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Blasphemous 2 Review

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The Penitent One makes his return in the sequel to one of the most brutally captivating metroidvanias to ever release. Blasphemous made its debut back in 2019, showing us a world cursed, or blessed depending on the perspective, by a so-called Miracle that creates physical manifestations of an individual’s sins.

Blasphemous is a heavily story driven game and the characters and plot are vital components of how good the game is. The character design is just as gruesome as it was in the first, with some remarkably disturbing and captivating imagery being used to really convey the horror of the world. That is just as true in the second game as it was in the first, however, for the sake of this review, I will be omitting any details about the plot or characters so that nothing in the game is spoiled.

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The Penitent One is back in Blasphemous 2

To begin with the gameplay, Blasphemous 2 is an action-platformer metroidvania. What sets it apart from other games in the genre is the violence, despair, and brutality of the world.

The combat in the first was satisfying, if not simplistic, but the sequel takes the elements that made the initial game great and builds on them. Instead of being relegated to a single weapon and play style, The Penitent One now has an arsenal of three weapons to choose from.

The game begins with a choice between the three weapons available. This includes a flail, dual blades, or the familiar sword that was The Penitent One’s steadfast companion throughout the first game. I have a bad habit of being incredibly basic when playing games, so the standard sword was my go to.

All three become available to you throughout the game, because not only do they have their own play style, but each one is used for various navigation puzzles throughout. Swapping between weapons is quick and easy, and I did find myself using the different weapons against specific enemies. I usually just brute force my way through most situations, so I always give a game extra credit when it allows the chance to play a little differently. 

Blasphemous 2 has the same dark, gothic art-style that is just as captivating as it was a few years ago, when the series was introduced to us. The pixelated art style is incredibly detailed, but has a roughness to it that is fitting for such a forsaken world. 

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An incredibly detailed gothic art style

Blasphemous 2 now features 2D animated cutscenes at crucial junctions in the story, while the first game relied fully on pixel graphics. These animations are a lot cleaner and don’t always line up with what the world feels like it should look like. Early on in the game, a character is introduced in this new style before the game cuts back to the pixelated style, and it looks almost like an entirely different character.

It feels a bit jarring and while the cut scenes themselves look good and the animation is well done, it is hard to reconcile those differences while playing. However, there are not many of these animations throughout the game, most of which are fairly short,

It took me a little time to get used to things, and it was only a minor annoyance. Overall, the in-game art style remains largely the same, other changes all positive. While I really liked the menu system in the first game, the text was sometimes over stylized and hard to read. That issue has been  eliminated in Blasphemous 2, with all the menu text, abilities, and items all much more organized and legible.

This theme of building on and improving aspects of the first game continues to all aspects of Blasphemous 2.

The navigation, for example, has all of the changes made to it that I was wishing for the entire time I played the first Blasphemous. While the style of the map is virtually unchanged, markers now occasionally pop up to show the next objective. There is a lot of map to explore, and it is by no means linear, so those little markers are a blessing. There is still plenty of exploring that needs to be done, but the little bit of help eliminates a lot of backtracking and guessing of where to go.

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Swipe away!

Along with that, there are the same teleportation rooms as in the first, but now when you use them, you simply choose the corresponding room to teleport to on the map. No more is there a stylized screen with the names of the different locations. It was certainly cool looking, but the functionality suffered from it. That issue is absent in Blasphemous 2.

Probably my favorite improvement is the commitment that Blasphemous 2 makes to the metroidvania genre. Most of the first game could be explored and completed without any additional abilities. In fact, one of the navigation abilities that summoned platforms could only be used by equipping a pickup that you find laying around. You would also only realize this if you were taking the time to read item descriptions as you picked everything up.

I understand that a lot of story is told in games like this through various descriptions. But I also want to spend my time playing a game instead of constantly needing to check if the item I just picked up serves a greater purpose. Now, the items are clearly organized by what function they serve in relation to the gameplay and story.

Blasphemous 2 also feels much more like a traditional metroidvania. Traversal upgrades are always active and there are plenty to find. This ensures things are clear and has the added bonus of creating more variety in the platforming and combat; something that didn’t exist in the first game. There has even been a change to the wall climbing so that you automatically grapple the wall when you push against it. This is so much better than needing to spam the attack button to try to make it to the top of a climbable section.

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Enjoyed Blasphemous? Blasphemous 2 is a given

Combat feels incredibly satisfying too. Attacks have weight behind them, and defeating enemies is satisfying. The special abilities, or prayers, offer a greater variety of combat approaches, especially when paired with the new weapons. Each weapon also comes with special abilities that reward specific play styles, and this means there is a lot more room to experiment.

And in Blasphemous 2 the bosses are still challenging. I found myself dying plenty of times throughout my play through, but it was always fun and I never felt cheated. I also spent a good amount of time exploring and trying to uncover as much as possible, close to some twenty hours of playing. I had explored almost all the map by the time I was fighting the final boss, but even then there is a couple of hours worth of content that awaits. 

If you enjoyed the first Blasphemous, then getting hold of Blasphemous 2 is a given. Everything that was great about the first game has been built on in the second, with nearly all issues addressed.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Improved map and fast travel system
  • More expansive combat and abilities that are incredibly satisfying
  • The world remains just as brutal and captivating
  • New characters
Cons:
  • New 2D cutscenes can be a bit jarring when they transition to the in-game visuals
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Team17
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), PS5, Switch, PC
  • Release date and price - 24 August 2023 | £24.99
Ryan Taylor
Ryan Taylor
Grew up playing the Nintendo 64 where I fell in love with the Legend of Zelda series. As I got older though my console of choice changed, first to PS2, and then finally to the Xbox 360, which I've been playing on for over a decade now. And since my first day booting up my Xbox, I've upgraded consoles and even built a gaming PC. Because at the end of the day I just love gaming.
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Improved map and fast travel system</li> <li>More expansive combat and abilities that are incredibly satisfying</li> <li>The world remains just as brutal and captivating</li> <li>New characters</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>New 2D cutscenes can be a bit jarring when they transition to the in-game visuals</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Team17</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), PS5, Switch, PC <li>Release date and price - 24 August 2023 | £24.99</li> </ul>Blasphemous 2 Review
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