. Instead, as you progress through the game, you eventually unlock the rest of the weapons, and then you are forced to backtrack to areas so you can open up pathways you couldn’t before. Whether this is a good or a bad thing is subjective, but that is how the game is designed from the get-go. In most Metroidvanias, there is usually quite a bit of backtracking, so this design perfectly fits the genre.
While I believe this design choice makes sense, there are far too many cases where you absolutely must have the rest of the weapons to explore something interesting. The exploration is a tad too slow for me at the start of the game. I wish there were more areas that you could discover without the need for the rest of your traversal abilities. They don’t have to be as impactful, but at least let me find an extra room or two.
If you’ve played the original game, then you already know what to expect from the combat system. It’s methodical and slow by design. You have to learn the enemy patterns and be patient. Otherwise, you’ll end up getting sliced up real quick. Enemies do a ton of damage, and weapon upgrades take a while to find. The combat is similar to Dark Souls, except it’s on a 2D flat plane instead of 3D.
Each of the weapons has its own unique combat abilities as well as combos. The giant flail for example can do fire damage by using up your fevor gauge, which is essentially mana in the world of Blasphemous. The blade fills up a blood gauge, and once it’s full you can activate it and start doing massive damage until the gauge depletes. As you slay enemies and bosses throughout Cvstodia, you will earn Martyrdoms. Martyrdoms allow you to unlock new passives in your weapon’s talent trees, and yes, you can unlock all of the passives and abilities in each of the three weapon trees by the end of the game.
My only annoyance with combat in Blasphemous 2 was the controls and their responsiveness. There were quite a few awkward moments where I tried to make my character face the other direction, but either I wasn’t pushing the analog stick to the direction I needed soon enough, or by the time I did face the right way, it was too late. Essentially, the controls get a bit unresponsive and weird when it comes to wanting your character to face direction. I’ve been playing the game on PC using a DualSense PS5 controller, and for the most part, it was working really well without too many issues, except for some inconsistencies here and there. I just learned to deal with it. Thankfully it wasn’t bad enough to completely hamper the experience, but I still believe it’s worth mentioning.
One of my favorite gameplay aspects of Blasphemous 2 are its bosses. They are very well designed in terms of both mechanics and visual artistic appearance, and most importantly, they feel balanced in terms of difficulty. They are not easy, but not extremely hard either. I won’t be talking about any of them to keep this review spoiler free. But you must know, you will enjoy these fights for the most part. Out of all the bosses I fought, there was only one that I thought was on the cheaper side, but once I figured it out, it wasn’t all that bad. It’s a boss that you will be fighting somewhere in the second half of the game.
Getting new weapons and upgrading them is not the only thing to chase and unlock in the world of Cvstodia. You can meet many NPCs that can sell you additional Martyrdom, and a ton of other useful items that you can give to other NPCs to upgrade your fevor gauge, health bar, and even flasks. Yep, just like in Dark Souls, you can increase the number of flasks you carry by donating your blood on a chalice and bringing the NPC-specific items to increase your character’s life pool and healing.
I’d rather not talk about these NPCs, since they are fun to discover. This is as Dark Souls as it can get, but in a 2D format hence why I call this franchise a Soulsvania. And yes, just like the original game, it has multiple endings, so there will be plenty of reasons for you to replay it if you want to see everything this franchise offers.
I really enjoyed my time in Cvstodia with Blasphemous 2. Now you might be saying, but you haven’t really said if it’s better than the first title, and in that case, you would be correct, I did not. That’s because I actually never played the original game, and this is my first introduction to the universe of Blasphemous. I am just going to be flat-out transparent here and tell you that if you enjoy titles such as Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and Elden Ring but want a different setting in a completely different dimensional format with awesome atmosphere, sound, and music, then you must play Blasphemous 2. If you are a Souls fan, then you need to play this game. It’s simple as that. As I’ve previously stated, my only issues with the game were the early limitation of exploration and somewhat inconsistent and unresponsive controls. Other than that, there is really not much else to complain about. With that said, Blasphemous 2 receives a final verdict of 9 out of 10.
Do yourself a favor, and please dive into the dark, horrific religious-themed world of Cvstodia. While it may be a depressing place, there is a lot of fun to be had there. Also, the game only costs $34.99. You’ll get so much value out of it compared to other full-fledged premium titles being sold at $69.99.
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