Some say that faith can move mountains, and that’s certainly the case of Blasphemous 2, the second platformer to come out of the devilishly talented minds of Spanish developer The Game Kitchen. The world of the game is a dark one, where those whose beliefs stand before everything else are put through the painful trials that heaven sets upon them.
As the Penitent One, it’s your job to try and avert yet another crisis of faith with the birth of a new Miracle, an entity that is at the same time adored by the sorry people that inhabit that world. In your bloody journey, you’ll acquire new abilities that will allow you to better explore and reach new heights, and thanks to an adjusted level of challenge, you’re very likely to see it through.
The original Blasphemous was a grueling experience due to its often unfriendly way of design. Even though it was a game that borrowed elements from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Metroid, it also tried to be a Dark Souls in 2D, serving up many incredibly tough boss fights and a general lack of save points. Luckily, the second game takes everything else that was great about the first one and doubles — no, triples it.
That crazy math results in something that can be potentially as difficult as you want it to be but at the same time a game that is totally playable by just about everyone. And you’ll definitely want to see everything that Blasphemous 2 has on offer because, boy, it’s tightly bound and extremely well polished.
Talking about its potential level of challenge brings me to the main improvement to the game in comparison to its predecessor: the pick ups and how you use them. In the original, you would eventually run into a handful of items that you could equip in order to give the Penitent One a slight edge, and while they did help in some way, some of the effects were rather slight, and the cons to using them far outweighed the usefulness of most of the items.
That is totally rearranged in Blasphemous 2. You do still grab a bunch of equipment, yes, but their effects are much more noticeable, and in fact, do change the overall difficulty of the game, such as powering your character’s faith meter, which is used to cast all manner of spells, as well as boosting your health vials. If you want to make things tough for you, simply forgo using these, the choice is yours.
Another change is how you spend the in-game currency. In the first game, every single interaction with tangible changes to gameplay happened through the use of hard-earned tokens that took a long while to accrue because of the low drop rate from enemies. In Blasphemous 2, not only do you get a whole bunch of them by playing, you only actually use them to buy items.
Every other improvement to the Penitent One comes through collectibles that you find as you explore the game’s vast world. Oh, and that side of the game is also hugely improved through the increased amount of teleport rooms as well as save points. As with its inspirations, Blasphemous 2’s map is large, full of rooms that you won’t have quite enough abilities to fully explore until later in the game.
And it’s simply a joy to get to discover the beautiful locales that the artists from The Game Kitchen have cooked up. As with the first one, Blasphemous 2 is simply gorgeous. The 2D pixel art in it is second to none, and every section of the game is absolutely brimming with life, whether it is colorful like the late day skies above a particularly nasty dungeon you emerge out of to a beautiful vignette, or the detailed and gruesome animations that play out during combat.
Speaking of combat, it’s one of the best parts of Blasphemous 2. At the start, you’ll get a choice of one of three starting weapons, and later on you are able to get the rest of your arsenal. They all come in play during fights, but most importantly, they are the key to a lot of the game’s puzzles, since every one of the three, whether it’s the bulky flail/hammer combo, the bloody blade, or the twin rapiers, they’re all used when navigating Blasphemous 2’s world.
Better yet, you’ll get to upgrade these by spending special coins that are awarded the more you fight, and these new powers that you unlock make each of the weapons feel unique and extremely useful when dishing out punishment to the many enemies you’ll come across during your adventure. For most of Blasphemous 2, I stuck with the flail, but once I had enough to fully upgrade the blade, it became my trusty choice for the game’s latest round of boss fights.
And while I do have a tiny gripe with the way some of the spells are balanced, since the very first one that is available for pickup breaks the game since it’s way overpowered, I’m sure that it will be patched accordingly after release. These incantations are more handy outside of combat too, since some of the pickups, especially the flying angels, just happen to be out of reach of your normal weapons, but are just perfect for some of the magic in your disposal.
Honestly, I couldn’t be happier with how Blasphemous 2 turned out. It’s exactly the kind of game that I wanted out of the original Blasphemous. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the team’s first attempt quite a bit, but its sequel is far and away a much more enjoyable experience. Its level of challenge felt just right and while I had to repeat a few fights a number of times before getting to be victorious, none of them felt nearly as slogs as some of the bosses in the first game.
Blasphemous 2 is the very definition of a superior sequel in every conceivable way. What The Game Kitchen have achieved is to be lauded in making a game that can appeal to just about every sort of player thanks to its adjustable organic difficulty that allows for a wide range of challenge, as well as delivering deliciously good exploration and very tight combat.
Team 17 has two fantastic releases with this and Dredge this year that are sure to score spots in many publications’ top games lists, as they will mine. I was positively floored by just how much I enjoyed my more than 20 hours playing Blasphemous 2. If there was more content to it, I’m sure I could easily double that without breaking a sweat, which is something I could hardly say for a lot of game releases these days. It’s just a blast of game that will hopefully be enjoyed even by those who passed on the original for whatever reason.
Oh, and if you don’t mind reading subtitles, be sure to play the game with the original Spanish voice track. The delivery is deep, brooding and a delight to listen to without skipping. There’s a lot to Blasphemous 2’s story that you will want to stick by and pay attention to, and thanks to its excellent voice talent, it’s even more worth your while.