The first thing that struck me when I first came across Blasphemous 2 – which didn’t happen during this analysis but at a demo session the team had in Seville a few months ago – was neither the artistic part nor the excellent music. nor the particular environment, but the fluidity of its movement. Each pressure on the controller resulted in an exceptionally quick reaction from the character, whose animations smoothly changed from grabbing a curb to a jumping attack in the opposite direction; Dodges and counters, on the other hand, were responsive and visually very impressive to our protagonist and the enemies, almost as if they had been waiting for me to block them from that particular angle from the start. I’m not sure what magic the team at The Game Kitchen has used to improve gameplay so much since the first installment, but it was an excellent opening card for someone who had already spent a good handful of hours playing previous titles. .
The quick way to explain Blasphemous 2 is to say that it’s the older brother of the original Blasphemous: bigger, more mature, and reasonably aware of its past limitations and flaws. But it’s possible that for many of you, that statement means nothing at all. Instead, we can say that it’s a side-scrolling Metroidvania with a combat focus and, why should we kid ourselves, hints of the Souls saga. Blasphemous 2, like its predecessor, draws attention with its gritty aesthetic and is to some extent steeped in genre commonality, but reimagined through a very particular lens: that of Spanish folklore. From our country, the gaming experience is particularly curious, recognizing elements of both art and religious imagery and popular culture.
In this sequel there are new scenarios, already known enemies that repeat and others that we haven’t seen before. A whole new story, which of course expands on the mythology of the previous ones, and a respectable number of bosses with very different designs that actually contain one of the funniest and most endearing references to Spanish lore that I have seen to date. in a video game. However, the main novelty of Blasphemous 2 has to do with combat. Specifically with the weapons that we can use. Instead of the sword, the mea culpa, used by the penitent throughout the story of the first Blasphemous, at the beginning of the second part we are faced with a choice: which of the three possible weapons do we want to choose as our initial? Pray to Alba, the most balanced, is a more typical blade, albeit slightly lighter than the original; Sarmiento and Centella are two faster dual swords that deal less damage but are more versatile; and finally, Verdict is a giant censer that’s a lot slower than the other two but packs more powerful punches, of course. Although the initial weapon will determine our first hours of play and especially the path that we can take at the beginning of the exploration, the ultimate goal of Blasphemous 2 is that at the end we can use all three without problems, especially because in addition to defeating of enemies, each of them has the opportunity to interact with different elements of the environment, which allows us to solve puzzles and enter areas that would otherwise be closed.
Turning the weapons themselves into part of the game’s Metroidvania framework is a very clever solution that also adds a lot of variety to the gameplay. It’s hard not to have a preference – dual swords are my favorite and the weapon that brought down almost every boss in the game – but we’ll soon see that they all have their pros and cons. With “Verdict”, which hits hard and has longer range, flying opponents or those with certain weak points are much more manageable; The sword excels above all in aerial combat, since attacks benefit from our good positioning and, in addition, it allows us to counterattack with ease. Sarmiento and Centella, on the other hand, can make very powerful enemies tremble by taking full advantage of every little opening to deal damage. In addition, each weapon has its own skill tree that we will gradually unlock, adding special effects and new movements to each weapon. In that sense, I think it’s better if you discover the possibilities yourself, but the variety of play possibilities this creates makes the game feel much more customizable and makes it easier to find a play style that suits us. .
Blasphemous 2 puts a lot of emphasis on our physique, on the way we build our character. There are no stats per se, or at least no explicit stats, but there are values that we can change through Rosary Beads, a kind of slot for equipping objects that give us resistance to certain types of damage or other similar abilities. In addition to this mechanic, already present in the previous game, the altarpiece of favors has been added, in which, thanks to a friendly sculptor, we can place different figures that also give us altered states, such as damage improvements, range extension of dodges or, in the final bars of the plot, opportunities to subvert some of the game mechanics. To give an example: As we said before, the game contains some Souls elements, but no explicit leveling. Yes, when we die we will accumulate feelings of guilt, which we can somewhat atone for by returning to the place where we died and touching the mark on the floor or through the confessional. Later in the story we will unlock a character of the altarpiece that will allow us to increase our strength when we have high levels of guilt, thus making it easier for us to advance in the final and more challenging zones. Constantly changing our gear, both altarpiece and rosary, to figure out which weapons and type of elemental damage are most useful when fighting a boss becomes a fundamental part of our game routine.
