Blasphemous 2 (PC) Review

Mea Maxima Culpa

Blasphemous 2 (PC) Review
Blasphemous 2 (PC) Review

Blasphemous 2

Brutalist Review Style (Version 2)

Blasphemous is easily one of my favourite Metroidvania-type games, and it seemed like a fairly clear one-and-done. But then it had free DLC that set up for a sequel, and now we have another one. Blasphemous 2, for the most part, is more Blasphemous, albeit with some notable changes to its progression, gameplay, and game structure. In some ways, it’s better than its precursor. In others, I’d say it isn’t quite up to the standard, but it’s different enough to justify its existence, as well as being deeply compelling in a similar manner to the stellar previous entry.

The Miracle has returned, and there’s a giant heart in the sky giving birth to some kind of monstrosity. You play as the Penitent One, some guy with a very pointy helmet that has to stop The Miracle for some reason by murdering the crap out of a bunch of enemies. One main difference in the presentation is that the occasional animated scenes that play are now vector art instead of pixel art, which I think is a bit of a downgrade.

Otherwise, Blasphemous 2 looks just like the first game. Your main goal is initially to go fight three bosses so that you can do something different, at which point you need to go and collect keys (usually by fighting bosses) to free five doves, which, in turn, allows you to do something else.

Blasphemous 2 (Pc) Review

The kicker here is that Blasphemous 2 makes an interesting choice to change up the way you play the first part of the game. In the opening minutes, you’ll need to pick between three weapons: two quick swords, a medium-speed sword, or a large metal ball on a chain. Since the first game had you make do with just one weapon, this is one of the more obvious differences. Each of the three weapons has its own ability that you’ll need to use to get around. But the other two statues that let you pick your weapon crumble after you choose, so you’ll need to find them in the world.

“The way that the areas and ability gates are spread out is far more conventional in Blasphemous 2.”

This dictates your early progression. Depending on which weapon you pick, you’ll fight these first three bosses in a different order, which will add a lot of variety to fresh playthroughs. Of course, once you actually get all three weapons and proceed to the second part, things become much more linear. The way that the areas and ability gates are spread out is far more conventional in Blasphemous 2. The first game allowed you to get an ending without deviating much, as most of the ability-gated stuff was optional, so this is a strong structural distinction.

In addition to that is the general gameplay flow. The first game focused on both combat and demanding platforming encounters. Here, platforming is rarely all that challenging. Instead, there’s a heavier emphasis on combat. I suppose Blasphemous 2 is more challenging, at least as far as combat goes, but I’d say that’s more due to all of the times you get trapped in a room until you defeat waves of enemies, as well as the large amount of damage the enemies do. It’s a tougher game than the first one, but it’s not really all that tough, especially depending on which weapon you pick.

Blasphemous 2 (Pc) Review

The ball on the chain is simply much, much safer than the other two weapons, as it travels in an arc and has greater range, even if it’s much slower. You can use it to hit enemies that are far from you, which can trivialize encounters. The two swords are on the other end of the spectrum, as their range is much shorter, but dealing damage without getting hit allows them to become electrified, which can greatly increase your DPS. The standard sword is a good middle ground, but the early game will be tougher if you pick the dual swords and aren’t good at parrying or avoiding attacks.

As far as bosses are concerned, Blasphemous 2’s are much like the ones from last time. That is to say that they’re mostly not tough at all. I beat several on my first try. They have very clear movesets and won’t give players used to Souls-likes much trouble. Very late-game bosses are the biggest threat, but some bosses can be easily cheesed with the dodge attack ability you use with the dual swords. That ability is so overpowered (and grants enough invulnerability frames) that you can take great advantage of it once you get comfortable using it.

That somewhat wonky balance can extend to the enemies in the game at times too. Offscreen enemies have a tendency to pelt you with projectiles, and the heavy weapon’s knockback will often hit enemies offscreen, where they can continue to use said projectiles. Hitboxes are occasionally a bit off too, which can get a bit obnoxious when the game locks you in a room and throws one or two too many enemies at you at once. It’s probably more balanced than the last game was, but it could definitely do with a bit more polish.

Blasphemous 2 (Pc) Review

You can swap between any of the three weapons with a touch of a button, and this adds quite a bit of extra panache to the combat, although having to rapidly switch them in order during a platforming challenge can feel a bit too unwieldy. Each weapon has its own skill tree that can be upgraded with points called Marks of Martyrdom. Plus, they all have two additional upgrade levels that can be reached by finding activatable statues. You’ll have a hub in the game’s city that has access to a merchant, the gentleman that carves statues that give you bonuses, as well as the NPCs that reset your magic meter as well as increase your healing capacity.

Whenever you die in Blasphemous 2, a chunk of your magic meter (or fervour bar) gets locked off. Personally, I didn’t find the magic all that helpful, so losing this didn’t bother me much, especially since you obtain more currency the more of your meter is blocked. There are quite a few moving parts, but since the game often makes getting around a snap, it’s easy to cover a lot of ground at a decent pace. It took me 15 hours to get my map completion to 99%, but I had a fair few key items left over, as well as a major NPC that I never figured out how to interact with.

This leads me to another stark difference compared to the first game. That game’s sense of mystery and discovery in terms of exploration isn’t nearly as strong here. However, there’s more than one ending, and I only found one of those. But my completion rate nearly got to 90%, so I’m unsure as to how much deeper things might go. The first game led me to keep playing the game, trying to suss out its mysteries for over 10 hours, though.

Blasphemous 2 (Pc) Review

Blasphemous 2 gives you an item that plays a sound when you’re near hidden walls. I looked for about an hour, but I’m not feeling the pull to scour the entire game world while listening for ghostly chanting. I know I’ll be diving back in once the community figures more out, so I’m hoping for some major surprises.

Blasphemous 2 is another excellent game courtesy of The Game Kitchen, but the reduced focus on platforming, increased one-on combat, and more clear-cut game design didn’t leave me as stunned as I was last time. That isn’t to say this isn’t a great time, of course. The game has top-tier level design, gameplay, and visuals. It just plays it safer than I’d expected. Regardless, this is still one of the best times you’ll have with a Metroidvania this year.

Final Thoughts

Andrew Farrell
Andrew Farrell

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