Another soul-crushing pilgrimage that improves upon 2019’s Blasphemous is logically what one might expect from Blasphemous 2. It’s of little surprise that this is exactly what Game Kitchen has cooked up. But it’s still a shockingly good effort that drops your jaw just as much as it whitens your knuckles.
From the moment you fire up Blasphemous 2, you’ll see exactly what it means to be a sequel in nearly every department. It’s not a perfect example of its genre, though. Still, the more fleshed-out combat, better level design, and a smoother on-ramp for gameplay round out this sequel nicely.
Blasphemous 2 is a visual feast from hell (or heaven?)
The familiar darkly appealing art style will drench your monitor or TV every moment of Blasphemous 2. Cvstodia is still populated with treacherous landscapes, ominous structures, and vaguely disquieting characters. Each element is just as realized as before, if not moreso. Every attack, leap, dodge and death is fluid and satisfying.
The confines of Blasphemous’s aesthetic constrain the visual variety a tad, but the rewards for that artistic restraint are overwhelmingly worth it. Each area feels as foreboding and guarded as the last. The unholy combo of medieval Spanish Christian mythology and pixel art is truly manifested in Blasphemous 2.
Love the sinner, hate the sin
The same elegant combat returns as well, but with more flexibility. Instead of being saddled with the Mea Culpa sword, our Penitent One has three tools of destruction. The praying blade, rapier, and flail fill the traditional roles of speed, power, and balance, but also bring special abilities that affect traversal. The giant flail, for instance, can summon floating platforms, while the praying blade offers the most versatility in combat.
Each weapon also has an enticing amount of passive and active upgrades to unlock. You can genuinely fall in love with each weapon, and are unlikely to ignore any of them. Additional fervor abilities and rosary beads spice things up nicely. You must choose between three initially, but don’t overthink it. You will be given all three weapons before too long.
With how great the combat is, It was a slight disappointment to see that enemy variety hasn’t improved much. I never felt like there were enough enemy types to fill up these large levels. Even when the enemies are changed up, taking them out rarely requires new or interesting strategies. Often, I began to tire of fighting the same three things well before the game introduced new ones.
I’m genuinely torn between complimenting the enemy designs and lamenting how overused they are. I guess both observations are true. Bosses, on the other hand, are consistently outstanding. Each one telegraphs their attacks just enough to potentially be slain on your first attempt, but only if you’re dialed in.
Blasphemous 2 has a sharper vision for what it wants to be than its predecessor. While the first game dabbled in a few areas, the sequel seems more focused on being a proper Metroidvania. This refined sense of genre is a welcome one.
The game’s logical funneling of the player to areas where they need to go keeps things moving most of the time. I did find myself wondering where to go on occasion, but these moments were shorter and rarer than they were in the previous game. Every inch of this pixelated hellscape feels constructed with earnest intent.
The Souls-like elements of masterful parrying and dodging are still present, albeit noticeably more forgiving than I expected. I adapted to enemies’ attacks much quicker than I did in the first game, and that’s not a bad thing in my opinion.
A smoother difficulty curve doesn’t have to sacrifice satisfaction. Feeling like I’m overcoming a challenge is ultimately the goal. The sense of accomplishment you’ll get when you finally conquer these enemies is as palpable as ever. Those who found themselves turned off by the difficulty in the first Blasphemous might want to give this one a look, assuming they don’t mind being lost in the narrative.
Blasphemous 2 is too inscrutable for its own good
That brings me to an area that I find slightly annoying about both Blasphemous games: the vague, and often downright impenetrable narrative. Everything is drenched in so much medieval speak and vagueness that you’ll be translating in real-time just to keep up. Even then, it’s not entirely clear what much of what is said means.
Old Testament aficionados aside, I refuse to believe anyone born after 500 BC fully understands the story of either of these games without looking up a Wiki. Your mileage may vary on how problematic that is, of course. I’ll even admit it rarely stunted my enjoyment of the characters and the dialogue. The broad strokes are apparent enough, but I think I would have enjoyed the story more had it been presented in a slightly more conventional tone.
There is no denying the interesting tenor this sort of narrative can create, but perhaps dialing it back from 11 would have been more ideal. I have nothing against the inscrutable or enigmatic, but Blasphemous 2 takes it to a completely unnecessary and pretentious level.
Blasphemous 2 brings the heat if you’re looking for more of what came before. All of the key elements that made the first game great are here and in top form. It only falters on occasion, and quickly recovers when it does.
There are far more things to be pleased with than not. What small gripes I have with general variety and obnoxiously obtuse storytelling are generally overwhelmed by the fantastic action and entrancing level layouts. The extra weapons and deeper progression are also a welcomed sign of growth for the series.
The combat is intuitive and balanced. The levels are designed masterfully. The sound effects and music are pitch-perfect, and the game clearly has a winning strategy for moving forward as a franchise. Blasphemous 2, while slightly hampered by a few decisions, is a great sequel. I enjoyed it more than the original in every measurable way. Returning fans likely will too.
While I don’t see this entry catapulting Blasphemous into mainstream success, I think it will, at bare minimum, grow the IP from a mysterious one-off into a real franchise. The depths of hell clearly cannot contain this IP, and that has me eagerly awaiting an expansion as well as the next entry.