It was when we encountered a wooden monster hurling the Virgin Mary's head toward our direction, only to be followed with a power-up that was ripped from one of the six swords impaling a naked floating woman, that we realized Blasphemous was truly an experience unlike any other. The game itself, created by Developer The Game Kitchen and Publisher Team 17, takes a deep dark dive into the world of dark religious imagery, with each venue and character you meet sowing seeds of unease into your psyche. We can tell you that even once you've beaten Blasphemous, the game itself will linger in your head for days.
The term "Metroidvania" gets thrown around a lot, with a number of games these days deciding to incorporate the environments that were perfected with the likes of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the original Metroid series. Blasphemous manages to take on this style of gaming with impeccable controls and a solid move set for your "Penitent One" to take into battle. Armed with your trusty sword, which can be upgraded to deliver more bone-crunching moves as you progress through the several nightmare-scapes found in the game's 15-20 hour run time, you are given all the tools you need to set your own path in this expansive world, with numerous routes to take to achieve your ultimate goal.
The controls themselves are super responsive, giving the player a feeling of heft when controlling your sword-wielding, iron maiden mask-wearing swordsman. You'll need your lightning-fast reflexes to attempt to take down the stunningly grotesque monsters that lurk around each corner. The controls themselves, and obviously the design work, may lead gamers to think of Dark Souls and Bloodborne when platform-jumping here, and there's certainly something to be said for that.
Blasphemous does not have an upgrade system in the same vein as those two former games, respectively, but manages to give players the tools they need through buying advanced skills with your sword, as well as purchasing items from a crazy merchant located in the cracks of walls. While you won't find yourself rolling to dodge an enemy's attacks, the combination of parrying and sliding from the outset is more than enough to make you feel accomplished when bringing down foes or prompting your latest "execution move".
Again though, enough cannot be said for the setting of Blasphemous. Dropping your player onto an island covered in the bodies of naked figures that bear a striking resemblance to himself, the enemies you encounter will have you doing a double-take to simply attempt to figure out what is coming after you exactly. The graphics here are reminiscent to those of a late Super Nintendo console game or perhaps an original PlayStation exclusive, but they manage to work wonders with what they have.
The graphics move at a steady clip, taking on a "less is more attitude" and managing to convey a sense of foreboding and horror even without the most detailed, three-dimensional monsters to be found. The experience of Blasphemous is a delight and fans looking for a video game that will manage to present a fair challenge can pick this one up, knowing that they'll be playing one of the most disturbing, immersive experiences in video games this year. From the bloody graphics to haunting music, Blasphemous finds its way into your nightmares and is a game begging to be replayed, thanks to its fantastic gameplay.
An excellent video gaming entry to prep you for Halloween next month!
Rating: 5 out of 5
Blasphemous is currently available for PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch.