The original Blasphemous was a huge step up for the developer, The Game Kitchen, in presenting one of the most interesting locales for an action game with more religious imagery than all the Bibles combined. While the game invoked themes of punishment and penitence, it had a share of pain points. With the sequel, much like Remnant 2, the studio improves on the original for those looking for a second crusade.
Penance and Punishment
The sequel happens years after the first game, with the Penitent One waking up to find that a child will be born from the miracle — the strange force that has changed everyone in the world to symbolize sin and religion. To stop this, they must fight against other penitents and make their way up to kill the child.
Once again, you’ll be exploring a beautifully disturbing world fighting many enemies. The game's structure is such that you must clear the first three dungeons in any order in order to unlock the back half of the experience. While you’re exploring, you’ll come across a variety of side quests, items and powerups to collect. The MO for Blasphemous 2 seems to be to correct a lot of the issues that people had with the first game.
I enjoyed the first game, but there were certainly some difficulty spikes with the gameplay and the conditions for seeing everything the game had to offer. With the sequel, a lot of the underlining changes have gone to make the game less punishing. Spikes and pits are no longer instant death, and simply take your health and transport you to the nearest ledge. There are more travel stations and ways to get around, with a map-marking ability to help you find missing collectibles. While you will still gain guilt when you die, there is no loss of money that goes with it.
You’ll still be able to upgrade everything you could in the first game in terms of health, fervor/mana and more, but there are some new elements that add interesting touches to the sequel.
A lot of people called the first game a Metroidvania, but I argued at the time that there weren’t any real movements or upgrades that changed how you play through the game. The sequel changes that, and progression has been improved across the board. You’ll still collect prayers which are your spells, with a new stronger class of them. There are now actual upgrades to your movement tech that will be used throughout the game. Your mea culpa sword is gone, and in its place are three new weapons. As an interesting touch, you’ll decide which of the three you’ll start with — a heavy sword, rapier and knife, or mace - but you will get access to the other two from the starting dungeons. Each weapon handles differently, has a different skill tree, and they each provide a way to get around a specific environmental element.
Many of the puzzles and platforming sections will require you to combine the different abilities of each weapon to get through them. Each weapon feels good to use, but the mace is pound-for-pound the best in terms of raw damage.
A new progression system comes in the form of finding and equipping wooden figurines. Each one provides a unique benefit and is Blasphemous 2’s way of letting you create a customized build that you can play through the game with.
To compensate, combat in this one is harder. You shouldn't have much trouble with the normal enemies this time; just keep in mind their elemental weaknesses. Bosses are, however, much stronger and have more varied patterns to figure out. The penultimate boss is the most combat-heavy fight compared to anything else.
A Very Light Punishment
All-in-all, there isn’t much more for me to talk about with Blasphemous 2. It does what any good sequel should do — improve on the base mechanics, remove pain points and problems, and continues to grow the franchise. At the moment it is lacking in terms of New Game+ content and the additional features and modes that were introduced as free DLC in the first game, but I’m sure the developers are working on something special.
If you enjoyed the first game, then Blasphemous 2 is a very solid sequel, and if you were put off by the difficulty, then the improvements may be enough for you to get to the end of this trial successfully. Whether you come for the striking imagery of the Metroidvania design, Blasphemous 2 is an all-around solid game.
This was played with a press key provided by the developer.
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