Developer(s) – The Game Kitchen
Publisher(s) – Team 17
PEGI – 16
Released back in 2019 to universal acclaim after an immensely successful Kickstarter campaign, Blasphemous is a Metroidvania title influenced by games such as Dark Souls and Resident Evil 4 combining wonderfully rendered visuals with intense and challenging combat sequences and precise platforming. After having gotten the chance to play this game myself, I was captivated from start to finish; it is most definitely one of the best Metroidvania titles released throughout the eighth generation of gaming, if not one of the best games in general released throughout the time.
Graphics – 9/10
The game is set in the harsh and mostly dangerously desolate landscape of Cvstodia, which was inspired by religious art composed by classic Spanish artists such as Francisco Goya and Jusepe de Ribera. The developers also drew further inspiration from the religious iconography of their hometown of Seville, Spain with gothic architecture and the religious attire associated with it.
The world of Cvstodia is also beautifully rendered in 16-bit pixel art reminiscent of titles of the fourth generation of gaming. The world of Cvstodia is as wonderfully captivating as it is dark and gritty; it features some of the best examples of video game conceptual design I’ve seen for some time. Everything from the landscape to the character design attests to how much of a labor of love this game truly is.
Gameplay – 8/10
Playing out like a traditional Metroidvania title, the game is heavy on combat and character development as well as requiring precise and clever platforming to progress. Players must both subdue hordes of enemies and uncover new areas within by acquiring new abilities and improving their character’s stats. Two different endings are available to unlock depending on what items the player has acquired and how they are used or modified.
Another particularly standout feature in this game, however, is the boss fights, which again give testament to the quality of the game’s conceptual design; bosses such as Ten Piedad, The Last Son of the Miracle, Our Lady of the Charred Visage, and my personal favorite, Exposito the Scion of Abjuration. The game is every bit as challenging as the titles it took influence from, but at the same time not inaccessible. It’s also an extremely satisfying experience to revisit locations far stronger than before with the acquiring of new abilities and more health and magic, but also equally as satisfying to defeat each boss. It does exceptionally well to make the player feel like this is their journey along with the player character, The Penitent One.
Controls – 10/10
The game’s controls are precise, responsive, and present the player with no necessary issues, which is desperately needed in a game like this. There’s nothing worse than when a developer tries to challenge a player with a tough game, and the controls aren’t right, like what I found with the original Mega Man. Fortunately, however, this issue is nonexistent in Blasphemous.
Lifespan – 7.5/10
To complete the game to 100%, along with the newly released free DLC package The Stir of Dawn, will take roughly 30 hours, which for a Metroidvania game is particularly impressive. It could possibly be made to last longer with the potential introduction of new DLC released somewhere down the lines (here’s hoping), but regardless, this game will have players investing in it for a particularly long time to come. There are plenty of collectibles to scout for and abilities to require to make Blasphemous last more than a meaningful amount of hours.
Storyline – 9/10
The story of Blasphemous follows a mute lone soldier known only as The Penitent One, who is the sole survivor of an order known as The Brotherhood of the Silent Sorrow. The Penitent One embarks on a pilgrimage in the name of The Miracle, a god-like supernatural force that governs the land of Cvstodia and manifests itself in various twisted ways in the name of either mercy or punishment.
The Penitent One seeks a holy relic named the Cradle of Affliction and is instructed by a narrator of the Miracle named Deogracias to carry out the three humiliations to gain access to the location where the Cradle of Affliction is housed.
The game’s story is expertly structured and masterfully written with full voice acting and a plethora of lore and backstory to unearth throughout Cvstodia. It raises questions about the nature of godhood and everlasting life in a world where the desire for punishment or forgiveness comes at a heavy cost and what impact religious institutions can have on the world. Again, it was yet another element to this game that excited me from beginning to end.
Originality – 9/10
Taking into account everything about this title, from its conceptual design to its combat system to its gripping story, it is definitely one of the most original titles I’ve ever played. In a gaming generation that has been arguably over-saturated with Metroidvania titles in recent years, it would have taken something particularly special to make another one stand out among so many others; but this game does that flawlessly; it tackles themes, gameplay mechanics and graphical features that have rarely been seen in gaming before and will go on to influence a plethora of games for years to come.
In summary, Blasphemous is definitely one of the best games of the eighth generation. The influx of indie games over the last seven years has made this generation one of the most exciting in the history of gaming, but this title will be one that gamers will still be playing long after, with its wonderfully rendered visuals, intense combat, and boss fights, and a story that players will be talking about for many years after its release.