There’s been a lot of metroidvanias recently and for the most part they’ve all been great. At least from what I’ve played as this is one of my favorite video game genres. I enjoy exploring the vast interconnected worlds, the satisfying progression of unlocking new upgrades with time, the ever scaling difficulty made to match the power level of the player, and much more. We have seen the return of the Metroid series, Castlevania receive it’s spiritual successor Bloodstained, the action pack duo that is the Guacamelee series, spiritual successor to Metroid that being the Axiom Verge series, and a plethora of soulslike metroidvanias that have successfully managed to convert the Souls formula to 2D. All of these tremendous games and some of the more recent entries in the genre have managed to send it to new heights. Depends on who you are, but for me that would be Ender Lilies: Quietus of The Knights and Hollow Knight which as you all know is considered one of the best rated indie games of all time, one of the best games of all time in general, and is my favorite game ever made. Well we have a new game to enter that pantheon and it turns out to be the sequel to a game I covered years ago on this site. Blasphemous 2, a well anticipated follow up to what is considered one of the best metroidvanias. A macabre but interesting experience.
Blasphemous was developed by a small indie studio named The Game Kitchen, and both games were directed by Enrique Cabeza. It started off as a Kickstarter project in 2017, and eventually gained enough funding for the team to transform it into a full game. They took heavy inspiration from the religious arts and culture of Serville, Spain, and you can really tell by just looking at the game. The architecture, art direction, design of the many characters, soundtrack, themes, and the many macabre imagery shown. They also took quite a bit of inspiration from Dark Souls as a lot of the game’s mechanics and difficulty feels akin to that of a soulslike. So what we have here is an extreme religious Dark Souls full of gore and blood, more so than even Bloodborne. If I can remember correctly this game stirred a small amount of controversy when shown off. Partially due to the political themes, violence, and how out of the box it was compared to dozens of other games that came out at the same time. It should have been a failure, but a miracle happened that very day (pun intended) and for some reason Blasphemous was a success. Not with critics, but dozens of people really liked the game. The story and lore of the world was well written, combat was fairly good, exploration & progression was top notch of course, and overall it was addicting. 2019 was the year Sekiro came out and by then we were on the Soulsborne high with how great the Dark Souls trilogy and Bloodborne were. That and there were a ton of non FromSoftware soulslike titles that came out those being The Surge 2, Code Vein, Star Wars Fallen Order, and Remnant: From The Ashes which was my favorite.
Anyways, Blasphemous is considered one of the best indie gems and soulslikes of the year, and it did well enough to receive tons of DLC and eventually the announcement of a sequel. A sequel that was set to release five months after the announcement trailer came out, which is weird since most developers wouldn’t normally do that. Usually, developers would post development footage or updates on how future projects are going, and I may be wrong, but I fail to recollect anything The Game Kitchen showed during their work on Blasphemous 2. Here they showed a very small amount of gameplay for their sequel, and they plan to release it soon. This signaled to me one of two things. 1. They are either giving us more of the same with little effort put in to improve any of the problems from before. 2. They have balls of steel and are confident that their game will do as well if not better than the first. The chance of that second option happening is low, but good lord did they pull it off. Blasphemous 2 is not only a masterpiece of a sequel that manages to fix almost every problem the first game had but is one of the best metroidvanias I’ve played and is easily one of my top five games of 2023. It isn’t going to rake awards or anything, but the team over at The Game Kitchen deserve a huge part of the back for what they’ve accomplished. This is just an incredible game, and I cannot stress enough on how it sits alongside Hollow Knight and Ender Lilies for being one of the highs for the metroidvania genre. Today we’re gonna be talking about why I absolutely love Blasphemous 2 and why it deserves your attention.
The plot of Blasphemous 2 takes place several years after the first game and confirms the events of the last DLC, Wounds of Eventide, to be the canon ending. I did not play any of the DLC from the first game, but I’ll give you a brief summary based on what I scrape together online longside as to what is going on in the universe of Blasphemous. There once lived these beings known as the Higher Wills and they are basically the gods of the world. The divine entities who control the populace and can bestow upon them blessings or curses. They create a holy entity known as the Miracle and through that they gain control of the world. People began to transform into monsters or go insane, and afraid of what would happen next the populace started to pray. Begging their new god for forgiveness and asking what it would take to end the torment. The Miracle started to bestow upon them blessing and thus began a cycle of penance. The people of Cvstodia, the city where Blasphemous takes place, began punishing themselves hoping with enough penance the Miracle will bless them all. This does not happen and what it leads to is eternal punishment led by the Higher Wills. An order known as The Brotherhood of The Silent Sorrows tried fighting against the Miracle and all it stood for, but were cut down. You are the Penitent One, the last of your kind, and you were chosen to bring down this unholy madness. By exploring the world you then discover about the Higher Wills and how they are in charge, and through helping specific characters throughout the game you can confront them and basically kill the gods.
