Blasphemous 2 takes the “2″ in its name quite seriously. Everything in this sequel to The Game Kitchen’s 2019 Metroidvania platformer is expanded: the map and world, the equipment and spells, the puzzling and platforming…even the already-excellent boss encounters are bigger and better. Despite some minor repetition in enemy design and a confusing narrative, this punishing Soulslike action-adventure is a solid experience sure to fill the void left by Hollow Knight: Silksong’s seemingly interminable delay.
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Developed by Spanish studio The Game Kitchen, Blasphemous 2 picks up right after the first game’s Wounds of Eventide DLC. Mysterious entity The Miracle has returned and The Penitent One, the silent warrior you control, was resurrected once more to take up arms against the supernatural force. As such, you’ll dash, jump, parry, and slash your way through hordes of malevolent beings (some grosser than others) to bring a grand cathedral to the ground in order to silence a thunderous beating heart coming from within its hallowed halls, meeting some helpful (if horrifying) characters along the way.
A perplexing narrative soaked in religious symbolism
Blasphemous 2’s narrative is perplexing, lathered in archaic language and religious iconography. Every character, from the prophesier Anunciada to the sculptor Montañés, speaks of blood and God in Shakespearean tongues. There are tons of “thees” and “thines” and “thous” and the verbiage can get pretty dense, so if you’re not well-versed in Old English, a lot of the game’s writing will land with a thud. The Roman Catholicism weaved into Blasphemous 2‘s story adds another layer of complexity, as faith and piety are major narrative themes, but don’t let the theological dressing fool you. Although it may be difficult to follow, the game essentially boils down to “kill the bad guy,” which is a simple enough thrust to move the narrative along. And much like its predecessor, this sequel is disgusting as all hell, with very satisfying combat and platforming.
Jumping around feels way better in Blasphemous 2, something The Game Kitchen reiterated in an interview with Kotaku in July. Instead of just one sword, the Mea Culpa, The Penitent One now has access to three different weapons you can switch between on the fly: the sharp broadsword Reugo Al Alba, the quick rapier-dagger duo Sarmiento & Centella, and the heavy flail Veredicto. Each one fulfills an exploration purpose, though you start the journey with just one of your choosing and discover the others as the game progresses. The Reugo Al Alba is your typical all-arounder capable of dishing out damage while keeping you agile and defensive, while the other two focus on maximizing agility and damage.
Finally filling out the Metroidvania shoes
This trio of equipment underscores Blasphemous 2‘s Metroidvania DNA as, for example, you’ll need the Sarmiento & Centella to teleport through floating mirrors in order to reach new areas for hidden pathways and upgrade materials. Jumping around in the first game felt inconsistent and unreliable, but those issues have been addressed in the sequel, making platforming and puzzling far more rewarding experiences. Couple these with the handful of new unlockable abilities, such as an air dash and double jump, and Blasphemous 2 starts to really fill out its Metroidvania shoes. Moving around feels mechanically awesome thanks to the many tweaks.
Blasphemous 2 Developer Interview
Combat is another bright spot in Blasphemous 2‘s gross well. It isn’t particularly deep, giving you just a few new moves and a lot of spells, but it’s still satisfying to watch enemies dissolve into unsettling pools of blood and flesh. Each of the three weapons feels totally different, providing some variety to your encounters with the oft-recurring enemies as you backtrack through the game looking for this or that in order to progress. Enemy design, while fascinating, grows tiresome after you battle color variants of the goons you fought in the earlier levels, but the crunchy audio cues and general heft of each strike makes combat feel satisfying to engage in. And the vile executions never get old, even if they do repeat fairly often.
Death by repetitious bosses and enemies
Something that does get old, though, are the boss encounters. While they’re largely extremely easy, filled with predictable attacks and taking place in large environments, many of them have massive health pools that take forever to dwindle down. Some bosses can take you out in one or two hits if you’re not careful, but most can be defeated with aggression and perseverance. Should you die, you’ll respawn at the closet Prie Dieu altar, this game’s version of Dark Souls’ bonfires, to try again.
This is what makes bosses so tiresome. At the start of every encounter, even if you die during the fight, you gotta watch the cutscene that initiates the battle all over again, which can be anywhere from a few seconds to a minute or two depending on the importance of the boss to the game’s overarching narrative. And there’s no skip feature here, so unless you best the boss on your first try, you’ll find yourself sitting through needless cinematics waiting to either body or be bodied. It’s a minor annoyance that does interrupt the game’s flow. At least the bosses, while pushovers—save for one that turns the Metroidvania action-platformer into something of a bullet hell—are gruesome foes that instill a nice sense of fear as they emerge from sandy graves and watery depths.
Unnerving environments underscore the gothic vibes
And the environments are magnificent, though! They begin rather expectedly, with The Penitent One starting in dilapidated caves and empty forests before coming to intricate cathedrals and infested waterways that are gorgeously rendered in beautifully colored, vibrant pixels. Each location is distinct, with ghastly, gothic vibes that mirror the macabre boss encounters that follow. There’s a parallax scrolling effect to the backgrounds that adds depth to the world and the low-key music underlines the eerie tone, all leading to one of the most revolting Metroidvanias of 2023—and I truly mean that as a compliment.
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Because it is: Blasphemous 2 is a sickening Metroidvania. Everything here oozes of horror and misery with lurid aplomb. Yeah, the bosses can be tedious and the enemies do become repetitious, but the rest of the package is excellent. The game doesn’t necessarily reinvent Metroidvanias or Soulslikes games, but The Game Kitchen has delivered everything you’d hope for in a sequel. Blasphemous 2 is bigger and better in every way, and I’m having a great time.