Blasphemous Review – Switch

Blasphemous Review Nintendo Wii

A nun kills herself while repenting as her statue she’s casually smacking herself in the chest with suddenly turns into a dagger and stabs her. She then turns to stone with a sword sticking out of her. We take this sword becoming the Penitent One and our adventure begins. The bizarre fashion Blasphemous starts in really sets the scene as it continues to be weird and wonderful throughout. Apart from the whole land being cursed for praying to false gods… maybe? I didn’t really know what was going on other than we are the silent hero with the destiny of saving this forsaken world by obtaining the cradle of affliction.

You get thrown straight into an epic giant boss.

As the Penitent One you have a basic combo attack, can parry heavy attacks and counter light attacks, dodge, use abilities that are unlocked at Mea Culpa altars such as a projectile and a charge attack. You can equip prayers which are special skills that use your special meter called Fervor and equip rosary beads that give different buffs. There’s also relics and Mea Culpa hearts to equip. Giving a lot of different equipables but there’s only a large amount of rosary beads the rest there’s only a few making me wonder why there’s so many different types of items to equip.

Yes that is your helmet the blood is being drained into.

There’s only one weapon with a very limited amount of attacks but the carnage is so brutal I didn’t really mind although three weapons would’ve made Blasphemous more engaging and add some replay value. When you die you get sent back to the last Prie Dieu altar you saved at plus you feel guilt and can no longer charge your Fervor to three bars with declining further each time you die until you collect the left behind statues of guilt or beat a giant bizarre boss, these declines didn’t bother me as I only had four specials that take time to use anyway, time you rarely have in the midst of battle.

Thanks Blasphemous for putting my statue on instant kill spikes (this has been patched for launch)

Precision is key in this slower paced action platformer, every movement, attack and parry needs to be very deliberate, button mashing will only lead to certain doom. Things still get hectic when you’re surrounded by 4 enemies, parrying, dodging and swinging your sword frantically when the opportunity arises. There’s a wide range of enemies needing different tactics to beat from dodging, ducking, parrying and just hitting before they can get an attack in. This makes sure the combat stays interesting throughout.

At first I found every enemy a massive struggle and died over and over, enough times to make the sea of corpses you see at the start of the game but eventually the timing clicked with me and I was dodging, parrying and slashing my throw hordes of freakish foes feeling like a real giant killer.

This fallen angel had wings too before I mercilessly decapitated them.

Although the game doesn’t tell you, you get stronger with each boss you kill so an area you previously found too difficult might be achievable after beating one of the few giant gruesome bosses. This really helps as some enemies are so strong they’ll kill you in two or three hits.

I’m not sure I agree.

Blasphemous knows it’s a challenging game as it give you the option of having an old lady come help by periodically healing you during the epic boss battles, though once again you’re not actually told she heals you. She just offers assistance and you can “assent” or “dissent”, with the curses plaguing the land you don’t know if she’s actually going to help or not until you notice it happen. It also isn’t free of massively frustrating moments such as jumps you need to be pixel perfect yourself in otherwise you land in one hit kill spikes and the process of learning whether you can actually parry or a dodge particular attacks as some cannot, that then results in another dead Penitent One and you having to trudge through all those rooms again only to potentially die again, this can become increasingly aggrevating when there’s an enemy you just aren’t getting the hang of that’s after a long and difficult section anyway but I suppose that’s the nature of the beast with these sadomasochist games.

Thanks for the help grandma.

During your quest in Cvstodia you’ll spend a lot of time backtracking across the massive land to find out where to go next particularly if you explore in the wrong order meaning you hit an area way too strong. Travel is sped up a little by a very few warp points and a lift bypassing a lot of the world but it still takes far too long for a modern game. One odd and annoying feature is that when you load the game it rarely places you back at the altar you saved at meaning extra backtracking to get back to where you were.

It’d be wrong to call Blasphemous beautiful but it has got a fantastic gothic art style where everything is grotesquely detailed to pixel perfection. There’s always something new and twisted to look at as the land of Cvstodia contains loads of different environments from dilapidated churches to snowy mountain tops down to scorched wastelands most with different unique enemies, breakable items and pixeltastic backgrounds.

Slashy slashy.

Blasphemous features a voice acted introduction by a character called deogracias who is tasked with documenting your journey, you also meet characters along your travels that are fully voice acted and some that are not. The soundtrack while not particularly noteworthy definitely adds to the mysterious atmosphere. The sound effects on the other hand are simply awesome and add huge satisfaction to slicing through the peculiar creatures in your path with gut wrenching slashing and squelching and hard hitting metallic sounds of parries.

What beauty and grace the Penitent One has.

Blasphemous has a decent length to it as at the point when most action platformers and Metroidvanias end, Blasphemous embarks on a second chapter. It is a Frankenstein’s monster of Dark Souls, Dead Cells and Hollow Knight but to be fair to developers The Game Kitchen it’s hard to make a gothic styled action platformer without being compared to the aforementioned games. What sets Blasphemous apart from its contemporaries are the pixel perfect graphics, blood gurgling animations and bizarre religion based world that’s like a medieval post apocalyptic world.

A huge thank you to Team 17 for providing the review code. Blasphemous is available digitally on the eShop 10th September for £19.99/$24.99/€24.99.

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