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Blasphemous Review
Source: Steam

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Blasphemous – A Metroidvania? Blasphemy! – PC Review

A bloody mess, but in the good sense, fellow sociopaths – here’s my Blasphemous review. In case you’ve never heard of it.

Blasphemous is a game that came out during the Renaissance period by the collective art group The Game Kitchen, and their respective publishing house, Team17. Yet it remains as current as any other videogame from the era. 

Since the innovation of gamepads 1000 years later, it feels appropriate to play it with one of my good hands. It’s Metroid meets Castlevania. Let’s fuse those and create a sub-genre: CastleMet. It has a little bit of Blood Souls in it too, without the shrines but altars where you can whip out your tape measure and watch yourself grow into a badass avenger (lowercase, avenger thank you very much, Marvel). 

I started playing this on my Macbook, as they’re often associated as gaming machines, and naturally, this slew through the physically demanding 640x resolution. It could even handle the CRT filters, which the 3080 RTX would struggle with.

Blasphemous Review - Slash
Slash. Source: Steam

Blasphemous is essentially a hack and slash with upgrades and well-thought-out lore to unravel. Unlike that Blood Souls game, there’s plenty of exposition and no uncomfortable silences. If someone isn’t talkin’ or they look at you funny, stab ’em. They can get a little wordy at times, but it’s interesting.

Bosses in this game are proper titans and almost fill the screen, but you have the chance to marvel at them before they turn you into soup

While playing on a Macbook keyboard is pretty unique, I’d suggest playing with a controller. Platform games don’t require a cryptologist to decipher, and the general WASD movement is fine. Still, when you get to sliding, parrying, diving and flower arranging, you might as well become a pianist as it was a bit of a stretch. With a controller in hand, it’s 27% times better.

There’s no dodgy camera angles or getting stuck behind pillows – pillars, as it’s all 2D side-scrolling. Easy peasy. For a brief time, it appeared that the game was lagging a bit. It’s not remotely taxing on your hardware, but in my case, actions were being followed up too slowly, and it became apparent that my trusty controller had developed a case of drift.

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Blasphemous Review - Stop being a baby
Stop being a baby. Source: Steam

The game is relatively easy – within the context of similar titles. Not that it’s a game you would recommend to Nan, who’s thinking of breaking in a good action game on her Pentium II. She’ll tell you about the specs on that, or Wiki it. Making that statement makes me feel a little foolish though, as there were moments of tackling a boss that was so predictable with their moves, there shouldn’t have been any room for failure. Still, I pulled a classic and left the area, grinded a bit for some new moves and accessories (they improve your stats), then survived another day.

Blasphemous is a bloody mess, too, and unless you’re a household that considers goat heads art, you’re not going to replace the motivational cat poster with a screenshot on The Penitent One.

The controls are reliable too. When you don’t have drift. There aren’t any silly combinations to commit to memory, on top of all the game’s narrative paths. Evasion and parrying are key, and have to commend the developers for getting the timing spot on. I’d put money on it that my failures were poorly executed parries. They work – you just have to be patient with them, or wait for the right moment to slide under an enemy. Evading enemies is also a tactic worth mentioning as it’s quite easy to avoid them. I’d imagine there are a lot of decent speedrun videos out there.

It’s pretty gory. Charged attacks will get an enemy to drop to their knee; then, with a gentle thrust of the pelvis, your sword will pop off their nut like a grape. Gruesome, but glorious. It’s possible to wear an enemy down and pull off a fatality of sorts as well.

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Blasphemous Review - Ice Cold In Alex
Ice Cold In Alex. Source: Steam

The lore does grind a little over time, with the abundance of Latin and olde English terminology. Sure, you don’t want to go up against Steve The Bastard in a boss battle, but sometimes it feels a little pretentious for a hack and slash. But.That’s.Just.Me.

Blasphemous had been on my wishlist for a while now, so I had read a few of the reviews at the time it was released. I was expecting some bugs, but the ones I knew about have since been ironed out. For the most part, the feedback on this game has been great, and rightly so. It’s not without its issues though, and it’s more to do with the design than bugs. There’s a lot of knockbacks, and in close quarters, I couldn’t help but button mash.

About an hour in, there was a broken bridge with two enemies on the other side. Jumping over, I took out the smaller one, but as the larger enemy approached, going for the parry, I pressed it at the wrong time. Instead of taking off some health, I bounced a couple of nob lengths into the abyss below. While you don’t lose the ‘souls’ you accumulate that upgrades your move set, and the loading times being very swift, I couldn’t help but get frustrated at these bits. Similar to the recent Cathedral on the Switch where enemies could bounce you back to whence you came.

On the upside, while Blasphemous isn’t an open-world game, there’s a lot of flexibility, and in these moments of throwing my toys out, I could turn around and try another area for a bit then come back. It’s also worth mentioning that it resembles Death’s Gambit – a relatively low-key title I played some years ago with a similar art style, but perhaps not as much claret.

Pros

  • Very satisfying controls.
  • Gruesome, in a Moonstone sort of way.
  • Not locked into one path.
  • Much more forgiving than most Souls-likes.
  • Gorgeous presentation.
  • The lore is pretty interesting.

Cons

  • A little less challenging than most.
  • Knockbacks are a bitch.
  • Dialogue a little wordy if you’re used to Dark Souls (not a big deal).
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