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Review | Blasphemous

"No matter how many they make them; This genre will live forever. Now with a pinch of soulsborne world, there is not a single reason not to play it. Kill and be killed, whats better than that."

by Foggy, 30-10-2019,

Lately I’ve been more into 2D side scrollers. Mostly it was because Castlevania: Symphony of the Night which blew me away. I also love From Software and everything they released, so those 2 things combined lead up to checking out Blasphemus.

It’s a product from fairly new development studio – The Game Kitchen from Spain. Nothing familiar came out from them, but playing this gets my hopes up, because not only it was great, but combining my favourite worlds into this genre is something I want to play in future as well. Game was published by Team 17 – you certainly know about them over Worms series, Yooka-Laylee, Overcooked etc. Fun fact – this was Kickstarter funded project from 2017th.

Grab that sword and be ready for journey in hell.

This is a dark, disgusting theme-based game. It will send chills down your spine as you play. The whole setting is similar to what Dark Souls sound like – just depression, grey, dirt. It gets to you and you will feel the game. At the same time, whole game has this background sound which in some occasions needs to be much more and diversative. I want more from sound aspect, its not bad, but its not the best at the same time. I forgive them, this as a first attempt is more than good.

It’s a platformer, metroidvania type of game. I don’t like this word, but it explains it the best. It’s like you combine Dark Souls difficulty and settings with best Castlevania games. At the same time it’s not as fluent and fast paced, but when you get used to it, it just fits. You have a map, special enhancements that will help you reach areas, weapon and iron balls. This guy you play as is crazy. First few scenes are just disgusting. You will see the artwork in action, I really liked it.

Game is full of disgusting scenes, but that is the beauty of it.

The Penitent One. Already sounds like Dark Souls. You are sole survivor of the Silent Sorrow massacre. Curse has fallen upon Cvstodia and all of its inhabitants. Its Christianity based game, based on religion and superstition, while art is influenced by location, traditions and culture or Seville in Spain. You must play the game to get all this settings, artwork and music. It’s a package.

I like that whole package; it was weird enough to get me through the game and enjoy all the way through. Story-wise it’s not something spectacular, but everything else is lovable. Just have in mind that game is not easy. Although I didn’t find it so hard, but some parts and mechanics are very stiff, and I died mostly because of them.

Some views are just nice. Even though art is pixeled and looks outdated, there is much to love here.

So, what is so fun in here? You start with nothing, of course. There is you, your thorn sword and weird shit on your head. There is only one sword as a weapon in the game; the rest are the moves which you learn as you discover shrines where you can learn them. They will extend your basic move set, but don’t expect much. Few different special attacks and finishers and that’s it. Maybe this can be a turn off as many games like this actually have tons of weapons. I didn’t mind it. Combat is fun and enemy variety is just enough to keep things interesting.

You can parry and block/counter attacks. Some cannot be countered, so be careful. Counter animations are neat, plus it opens chance for finisher which is the best thing ever. Getting enemy out for picture frame and severing its head look amazing and brutal, almost like Sekiro kills. Of course, in this world and possibilities. Maybe only thing I was frustrated about was that some hits doesn’t land on enemies even if it looks so. Some work is still required to make it feel natural.

Jumping is a mess. You have to be perfect when jumping across spikes which will kill you instantly. Often you need to jump above enemies to avoid attacks. Same problem here, stiff and weird. And there is no double jump in the game, which is such a shame.

Every boss has a strategy. They did a fine job with boss fights.

Map is confusing. You will wonder where to next quite often. Some things and quests are highly missable, so it doesn’t help to explore wrong areas at the time. I like that, I like when game doesn’t show you a thing and you have to make your way on your own.

It follows the simple and already known formula for these types of games – kill few bosses, get more special skills, reach new areas, backtrack, repeat. Everything is present, just a bit differently, like different naming convention, different collectables, mini RPG system; but all very basic. Do not forget to swing your sword all the time, you don’t want to miss secret rooms.

Your main way to extend attack pallete and to enjoy new variations of enemy kills.

There will be many things to collet throughout the game. Most common are The Cherubims, Childer of Moonlight. Those little fellows fly in a cage across rooms and you need to kick them out. Many will be unreachable until you get the relic that grant you some access you need. Or simply some sword long range skill. 38 to collect, do so, some animations are simply disgusting and it would be a shame to miss them.

Relics are your most valuable thing. 3 can be equipped at the same time; some will defend you from poison mist, some will extend the vines on which you shove your sword to climb, some will revel platforms and so on. You will often change them. One of those can let you talk to corpses. Do so to get hints and weird lines of conversation.

Like in similar games, you will often circle through specials to reach what naturally cannot be reached.

Probably your next best thing are Prayers, special attacks that consume fervor (mana). Cool animated attacks that will save your life in some hairy situations. Some are missable, some are automatic – make the best use of them.

Rosary beads will be your help equips to extend defence, attack or elemental in some way. Slots can be extended. I never find any real use of those, mostly I forgot about them and was playing naked of beads. Some are needed to enter arena, some for some quests.

You will collect various pieces of body. Yes, body. Like Jaw from some saint. Many things to collect, took me quite a while to find them all. Descriptions are cool.

The rest are sword hearts – enhancements for your sword which deduct some attributes at the same time, health upgrades, fervor upgrades, shrines that extend your basic skills to learn, empty flasks you need to fill with blood in special rooms to extend your heal with flask consumption. If that is not enough, merchants sell some rare stuff as well.

Shrines will not only extend skills that you can learn, but act as a safe rooms as well.

Like you see, many neat things await. Whole game is built like a maze, but teleports and occasional check points helps navigate through. I just miss teleport to village item; you will spend a lot of time getting to teleports to reach other part of map.

I especially loved boss fights. Every boss is unique and takes some time to beat it. There is a trophy for which you cannot heal with a flask during boss fights. Loved it, nailed it. You learn all mechanics perfectly and that is how you make it.

Now, tell me that you don't want to play this. Loved some scenes, loved it.

Oh, good thing is that you never lose any experience by dying. Just fervor gets reduced, which is not important as you can beat the game without using any special skill. Plus, when you beat the boss you are restored of dying, so no worries there.

Everything mentioned is what makes the game great. Spooky, depressing but fun experience. It’s maybe on same level as Bloodstained which I adore, but as entry point and side scrolling dark souls experience, I really loved it. It’s a fresh studio, early development, and Kickstarter raised a lot of money so new game plus will come, some improvements etc.

When you look at bugs and glitches, I experienced the worst one. Killed the boss, after he died, his sword killed me. I never got one prayer and now I miss 100% completion trophy. It was 25 hours experience and I plan to do it again to collect 3 more missing trophies. For sure I will wait for patch for my bug, as playing 100% of the game would be too much.

Yep, romance is present. If you make it so.

I would gladly support next project from these guys. They do need some polishing skills; game needs deeper RPG mechanics and it needs something more to stand out more apart from Castlevania and Bloodstained for example.

For start, its great, its unique at least art wise. The rest is a copy, but I liked it. Be sure to check it out if you like the genre and if you like all parts that in the end make this game. The Penitend One, you good.

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