Today’s Metroidvanias have become more popular than ever before, thanks to games like Blasphemous paving the way for an even brighter future. It’s hard to imagine the days of playing Super Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night because both gameplay and graphics have become so delightfully good. I was nearly certain Blasphemous 2 would more than please. Of course, we don’t want a scenario where the sequel overhauls every intrinsic quality that made Blasphemous a resounding success. Yet still, a great sequel isn’t one unless the game adds and upgrades a few elements.
In that regard, Blasphemous 2 has more than fulfilled all expectations. In fact, it’s gone above and beyond in a way that’s perhaps best described as a “more Blasphemous” entry. Are you curious to find out what exactly the gameplay and story entail? And if you’re a newcomer, is Blasphemous 2 worth checking out? Come along on our Blasphemous 2 review as we break down all there is to love, like, and hate about The Game Kitchen’s latest side-scrolling Metroidvania.
The Penitent Story Continues
Two main elements make Blasphemous 2’s wheels go around: storytelling and adventure. In the former, The Penitent One returns. He’s just woken up in a strange, peculiar world rampaging under the oppression of the supernatural entity, The Miracle. He must once again master all courage and skill: to explore every nook and cranny for upgrades and passive buffs, uncover long-forgotten secrets, and take down dangerous monstrosities while racing against time itself to stop the prophetic birth of a new miracle child.
These events are stand-alone, precisely coming after the events of the original Blasphemous Wounds of Eventide 2021 update. And so, anyone can jump in without worrying about losing track of the story. However, having played the original first can go a long way toward greasing the cogs of your Blasphemous 2 experience. Because the franchise is, first and foremost, a grueling Soulslike, said to draw inspiration from Dark Souls and replicate its gameplay into a 2D side game.
It means you’ll run into more challenging enemies than I can count and, most definitely, bite the dust a tad too often upon meeting formidable bosses. And so, coming in with the experience of the original’s gameplay mechanic and having learned the parries and dodges of the Blasphemous franchise can make your experience easier on some levels.
Nonsensical, in the Best Way
All that is to say that if you’re a newcomer and are perhaps losing patience with the increasingly convoluted story, because frankly, at certain points, the plot got lost on me too, or if you feel overwhelmed, perhaps building up rage to nearly slamming your head through a wall, don’t. Relax. Take a breath. Regain composure and try again! Once you do, you’ll realize that Blasphemous 2’s challenging aspect is the very essence that will keep you returning for more.
Blasphemous 2 is non-linear in every sense of the word. If you’re not sprinting ahead, you’re probably jumping onto higher platforms and zig-zagging your way to new locations and areas than the original. The aesthetic remains the same, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. From enchanting but grotesque landscapes to gothic horror charm, only first-hand experiences can be properly appreciated. Blasphemous 2 has maintained the essence of the grim and foreboding land of Cvstodia that drew many players to the original.
Moreover, you’ll run into NPCs and pick up special items that continue dismantling guilt, sin, and redemption themes. These weave into a larger faith and deity mosaic that alludes to Roman Catholicism with dashes of Spanish paintings and culture. Remember the point about the story seeming convoluted in the beginning? Well, that’s the allure of the game, as it turns out. Because the more you explore, the more the lore and meaning of Blasphemous 2’s intentions unravel. NPCs have distinct stories and quests that further add depth to the lore and your adventures.
Where to Next?
A huge part of the story is to uncover lost secrets and unravel the mysteries of this realm. And talking to NPCs is a great way to do that, tied to venturing farther into the unknown. Here’s the funny part, though. Blasphemous 2 never tells you what to do, where to go, or how to do something. It’s up to you to figure it out, which can be an issue for those whose experience is the first time. Sure, markers in the beginning tell you where the bosses are. But finding your way to them isn’t so straightforward.