The Miracle ceased to exist and all was prosperous in Cvstodia once again as people no longer worshiped nor knew what the Miracle was anymore. The friends of the Penitent One gave him a proper burial after his fierce battle, with one of them staying behind to guard his tomb in case he were to rise back from the dead again. The other, Crisanta, protected the people of the land until one day a new evil emerged. The Miracle had somehow returned despite the Higher Wills being dead and madness sprung throughout the land again. This time the Miracle resurrected a group of elite Penitents to fight for its cause, and this group is known as the Archconfraternity. The five members being Orospina the Lady Embroiderer, Benedicta of The Endless Orison, Lesmes the Incorrupt Sacristan and the Sleeping Infanta, Odon of the Confraternity of Salt, and their leader who is the first of the Penitents. Eviterno, an old man who after all these years still knows how to fight and kills Crisanta before she could stop them and the Miracle again. Now the world is in shambles, people are repenting again, more unholy monsters are running amuck, and now a giant heart forms in the sky representing the Miracle and it’s soon to be born child. However, not all hope is lost as the Miracle makes a mistake. It decides to resurrect the Penitent One in the hopes of forcing them into a never-ending cycle of Penitence once again, but what this really does do is bring upon the quest of the Miracle’s killer once again. Down from the heavens comes an angelic woman named Anunciada who gives the Penitent One orders to explore the land, eventually go ascend to where the heart is, destroy it, and end the Miracle once and for all. The ancient sword known as the Mea Culpa is no more, but now the Penitent One has three holy weapons to use at his disposal. It’s time to get to work once again. For requiem aeternam once more!
The story of Blasphemous 2 is quite interesting, but how is the gameplay? Playing this game is an absolute joy and they made so many steps forward to make it feel more like a true metroidvania. You’re doing what you expect from one of these games. You explore a vast world, pick up upgrades that allow you to open up new routes to take, uncover a plethora of secrets, fight enemies that get in your way, and try to get to where you need to go. At least objectives are made very clear, but getting to them can be difficult as the path forward will not always be the most easily accessible. You’ll have to find those character upgrades and three of them are your weapons. You can easily swap between them on the fly and they offer fun ways to engage with the combat. The Praying Blade is pretty much like the Mea Culpa from the first game, otherwise your standard sword. It has medium range, medium attack speed, and is good if you want to keep things simple. What makes the Praying Blade different though is that it has a powerful plunge attack and if you do it from high enough you can release a bloody shock wave once you hit the ground. If you play aggressively enough you can fill up this blood meter and when activated it will infuse the sword with miasma damage. Releasing bloody attacks and allowing you to recover health with each hit. The second are the Rapier and Dagger which have low damage, low range, but are really fast. You can attack diagonally with them and if you play aggressively enough you can charge them. They will buff themselves with electricity which is good for foes who are weak to that damage type. Finally, there is the War Censer which is probably the most unique weapon of the bunch. Slow attack speed, but high damage and actually good range. It is what happens if you combine a mace with the Beast Cutter from Bloodborne. It can be charged, and you can buff it fire in exchange using Fervour.
