Blasphemous 2 Review
Blasphemous 2 is the new action platformer from Team 17 and The Game Kitchen, and a sequel to the cult classic Blasphemous. In this gothic-themed saga, we witness the return of The Penitent One, who is tasked to prevent the return of the Miracle.
Having played the brutally difficult first game, Blasphemous 2 returns with the same brutality but with also a much more defined non-linear Metroidvania world and gameplay. Will it stand up to the original’s cult status? Take up your blade, Penitent One, and complete your Penance!
The Weight of Sin
Blasphemous 2 doesn’t waste any time onboarding you to the game. After you select from the three main weapons: Veredicto (the war censer), Ruego Al Alba (the scimitar), and Sarmiento & Centella (the rapier and dagger), you’re introduced to an initial boss fight that will basically outline what to expect in at least the next four to eight hours of the game.
For the first part of the game, the difficulty level rears its head once again. The window to parry, the tight hitboxes, and the punishing damage all the enemies deal is par for the course in Blasphemous 2, so prepare to learn and “git gud” if you want to keep going. The balancing is quite fair and you don’t necessarily lose your tears of atonement upon death, but to get rid of guilt, you will need to pay for confession (more on that later).
As you reach the town, which will be your main hub for the rest of the game, you unlock different benefits the Penitent One can enjoy as you put your time into collecting certain collectibles and completing certain challenges. For the most part, they didn’t change much: you will still improve your health and energy by collecting chalices and fervent kisses. Completing side quests grant you more rewards and challenges to complete.
There’s the addition of the sculptor who grants you Favours (passive rewards) with what idols you have on display. Blasphemous 2 also brings back the rosary, which you can equip resistances. Though, I wished for more drawbacks on the equipped beads, similar to the sword hearts from the previous game. I worried that after all of these bonuses started to stack, it would make the Penitent One a tad too powerful.
Yet for now, I needed all the help I could get as most Metroidvanias are quite punishing at the start of the game. The first three bosses totally made short work of me, and for a while, I still could not do substantial damage as regular enemies tend to swarm and attack. At least for the first four hours of the game, it was quite challenging.
Enemy variants are some of Blasphemous 2‘s best points. While variants tend to change their elemental strengths, they manifest in different types of attack patterns, which introduce some bullet hell elements that keep you on your toes. Basic enemies keep up with your skill and even if you get more powerful, there will be a more powerful version of them lying in wait.
You unlock more of your weapons as you progress, which allows you to also open gates and gives you access to unreachable areas of the map. This gets quite fun as you can reach unreachable areas with these weapon abilities and improves upon movement skills absent from the previous game. Several design choices were streamlined such as combining multiple upgrades into one NPC.
Compared to the first game, Blasphemous 2 made movement more organic. Falls and spikes don’t instantly kill you or require roundabout side quests to protect you from them. Wall climb automatically locks you in place versus the first game where you have to manually stab the wall. Double jumps and air dashes can now be done simplifying traversal. Blasphemous 2 now feels more defined as a Metroidvania.
Blasphemous flirted with the idea of being a Soulslike Metroidvania, and some of its design choices remain, such as enemies respawning when you save/heal at shrines. Previous inaccessible areas can be scaled using your skills. You can gauge how strong your character can become with defined passive skills and damage is now measured in numerical figures. However, enemies will keep you on your toes and that means a lot of dying, but you don’t lose your progress and hard-earned rewards such as tears (currency), mark of martyrdom (skill points), and inventory when you perish.
When you die, you still accumulate guilt fragments, which shortens your fervor (energy) bar. Unlike the first game, the more guilt fragments you collect, the more damage you receive. To get rid of it, simply pick up the guilt fragment where you last died or pay a confession fee. This adds another layer to the guilt system, which is appreciated.
The Power of Penance
As you progress through Blasphemous 2, you will continue to get exponentially stronger. You’re able to purchase and acquire new prayers and your weapons to have unlockable skills and passives that will increase your defense, offense, and add more skills to supplement your playstyle. As the normal enemies scale with you and they will remain overwhelming, I can’t say the same for the bosses.
