Blasphemous review

2022-02-01 by Callum Andrews

  • Reviewed on

  • Platforms

    Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Xbox One, Mac OS, Microsoft Windows, Linux, Mac OS Classic

  • Developer
    The Game Kitchen

  • Publisher
    Team17, Limited Run Games

Let the bodies hit the floor

Just another action platformer you say? I say no. Another Metroidvania clone? I say maybe. Just another mediocre game you can't be bothered to waste your time on. Then I say you're missing out. Blasphemous is a game that initially might feel like something familiar, but after you spend some time with it, you will realize that is just not true. Sure the game borrows a lot from its influences which I argue are the Dark Souls series, Castlevania: Symphony of the night and the various Metroid games. But the atmosphere and the art style this game presents is something different and for many might be something that they haven't seen before.

You are The Penitent One, and you and your brothers and sisters (of the order that you belong to) have all been massacred and while your fellow order members remain dead you for some reason do not. You are in the land of Cvstodia which has been cursed and it is up to you to lift that curse and end the cycle of undeath for yourself. This is the very surface of what the story in Blasphemous is about, one can on the other hand go much deeper and extract a lot more detail about the story if one is so inclined. It is although very vaguely told. In the same vain that the Dark Souls games tell its story with the help of its environments and with the help of various item descriptions, the player can try to figure it out for themselves as they progress through the game.

Slash, dice and dash

Blasphemous is as much of a platformer as it is an action-adventure game, you progress through the various environments of the world and make your way through enemies either with the help of your trusty sword or with the help of prayers, this games equivalent to magic. Even though the combat is pretty basic the developers have added an extra dimension to it by giving the player the option of directing their sword strikes. So for example, if a player wants to hit something above them the player needs to press the up key button and The Penitent One will slash upwards. Or if the player wants to hit something under them then they need to jump and press the downward direction button and The Penitent One will direct his sword downward. It's a very simple system but also very intuitive. The Penitent One isn't as hard as one might think, some of the enemies hit pretty hard especially the bosses. For this, though one can either parry an attack or dodge it. The dodge comes pretty handily when it comes to the bigger enemies while the parry is useful against some projectile-type attacks or other sword-wielding enemies. The player can also perform some pretty brutal executions which see The Penitent One finish off his enemies in a pretty gory fashion. Then you also have prayers which are spells The Penitent One can use throughout the game. They are on the other hand pretty hard to come by except for the first one. I was only able to find a handful myself and thankfully the ones I had were enough for me to be able to get me through the game. The player uses fervor to use these spells which is the same thing as mana in other games. The only way to accumulate fervor is by hitting and killing enemies or by destroying objects in the game (this only applies though if you equip a specific item).

As stated before one sees very clearly from what games Blasphemous get's its inspiration. For the player to proceed to the final parts of the game, they need to acquire three specific items, guarded by three different bosses. This is very much reminiscent of the Dark Souls set up where the player needed to ring the different bells that were in different parts of the game to proceed. These items can be acquired in any order the player chooses to get them. Once this has been achieved the game opens up another area where the player will yet again need to obtain another set of items before being able to take on the last bosses of the game. Like the games Blasphemous draws its influences from it does require some backtracking. Not everything is accessible to the player when they pass some of the areas the first time around. One can find items where it isn't always clear what it does but by revisiting older areas one can discover that some of these items give access to areas that the player couldn't reach before. Blasphemous does very much have its fair share of secret areas requiring the player to get imaginative and experimental with the environment. This oftentimes is a nice incentive that might lead to someone discovering a particular secret which will make the journey through the game a bit easier. On the other hand, there are occasions that this can be taken a bit too far. Regrettably, this is very much a case with Blasphemous. By trying to obfuscate a bit too much of the game, the developers have hidden away the chance from the player of choosing the conclusion to their adventure. The only way a player might choose the conclusion they want is by a stroke of luck or by reading a walkthrough that tells them what to do to get the desired outcome.

Now you see it now you don't

The artwork in Blasphemous is something out of this world. Seeing as this is a pixelated 2D game, the way some of the enemies and especially the bosses look will make you wonder if the artist or artists behind them need to be locked up in an insane asylum. But apart from these the artwork done for the various cutscenes and the background simply looks gorgeous. On occasion, I had to just stop playing and look beyond The Penitent One to take in some of the backgrounds. There is so much detail in this game that one wonders what magic would have been made if the game was made in 3D instead.

Blasphemous will surely keep many hooked and intrigued with its mystery, atmosphere and fun boss battles but once you get through it there isn't much that might compel you through another playthrough except for maybe the player wanting to get to see the other ending (since there are two) or you want to reach a one hundred percent achievement ratio.


Its mystery and atmosphere together with its simple and fun combat will make sure you push on to the end credit's too bad most people will miss out on a lot of the optional stuff because of the developer's heavy blanket of obscurity covering it.