I should probably explain what Fervour is. It is this blue bar that fills up whenever you strike any foe. This blue energy can then be used to perform Prayers which are basically this game’s spells. You can unlock numerous Prayers in Blasphemous 2, but they come down to two types. A little projectile which you throw or an extremely powerful one that can only be performed when on the ground. Using Prayers at the right time can make some encounters trivial as it makes hitting those hard-to-reach enemies much easier or will absolutely tear your foes apart. Enemies will attack you and you have two methods to avoid their attacks. The first being dodging where you slide along the ground and during that time you are given invincibility frames. You eventually unlock the ability to dash when in midair which also offers invincibility frames. Second option is to parry and mastering this risk-reward mechanic can be good if you like to play close up and personal. You can parry using the Praying Blade and those dual blades, but the parry window is small so get used to it quickly. If you take damage, you can use your Bile Flasks which is this game’s version of the Estus Flask and they can be refilled whenever you rest at a checkpoint. You gain Tears of Atonement for defeating foes and they can be spent to purchase items from the many shopkeepers found in the world. You will die a lot in Blasphemous 2, but unlike your usual Souls game you won’t lose your accumulated currency. No, instead you lose a bit of your Fervour meter, but you may potentially get it back if you go back to the spot where you died. That or you don’t, and you have to spend Tears at a very specific NPC in the world.
So how do you make the game easier? What will prevent future challenges from slamming you into the ground within seconds? Well, it’s a metroidvania, so if you take the time to thoroughly explore the world and look around every corner you may find some weird items with no specific purposes at the moment. Well you’re supposed to take these items to specific NPCs so that you may level up your many stats. There is a Bile Flask NPC in the first township, and she’ll be able to increase the amount of Bile Flasks you have using empty receptacles as well as their healing efficiency using crystal shards. She may also increase your maximum health if you locate these golden chalices and bring them to her. There is a literal talking hand and if you bring him an item called Fervent Kisses he will increase the maximum capacity of your Fervour meter. There are also statues resembling the previous bearers of the weapons you yield, and finding these will let you unlock new perks and skill with these tools. Besides the thousands of Tears of Atonement you will be picking up, the other upgrade resource you’ll get are Marks of Martyrdom. These can either be found in the world or gained through killing enough enemies. Spend these on one of the three skill trees and you may unlock attack buffs and new attacks to utilize. You have a rosary with five spaces when fully upgraded, and it can be equipped with different rosary beads. They will give you resistance to the many damage types in Blasphemous 2 and some can be stacked.
The finally new feature I should mention for Blasphemous 2 are the Altarpieces. Located in the main township is a sculptor and he can help you equip the many Altarpieces you find throughout the game while also increasing the maximum capacity of how many you can equip. Altarpieces will give the Penitent One different perks and can at times give the Penitent One different builds to suit the scenario he is in. Whether that be damage increases, a longer parry window, increase dodge cooldown, slow down time after killing an enemy, increase specific elemental damage, to increase the amount of Tears gained or rate which Marks are gained, and much more. I like this system as often I found myself swapping the Altarpieces so I can power up my character enough to stand a chance in fights. At the end of each area there is a boss, and they will test your reflexes, memorization, and skills. Some fights have two phases or more, but nonetheless you learn their attack patterns and prevail. Do what you have to do to stop the Miracle. To stop this ceremony of unholy holiness from commencing once again. Go forth and bring an end to eternal suffering.
Blasphemous 2 is a perfect sequel that fixes almost every problem the first game had, and I easily recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the first, enjoy metroidvanias in general, love a challenge, and much more. It does so many things right and is an absolute treat to play. One thing I enjoy more than the first is the movement and options you eventually unlock to traverse the world. The first game had okay controls and okay movement if I'm gonna be honest with you. It wasn’t bad and platforming challenges were fun, but there was something off with it. Your jump feels a little too heavy, the Penitent One feels finicky at times, and the way wall climbing worked was weird. What you had to do was jump, hit the attack button, latch on, jump again, latch on, and do that repeatedly until you got to where you need to be. It wasn’t good and sometimes you wouldn’t latch on and either fall to your death or have to redo a bunch of progress. You do get used to it quickly, but a standard wall jump would’ve been better. Well not only do you wall jump now like a normal person, but the controls are silky smooth. The Penitent One snaps towards the direction you point, the jump feels more appropriate now, and the addition of air dashes and double jumps makes running around the world a joy. Combine this with the three weapons and how they are needed to progress forward. The sword’s plunge attack will tear and open barriers, the dagger and rapier will allow you to use mirrors to launch yourself wherever they point, and the mighty war censor can ring gongs that open doors and activate platforms that you normally wouldn’t be able to use. There are a lot of platforming challenges that require you to alternate moves and swap weapons, and they are a lot of fun.
