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Blasphemous 2 Review

Blasphemous 2 Review

Miracle babies birthed from a beating heart in the sky, a blessed city brought low, and bearded gods breastfeeding newborns; that’s right, the world of Blasphemous is back and it’s more bizarre than ever. This fastidious follow-up doubles down on the metroidvania adventure set in motion by its 2019 predecessor and does so with the same unparalleled sense of style that earned the first game so much praise. 

In the same vein as before, Blasphemous 2 tasks players with side-scrolling their way through sacred environments filled with religious iconography that, while occasionally recognisable as something closer to home, are entirely composed of The Game Kitchen’s own unique blend of imaginative ideas. The Penitent One (you, of course) awakes in a strange land and must choose from one of three brand new starting weapons — fear not, he will come by all of them in due course — before setting forth on his journey to stop the birth of a so-called “Miracle Child” high up in the sky. 

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Your first step along the way is to best three particular bosses and this pursuit will play out slightly differently for each player depending on the weapon you picked out and the order in which you acquire the remaining two. Each one is tied to its own type of environmental puzzle, you see, like bashing a large cherub-coated chime to reveal hidden platforms or slashing silver mirrors to dash a greater distance. Other abilities allowing access to alternate areas must be obtained as you progress and they all fall in line with what players will have come to expect from the genre: wall-climbing, double jumping, etc. 

These elements come together to create a competent sense of staggered exploration, forcing you to retrace hither and thither until you possess the necessary tools to progress. It’s model metroidvania and, though serving its purpose just fine, Blasphemous 2 fails to feel like it pushes the envelope; indeed, no attempt is made to nudge it in the slightest. Not every game can — or even should — gamble with all that we’ve come to love about this storied genre, but this one certainly plays the safest hand it can at almost every turn, with platforming and puzzles often being overly simple or self-explanatory. 

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Of course, exploration and puzzles aren’t all that stand between you and scuppering the Miracle’s schemes. Enemies aplenty occlude every corridor, and Blasphemous 2 offers a variety of options for taking them down. Each of your three weapons has its own cadence and it’s down to you to deduce which is the right fit for the foe you’re currently facing. What’s more, they each boast their own unique skill tree, bolstering their power and bringing new combo opportunities into the fold. With help from the city’s sculptor, you’ll also be able to make use of special statues that can be socketed in sets of two to produce both individual and combined effects, and rosary beads from the original game — equipable accessories offering build-altering attributes — make their return as well. Between your hot-swappable arsenal of weapons, assortment of magic abilities, and all of the peripheral RPG-style systems, there are plenty of toys to play around with without ever being distracted from the action. 

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The fighting itself feels good. The delicate dance between decimation and dodging feels satisfying most of the time; melee combat comes with a sense of weight as your weapons connect, and your sorcery is suitably powerful without making things too easy. The apex of enjoyment in Blasphemous 2, however, is born from predicting the attack patterns of your opponents and reacting before they pummel you into the ground, and though many of the monstrosities you’ll face make their return from the previous game, there’s still enough variety to keep you on your toes, with bosses — as you might expect — generally being the highlight of the playthrough. That said, I found the occasional encounter to be more frustrating than fun, with difficulty spikes inflicted by deeply annoying enemy combinations and made all the worse by the arduous step-retracing required to have another go (I know you get it, DARK SOULS fans). Furthermore, some enemies preclude the completion of platforming sequences and must be clumsily dispatched along the way before backtracking to the beginning and trying again, and though I understand that the name of the game here is challenge, fun should still be at the forefront of the experience and, regrettably, the fun temporarily fell away for me now and then. Failure is a less devastating affair than the SOULS series, at least; the permanent loss of resource points is not present here and you’ll simply lose a chunk of your maximum mana pool should you fail. 

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The plot of Blasphemous 2 is altogether abstract — but not to the extent of entropy — and though I never managed to make my way through to the first game’s conclusion, its sequel does a fine job of pulling you into the Penitent One’s new plight. Even if you overlook the particulars of the plot, the game drips feverishly with lore-driven character in a way that is tangible and effective without the need for understanding. There are grotesque tableaus and unnerving NPC encounters, climactic boss fights and enthralling cinematic sequences, and it’s all wrapped up in some of the most beautifully rendered pixel art you’re ever likely to see; whether you get hooked on the narrative or simply find yourself astray in a sea of atmosphere, there’s something in the story presentation here for everyone. 

Blasphemous 2 is a fine example of iterating on an IP and not fixing what isn’t broken, but it means that mileage for each player may vary. If spring saw you sinking endless hours into Hollow Knight or you chose to spend your summer lost in Ori and the Blind Forest, you might just find that you’re already spent out on the meat of what Blasphemous 2 has to offer. Whether you dive in now or down the line, the game’s gorgeous artwork and idiosyncratic use of religious imagery alone are more than enough reasons for me to recommend this otherwise atypical metroidvania adventure.  

7.50/10 7½

Blasphemous 2 (Reviewed on Windows)

This game is good, with a few negatives.

Though steeped in stunning artwork and illuminated by its intriguing lore, Blasphemous 2 is ultimately a paint-by-numbers metroidvania title that is occasionally more frustrating than it is fun.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Conor McGuigan

Conor McGuigan

Staff Writer

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