What’s more? Often, you’ll run into rooms where you can pick up a new item. Yet not know where to deliver it. Because NPCs never actually tell you the specific item they need. Yet they expect you to find it somehow and bring it to them so you can receive your reward. Now, as far as the level of frustration wandering about can give you, that is up for debate. Because true to form, Blasphemous 2’s world keeps you busy, whether by uncovering mysteries or fighting one (or hordes) of many creepy enemies.
Tooth and Nail
One of the major new additions in Blasphemous 2 are the weapons. A total of three melee weapons are at your disposal (unlike the originals's single Mea Culpa blade). However, you must choose one, while the remaining ones are scattered throughout the world. The game also makes it so your experience is structured around your first-choice weapon. And so, you may have a different experience from the next gamer, depending on your chosen weapon.
The three weapons include two rapiers (Sarmiento and Centella), a flail (Veredicto), and a curved sword (Ruego Al Alba). Each one has its strengths and weaknesses. Yet, all three can manipulate the environment, allowing you to move around easily. Also, you have access to upgrades, which you’ll find spread out throughout the world, and you’re free to fine-tune to your will.
If you’re a quick-paced gamer, Sarmineto and Cartella are the way to go. The two specialize in speed and movement, from strikes to pulling out. It can build up electrical energy to thrust into the guts of your foes or parry to reposition yourself behind them. However, be wary of taking damage because those quickly drain your meter, taking away your lighting-based slash advantage.
On the other hand, Sarmineto and Cartella’s attacks hardly compare to the massive damage output of Veredicto. Each smack through the head packs a ludicrous punch. It can put distance between you and the enemy. And can light a fire. But for its benefits, it can’t parry. And its heavy weight also slows it down.
Lastly, you have the Ruego Al Alba carved sword, which is like an average of the previous two. It packs medium speed, power, and range and can parry. Additionally, you can sacrifice your health to use the Blood Pact special ability that makes your attacks more powerful and have more range.
Ultimately, with upgrades on each weapon’s skill tree, your arsenal comes out well-rounded and perfectly balanced to take on any foe. But enemies aren’t a walk in the path at all. They have unique attack patterns and can be quite unforgiving at times.
The Bad Guys
First of all, let’s take a moment to appreciate the enemy's designs. I mean, who knew “creepy” can look so good? There are some relatively repeated designs, with, at some points, feeling like a do-over of an enemy you just slayed. But for the most part, the designs look ravishing and fearsome, perfectly woven into the despair and corruption theme of the game.
As for combat, the controller and animations work seamlessly to deliver a fluid and responsive action sequence. You’ll find vicious enemies with neither patience nor mercy. However, soon, you’ll realize that it’s a kind of dance to anticipate an enemy’s attack and pull yourself together to see through the long, grueling fights akin to Dark Souls.
Every element works perfectly, from gameplay, combat, graphics, music, and everything in between. The story can come off as confusing at certain points. However, it quickly becomes a passing thought as soon as you start to dive into the deep lore. Even the death animations look insane, almost as if consoling you that dying yet again isn’t so bad.
The soundtrack fits perfectly with the lore and gameplay, albeit not exactly the kind you’ll hurry to download to your playlist. Still, it’s excellent enough for the entirety of your playthrough. Blasphemous 2’s world is incredibly vast. Its look and feel are distinct from any game in recent memory, with an interconnectivity that perfectly exemplifies Spanish Catholicism and Medieval architecture.
There are no bugs or drastic frame rate drops. Granted, Blasphemous 2 is a pixelated art game that’s easy to achieve an easy 10/10 on the visual front. Overall, though, it’s a step up from the original, with demanding yet satisfying fights whose roughly $30 price tag feels like a steal.
Blasphemous 2 Review (PS5, Xbox Series X/S, Switch & PC)
Unforgiving Yet Highly Rewarding
Blasphemous 2 is here, and it’s, thank the heavens, a step up from the original. From new arsenals and locations to fresh takes on the Soulslike sub-genre, Blasphemous 2 ticks every box of a Metroidvania game worth the time and money.