In general, I found Blasphemous 2’s difficulty level to be a bit less pronounced than the original game, except at certain moments. I don’t think it’s because the game is easier, but rather because we have more options at hand and the design of each level is much more sophisticated. The Game Kitchen’s game creates puzzles, shortcuts, alternative paths, areas of maximum oppression and areas designed for retracement, with maximum cohesion that makes finding the path very easy and with an ease that almost makes us believe could let it be simply task. . But that’s not the case: just open the map to see the number of corridors and interconnected rooms that make up each zone. With the character’s greater mobility and precision, platforming becomes noticeably less frustrating: not only because the spikes, the most fearsome enemy in the first Blasphemous, no longer deal fatal damage, but also because the terrain is much more responsive to our actions responsive as it is a bit more forgiving with jumping accuracy.
Although the way the exploration is designed is very fun and agile, it is true that the game is overly ambitious in certain aspects. Or rather, maybe you have a bunch of ideas that your rhythm and system can’t always keep up. Complex and well-designed puzzles that force us to solve situations that require ingenuity and skill often only reward us with in-game currency – which can be used to purchase items but is generally quite plentiful – or extra points for the skill tree, which can also be achieved relatively easily. Therefore, the reward for our efforts in these types of tasks is comparatively very small and does not particularly encourage us to spend time searching for or solving them. On the other hand, the large number of characters and side missions that ask us to search for objects on the map with cryptic messages is perhaps too large to keep up. More than once and more than a dozen times we will find on the map an item that seems familiar to us and that someone at some point in history asked us to find, but we can’t exactly remember why or where the NPC in question is there to deliver it to you. Of course, this could be solved by constantly taking notes – the game itself allows us to leave small icons on the map marking important locations – but pausing the game to accurately record the dates of each of these encounters is more likely counterintuitive task.
To balance this ambition, Blasphemous 2 plays a good trick in one particular area: structural. Without going into details, the game is divided into two parts: a first one in which we’ll have to defeat a certain number of bosses, and a later one in which we’ll get closer to the end (with as many bosses). Course). The difference between the two is that in the first game we will hardly unlock a few skills, so we will face more classic fights in which the use of dodges and counterattacks will be very important, but the dynamic will be very important in part will sort of. less new. In the second group of bosses, when we have already reached the maximum of our character’s potential, the fights will become more demanding but also more varied, since we will have to control the space and range of our movements very well, adding a second layer of unexpected depth to a title , which already felt complete.
With that in mind, I think it’s no exaggeration to say that if you liked the first Blasphemous, this Blasphemous 2, a cleaner, more polished and advanced version, will delight you from the moment you open it. For the rest of you I can only invite you to try it: if the difficulty throws you back, the design work done in this installment to allow for all kinds of strategies is very remarkable and the Metroidvania structure is intelligent, wild and complex, but always satisfying to unravel. At the very least, its hostile design, powerful iconography, spectacular sound and art, and peculiar landscapes will draw your attention. Of course, Metroidvania fans will also appreciate the pure way in which all elements seem to be connected to something else. With each unlock we can go a little further and feel a little safer under the Griever’s skin. A character who has already single-handedly earned affection and a special place in my heart; It’s not clear if The Game Kitchen plans to bring more adventures to it, or if they’d rather focus on another project, but while this sequel might be less surprising than the first title, it has everything you could want as a one of the games of can designate the year, if not the game of the year, at least within its genre.