The Game Kitchen is taking us to church in a way that says we’ve learned from those who have come before, and you, about what to do differently.
The result is a game that feels less like a hack-and-slash reaction timer and more like a well-rounded Metroidvania harnessing a balance of skill and smarts.
I still can’t tell you what’s going on.
The bare bones of Blasphemous 2‘s lore take over nearly directly after the true ending to the Wounds of Eventide DLC, where our hero of hope bests a couple of new bosses and takes his rest.
However, he is awakened again to undertake another cryptic adventure of atonement given to him by an angel. He will have to find The Miracle Child, which I’m guessing you are reading The Miracle and thinking, great! This again! The supposed beacon of hope has made a home in a giant heart in a grand cathedral atop a floating island. It implies that success in this undertaking will bring unity.
From there, the story evolves through more cryptic exchanges with NPCs using vaguely Latin-sounding words, extolling sadness and woe, while item descriptions fill in the blanks.
Honestly, like with so many of the games that Blasphemous 2 draws inspiration from, this is one of those experiences where you wander into a side chamber, notice a giant mother hugging her child while they weep, remark how that’s not weird at all, and hours later, find an item description that fills in the details.
You likely aren’t even here for the story, so let’s understand why Blasphemous 2 is necessary.
Weapons of the Weeping One
By now, you’ve already become familiar with Blasphemous 2‘s most significant update: three weapon classes.
Blasphemous‘s stellar DLC Wounds of Eventide saw his trusty blade, Mea Culpa, pull an MCU Peter Parker and fade to dust.
As such, the gods grant our knight of eternal sadness three legendary weapons. For those looking for a heavy-hitter and not afraid of having their warrior of woe trapped in locked animation frames, a crushing mace makes sure enemies will feel you coming. In the middle ground is a Mea Culpa-like sword that aims to serve as the weapon “just right.” offering some heavy hitting but also creating distance and offering less of a frame lock penalty for attacks.
I picked the sword and dagger combo, which focuses on speed. I wanted speed in my attacks. And I loved getting the Silver Cross ability shortly after. The ability allowed me to strike with electricity during a jump and then slide into a back attack. This first skill was vital for using quick characters because I lacked the skill to block or make multiple inputs.
Weapons also become part of the puzzling and traversal, meaning that different paths in Cvstodia are opened by the initial choice of weapon you pick. The mace can slam bells that open heavy doors and reveal platforms. The sword and dagger can pass through several objects to move forward. At the same time, the blade will let you smash through some pretty creepy floor bodies to reveal new paths.
Power of the Penitent
You’ll want to continue the adventure of our Warrior of Woe because it’s one of the best examples in the recent history of a developer working with fans and gaming history to create a sophomore game.
Blasphemous 2 harnesses new weapons, puzzle systems, skill trees, and stat boosters to create a game loop and a new skill tree upgrade system based on the weapon you choose or have equipped.
These skills will help you to accentuate the positives of your chosen weapon and offer a certain amount of freedom in choosing how you use tokens to upgrade your skill tree.
There’s also equipment and a new system of statues that can be found and purchased to make The Penitent One stronger and able to play better to your skills. These buffs are tied to slots, so you are numbered in what you can choose. Having to do so creates yet another layer of skill and smarts.
Naturally, this leads to a level of backtracking that wasn’t present in the previous game. However, it adds excitement in feeling The Penitent One getting stronger and stacking skills and statues. This is also helped by the fact that enemy types are well balanced behind these puzzles to the weapon you are using, meaning that solving these challenges feels fresh and requires at least a little skill and thought.
The Missing Magic
In terms of challenge, Blasphemous 2 continues its predecessor’s no-holds-barred approach to difficulty. It adds a non-toggleable death penalty where each death steals away a little of the Penitent One’s magical ability meter. While I indeed found this exchange to be rather taxing, it is fair in the relatively minuscule amount of magic it takes.
Being a Boss… Again!
I am happy to report that Blasphemous 2 succeeds once again in delivering punishing and somehow rewarding boss battles. But was there ever any doubt?
Blasphemous 2 does things a little differently this time by teasing the locations of its main bosses, which successfully puts me on the edge of my seat.
Thanks to the new skills and abilities explained earlier, there’s a new depth to bosses where the secrets in besting them rely heavily on how well you’ve managed to build out The Penitent One and master his new tools and abilities.
There’s so much satisfaction in realizing a sword ground pound will help you distance yourself from a boss’s seemingly imminent attack. Or that being able to freeze a couple of frames and gain another dash with the sword and dagger combo can help you to slow down and avoid fast-moving projectiles.
Thanks to the new death penalty, there’s some added need to pick things up quickly. But most bosses have an exploitable weakness that will make it palpable that you can beat it with that skill or tool.
In case you can’t tell, I think Blasphemous 2is well worth revisiting Cvstodia and the trials of The Penitent One. The Game Kitchen has proven that sometimes you need to take a bit of time to talk with your players and study the past. They’ve arrived upon a new adventure that adds a healthy dose of skill and smarts to the mix.
[The publisher provided a copy of the game for review purposes.]
Reviewed on: PC
Skills and smarts are not sins in Blasphemous 2. This stellar spiritual successor to one of the best modern Metroidvanias uses them to greatly strengthen its overall spirit of play.