Most of us, veteran gamers, will still recall the era when Metroid and Castlevania first saw their introductions. No one knew back then that it would inspire its own subgenre. And thus came, the Metroidvania games. Developers looked at games such as these and tried to strive towards that style of perfection and smoothness in its gameplay. Most of them turned out decent, some bordered the quality of Super Metroid or Castlevania. And others just straight up crashed and burned. Thus, you can justly say that developing a Metroidvania game has to be done with a certain finesse. So without further ado, let’s introduce our next Metroidvania competitor into the ring! Brought to us by Team17 and The Game Kitchen, Blasphemous sure looks and sounds like the part. But, does it really play out like this? In a game that puts you back in the olden days of Christianity, you play as the Penitent One. The last survivor of a congregation called The Silent Sorrow. Hell-bent on revenge and salvation? You take up the sword and prepare yourself unto taking upon yourself the evil in this world. Will it deliver on its promise that was made way back when a Kickstarter campaign brought life into this project? Or was it wasted money? Let’s find out in this review! This is Blasphemous!
- Sound Design: … Wait… Hang on… Let me just put away these kleenexes. No, not because of that, you dirty mind. I’m crying because this game’s sound design is over the roof! First off, the ambient noises make you feel like you’re really there. From dripping water to the soft clangs of chains in the distance, indicating that something ominous is getting closer. To chimes and bells that ring when a bell boy is just casually walking around. These tiny details really bring forth the believability of a game. And Blasphemous is a straight-A student on that part! The atmosphere just oozes throughout the entire playthrough, and that is in part because of the ambient noises. But also, the soundtrack. Mmh did I love this one! Each biome has its own pre-determined track. These accompany the visuals very well. If you’re in a church-like biome, you’ll have a more churchy song. If you’re going through a prison-like biome? Well, you’ll have a track that indicates a dreary location. But it’s when the big boy’s come out to play? That the emotions really get turned up all the way to 100! And with this, I mean the boss battles! Not only does each biome get a track, each boss? Gets its own one as well. These really get your adrenaline pumping. And trust me? you’ll need adrenaline to survive these bosses!
- Looks amazing: Let me get this very clear. Blasphemous has an amazing and unique style. It looks dark, its incredibly dreary, and it’s just an amazing marvel to look at! Firstly, these cutscenes have a special quality to them. And yes, you read that right! Cutscenes. Blasphemous has a few of them! They give a unique twist towards the Metroidvania genre. Rarely is this done? And rarely does it match this quality! The screenshot used above shows one of these cutscenes. And it just… Sigh just look at it! You get to see characters in angles you’d otherwise never get to see elsewhere. Then the game itself. My god did they put a lot, and I really mean A LOT of effort into this. The sheer amount of intricate and fine details is amazing. In the foreground as well as in the background. At moments I just stopped, just to gawk at it. The lighting is done superbly well. The swagger of enemies, the amount of moving particles or parts on them? Each and every unique death animation? The feeling some biomes give? Everything that you’ll see has been treated with a lot of dedication and devotion! And I truly applaud The Game Kitchen for delivering SUCH a work of art!
- Boss Battles: Blasphemy has its fair share of bosses for you to go through. But do not underestimate any of these. Some may look weak or frail. But boy, they will whoop your ass if you are overly cocky. Do not go thinking that you could just waltz up to them and defeat these big monstrosities. And yes, they big! Bigger than you are, and way more powerful. You’ll have to be very witty when it comes down to slaying these hulking behemoths. Each boss has three phases. The first phase will be fairly straightforward. An introduction as to the basic skill set and movement pattern. The second phase starts when you have brought the Boss to 50% remaining life. There he will switch it up. The third and most difficult phase is the third one, where the Boss is at 25%. Try to be as sparingly as possible with your health vials, because trust me? You’ll need them for this phase. This is when things really start to hit the fan. I absolutely loved these boss battles, though, admittedly, I raged a LOT on a few of these. Like for instance, a boss called Tres Angustias… I hate that one so hard!