Combat is also a lot better as well and I would actually consider Blasphemous 2 to be easier than the first game. That isn’t to say it’s not challenging or finds ways to kick you in the balls. I think this game is a lot more aggressive and if you are not ready then you will get your face dragged along the dirt. I recommend playing the first game first just so you can be a bit prepared for what Blasphemous 2 has in store for you. Each foe is well balanced, the difficulty curve is well paced as later foes hit harder to match your larger health bar and increasing attack damage, and even when I died late into a fight I was never frustrated. Blasphemous 2 is extremely fair and most of the encounters I died to were overcome during the second or third attempt. Boss fights included and I gotta say they are a lot better than the first game too. I picked up on their attack patterns easily, knew how to outsmart them, and they are less gimmick based. You won’t be fighting the three witches in a constantly ascending arena, skeleton priest being carried hands, or baby who just floats around and occasionally throws a one hit kill grab that's easy to avoid. No, the bosses here will test your reflexes, skills, and movement which I love. Their designs are really cool and I kinda love how the members of Archconfraternity have this Lords of Cinder feeling going on with them. How each one specializes with a specific tool or elemental theme. It was nice, though I will admit the second to last boss in the game I didn’t like as much. He’s one of the coolest boss fights, but probably the one I struggled with the most. His attacks are changing constantly, and he leaves you very little window to attack and recover. He’s also a parry focused bos, and while I won’t say the game does a poor job preparing you for this, as you’ve most likely have obtained a huge chunk of the character upgrades and have gotten used to parrying, I will say he requires you to play in a very specific way which I don’t like. Outside of that the combat is basically perfect as it pushes you to switch between tools and use every move you have available.
The pixel art is a lot better too, which is a hard feat for Blasphemous 2 to obtain as the first game already had amazing pixel work. I will say the first game did have a lacking color pattern and it’s what the sequel mainly improves on. Blasphemous 2 is really colorful and there is a lot of detail to the world. The music is also splendid as the calm strums of a guitar and piano guide you through the world.The world design is great with areas finding ways to loop back to earlier ones and I never felt lost as the game would always point me towards the right direction of where to go to progress the story. Re-exploring old areas was fun as well as I found new Prayers, items to help me out, and much more. A lot of the side quests are really fun and unlike the original, doing all these mundane tasks or getting a plethora of collectibles is worthwhile. I like the Altarpieces I got as they changed my build. I liked finding these Sisters hidden in the world as they allowed me to restore Fervour at checkpoints and eventually warp between checkpoints. Thank God, as using mainly the fast travel mirrors was limiting at first and it reduced the backtracking I had to do. Finding the flying golden babies was fun as they were allowed to ascend up a tower and claim some cool rewards. Working towards one hundred percent completion or in my case the true ending is worthwhile and at no point did it suck. Well maybe besides finding the last golden baby I missed, but whatever. The story while treading the same themes and philosophy as the original is still great. With interesting lore, characters to come across, twists, and sadness to be found in the tiniest of corners. I love how Blasphemous challenges our views on religion and the worshipping of it. When does it go too far, what ideals are problematic when you fully look at them, should someone be punished for a sing despite not doing anything wrong in reality, and when does religion transform from more than a belief and instead something which reaps your soul and transforms you into a mindless husk. Games like Hollow Knight and Bloodborne have explored the temptations and corruption of religion, but Blasphemous probably does it the best.
The game also wrapped up around the perfect time. It took me close to around ten hours to beat and it may be some twelve to fifthteen. The game is highly replayable and I hope they add a new game plus mode in the future. Bet a ton of speedrunners would get a kick out of this. Honestly, I don’t have many complaints with Blasphemous 2 besides not being a huge fan of one of the boss fights near the end. I’ve seen some people complain that it is playing it too safe. That it feels just more Blasphemous and it didn’t innovate enough. Yet again, that is kind of the point of sequels. Offer you more of what you love. You can say the same statement for Dishonored 2, Octopath Traveler 2 (which if you remember is my GOTY for 2023), and even both God of War: Ragnarok and Tears of The Kingdom. This game is just a masterpiece. Not many flaws to speak of and one of the best metroidvanias in recent memory. In the end I am going to give Blasphemous 2 a 10/10 for being incredible. It absolutely deserves it and has quickly risen up to being one of favorite games of 2023. Second place to Octopath Traveler 2.
This critique was written by the single man at Review on. Stay tuned for more content and feel free to check more reviews out over at my site!