Developer: The Game Kitchen
Publisher: Team17 Digital
Genre: Action, Adventure, Platformer, Indie
Available On: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Official Site: Blasphemous
Release Date: September 10, 2019
Version Tested: PC
Where to Buy it: Steam, PlayStation Store, Microsoft Store
More than anyone else, gamers can be gluttons for punishment– as is seen in the wicked success of games like Demon Souls, Celeste, Metroid, and Bloodborne. We love the pure satisfaction that comes from defeating a difficult boss or finally finding the right way. Blasphemous is one of those games. It’s gruesome visuals and details might turn some away, but, overall, this indie game packs a unique punch in the genre of punishing games.
Blood is More Like an Accessory…
Blasphemous is a gruesome exploration of when religion and superstition intertwine:
Set in the decaying land of Orthodoxia, a place where religion is of the utmost importance in the eyes of the populace, superstition runs amok, and churches outnumber people two to one. You will find yourself in this agonizing territory in the wake of the Age of Corruption, during which practically the entire population was transformed into hideous beasts as a punishment for their mutual blasphemy and inadequate worship; creatures that had deepened their profound faith, developing an unstoppable bloodthirst you now have to contend with…
The most striking thing about Blasphemous is its visuals. Not only are the visuals and graphics brutal and haunting, but they definitely have a sense of horrific beauty to them. Our first shot of the main character, The Penitent One, is them dawning their metal helmet as blood drips down their chest. From there on out, blood-red seems to be the only color that stands out against the otherwise desolate color scheme, and it has the exact effect the developers were hoping for.
The creature designs and boss fights in Blasphemous are created with just as much care as the other visuals. Each creature and character is more haunting and horrific as the next, and it adds an interesting element to the gameplay when you never really know what is friend or foe. The innovative design of the creatures and environments are only enhanced by the colorful yet grim lore which can be found in the game. If you’re willing to search for it (and read through it), plenty of abilities, collectibles, and helpful creatures give the player lots to delve into lore-wise.
Now, it is no surprise that death is a reoccurring theme in a game like Blasphemous. In my playthrough, I died more time than I could count, but it often felt unfair. Sure, if a floating priest stabbed me with a spear for the twentieth time, that’s my bad. What got old fast was how often I died from the environment. And when your save points are few and far between, it starts to feel like you’re wasting time running back through a level because a jump doesn’t land right or you misjudge a ledge. While it makes sense in the genre of the game, it starts to get tiring.
In this same vein, it is great that the open levels allow you to find your own way in your own time. However, a push in the right direction every once in a while wouldn’t totally kill the experience. It is incredibly easy to get lost, and more than once I felt like I was running in circles without finding the proper direction. Because of that, things can start to feel a bit repetitive. I felt like I saw and fought the same things over and over again until I chanced upon the right path.
With that being said, the combat itself works really well, and my interactions with enemies and bosses feel fair and complex. Every fight felt like a lesson, and the combat itself felt fluid and clean. Victories in boss fights and difficult sections full of enemies felt just as rewarding as they should have.
Verdict: Blasphemous is sure to delight fans of lore heavy games like Demon Souls and Bloodborne or fans of tough, pixelated platformers like Celeste. The visuals are bloody and shocking, but there is a sort of beauty to them as well. The graphics are clean and well-developed along with the creatures, boss fights, and environments. However, it does get repetitive, especially when the environment is what starts to kill you over and over again. If you’re up for a horrific challenge, Blasphemous is definitely for you.
- Interesting, unique story
- Plenty of lore
- Rich, gruesome graphics
- Great environments
- Too many environmental deaths