- Unique enemies: Boy, you’d think that with so many biomes? That a lot of enemy types would be re-used. But nope, not here. Each specific biome has its own set of creeps and ghouls for you to slaughter. And none of them feel like a copied skillset from another biome. As stated before, The Game Kitchen sure put a lot of effort into Blasphemy and it truly shows!
- Voiced Characters: It came as a nice surprise when I discovered that Blasphemous has opted the use of voiced narration. And boy do they do an incredible job at that! They bring life to this dark and bleak world. And believable life at that! With each NPC you’ll encounter, you’ll feel the heavy burden that has been placed upon them. Some frail, others strong with determination. Each one will have a unique tone. One that is much appreciated! The Game Kitchen surely knows how to please a gamer, and this is exactly the way as to how to do it!
- Jumping Schlumping: We all know that jumping in platformers tends to be hit or miss. Sometimes even quite literal! And of course, wouldn’t you know it? This accounts for Blasphemous as well! While the game itself plays like a charm? The jumping feels like you’ve got a cinderblock strapped around your ankles. It’s cumbersome and frankly? Annoying from time to time. Though the sprite would look as if it connected with the floor, still I would fall through. While this is a rare occurrence, it still feels mighty annoying when it does. Just one tip? Take a running jump if you can!
- A bit too big for its britches: We all know that Metroidvania games tend to be pretty big when it comes down to map size. Sure, backtracking is a thing in these games. But I think that The Game Kitchen said, “Hold my beer”. With huge and wildly different biomes? Blasphemous promises to be an expansive adventure to run through. Although I do get the feeling that they were trying a bit too hard, and just went overboard on the content department. Now don’t get me wrong! I do not mind having a lot of content in my games! But make it manageable! There are so many items to collect, and so many more NPC’s to deliver items to? That the vastness of the map becomes overwhelming, and you’ll start forgetting where some NPC’s are. Maybe giving these places an icon on the map as well wouldn’t have been such a bad idea after all. This is something that I hope will get patched in the near future!
- Brutally difficult: What would you get if you’d cross a Metroidvania game together with Dark Souls? That’s right, Blasphemous! Not only is this game expansive, but it’s also mind-numbingly difficult. Each boss has its own pattern. Learned the pattern? Well good for you! Don’t let the game stop you from killing the boss… Oh hang on, you put him at 50% health… Get ready for an extra move! Start re-learning… Oh nice, you got it! Come on, the final push… Aww… Wait, 25%? Let’s add yet another move but add a spin on of it’s existing moves as well. Well, go on. Kill him! Oh, you died?? Too bad! But at least you know the full move-set now. So come on, give it a go… Yeah, about that… Let’s just randomize the movement pattern yet again, just to keep you on your feet! Okay? GOOD LUCK! Yeah… I think that’s how the conversation went when it came down to boss battles. But not only boss battles can be unforgiving. It also applies to some enemy types out there. I don’t mind a game being absurdly difficult. But give everyone the ability to choose the difficulty. Not everyone will be able to finish the game like this. As some parts tend to be really ridiculous when it comes down to beating it. So, keep that in mind when you’re about to purchase this beautiful gem!
The Game Kitchen has truly delivered on its promise in my honest opinion. Blasphemous was truly created by visionaries that have the genre at heart, and it shows. The amount of time and dedication that must’ve gone into creating this one must have been staggering. But I’m glad that they did, for not only have they created a marvellous Metroidvania game, they have also brought us to a unique story and adventure. A mind-blowing game! This one will surely go down into the years to come. This will surely be a must-have for anyone who enjoys the genre! And again, towards the developer? NEVER lose this dedication! In my opinion Blasphemous is truly a contender for 2019’s Indie GOTY!
Developer: The Game Kitchen Publisher: Warner Bros
Played on: Xbox One X Also available on: PS4 – Switch and PC
Alexis spent 15+ hours trying to get to the end… I failed…
Achievement difficulty for 1000 Gamerscore: 20+ hours for sure!
Perfect for: Metroidvania fans. Anyone who loves platformers.
Xbox Game Store link: Click here