Overdue Reviews: Blasphemous
Hello internet people, it’s time for a review on a game I finished recently. Blasphemous is a game that was initially released on September 10, 2019 on most platforms and one year later on Linux and Mac. It’s a Metroidvania that has obvious Dark Souls inspiration in its world building and boss design. You play as The Penitent One, who survived the slaughtering of his brothers before the beginning of the game. You explore the religious world of Cvstodia, which is inspired by roman catholicism with plenty of latin within to immerse you as much as possible. The game is brutal, cruel, and horrifying at times, but as someone who’s enjoyed all of the Souls games, this was a plus for me hands down. Now that I’ve given you a quick summary of the game, let’s get into the meat of it.
Let’s start with the gameplay, which is classic metroidvania. If you’re unfamiliar with the genre, the game works on a 2D plain, with combat being mostly hack and slash in this title, plus a large map to explore. These games also tend to have plenty of secrets and collectibles you’ll have to backtrack to find throughout the game, and Blasphemous is no exception. I’d say this title’s strengths lie with its uniquely dark setting and its amazing bosses, all of which I enjoyed immensely.
Most of your time with the title is going to be exploring every nook and cranny that you can, which is quite rewarding since most things aren’t hidden like in a lot of Metroid titles. Almost everything you can collect is within your sights and it’s up to you to figure out how to get to each one. With my limited experience with the genre, this game is the most satisfying with its exploration, with the exception of a handful of things, which I’ll get to a little later.
The combat in the game is mostly figuring out timing, placement, and attack patterns. You get a dash that gives you some sweet invincibility frames and is the safer way to avoid damage. However, your ability to parry attacks is more risk and reward. You’ll have to figure out the timing yourself, but being able to retaliate and avoid damage is a much stronger alternative. However, keep in mind that not everything can be parried. Your dash will mostly be used for momentum in platforming puzzles and quick traversal. The boss fights are all very satisfying, even though some have a significantly higher skill ceiling than others. I never once felt like dying was much of a punishment and I always felt myself getting better every attempt, with is a satisfying way to deal with obstacles blocking your progress.
Now, let’s talk about some of the more aesthetic and immersive elements of the game. The art itself is highly detailed and that alone can pull you in, but the NPCs are what truly carry this game, with voice acting that’s much better than I would have expected from a game of this scope. The lore is fed to you through cutscenes, dialogue, and item descriptions that you can and should look through with each one you get. This lore mostly talks about The Miracle, which is a strange affliction set upon those who commit sin and waver in their faith, transforming them into horrendous creatures as atonement. This makes for some fantastic enemy and boss designs.
The soundtrack raises this title up as well, with great boss themes that can be both somber and grand at the same time. I recommend giving the soundtrack a listen on your own, with my favorite track being Lágrimas de Grana y Oro, which is played during a later game boss.
There were a few criticisms I do have for this title, the first would be how it handles its endings. The “good” ending for the game is locked behind tasks so cryptic that, despite the fact that I read each item’s description, I didn’t even know I could do the tasks the game wanted me to. It needed to push you toward that path, rather than hope you get it yourself. It soured my experience just a little when the game came to a close and I learned that I got the “bad” ending with no indication as to why without looking it up.
Another complaint is how the secrets are handled. While there are a good few illusory walls that lead you toward them, there are others that really need a guide, or the player to hit every wall they find. While this may be no problem for a genre veteran, I haven’t spent much time with metroidvanias and I wasn’t a fan of that.
The last issue I had was with ladder jumping, which got to be infuriating in some challenges that require precise and quick platforming. The way you climb ladders means that you have to press up at a precise part of the ladder, and it is very easy to miss, which can feel very bad.
With all of these being said, I still think the game is fantastic. However, it’s obvious that the designers needed to polish some aspects that they didn’t and still haven’t at this time.
Overall, I’d say Blasphemous is well worth your time and money. The gameplay is solid, the world building is fantastic, and the game doesn’t overstay its welcome, with me beating it at 91% completion after 21 hours of playtime.
This title is a solid 4.5/5 and gets a full recommendation. It’s just shy of perfection, but it’s close enough for me to pick it up again in the future.