In this Blasphemous 2 Review, we’ll be taking a look at the sequel to the 2019 title by The Games Kitchen, a small but dedicated studio from Spain. Blasphemous 2 is an action platformer with strong metroidvania origins and a very unique setting. Should you buy Blasphemous II? How does it compare to the original? Read on to find out.
Blasphemous 2 Review
Genre: Action Platformer
Developed by: The Game Kitchen
Published by: Team 17
Release date: August 24, 2023
Platforms: PC (Reviewed), PS5, Xbox Series X/S, Switch
Price at time of review: $29.99
Blasphemous 2 Review – Story and Setting
Blasphemous 2 is a sequel to the 2019 platformer Blasphemous, and follows the story of the same protagonist “The Penitent One”, in the same world. Much like the first title, obscure and convoluted lore surrounds each and every element of design and serves as fuel for a vague plot motivation.
The Locations you visit and NPCs you meet are however entirely new, and if you spent time reading the description of the Items you find around the world, you will slowly uncover their stories and backgrounds.
With a brutal but enticing world setting and an introduction that gets to Berserker-levels of nonsensical, many would be fooled into thinking that the world of Blasphemous is incongruous and the story a simple excuse for gameplay mechanics. This is a shame, as there’s actually a significant amount of thought, world-building and ingenuity behind the lore and story design, and it deserves to be uncovered.
Whilst I did find the narrative of the story itself to be somehow clumsy, the depth of the world and its inhabitants kept bringing me back to try and tease out more details and lore about specific, isolated instances. Each little surprise reigniting my interest and deepening the mystique of the title.
Gameplay in Blasphemous II
As an action platformer or metroidvania, Blasphemous 2 follows familiar mechanics and uses common concepts to deliver a fun gaming experience. You will jump around and kill enemies with different attacks, powers and weaknesses, and you will find power ups, key items and Weapons that unlock further progression and exploration
The gameplay loop is simple: pick your starting weapon, then defeat enemies to earn marks to upgrade its capabilities. Explore rooms and find special upgrade items for your health or passives for your overall character. Delve deeper and find hidden NPCs, learn magic spells, and continue ever forward in the maze of the map.
Blasphemous 2 Combat
The combat of Blasphemous 2 is, in my opinion, greatly improved from the original title. You will be able to select a starting weapon from 3 unique archetypes: A balanced Sword, a heavy Ball and Chain, or dual Rapiers for speed and agility.
As you play and defeat enemies, you will earn “marks”, that can be used to unlock further powers and movesets for your chosen weapon. These add another level of depth to the game and improve traditional metroidvania combat by enhancing features such as parry/riposte, and allowing you to perform powerful chained combos and follow up moves.
You will also find special magic spells that can be used to devastate enemies, but the cost is high at the start of the game and if you die often you will eventually find yourself unable to cast these spells until you spend money absolving your Guilt. Later on, magic becomes a core part of the gameplay as it becomes easier to regain fervour to cast spells and you obtain very powerful spells.
Overall, the combat mechanics of Blasphemous are fun. It’s not at the level of Salt and Sacrifice or Death’s Gambit, but it’s fun if you care to delve into the mechanics and explore how to best use each weapon and counter each specific enemy type, of which there’s a decent variety and not all of them feel entirely cheap!
Blasphemous 2 Map & Exploration
Your initial choice of weapon will also determine your first steps in the world, as each weapon is used to interact with the environment to unlock new areas. Some areas need two types of weapons to be explored, and others need three types. So the first task of all players will be to find the other weapons and add them to their arsenal. Following that, players will have to discover new traversal abilities to progress through the game.
The game provides some simple guidance as to where these are located by marking the first 3 boss objectives – and the weapons are found nearby them. But on your way to these markers, you will find many intriguing rooms, and shortcuts, Discover strange items that you must bring back to town and have a best guess as to who in town may be interested in them.
Discovering each NPC and their function is a big element of entertainment in the game, as you feel as if your exploration is truly helping you piece together a puzzle of the why, how and when of what’s going on. This can be very rewarding if you can be attentive to detail. You may enter a room in the field and find a random NPC that needs a specific item. The game will not tell you what the item is, or that you have to find it. But if you do and bring it to the NPC you obtain a reward. Returning to this room later will give you a completely different, 180-degree perspective of what you just witnessed. Bring your reward to a third NPC and unlock a special item. And on and on!
Blasphemous 2 Review – Design, Audio and Visual
Blasphemous 2 has a very unique design that has been well realized and delivers the artistic direction of the game in an uncompromising manner. This daring approach to design can have its fallbacks, mainly in that the excessively Baroque feel of the world can make the player numb to the world itself due to the constant bombardment of complex symbolism.
Graphically, the game is pixel-focused and as such is not setting any new technological records. This can be an issue for some, but the overall feel of the game is well suited for this design, and it adds to the nostalgia feel of those who enjoyed Castlevania, or any other retro metroidvania titles.
Performance-wise I have run into no issues whatsoever when playing. There has not been one crash or bug, no save or progression issues. No missed frames or slow-loading screens. But I did run into some controller issues on the PC version – namely the map not popping up from its supposed key, and some slowness when swapping weapons that can make platforming sections a bit tricky.
Audio wise the game gives a basic and serviceable score, albeit a forgettable one. This is not the main focus of the game, and I do appreciate it is actually very well suited to the setting they have chosen, but you should not expect to have the soundtrack of this game on your wishlist.
Pricepoint, Game Length & Replayability
Blasphemous II has a rather extensive map that will take many hours to fully explore unassisted. It’s a very Skill-based game and this will make your game time vary greatly, but I think it’s safe to assume you have at least 30 hours of content to get through. A super-completionist unassisted playthrough where you explore every corner and read every item will give you more than that, but you may lose interest or it may become a bit too overbearing to keep up with the world and its bizarre inhabitants.
This makes the 30 USD (some discounts around at the time of writing so sometimes 25 usd!) price a very good point for the game, as it would come in at 1 USD per hour of fun, and these are hours of actually engaging and intriguing metroidvania exploration.
Blasphemous 2 is a complex game that eases you into its many secrets with promises of simplicity, only to enthral you with its mysteries and feed you an obsessive need to see “just one more room”.
With fun and engaging combat mechanics, and very rewarding exploration and puzzles, it is a great improvement over its predecessor that proves that small and dedicated studios can and should focus their efforts on passion projects.
Blasphemous 2 is a fun and reward-driven Metroidvania that is sure to please series fans and is a good entry point for any platformer action gamers looking for explorative gameplay. While not groundbreaking in any specific aspect, Blasphemous 2 gives an excellent amount of gameplay for a very good price and is thus well worth its value.
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