Soulslike. A word that startles fans of Dark Souls, Elden Ring, and other FromSoftware IPs. It’s an oversimplified and hackneyed word that’s used to describe any video game that poses a moderate challenge and includes a dodge roll.
What was once a north star for FromSoft fans has become an oversaturated market, making it near impossible to find titles that truly embody the spirit of Dark Souls. Thankfully, Blasphemous 2 (and its predecessor) do the Soulslike genre justice, being mysterious, challenging, and exciting, all while brutally punishing players for their mistakes.
If you played and liked the first Blasphemous game, feel free to bow out here. Blasphemous 2 is a magnificent improvement to an already fantastic formula and one you won’t want to miss.
Blasphemous 2 Key Details
- Developer – The Game Kitchen
- Platforms – Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, PC
- Release Date – August 24, 2023
- Price – $29.99/€29.99
Flattening a Souls Game Without Sacrificing Depth
Where Soulslike titles normally occur in 3D environments, Blasphemous 2 takes the familiar, grueling formula and smushes it into a 2D metroidvania-type setting. It’s an idea that doesn’t seem like it should work – seeing as dodge rolling and strafing are major components of the genre – but it does. It works incredibly well.
In fact, as someone who has put hundreds of hours into Elden Ring and Remnant 2, Blasphemous 2 felt very familiar from the get-go. You have attacks that differ depending on your weapon of choice, skills (or prayers) that consume mana and diversify your arsenal, a dodge button, a parry button, charged attacks, and plunging attacks. A seasoned Souls player will pick up the ebb and flow of Blasphemous 2 very quickly.
However, there is one area where Blasphemous 2 excels above all other Soulslike titles: movement. The trudge between bosses in 3D games can feel like a slog, but not in Blasphemous 2. Movement is incredible – jumping, dashing, teleporting, smashing through walls – even the walk-back to a boss room can feel as high-octane as the fight itself.
The boss fights are great, as we will get into later, but exploration is where Blasphemous 2 really shines. The levels are beautifully crafted, which you will be forced to admire as you enter each new area and have to creep along to sniff out where enemies hide and how to deal with (or skip) each one. But as you get a feel for the layout, you’ll start to pick up speed and blow past or through your enemies.
You’re Going To Die Again & Again & Again
While traversing levels may be incredibly satisfying, overcoming obstacles offers a hit of dopamine that few games offer, like Blasphemous 2. That’s because the game is frustrating, rage-inducing, and had me clenching my fists and jaw in vexation.
Yet, my failures were my fault and mine alone. The game wasn’t causing me to die to a boss, or a trap, or a string of annoying enemies. It was my own ignorance, impatience, and bull-headedness. I knew I couldn’t overcome obstacles by throwing my head at them. They weren’t budging, and the only thing breaking was my sanity. But once you start learning, Blasphemous 2 offers euphoric moments when you finally crack its puzzles wide open.
Bosses are the crème de la crème of Blasphemous 2’s content. They have the best designs and music and offer the most challenge. They’re also my biggest complaint cause there aren’t enough of them. Bosses feel few and far between when they are really all I want to be fighting.
That said, time melts away when you finally find a boss room. For each boss I encountered, it would take me an embarrassing amount of tries to overcome. The first attempt would usually be a brute force, caution to the wind run. And with each attempt, I’d slow down and learn a bit more about the patterns.
Eventually, I’d enter a sort of zen state. My character would flow like water around the boss’s weapons. It felt like a dance, exchanging blows every so often, widdling away health bars, until finally, I’d have a run where the boss would succumb to its injuries.
I cannot overstate how much I love this process. Blasphemous 2’s bosses are a marvel, and they left me feeling so incredibly satisfied.
I will say I wish there was more variety in Blasphemous 2’s combat. You have three weapons to swap between, none of which are really ranged weapons. Having a ranged option would have been nice. There are ranged spells, but they require mana, which you may or may not have access to, depending on how well you perform.
Aesthetic So Good It Hurts
Of course, this feeling isn’t exclusive to Blasphemous 2, but its nostalgic aesthetic is. Cutscenes feel like they’re taken from a retro CDI title but are given a modern coat of polish. The pixel art and sprite work are astounding. Each area feels unique, yet they are seamlessly strewn together to form one cohesive world.
And the soundtrack… man, oh man, the tracks that accompany you throughout your entire journey are phenomenal. From lively orchestrated pieces to mono instrument compositions, the sonic side of Blasphemous 2 is just as awe-inducing as its gameplay.
Yet, the visuals take the cake for me. Every character, enemy, and NPC is so well crafted. Their designs beg you to ask questions. Why is this priest hiding behind a massive red curtain? Should I kiss this giant floating hand? Is that a baby with an enormous golden head?
And again, the sprite work is excellent. Most enemies have unique takedown animations, and they feel so cool to pull off. It’s levels of detail you wouldn’t think were possible in a pixel game, but Blasphemous 2 blows all of those expectations away.
Blasphemous 2 feels very satisfying to play, look at, and conquer. It’s a step up from the original title and offers quite the challenge for those brave enough to attempt it. That said, it’s a bit on the short side and suffers marginally from Soulslike tropes.
The story, for one, is incomprehensible if you aren’t reading every line of dialogue, and if you miss something important, there’s no going back. I spent my playthrough disregarding the story cause I had gotten too deep, and none of it made sense to me. That said, it was still a super fun and exhilarating experience, even if I had no clue what I was fighting for.
|+ Combat is buttery smooth|
|+ Love the gloomy pixel aesthtic|
|+ Boss fights are very memorable and satisfying|
|– Could be a bit longer/offer more boss fights|
|– Plot is convoluted and got lost on me|
Gamepur team received a PC code for the purpose of this review.
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