Blasphemous 2 follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, mixing its unique and frightening aesthetic with a combination of Metroidvanias and Souls-likes gameplay. However, where the first game failed, its sequel makes significant improvements, resulting in an exciting adventure that doesn't let up.

As solid as the original game was, monotony crept into its second half due to a lack of variety - with one-dimensional combat limited to a single weapon - and some frustrating platforming sections. Fortunately, Blasphemous 2 corrects both of these problems, introducing a robust combat system along with a more varied traversal that doesn't rely on excessive spike traps. 

Blasphemous 2 game review

You'll still encounter the occasional trap designed to punish miscalculated jumps, but falling into a bed of sharp thorns no longer results in instant death. This is a crucial change, as an expanded repertoire of skills has resulted in more demanding challenges on the platform, but you're unlikely to feel disheartened if you make a mistake while traversing this labyrinthine world.

As for the story, Blasphemous 2 is just as enigmatic as its predecessor. Much of its dense mythology can be interpreted from dialogues with friendly NPCs and detailed item descriptions, but if you're like me, you'll need an in-depth lore video to fully understand everything. 

However, the setup is quite simple. Picking up exactly where Blasphemous' Wounds of Eventide DLC left off, Blasphemous 2 begins with the return of the omnipotent deity known as The Miracle, who is prophesied to give birth to a so-called miracle child. This forces the Penitent to awaken from his final resting place to slay the wicked newborn and all the other grotesque monstrosities in his path. 

NPCs

Along the way, numerous NPCs will shed a dim light on the mysterious new world in which the Penitent finds himself and its hidden secrets, but only if you choose to seek out these secondary threads. Similar to From Software's enigmatic fables, you'll only get as much as you're willing to delve into. This style of storytelling isn't for everyone, but even if you can't or aren't willing to understand all of its machinations, the stories you get fully involved with will probably engage you.

When you emerge from your great coffin, your first task as The Penitent is to choose a starting weapon. There are three different options to choose from, starting with the most powerful of the three, called the Verdict. This heavy flail has a long reach and a wide attack area, making it perfect for defeating enemies without getting too close. 

It's not the fastest weapon, but its sheer power increases your chances of stunning enemies, leaving them open to an elegant execution blow. Once you've generated enough fervor - which is Blasphemous 2's version of mana - you can also ignite Verdict for a short time, allowing you to burn enemies with additional burn damage.

Game features

At the opposite end of the spectrum are Sarmiento & Centella, incredibly fast double blades that trade strength for speed. Equipping this pair also allows you to block enemy attacks, making it particularly useful for melee combat. Ruego Al Alba, on the other hand, represents a middle ground between the other two options. This blade is the most balanced of the three and also gives you the ability to counter enemy attacks, as long as the timing is precise. 

The weapon you choose will determine which paths you can access at the start of the game, since each one has a unique traversal ability associated with it. This adds consequences to your agency when making this decision, but it's superficial in the end, as it doesn't take long before all three weapons are in your possession.

The introduction of three different weapons is a significant step in the right direction when it comes to improving Blasphemous' monotonous combat. But The Game Kitchen doesn't stop there. The skill trees for each weapon create a palpable sense of progress as you unlock additional techniques and combos throughout the game. As all three weapons have their own advantages and disadvantages, you're unlikely to become attached to a single tool throughout the game. 

Choosing the right weapon in the right circumstance is key to overcoming the abundance of enemy types that Blasphemous 2 throws at you. Whether it's a wizard conjuring fire spells from his bed while some poor sod holds him down, or a gigantic armored creature wielding a hammer coated in poison. Each sprite is wonderfully animated, and enemies tend to shatter when defeated, which never loses its luster. 

There's also a satisfying rhythm to the way combat flows, as enemies carry out clearly signaled attacks. Death is never far away if you're careless - perhaps by risking an additional attack or poorly timing an evasive swipe - but defeating each enemy comes down to knowing their movements and being precise in your actions, giving most encounters an exciting and engaging pace.

Boss fights

As in the first game, Blasphemous 2's boss fights are a highlight, pitting you against a variety of challenging and varied enemies. Some require precision to recognize and then decide when to avoid melee attacks, while others follow the Bullet Hell playbook by bombarding you with a series of confusing projectiles. 

Memorizing which moves can be blocked and which need to be crossed or jumped over is another classic element of these intense battles, but there is also variety within this familiar framework. One fight, for example, has you battling on a pair of undulating chandeliers, forcing you to jump between them to chase the boss or avoid his attacks. The only downside to these confrontations are the non-skippable scenes that usually start each one. They're usually quite short, but when you try the same fight several times, monotony can set in.

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October 20th, 2023