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REVIEW: Blasphemous — Prepare to Get Excommunicated

 
 
Overview
 

Published by: Team17
 
Developed by: The Game Kitchen
 
Platform(s): Steam, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
 
Genre(s): Metroidvania
 
Mode(s): Singe-player
 
Game Type: , , , , , , , ,
 
FG RATING
85%
85/ 100


User Rating
no ratings yet

 

Raves


Beautiful pixel-by-pixel art style. Fluid Controls.

Rants


Tedious backtracking. Underwhelming upgrade variety.


0
Posted September 9, 2019 by

BlasphemousLogo_FINAL (1)-min

Before the likes of Dark Souls, gamers found the thrill in ‘Metroidvanias’, a genre coined after two of the most iconic and most influential games of their time. Some would even consider the Souls series as the spiritual successor to Metroidvanias, adapted in 3D. If we are to believe this to be the case, then this game symbolizes the genre going full circle. Blasphemous is the pivotal answer to the curious question of “What if Castlevania and Dark Souls had a baby?”.

A successful Kickstarter project from the promising studio The Game Kitchen; Blasphemous is a dark and brutal 2D platformer with vicious hack-n-slash combat and interconnected non-linear areas.

STORY

2-min

Blasphemous is set in Orthodoxia, a fictional dark fantasy world that values religion above all. The setting gives off a strong Lovecraftian vibe amalgamated with strong Spanish religious folklore. You’re plunged into the game during the Age of Corruption, where all that holiness gets warped into something sinister. You are the Penitent One, the sole survivor of a congregation known as The Silent Sorrow, on a pilgrimage to rid the world of this corrupted faith.

The story and much of the game’s world view begins to unfurl as you explore new areas and find new pieces of lore among all items you collect. This is similar to how lore is strewn in games like Dark Souls albeit much less ambiguous. The Penitent One may be silent but the world and the people(?) you encounter will reveal your convictions as well as their intentions.

GAMEPLAY

4-min

Blasphemous wastes no time in throwing you into the fray, starting you off with all the basics then almost immediately pits you against a moderately challenging but aggressively creepy boss. The game is entirely in 2D so your typical 2D movement controls apply. You’ll start with a 3-chain combo and a dash ability that lets you slide through narrow pathways and avoid oncoming attacks. There’s also a block button that allows you to parry an attack then counter with one of your own. The tools at your disposal are quite simple, but dashing through enemy attacks and countering after a flashy parry are all made satisfying by the game’s fluid controls. You even get more combat and traversal abilities as you progress, making combat a consistently fun experience the more challenging the game gets.

7-min

Beyond abilities, you can also equip Prayers which allows you to cast an assortment of magic at the cost of Fervor, which is essentially the game’s mana. You gain fervor generally by attacking enemies or by performing Blood Penitence, sacrificing a portion of your health (think Bloodborne’s Blood Bullets). The game does borrow quite a few from the From Software titles, but thankfully, Blasphemous Death System isn’t as unforgiving. When you die, a portion of your Fervor pool gets locked out, meaning you’ll be casting fewer abilities. You can restore your Max Fervor by visiting the places of your death and retrieving ‘Guilt Fragments’.

The game is non-linear which means there are a lot of backtracking involved and a plethora of secret areas that will take a bit of experimentation to find. You’ll eventually unlock fast travel points as you progress, but they’re too far apart that it can sometimes feel like too much of a hassle to have to backtrack for minuscule reasons.

9-min

The game has quite the collection of enemies for you to face, each with their gimmicks and attack patterns. You’ll need to stay on your toes to keep up with all the enemy types, as well as all the traps and puzzle platforms that lay ahead. The boss designs are also quite surreal, and having to face them can be quite the challenge, albeit a rewarding one. You’re likely not going to beat the majority of the bosses on your first try (though it’s possible). Thankfully, most of these encounters aren’t too far from a checkpoint — Prayer Altars that essentially work like Dark Souls’ bonfires.

3.-min

Besides upgrading your abilities, there isn’t a leveling system in place. Instead, you’ll have to find areas that hold items that can upgrade your health bar, fervor meter, or grant additional Bile Vessels (HP Potions). Looking for these upgrades is a great incentive to go looking and there are some pretty well-hidden areas to sink your teeth into. Sometimes you’ll find Relics, which when equipped, changes your perception of the world. These can have some pretty significant effects, like being able to interact with an NPC you previously couldn’t, or lets you access areas that would otherwise be unreachable. Exploration is a key part of the game, and it’s certainly among its many strong suits.

VISUALS & PERFORMANCE

6-min

The setting is heavily inspired by catholic iconography and actual real-world settings, particularly in Spain (as described by the Developers). The world is sculpted in 2D and is hand-drawn pixel-by-pixel. I generally avoid pixel games but surprisingly Blasphemous was quite easy on the eyes. The Switch version also runs at a stable and above-average frame rate, somewhere between 40 – 60fps. The cut-scenes are also drawn by hand, reminiscent of the ones you typically see in classic Win games. The game’s neo-artistic setting somehow works well with the pixel-drawn format, giving a strong SotN-Esque feel with vibes of an eerie dark fantasy world. The musical score impressively complements the setting, too. The music doesn’t stand out too much but it manages to blend harmoniously with the game’s dark, Gothic atmosphere.

1-min

VERDICT

Hats off to the people at The Game Kitchen, seldom do you see a Kickstarter Project deliver on its goal and then some. Blasphemous is an absolute gem of a title. It’s a solid blend of modern platforming mixed with traditional elements that most players know and love. The religious iconography coupled with top-notch pixel art creates a surreal 2D visual style uncommon in today’s modern titles. Blasphemous nails 2D hack-n-slash, dark fantasy settings, and rogue-like elements with flying colors, all for an affordable price. If you like even one of those things, then you won’t regret joining the Penitent One on his pilgrimage of madness. 

[This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.]


Dian Raval

 
Dian is a writer for Flipgeeks who, in his spare time, stares at a wall in his basement. If you'd like to discuss music, video games, or the infinite wisdom of concrete, follow him on twitter @iburnandfume or subscribe to his YouTube channel @iburnandfume. He's pretty much iburnandfume in everything. Apparently he... burns and fumes.


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