REVIEW – After the success of the first part, it was almost inevitable that a sequel was coming. Since it’s not a game that’s being hyped to death by the gaming industry whose AAA products should fall, but a cheaper product that gives the middle finger for the current pricing of €70, we can happily report that The Game Kitchen has cooked up something worthy of their name after the first part in 2019 and amid a pandemic.
The Penitent One awakens as Blasphemous 2 joins him again in an endless struggle against The Miracle. Dive into a dangerous new world filled with mysteries and secrets to discover, and tear your way through monstrous foes that stand between you and your quest to end the cycle once and for all.
The mistake a sequel can often make is to get too comfortable: it offers the same thing, only slightly expanded or not much modified. That’s not how the developers got to Blasphemous 2 (referred to only as B2 from here to the end): it’s a better-looking, deeper, more substantial product, where we continue to relentlessly leave some of our health and fervor behind when we die. The expansion applies to our weapons, as this time, there isn’t just one weapon (Mea Culpa). There are others (Rapier/Dagger; Praying Blade; War Censer – dagger, sword, axe), and each requires different abilities for certain obstacles. Depending on that, you get different gameplay, and they can even be upgraded with the Marks of Martyrdom, with other skill trees, giving buffs, attacks, abilities, and, of course, more damage.
The dagger can help teleport via the tiny mirrors, the axe can ring large bells to open doors, and the sword can clear flesh walls. Beyond these, there are also puzzles, where you have to pull levers at times to, for example, hang on walls, teleport, or move platforms, all at a not always slow pace, presumably reflecting the criticisms of the first part. There were no criticisms of the game world then, and you can’t say Cvstodia is forgettable, either. Because of the depiction of religious guilt through creatures, it is a dark, repressed area, often full of themes of blood, sacrifice, repentance, and purification. B2 doesn’t cover it up, and perhaps rightly so, wherever we teleport to so that we can collect effigies that, when placed in an altar, our character receives fixed buffs. These can be interchanged, so you can experiment with large and small buffs and play defensively. One can be used to teleport back to the town as an escape method, but certain combinations resonate to produce a more powerful buff.
So, even the initial weapon choice determines how you play B2, and experimentation is a vital gameplay element. The same can be said for boss fights because what would The Game Kitchen’s title be without them? They’re not easy, but our toolbox is also more extensive. We can also use spells (but this requires fervour, and until we repent our sins, they don’t even recharge; as mentioned earlier, they diminish after each death). The point becomes about using the right weapon at the right time, so you must be in the right place at the right time. The axe is slow to attack, but its damage and range are significant, while the dagger is fast to use but does not inflict much damage on your opponent, who you need to be much closer to, but is quite suitable for parrying. But whatever weapon you use, you will be lost in B2, literally.
On the plus side, you will discover how unusual and yet beautiful the environment is. On the other hand, it can get a little annoying at times not knowing where to go next, which is odd because there is a more detailed map in the game. It’s weird to describe, but sometimes we get left alone because of it (maybe that’s why the sequel falls into Metroidvania style). The same is true during combat. If four or more opponents are attacking you at once, it may not be worth fighting them because you’ll be outnumbered (and in 2D, they ping-pong punch and stun you here and there if you’re careless). Oh, and be prepared that the game often uses Latin terms, so it may not be clear what they mean at first.
Blasphemous 2 could have scored a nine out of ten if it could perhaps be a little clearer in where to go from where at any given moment, but it should be added that overdoing the handholding would also be a detriment. The game is not easy but beautiful, atmospheric, and stylish. You have to learn what the term means at first because chances are you are not a fluent Latin speaker (or Italian or Spanish, as these are also derived from that language). Apart from these, it is a good buy.
+ Wider, more substantial than its predecessor
+ Audiovisually great
+ Fighting is not bad…
– …but don’t overdo it against larger groups
– Where the hell do we go from here?
– Maybe you overdid the Latin a bit
Developer: The Game Kitchen
Style: side-view action-platformer
Release: August 24, 2023.