Blasphemous 2’s bosses are such pushovers after a certain threshold. While I said the first three bosses were quite challenging, as you progress through the second act of the game, the bosses get easier and easier. There are even some bosses that I’ve vanquished on the first try. The first game had harder bosses that featured a mix of traversal and combat that tested your mettle.
After a while, you can just brute force your way through many of these bosses as the difficulty curve is crushed with all your bonuses. You can literally power through them without much effort. I was looking forward to challenging harder bosses, but only one of the final bosses of Blasphemous 2 rises up to be somewhat of a challenge. You just get too overpowered and I wasn’t even going out of my way to level up!
While it starts out challenging and novel with varied areas to explore, the level design in Blasphemous 2 starts to become quite uniform after a while. There are many thematic elements that are utilized to keep the levels interesting and unique, but in terms of traversal puzzles seen in this genre, I quite expected more as the levels progressed.
Blasphemous 2 can be completed in 15-20 hours and another 5-10 hours for the secrets and 100% game completion (mileage may vary, of course). Just like the first game, there are many secrets including a true ending to unlock. It is definitely worth a full-priced purchase with the value received from quite a meaty package.
It is fun from beginning to end. I came in expecting a much more difficult game but it got progressively easier the more you got powerful. It’s a shame because the grotesque bosses look so nightmarish that I feel bad just plowing and powering through them without having the satisfaction of getting to know their patterns more intimately like the first three bosses. As we have played an early build of the game, a future patch may improve boss difficulty if they haven’t already.
There are a few bugs that exist that didn’t necessarily break Blasphemous 2, because the controls are tight and hitboxes require precise timing, especially for the parries. So it all evens out and they can be relegated as immersion-breaking rather than game-breaking. Hopefully, they can be fixed with a Day 1 patch.
Besides that, other quality-of-life improvements will unlock as you near the endgame. Many of the services you receive from the city are relegated to the save points such as the confessional, altar of favors, and even being able to fast travel using save points. It saves a lot of time traversing through such a massive map.
Visually and thematically, Blasphemous 2 is at the top of its game. The creepy religious imagery and beautiful gothic pixel art will continue to stay in the worst of my nightmares. The beautiful and much-improved pixel art really draws you in and doesn’t let you out until the last moment. It’s devilishly engaging and I’m hooked from start to finish.
What We Liked
- A well-polished Metroidvania that improves upon its predecessor.
- A massive non-linear world with tons of secrets and varied areas to explore.
- New weapons add a new dimension to cater to different gameplay styles.
- Quality of life improvements to make traversal easier.
What We Didn’t Like
- Later bosses become too easy as you get more powerful.
- Overall, a lot less challenging compared to the first game.
- Some minor glitches hopefully to be fixed with a later patch.
Verdict: Buy It!
Blasphemous 2 is a satisfying and meaty action platformer well worth its Metroidvania pedigree. Though I wished the difficulty of Blasphemous 2 would’ve been sustained throughout the experience, it progressively got easier the more you got powerful. I wouldn’t say it’s a bad thing because it allows for a wider audience, especially those not partial to crushingly difficult games like its predecessor.
It follows up a fantastic premise fantastically and delivers from start to finish with its solid adherence to its themes and visual playbook. Blasphemous 2‘s story and visual panache hooks you and doesn’t let go. It also doesn’t hurt that the non-linear world is so vast and there’s so much to explore. So many varied enemies to fight and, though easy, bosses to vanquish.
Blasphemous 2 is a solid recommendation not only for fans of Metroidvania and similar games. This may be the Metroidvania that’ll get you hooked the same way Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Hollow Knight were the two titles that got me into the genre. It doesn’t even require you to get that good, just enough to get you to like it, and before you know it… you’re in it for the long haul.
*Blasphemous 2 was reviewed on a PS5 with a review code provided by the publisher.