Review: Blasphemous

A game that stayed with us very much after our Gamescom visit was Blasphemous. The pixel art Metroidvania Dark Souls game is set in a dark Spanish Inquisition. Not entirely without swearing, I had a good time with this title during two 12-hour flights.

My adventure to make Tokyo unsafe started with an 11 hour delay, but this was not the biggest obstacle in my journey. The enemies and boss fights in Blasphemous on the other hand. This game is tricky, fun, addictive, but also quite tricky. Or did I already say that? Despite the fact that the game is quite spicy, you will be punished less if you die than with Dark Souls, for example. In that respect you can compare the combat and dying system a bit better with Nioh.

Die, try again, die

Dying is something that won't be very rare in Blasphemous. First, you will have to deal with many varied enemies that differ greatly from each other on all fronts. On the one hand nice for a change, on the other hand very challenging. Especially when several appear in your path at once. Enemies have different attacks, with different ranges, and some also have shields that prevent you from hitting them from a certain point. You get points for beating enemies. You can then exchange these for upgrades or items that make your ride through the game more bearable. For example, you have the choice to repeat a certain wave of enemies by kneeling at a shrine. This will replenish your life points, but all defeated (normal) enemies will return to life.This is a handy feature if you are having trouble progressing. Just grind, make yourself stronger and try that boss again.
Nioh used this same concept, but there was a little snag that made it a bit more difficult. In Blasphemous, after you die, you will surrender some of your Mana bar. By visiting your place of death you will get your missing part back. There are also places where you can get cleansed for points. If you die again before you have been able to visit your death spot you will again lose part of your mana bar, but you can still claim both of them back.

Brutal pixels!

Blasphemous uses great pixel art and gameplay as well as cutscenes and if you ask me it's probably one of the best I've ever seen. On several occasions I looked out with wide open eyes and "wow!" mumbled. I totally did not expect that with a pixel art you could process such a degree of detail and brutality in a title. The setting and style fit together so well and some of the executions look really brutal.
Of course this is not entirely due to the pixel art style but more to the art direction that has been chosen in this game. Everything seems to be very carefully selected and even the things that initially seem a bit strange to you, such as that thing on your head, will carry much more meaning later on. During the game you will encounter varied areas such as mountain peaks, barren ruins, underground sections and each and every one of these areas looks very beautiful and varied.

Search and you will find

As I have already mentioned, this is a 'Metroidvania' in its best form. You play through a non-linear area where you can explore right, left, top, bottom and everything in between. It is not very clear which way to go, but you will get directions about what you are looking for. So at certain moments you get the feeling that you think you are in the right place. After all, it corresponds to the description you received earlier. Are you snooping completely on the wrong side? That's no problem at all, because discovering new places is pretty well rewarded. You don't really want to go straight for your goal, but first take a good look around. Who knows, you might find some useful items that will help you, or maybe something else..

Verdict

Blasphemous is a fast-paced, yet own-paced action platformer that will stay with you for a long time. The choice of drawing style combined with the dark setting of the game works very well and is finely edited to offer you the best experience possible. A must have for all Metroidvania or Souls-like enthusiasts. If you don't like both genres, it might be an interesting title to try out. The game is quite forgiving to new players due to the 'grind principle'. You can learn patterns that will help you achieve success with practice. In any case, The Game Kitchen has had great success with Blasphemous.


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